7 RFID Costs, From Tags To Implementation | Link Labs (2023)

7 RFID Costs, From Tags To Implementation | Link Labs (1)

Published November 20, 2020

Both passive and active RFID are used frequently in real-time location systems (RTLS). While they are used to perform a similar function, they use very different technologies.

Passive RFID systems use a high-power, low-frequency actuator to radiate energy toward a tag. The tag absorbs the energy and radiates back a coded message to the actuator at a higher frequency and lower power.

(Video) What is RFID? How RFID works? RFID Explained in Detail

The primary advantage of passive RFID systems is that tags are very inexpensive, ranging from $0.10 to $1.50 per tag. These tags also don’t require batteries, so they last for many years. The disadvantage of passive RFID is that the infrastructure is expensive and can only detect the “presence” of a tag, not its exact location.

Active RFID systems, on the other hand, use battery-powered tags that beacon or connect to various access point readers throughout an area (like a building) and transfer data to the server or cloud. Active RFID tags (like Bluetooth or ultra-wideband), are more expensive ($10+) but have the advantage of using a much less costly infrastructure of readers.

Thus, the real tradeoffs between these two types of technology are 1) the shifting of costs from tags to infrastructure, and 2) trading complexity and accuracy for lower total system costs.

Depending on the type of RFID system you're planning to implement, the costs you incur will vary. Here’s a breakdown of seven RFID costs so you can be prepared before you select and integrate a specific type of technology:

1. Equipment Costs

If you choose a passive RFID system, you'll need to consider the RFID reader cost, in addition to the costs of cabling and antennas. For example, an Impinj Speedway reader could run around $1,500, and when additional reader and cabling costs are considered, your passive RFID system could total $3,000 per reader in a manufacturing setting.

To get the location granularity you require, you’ll likely need a dense network of these readers, so be sure to budget accordingly. Keep in mind that you also typically have to run power over Ethernet (POE) to passive RFID devices, which can add to your equipment costs.

In a typical manufacturing setting, RFID readers are needed at all entries and exits, as well as in common material storage areas. If a tagged item is placed in an area where readers are not present, the item cannot be located. The location could possibly be inferred by the last seen entry/exit event or by manually “hunting” for the tag using a handheld reader. The use of handheld inventory “guns” is especially common in Aerospace RFID.

The equipment needed for active RFID is significantly less expensive (roughly 10 times less) than the equipment for passive RFID, as the reader equipment isn't as powerful or technologically sophisticated. While ultra-wideband (UWB) systems can be even more costly than passive RFID, they have the advantage of incredibly accurate positioning, generally down to a few centimeters.

(Video) Fixed RFID Readers

A standard Bluetooth-based active RFID system can have varying levels of accuracy. The AirFinder system uses a hybrid approach, where location beacons are placed in areas to aid in the accuracy that can be achieved over standard active RFID alone.

2. Installation Costs

Passive RFID installation must be done by an expert who is well versed in tuning the equipment, directing the antennas, running the necessary connectivity tests, and configuring settings and networking details. The readers are generally connected via a LAN network to a central server, which is typically on site and processes all of the RFID data.

Specialized antennas are used for passive RFID and must be installed and calibrated to ensure appropriate performance. For these reasons, the installation costs of passive RFID are significant.

On the other hand, many active RFID systems like AirFinder can be installed by a member of your IT team in as little as one day, making the process simpler and much less cost-prohibitive. Generally, the exact placement of an active reader is not important; you can position it wherever it’s most convenient, negating the cost of having to rework your facility. However, ultra-wideband active RFID systems have installation costs that can exceed even those of passive RFID.

The ongoing maintenance costs associated with both systems are about the same. These costs mainly address issues with equipment that gets unplugged or goes offline for some other reason. Because passive RFID systems have larger standalone antennas, they are more prone to damage in busy industrial settings, so your facility may require some modification to accommodate the hardware.

3. Tag Costs

One of the primary benefits of passive RFID is the low cost of tags, which usually run for much less than a dollar. One exception is if you need to tag a metal object, in which case the tags will be slightly more expensive because regular passive RFID tags won't perform appropriately. There are other highly specialized RFID tags for laundry or autoclaves that can run even higher.

(Video) RFID for laboratory samples inventory

Tags are one of the few items that cost more for active RFID. While RF beaconing-style active RFID tags are still less expensive than the tags used for alternative technologies like Wi-Fi and ultra-wideband, you can expect to pay up to (or more than) 100 times as much for an active RFID tag as for a passive RFID tag, between $5 and $15 each.

