Active RFID vs. Passive RFID

June 1st, 2021

When you're shopping for security products in Chico, CA, you may notice that some products are advertised as containing "active RFID" technology, whereas other products claim to utilize "passive RFID" technology. In order to make an informed purchase decision, you'll need to know the fairly simple but significant difference between the two.

In short, passive RFID systems do not have any power source inside of them. This means that they rely strictly on energy from the RFID reader. These passive RFID systems are usually cheaper than active RFID systems because the internal energy source costs often add up. Active RFID systems, on the other hand, have batteries inside of their tags. These batteries will constantly propagate a signal. This means that the reader does not have to supply the tags with power. However, these active RFID systems are far more costly and may require battery replacements over time.

In general, passive RFID systems are very simple machines. They require a RFID reader, RFID antenna, and RFID tags. The tags themselves only have two internal components: the integrated circuit and the antenna. A passive RFID system's reader will detect when a tag enters its field range. It sends energy through RF waves to temporarily power the tag. The change in the RF wave is what lets the reader decipher the content from the passive RFID tag and make further determinations.

Because passive RFID tags don't require much to put together, they can be structured as either "hard tags" or "inlays." "Hard tags" can be made out of almost any material, from ceramic to rubber. Inlays are the cheapest way to go and look somewhat like stickers. They can be placed almost anywhere and be used effectively. Passive RFID tags are smaller and thinner than active RFID tags.

Active RFID systems are generally more complex than their passive counterparts. These systems also have three parts: a reader, tag, and antenna. However, these parts function differently than they do in a passive system. Active RFID systems, as mentioned above, have their own internal power source, typically a custom battery, that usually lasts between three and five years. Active RFID tags come in two main varieties: transponders and beacons. Transponder systems have the reader send a signal to the tag, and then the tag sends a signal with the information requested. These types of tags conserve energy. Beacons, on the other hand, do not remain idle until a reader sends them a signal. Beacons just broadcast information at certain intervals of time. These are most common in the industrial industry.

Finally, the main differences between active RFID and passive RFID system should be clear. Active systems require the tags to have their own power source, while passive systems do not. As you read, there are varying technologies built on the foundation of each of these categories, but not all of them are applicable to the security industry. Keep in mind that passive systems are generally easier to "autopilot" than active systems because you will never need to change out the power source. For small-scale applications, this is usually the way to go.

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"I had the Alibi system installed several years ago. It has functioned flawlessly. The image quality is exellent both night and day and in all weather conditions. I particularly like the replay (which can be set at various speeds) and zoom functions of the system. Tech support from Crimefreeliving has been excellent. I have received quick responses to questions, and timely home visits — as when I changed IP carriers and my Alibi system needed to be reset. I have recommended Crimefreeliving to several friends."


"As a small business owner here in Chico we definitely saw the need for video surveillance. After expressing our needs and concerns Tim did an excellent job getting us set up with the set up with the appropriate equipment. He really took the time to address our concerns in a very friendly, professional and knowledgeable manner. I highly recommend Tim for all of your business and residential video surveillance needs."

Ron H., Owner/Auto Doctor

"I have to say I love having my security cameras at my home. Tim Truby did a wonderful job of installing the five cameras. He is very neat and cleaned everything up after the installation. He explained to me how to operate the monitor, my phone and IPad. However, I have had to call Tim because I'm not tech savvy and forget what he has told me. He usually just helps me over the phone and then all is well. I'm 80 years old and enjoy the comfort of knowing I have these security cameras."


"Tim Truby designed and installed a 32 camera system for us here at the Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District. We had received several other quotes from security system vendors, but Tim’s quote was the least expensive. Tim also installed the system quickly and has always been available when we needed him. We are very happy with our security camera system and we can highly recommend Tim Truby for all of your surveillance system needs."

D. Weseman, Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District

Crime Free Living updated our old video system with a new 16 Channel HD Alibi Video Security System. The old system had been added onto by different installers which resulted in a cabling mess. There were cables that worked and cables that went nowhere. It was a mess. Tim sorted it all out and installed cameras that are very clear. He also installed a monitor for our cashiers to watch hidden areas, a monitor to watch the entry door, and a monitor that allows employees to watch the outside parking and gas pump area. All work was done on time and very professional! Will always recommend Tim and Crime Free Living.

S. AM PM Chico Arco Station

"I had Tim install an Alibi Video Security System at my residence and a couple business locations. The remote view option is invaluable to absentee owners or anyone who travels a lot. The clarity and quality of the cameras have allowed for viewing employee theft. The evidence provided from the HD video cameras was fantastic! Tim was professional and provided extra value from his law enforcement background."

J. Folsom Arco Station

"Tim, I want to thank you again for doing such a fantastic job on installing a wireless IP security camera system at our dream home. The extra time that you took to hide wires, and install a clean, professional system is much appreciated. I still can’t believe the clarity, quality, and ease of use of this new system. I wished that I would have met you before our original inferior system was installed by another company. Now, whether I am at home, or monitoring the system from around the world, I know that my home and family are safe and sound."

John M.

"In April of 2017, my husband and I made a phone call to Crime Free Living that turned out to be a smart and wise decision. Amazingly, in just a few hours, Tim installed four Dome Security Cameras, weatherproof enclosures, and hooked up into our home a 23" Full HD Widescreen Security Monitor. Even more than his professional expertise was the time spent with us in making sure that this system was working correctly and properly installed on our phones so that anywhere in our travels we can monitor our new home in Magalia."

Tieka and Don S.

"I have been using Crime Free Living for the last couple years ar work and at home and I really recommend this product. Tim is a very good service provider. If he can't figure it out, he's got good tech support with the system that he offers."

Gary D.

"I have known Tim for over 10 years. To date, Time with Crime Free Living has installed two separate surveillance systems for my company. With each system, Tim has listened to my needs and custom dsigned surveillance systems for my specific needs and within my budget. The equipment used is always state of the art, the workmanship is top notch, and Tim is the example of trustworthy. I would recommend him for any job."

Steve D., Down Range Indoor Training Center

images Certifications & Training

With 16 years of experience in law enforcement, Tim Truby, CEO, is fully certified in video surveillance and training.

  • Certified Advanced Crime Prevention Specialist
  • Academy Instructor Certification
  • California POST Certification in Specialized Surveillance Equipment
  • California POST Certification in Basic Crime Prevention
    • Advanced Crime Prevention through Environmental Design
    • Certified Alibi Security Dealer
    • Enhanced Risk and Threat Assessment (FEMA)
    • Incident Command System (100 & 200)
    • Certified Cognitech Video Forensic Investigator
    • Neighborhood Watch Toolkit Trainer
    • Computer Crimes/Investigations
    • Domestic Crisis for Crisis Negotiators