What is Li-Fi Lighting and its Difference with Wi-Fi?

What is Li-Fi Lighting and its Difference with Wi-Fi?

What is Li-Fi Lighting and its Difference with Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi and Li-Fi are two powerful data communication technologies used for internet-based applications in occupied spaces including homes, schools, public facilities and other types of occupied space. Li-Fi is an abbreviation for Light Fidelity and Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity.

Li-Fi, an optical communication technology, facilitates data communication using light as the medium, while Wi-Fi, a radio communication technology, uses electromagnetic waves to facilitate data transmission.

To make comparisons between these two technologies, we must, first of all, understand the scope of their nature and their underlining mechanisms.

Li-Fi Architecture

Li-Fi has three main components: a lamp driver software, the LED lamp, which is basically a common household lamp, and the Li-Fi Dongle, which consists of a photodetector, an amplification, a processing unit, and an application data receptor. In the Li-Fi architecture, a lamp driver software is used to connect the internet on one end and LED lamps on the other end.

Li-Fi Architecture

Li-Fi Architecture

The lamp driver transmits streaming contents from the internet to the LED lamps. The LED lamps, which basically act as routers, are placed at various spots around the occupied space depending on the requirements. The LED light, basically a household lighting technology, can be turned on and off via a power switch.

The lighting must remain switched on to enable data transmission. And with the Li-Fi dongle, the Li-Fi architecture distributes internet service to multiple users. The Li-Fi technology boasts of data transmission speeds of up to 224 Gbps.

Wi-Fi Architecture

Wi-Fi technology with all its diversified applications consists of two main components: the Wi-Fi router and the Wi-Fi dongle or Wi-Fi station. Through the Wi-Fi router, the W-Fi technology is connected with ADSL modem or Cable modem, which is connected to the network of an internet service provider. The Wi-Fi router, which works on various bands depending on requirements, transforms internet data packets to Wi-Fi-compatible signals at the required band.

Wi-Fi Architecture

Wi-Fi Architecture

Li-Fi vs Wi-Fi

Li-Fi boasts an impressive 224 Gbps data transmission speed, but such speeds do not hold beyond the walls containing the LED lamp. Li-Fi signals do not penetrate walls, so the LED bulb must be placed at multiple locations around the occupied space. Hence, the span of Li-Fi’s connectivity is limited by walls and the lighting in the home or office.

However, these limitations work in favor of privacy and greater security. With these limitations, Li-Fi actually trumps the security issues and the broadband network overload problems often associated with Wi-Fi. The walls negate the need to implement security measures to secure data transfer, as is the case with the RF signals of Wi-Fi technology.

And because radio frequency waves are more prone to interference than light, Li-Fi is the better-suited for dense environments, such as salty water. Wi-Fi is exposed to interferences through the access points or routers.

Li-Fi technology is also the better option in areas that are beyond the reach of radio frequency waves, and in areas where the use of EM frequency waves is highly restricted, for instance in airplanes and hospitals.

But when it comes to distance ranges and long-range applications, Wi-Fi is the superior of the two. While Li-Fi covers a distance of about 10 meters, the upper bound of Wi-Fi’s range is about 30 meters.

But in terms of frequency of operation, Li-Fi completely outclasses Wi-Fi. While Wi-fi operates within only 2 GHz, 4.9 GHz, and 5 GHz frequency bands, the frequency spectrum of Li-Fi is ten thousand times wider than that of Wi-Fi. Li-Fi’s frequency of operation is usually between 380nm and 780 nm optical range.

Nonetheless, Li-Fi is the new kid on the block, and its completely eclipsed by Wi-Fi when it comes to mass uptake. But Li-Fi’s greater security and privacy make it a highly promising technology for enterprise ecosystems. It’s already eliciting interest from industry heavyweights. Apple has hinted at the possibility of integrating Li-Fi in its smartwatches and iOS devices.

LED lighting giant Philips has introduced a line of lighting products integrated with Li-Fi capabilities. With support from the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, Charlottesville-based Li-Fi company VLNComm has released three mass-produced Li-Fi products: a desk light, a USB stick and a LED panel. Also, Li-Fi’s impressive speed makes it apt for IoT applications.

VLNComm LumiStick II

VLNComm – LumiStick II


Li-Fi technology does not represent an advancement from Wi-Fi technology. While they both have their different areas of strength and weaknesses, they can both be used to complement each other. For instance, Wi-Fi can be more instrumental in outdoor sections of an occupied space, where the installation of LED lighting can be challenging. However, Li-Fi facilitates data communication at greater speeds with greater privacy and security and much lesser power demands.

Still not sure of which technology is the best suited for your space, reach out to us today to gain greater insights.

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