In addition, active RFID tags can be coupled with wide-area technology like cellular and GPS to provide seamless indoor/outdoor locating and tracking, so they may very well be worth the additional cost for your application.

Another cost factor for active tags is the cost of maintaining the batteries. Some systems have disposable tags, while others make it possible to replace batteries. Either way, the battery life cycle costs and associated labor must be considered when calculating the overall system costs for an active RTLS system.

4. Software Costs

Passive and active RFID readings are useless without asset management software—and this kind of software can run you a pretty penny. You can learn more about the capabilities to look for in real-time location system (RTLS) software.

Generally, the complexity and specialization of the software drive the cost. A basic tag reading software could be an open-source project, whereas an integrated RFID to ERP enterprise application could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain.

Many active RTLS systems like AirFinder use a cloud SaaS model, where the software is bundled together with the costs of other parts of the system.

5. Ongoing License Costs

While active RFID licensing costs are typically bundled with the software, passive RFID technologies often require ongoing licensing costs that go toward support and software upgrades. These can be quite expensive, so be sure to account for this cost before you select a passive RFID technology.

These license charges are especially common for Wi-Fi-based RTLS systems where the location technology is an add-on to existing Wi-Fi access points. Cisco Meraki is an example of a Wi-Fi-based active RTLS system that has an ongoing license fee.

(Video) RFID Journal Live, Converter Workshop: Every breakthrough needs a beginning how to start with RFID

6. Maintenance Costs

As mentioned above, passive readers are more complex than active readers due to their extensive cabling, antennas, etc. And because the passive readers are fairly large, they’re at a greater risk of being snagged or bumped, which could lead to costly maintenance issues over time.

Active RFID systems are less complex, but their tags do include batteries. This means the tags will need to be maintained anywhere from a few months to every few years, depending on their life expectancy.

Training is another aspect of the ongoing system maintenance that some customers don’t consider. For an RTLS system deployment to be successful, all staff need to be trained initially and on an ongoing basis to fully realize the return on investment for such a system.

7. Integrator Costs

If you choose to purchase an active or passive RFID solution from an integrator, you’ll likely pay a premium over what you would pay if you were to go directly to the technology solution provider. That said, integrators often have teams of experts available to help you select the best technology to fit your problem, which could make the additional expense worth it.

Some RTLS technology companies provide their own installation, design, and support services for their equipment. AirFinder often bundles these services into its ongoing system costs.

It would be wrong to say that active or passive RFID RTLS systems are more appropriate for a customer based solely on cost considerations. Often, both systems can cost nearly the same when you consider all of the aspects discussed above. You need to strike a balance between system capabilities, location accuracy, number of tags, and ongoing maintenance and support to make the most of your investment.

Large enterprises—or companies with complex use cases—may choose standalone asset tracking software to run a number of tracking and sensing solutions. But many organizations looking for tracking technology are more interested in purchasing a full-stack RTLS solution. If you choose an end-to-end solution, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of integrating the hardware and software.

Learn more about one cost-effective, proven active RFID solution.

If you would like some additional information about AirFinder, and how other organizations have saved on the cost of RFID RTLS systems, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help you during your research and planning.


What are the costs of RFID implementation? ›

An RFID implementation could cost as little as ten thousand dollars for a small, well defined project or hundreds of thousands of dollars—if you're trying to outfit a large, complicated warehouse with a mixture of mobile readers, fixed gateways and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) with RFID capabilities.

What is the cost of RFID system for library? ›

RFID in Library Management, RFID Tags Reader, at Rs 45000 | RFID Reader in Durgapur | ID: 22333671588.

What is the price of an active RFID? ›

Active RFID: $15-$20 USD each – Powered RFID tags that emit their own signal every 30 seconds. Active RFID is fully automated and highly accurate.

What is the cost of reusable RFID tags? ›

Uhf 865-928 Mhz Reusable RFID Jewellery Tag (Upto 3.5 mt), Size: Small, Model Name/Number: Ets-rt 06b at Rs 25 in Delhi.

What are the challenges in implementing RFID? ›

The major challenge is the price and return on investment (ROI) in the implementation of RFID technology. Companies have to bear the cost of all RFID elements; RFID tags, readers, hardware, software along with the routine maintenance.

