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IR vs RF | difference between IR remote and RF remote controls

This page compares IR (infrared) remote and RF (Radio Frequency) remote control and mentions difference between IR remote and RF remote controls.

RF stands for Radio Frequency waves which range from 3 KHz to 300 GHz in the frequency scale. IR stands for Infrared waves which range from 300 GHz to 400 THz in the scale. Wavelength of infrared ranges from 700 nm to 1 mm. Typically, the remote control device operates on IR (Infrared) or RF frequency range. Both remotes are used for the same applications to control the remote device mostly television (TV). Let us understand difference between IR and RF remote controls.

Due to advantages of RF over IR as well as easy replacement of IR LEDs with RF Transmitter and IR receiver with RF receiver many IR remote controls are now replaced by RF remote controls. But RF hardware is consired complex compare to IR hardware. Hence choice between IR remote or RF remote lies with the applications of use.


Specifications IR (Infrared) Remote RF (Radio Frequency) Remote
Coverage Range upto 10 meters upto 50 meters at LOS
Data rate 500 bps to 1 kbps upto 100 kbps
Regional Regulation No limitation It has regulation limits as defined in ETSI/FCC. There is need of compliance tests to be conducted.
Power consumption of transmit part during power ON state 20 to 150 mA, this depends on LEDs and coverage range 5 to 20 mA
Power consumption of receive part during STAND-BY state Approx. 1 mA Approx. 5 mA in continuous receiving mode
Bidirectional mode of operation Not possible due to power consumption Possible
Number of bits per frame maximum 40 bits about 80 to 140 bits per frame
Protocols IR uses modulation techniques such as pulse distance coding and manchester coding to represent 1s and 0s on 38 KHz carrier. RF uses any modulation techniques such as ASK and FSK to represent 1s and 0s.
EXAMPLE MSP430 based TV IR remote control transmitter from TI PMAfob is RF Remote transmitter from Infineon

Refer RF vs IR converter➤ and IR TV Remote Control➤ which describes Infrared(IR) TV remote transmitter and IR TV remote receiver.

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