Calculating the range of a Wireless device

I was wondering why they have not mentioned the transmission distance in the datasheet?. This was the same case for most of the devices i searched.

All of the chip manufacturers mentioned the RF range of their wireless device in terms of Transmit power and Receiver sensitivity.

To calculate the RF range you need to understand the term Link budget.

The Transmit power and receiver sensitivity are specified in dBm.  


dBm – relative to 1 mW

10mW = 10dBm, 0dBm = 1mW

-110dBm = 1E-11mW = 0.00001nW

Rules of thumb :

  • Double the power = 3 dB increase  
  • Half the power = 3 dB decrease
  • 120 dB link budget at 433 MHz gives approximately 

    2000 meters (Chipcon rule of thumb)



  • 6 dB improvement ~ twice the distance
  • Double the frequency ~ half the range
  • 433 MHz has longer range than 868 MHz

Using the above rules we can calculate approximate range of RF devices , 

For example,

If we want to find the range of 2.4GHz RF devices then using the above information,

120dB link budget @ 433 MHz gives 2000 meters 

120dB link budget @ 866 MHz gives 1000 meters (double the frequency ~ half the range using rules above)

120dB link budget @ 1732 MHz gives 500 meters

120dB link budget @ 3464 MHz gives 250 meters

So, 120dB link budget @ 2400 MHz gives approximately 360 meters range

Look at the specs below from TI CC24xx wireless device which show that the range is doubled with a increase in link budget by 6 dBm


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