What is the difference between LoRa and LoRaWAN (for dummies)

LoRa and LoRaWAN is confusing, largely because both contains the word “LoRa”. However, they are largely not interchangeable. We will attempt to make it as simple as possible in this article.

The simplest way that we can understand this is through an analogy. Vehicles are powered by fuels. While there are many types of fuels, a common type of fuel is petrol. After the petrol is combusted in the engine, the various mechanical parts (crankshaft, gearbox etc) turn the wheel to move the car.


In terms of wireless communications technology, LoRa is like the petrol and LoRaWAN is like the entire engine. LoRa is a radiofrequency modulation, a carrier signal that varies in accordance to the message it carries. Therefore, by connecting your sensors or serial devices to a LoRa modem, you convert your sensor and device data into a radiofrequency signal. There are many other radiofrequency signals (zigbee, Bluetooth, wifi etc) and LoRa is one variant especially well known for its ability to transmit signal over very long distances (think 11km with line of sight).

Now if you have petrol, but you do not have a good engine to make full use of the petrol, what happens? Your vehicle will still not be able to move! In the same vein, you can have a control system, you can have LoRa to transmit the messages but you still require something to ensure the LoRa messages are made use of properly. This will be LoRaWAN which links up the signals to the application.

Besides LoRaWAN, there are other “engines” that makes use of LoRa like symphony link. You can even create your own engine using gateways to encapsulate LoRa Signal (more on this next time!)

At L33tech, we have wireless solutions regardless of the throughput and distance required. We understand that wireless is complex to implement, hence we have a team of dedicated consultants to help to select the best wireless product for your applications.

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