What's the difference between active and passive RFID tags?

RFID tags are composed of several components—a micro-chip, a substrate (e.g., Mylar or plastic coating), and an antenna, which is attached to the micro-chip.

The primary difference between active and passive RFID tags is that active tags incorporate a built-in power supply, while passive tags use the power from the electromagnetic wave from the RFID reader to send its data to the reader. Apart from this primary distinction, you'll find more in-depth differences in the table below.

  Active Tags Passive Tags
Power Powered by internal source (e.g., battery or solar cell) Rely on the RFID reader for power
Size Typically larger than passive tags Typically smaller than active tags
Extra Features Can be equipped with additional features, such as microprocessors and sensors N/A
Price More expensive Less expensive 
Range Over 100 meters¹ Up to 10 meters¹
Frequency Typically operate in UHF (ultra-high frequency) Can operate in LF (low frequency), HF (high frequency), or UHF (ultra-high frequency)
¹ — value is an approximation and may vary greatly 

To see the various RFID/NFC tags sold by Serialio, visit the Tags & Wristbands section of our store. If you need help deciding which tag is best for your unique solution, feel free to contact us at sales@serialio.com!