Are RFID tags more expensive than barcodes? ›

Cost is one of the main obstacles to RFID technology for many businesses. A typical barcode label costs a few cents each, while an RFID tag can run from one dollar upwards of 30 dollars. depending on the type of tag you need. RFID readers are also about ten times more expensive than barcode scanners.

Do we need to pay for RFID? ›

Yes. There are plenty of RFID fitment centres located in Peninsular Malaysia that can assist you in installing the RFID tag on your vehicle. The list of centres can be found here and it will cost you RM35 per RFID tag. Can I install the RFID tag on my own?

Is there a payment for RFID installation? ›

Requirements For RFID Installation: Costs

All you need is a valid I.D. and vehicle registration or OR/CR for validation. The cost of an Autosweep RFID for cars, vans, jeepneys, taxis, motorcycles, and other class 1 vehicles is Php 500.

How long does it take to implement RFID? ›

A commercially available all-in-one RFID hardware and software solution could potentially be purchased and deployed within a few weeks. A custom RFID solution that addresses complex business problems and requires much testing and custom software development may take 6 to 12 months to fully deploy.

How many RFID tag can I buy? ›

You can order up to TEN (10) TNG RFID Tags in a single order. However, this number may be revised as per our discretion.

How many RFID tags are there? ›

There are two types of RFID tags: passive RFID tags and battery-powered RFID tags. Passive RFID tags use the reader's radio wave energy to send its stored information to the reader. Battery-powered RFID tags are embedded with small batteries that power the relay of information.

What are the two types of RFID tags? ›

There are a variety of RFID tags on the market today, differentiated by frequency range (low, high and ultra-high). Each RFID type can be either active (powered), passive (un-powered) or semi-passive (battery-assisted).

What is the cost of RFID antenna? ›

AN480 RFID UHF Antenna at Rs 13750/piece | RFID Reader in Chennai | ID: 17045512155.

What are the disadvantages of RFID tags? ›

​​Disadvantages of RFID Technology

Limited Storage - Even most non-volatile memory requires power to keep its contents from degrading. Without an onboard battery, passive tags can't store much information. Requires Reader - Passive types of an RFID tag require a high-powered reader to even power on.

What are the pros and cons of RFID? ›

To ensure you receive the most ROI, consider the following pros and cons before investing in RFID for your retail business.
  • PRO: Inventory control. ...
  • PRO: Enhanced data and inventory detail. ...
  • PRO: Smart shelving. ...
  • PRO: Cut checkout wait times. ...
  • CON: Security. ...
  • CON: Privacy and transparency. ...
  • CON: Cost and integration.
Feb 21, 2023

What are the challenges limitations for implementing RFID in libraries? ›

  • High cost : The major problems of implementing RFID technology in a library is the cost. ...
  • Exit gates: Exit gate must read tags at up to twice the distance of the other RFID readers. ...
  • Removal of tags: ...
  • RFID standards:
Nov 19, 2019

How much does RFID cost vs barcode? ›

A passive RFID tag may average 11 cents each vs. a barcode label costing less than a penny.

What are the advantages of RFID tags over barcodes? ›

RFID avoids the limitations of barcode scanning, which requires line-of-sight access to each barcode and can only be used to scan one item at a time. Instead, RFID tags do not require line-of-site, and multiple RFID tags can be detected and read remotely and simultaneously.

What are the advantages of using RFID tags instead of barcodes? ›

RFID Advantages

RFID tags don't need to be positioned in a line of sight with the scanner. RFID tags can be read at a faster rate than barcodes; as approximately 40 RFID tags can be read at the same time. RFID tags can work within much greater distances; information can be read from a tag at up to 300 ft.

What are RFID requirements? ›

To produce RFIDs in-house the following minimum requirements: A printer for UHF RFID's; Software to produce RFID Tags; Blank RFID Tag stocks; and (assuming the printer is thermal transfer) Thermal Transfer Ribbon. The ability to read the RFID data set is also highly recommended with a UHF RFID reader.

What is the minimum balance for RFID? ›

In fact, some lots will not let you enter (allowing you to reload a sufficient amount before exiting) without a minimum balance of RM20 or even RM40, leaving you to do some mathematics to figure out if you'll have enough left after having gone through the gauntlet of toll booths dotted along your commute. That's fun.

Is RFID sticker free? ›

The replacement RFID sticker is free. The RFID card is pre-loaded with P200-P500. This initial load can either be paid in cash or be deducted from your current load balance.

