What's the battery life of Estimote Beacons? Can I optimize it?

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There are two kinds of Estimote Beacons: Estimote Proximity Beacons and Estimote Location Beacons.

The current version of Estimote Proximity Beacons (hardware revision D3.4) ships with a 1000 mAh CR2477 coin battery and default settings of 950 ms Advertising Interval, -12 dBm Broadcasting Power, and Smart Power Mode feature enabled. It allows for two years of battery life.

Location Beacons (hardware revision F2.3) are shipped with 1000 mAh CR2477 coin batterie, the default settings are 950 ms Advertising Interval, -10 dBm Broadcasting Power with Smart Power Mode on. It offers five years of battery life.

In practice, battery performance depends on a number of factors:

  • Power Modes
  • conditional broadcasting
  • beacon settings
  • environmental effects

Depending on the above, the beacon can live on a single battery from a couple of months to as long as five to ten years, depending on the beacon.

Smart Power Mode

Smart Power Mode allows beacons to conserve more battery power. It's enabled by default.

Smart Mode uses advanced adaptive algorithms to automatically optimize power usage. If there is no one around, a beacon with Smart Mode enabled will broadcast data less often, to save battery. When a user appears in range, the beacon will go back to broadcasting at a normal rate, defined by its Advertising Interval setting.

With the latest firmware update there's no need for Basic Power Mode, it is integrated into Estimote Connectivity Packet, improving the battery performance by about 30 percent.

To access Power Mode:

  1. open the Estimote app
  2. go to the Devices screen
  3. log into your Estimote Account
  4. connect to a beacon
  5. tap Remaining Battery Life and you'll be able to manage the Power Mode.

You can also manage Power Modes remotely, with Estimote Cloud. Log into your Estimote Account at cloud.estimote.com and check the beacons of your choice. Click Edit and choose Smart Power Saving to turn it on/off. Remember that the changes need to propagate.

Read more about remotely managing beacons via Estimote Cloud.

Conditional broadcasting

Enabling conditional broadcasting makes beacons go ‘mute’ if specific conditions, based on sensor readings, are met. If the beacon does not broadcast, it uses much less energy. Currently, there are three conditional broadcasting modes:

  • Flip to Sleep: beacon is mute when its on its back
  • Motion Only: beacon is mute when it’s still
  • Motion UUID: beacon is always on (therefore does not conserve battery), but broadcasts a different UUID when in motion

Location Beacons additionally support:

  • Dark to Sleep mode: beacon is mute at a certain light level.
  • Scheduled advertising: beacon broadcasts only during set period.

Read more about conditional broadcasting and its benefits elsewhere.

Adjust beacon settings

You can adjust beacon settings yourself to improve battery performance. Advertising Interval and Broadcasting Power have the biggest impact on both battery life and signal stability. By default, they're set to 950 ms and -12 dBm respectively, but you're free to adjust those settings to fit your specific use case—if you do, Estimote app and Estimote Cloud will show you the estimated battery lifespan with your current settings.

Settings range:

  • Broadcasting Power can range from -30 dBm to +4 dBm
  • Advertising Interval can range from 100 ms to 2000 ms

In general, the greater the power, the bigger the beacon's range, and the shorter its lifetime. Advertising interval describes how frequently a beacon broadcasts its signal. As you lower the interval, the "blinks" become more frequent and the signal becomes more stable. The battery, however, is drained much faster with a shorter interval.

In general, the greater the power, the greater the beacon's range, and the shorter its lifetime. Advertising Interval describes how frequently a beacon broadcasts its signal. As you lower the interval, the ‘blinks’ become more frequent and the signal becomes more stable. The battery, however, is drained much faster with a shorter interval.

Both values can be changed using Estimote SDK, Cloud, or app.

Working environment

The ideal operating temperature is 23°C (73.4° F). Battery life is significantly reduced above 60°C (140°F) and below -10°C (14°F).

Low battery level and beacon’s behavior

As the battery ages your Estimote Beacons will continue to operate, but as the battery level approaches a critically low threshold, the Bluetooth radio will begin to exhibit interrupted or truncated radio signals. Once this behavior is exhibited, the beacon will no longer be able to sustain radio presence and the device should be replaced or you may choose to disassemble the beacon and replace the battery, doing so will revive the hardware back to normal operation.

Keeping track of battery life

When you connect to your beacon with Estimote app, information about its settings and battery life are sent to Estimote Cloud. The cloud not only stores this data, but also calculates the remaining battery life. You can always look it up after logging in to your Estimote Account.

If the battery is about to die in the next two weeks, you will be automatically notified via email to replace it.

Replacing the battery

If your beacons have already run out of juice, nothing to worry about—you can easily replace the dead battery!

We are shipping beacons with removable enclosures now. You can simply replace the battery by removing the white adhesive, and removing the PCB through the Y-shaped (H-shaped for Location Beacons) hole in the beacon's base.

If you bought Estimote Beacons before December 2015, you'll need to follow this flow:

  1. You're going to need a sharp object to be able to cut the beacon open.
  2. Buy a new battery - 1000 mAh CR2477 coin battery (600 mAh CR2450 if you have hardware revision D3.3 or older).
  3. Hold the beacon firmly with one hand, and cut along the top of the enclosure. Be extra careful!
  4. Now you can remove the PCB through the hole and simply slide the old battery out from under the battery holder and replace it with the new one. The "+" side should be facing up.
  5. Reach out to us at contact@estimote.com and provide us with your shipping address. We will send you free enclosures to reskin your beacons.

 

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7 Comment(s)

  • Avatar
    Amin Nikravan

    How do the basic and smart power modes preserve energy? Do they affect the advertising interval or transmit power?

  • Avatar
    Wojtek Borowicz

    Hi Amin,

    Smart mode uses adaptive algorithms to slow down broadcasting when there's no one around the beacons. Basic mode preserves battery life by limiting beacon's connection speed. So Smart affects advertising interval, but only if there's no one around, and Basic only affects time it takes to connect to beacon to update its settings.

    Cheers.

  • Avatar
    Willi Kampmann
    You're saying the (newer) beacons need a battery of the type CR277. I can't find that type. Do you mean CR2477? I've found a CR2477N lithium battery with 950mAh and 3V, would that work?
  • Avatar
    Wojtek Borowicz
    Hi Will, Thanks for spotting the typo! Of course the battery is CR2477. It should be 1000 mAh and 3V. Cheers.
  • Avatar
    Mustafa Arslan

    Hi Wojtek,

    I had a couple of questions regarding this article:

    1) How does the beacon magically know if someone is around?
    2) Is conditional broadcasting enabled for stickers? If not, are you planning to enable it in the future with a firmware update perhaps? I thought it makes more sense in that context since sticker batteries cannot be replaced and hence would benefit greatly from this.

    Thank you.

  • Avatar
    Wojtek Borowicz

    Hey Mustafana,

    There's no magic involved :) When beacon is detected by a phone it receives something called Scan Request. If it does not receive any Scan Requests, it assumes there's no one nearby.

    Conditional Broadcasting is coming to stickers soon :)

  • Avatar
    Mustafa Arslan

    Great to hear about conditional broadcasting for stickers!
    Thank you for the update Wojtek.

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