How to understand the sensor connectivity indicators?

The sensor connectivity indicators can help you figure out why a sensor signal might not be reliable, if you know how to interpret the numbers

The sensor connectivity indicators are a handy tool for figuring out just how far a signal can go, and how much obstructions like walls, cabinets or floors can affect range.  Here are a few tips on how to use them and how to read the numbers.  Radio frequency transmissions can get complicated, but there are some simple guidelines that can help you understand what is happening. REMEMBER: It's important to first confirm that your gateway is within range first (if you're using a cell connection) by placing a sensor near it to check that it is regularly sending data to the cloud.

Consider these range symbols similar to the connectivity indicators you see on your cell phone. The greater the number of bars, the greater the connectivity. Even if you don't have three bars it is possible to still have a decent enough connection for the sensor to reliably send all of its readings to the gateway. It may take some time of leaving the sensor in its location and recording some data to confirm this. Ideally you can get most of your sensors 2 bars and above. 

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The numbers.

If you hover over the sensor connectivity indicator, it will show you two numbers; Received Signal Strength (RSSI), and Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). 

Received Signal Strength (RSSI)

RSSI is a measurement of the strength of the signal from the gateway to the sensor.  It is, essentially, how well the sensor can "hear" the gateway.  The RSSI value ranges from zero (which would be a perfect connection, and is never achieved in the real world) to -145 (a very weak signal).  It is worth noting that even a weak signal can be reliably received, if there is little noise in the environment.  A good rule of thumb is to aim to get an RSSI above -125. We'll talk about noise next.

Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR)

SNR is a measurement of the ratio between the signal (the thing we want transmitted) and noise in the environment (other things happening on the same frequencies that we do not want).  Any ratio above zero means that the signal is stronger than any background noise.  Any ratio below zero means that the background noise is stronger than the signal.  As long as the SNR is above -8, it is possible to successfully separate the signal from the noise and receive the message. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a number greater than -8. Noise can come from other things using the same frequencies (such as wireless security systems or phones) or from mechanical or electrical equipment.

How We Calculate Connectivity

The connectivity indicator interprets the RSSI and SNR for the sensor, using the following formula:

RSSI SNR Connectivity
Greater or equal to -90 Greater or equal to -4 Strong
Between -90 and -110 Greater or equal to -7 Moderate
Less than -110 Less than -7 Weak

Conclusion

Figuring out the range of a wireless device can be complicated, as it involves understanding the building, what is in it, the relative locations of all of the sensor equipment and what else might be around that creates interference.  With the sensor connectivity indicators and a little knowledge, it becomes a little easier!