What is RFID toll? ›

How does the RFID system work? As a vehicle passes through the toll, an overhead scanner will read the radio frequency from the RFID sticker and charge the toll fare. The chip will be linked to the user's Touch 'n Go eWallet from which the fare will be deducted from the eWallet balance.

How long do RFID tags last? ›

Active: Active RFID tags usually last between three to five years, depending on the battery. Some tags may allow for battery replacement, while other tags may not. These tags also last much longer than other RTLS technologies such as ultra wide-band tags and WiFi tags).

Does Walmart use RFID tags? ›

Taking note of the success of this application, Bloomingdales, Macy's, and several other major retailers began using RFID to track clothing. To this day, all US Walmart locations use RFID to track incoming shipments and merchandise on the sales floor.

What is the maximum number of tags in RFID? ›

RFID Technology helps read up to 64 RFID Tags.

Are RFID tags reusable? ›

RFID labels can be reused by deleting the stored data and replacing it with new data (read/write cycles: 500,000) . Which is also true for closed transport systems, such as transport containers.

What are the three common types of RFID tags? ›

RFID tags can be grouped into three categories based on the range of frequencies they use to communicate data: low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF). Generally speaking, the lower the frequency of the RFID system, the shorter the read range and slower the data read rate.

What is RFID tags and its types? ›

There are two main types of RFID tags: Active RFID. An active RFID tag has its own power source, often a battery. Passive RFID. A passive RFID tag receives its power from the reading antenna, whose electromagnetic wave induces a current in the RFID tag's antenna.

What is RFID tag example? ›

For example, an RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line, RFID-tagged pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses, and implanting RFID microchips in livestock and pets enables positive identification of animals.

What is another name for RFID tag? ›

An RFID tag is also known as a RFID chip.

What are examples of active RFID tags? ›

There are two kinds of active RFID tags: transponders and beacons. A transponder only communicates when it's in the immediate vicinity of a reader. A beacon broadcasts constantly. A number of unique characteristics are specific to active RFID tags.

What is passive RFID tags? ›

What is a Passive RFID Tag? A passive RFID tag is a batteryless tag typically used in smaller-scale operations and tracking systems. Because a passive tag has no internal power source, it is instead powered by the energy transmitted from an RFID scanner.

How long does it take to install RFID? ›

How long does an RFID take to install? It takes 5 to 15 minutes to install the Easytrip RFID.

Does Walmart still use RFID? ›

Taking note of the success of this application, Bloomingdales, Macy's, and several other major retailers began using RFID to track clothing. To this day, all US Walmart locations use RFID to track incoming shipments and merchandise on the sales floor.

How many RFID do I need? ›

MANILA – Motorists hoping to drive through all toll expressways in Luzon beginning Dec. 1 will need two separate radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, according to the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB).

How did Walmart implement RFID? ›

In 2020, Walmart began to deploy UHF RFID technology at its stores to track apparel goods as they were received, displayed and sold. The passive UHF RFID labels are linked to each garment to create a unique identity that can be captured via handheld or fixed readers.

How are RFID tags activated? ›

It uses radio waves to transmit signals that activate the tag. Once activated, the tag sends a wave back to the antenna, where it is translated into data. The transponder is in the RFID tag itself.

How are RFID tags used in manufacturing? ›

RFID enables the manufacturer to track all of the components from their storage into the production line and then finally into the finished product. This tracking allows for easier identification of bad batches of parts as each product has tracking information for each of the internal components used.

Are RFID tags expensive? ›

The primary advantage of passive RFID systems is that tags are very inexpensive, ranging from $0.10 to $1.50 per tag.

What are the pros and cons of RFID tags? ›

To ensure you receive the most ROI, consider the following pros and cons before investing in RFID for your retail business.
  • PRO: Inventory control. ...
  • PRO: Enhanced data and inventory detail. ...
  • PRO: Smart shelving. ...
  • PRO: Cut checkout wait times. ...
  • CON: Security. ...
  • CON: Privacy and transparency. ...
  • CON: Cost and integration.
Feb 21, 2023

What are 2 disadvantages of RFID? ›

​​Disadvantages of RFID Technology

Limited Storage - Even most non-volatile memory requires power to keep its contents from degrading. Without an onboard battery, passive tags can't store much information. Requires Reader - Passive types of an RFID tag require a high-powered reader to even power on.


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