Comparing Energy-Saving MAC Protocols for Wireless Sensor Networks

Research paper by G. P. Halkes, T. van Dam, K. G. Langendoen

Indexed on: 01 Oct '05Published on: 01 Oct '05Published in: Mobile Networks and Applications


Applications for wireless sensor networks have notably different characteristics and requirements from standard WLAN applications. Low energy consumption is the most important consideration. The low message rate that is typical for sensor network applications and the relaxed latency requirements allow for significant reductions in energy consumption of the radio. In this article we study the energy saved by two MAC protocols optimized for wireless sensor networks, S-MAC and T-MAC, in comparison to standard CSMA/CA, We also report on the effects of low-power listening, a physical layer optimization, in combination with these MAC protocols. The comparison is based on extensive simulation driven by traffic that varies over time and location; sensor nodes are inactive unless they observe some physical event, or send status updates to the sink node providing the connection to the wired world. T-MAC} in combination with low-power listening saves most energy, but can not handle the same peak loads as CSMA/CA and S-MAC.