RFID SystemsThere are two main types of RFID systems: active and passive. What are the advantages and disadvantages of Active RFID vs Passive RFID?

Active RFID vs Passive RFID

All RFID Systems use actives reader, but the RFID tags for each type are different. The main categories of RFID systems are active and passive. Each system has its own pros and cons.

Active RFID Systems

Active RFID is the most complex form of the technology. The tags have larger batteries and use an active transmitter (as opposed to passive).


Longer Range – An active transmitter is able to communicate with the reader over greater distances. Active tags have a read range of over 300 feet, which is far greater than that of passive RFID tags.

Lower Power Readers – Because active tags have a powered antenna they don’t have require a high-powered reader as signal strength is greater.


Cost – Active tags cost a lot more than passive tags due to their complexity.

Limited Lifespan – Active RFID tags usually have three to five years of battery life. When the battery runs out, you’ll need to replace them.

Larger – Compared to passive RFID tags the thickness of a piece of paper, active tags are a lot weightier thanks to their batteries.

Passive RFID

The most simple RFID configuration uses an active reader and passive RFID tags made of two components: an integrated circuit and an antenna. Passive RFID tags don’t need batteries because they collect energy from the reader’s signal.


Cost – RFID tags only have a few, low-cost components so they can be relatively cheap.

Lightweight – The design of passive tags means they are physically thinner than active tags.

Long Lifespan – The lifespan of passive tags somewhat depends on the environment they operate in, but with care they could operate trouble-free for 20 years or more.


Shorter Range – The passive antenna means that they have a short range. Low or high frequency tags have a maximum communication range of about 2 feet. This extends to 20 feet if they are VHF (very high frequency).

Low Power – Because most added extras such as sensors require constant power to operate, passive tags are unsuitable for most sensing applications.

Digitalquill – Experts in bespoke business RFID Systems

For more information on how RFID systems can help your business call us on 01482 424402 or email office@digitalquill.co.uk.