10 Key Differences: Active RFID vs Passive RFID

There are two kinds of RFID systems that exist- passive and active. If you’re new to RFID, you might be wondering what the difference is between these types, and which one is best for your application. Below, we provide a short answer to these questions. 

Passive RFID systems use tags with no internal power source and instead are powered by the electromagnetic energy transmitted from an RFID reader. Passive RFID tags are used for applications such as access control, file tracking, race timing, supply chain management, smart labels, and more. The lower price point per tag makes employing passive RFID systems economical for many industries.


Active RFID systems use battery-powered RFID tags that continuously broadcast their own signal. Active RFID tags are commonly used as “beacons” to accurately track the real-time location of assets or in high-speed environments such as tolling. Active tags provide a much longer read range than passive tags, but they are also much more expensive.

The main differences between active RFID and passive RFID will be described in the following 10 aspects.


The choice of active or passive RFID for project applications needs to be evaluated in the context of the results to be achieved and the cost budget.

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