How to Choose the Right Wi-Fi Module for Your IoT Application

In this article, we delve into the technical aspects, potential challenges, and the future prospects of Wi-Fi technology in IoT applications.

Published on May 24, 2024

How to Choose the Right Wi-Fi Module for Your IoT Application

In the last several years, applications for Wi-Fi modules in the realm of the IoT (Internet of Things) have broadened dramatically. From everyday household items to complex industrial systems, Wi-Fi technology is integral in facilitating seamless communication between devices. This blog post explores how Wi-Fi modules are utilized across various sectors, including smart home appliances, healthcare, and retail, enhancing a product’s functionality and providing users with a more interconnected experience. We delve into the technical aspects, potential challenges, and the future prospects of Wi-Fi technology in IoT applications.

What is a Wi-Fi Module?

A Wi-Fi module is a self-contained PCB board that enables wireless communication and data connectivity to a Wi-Fi network. These modules typically consist of a high-performance microcontroller, a Wi-Fi transceiver, and onboard memory that stores not just firmware, but also  things like certificates, credentials, and other necessary files. The module is designed to be integrated into a host electronic device or system, providing them with the capability to connect to and communicate over a Wi-Fi network without the need for complex hardware or software development. 

Wi-Fi modules are designed for flexibility, available in various forms such as compact surface-mount modules suitable for space-constrained devices, and larger modules that include external antennas for extended range requirements. This versatility makes them ideal for a wide range of applications, from consumer electronics to industrial embedded systems. 

One of the key features of a Wi-Fi module is its ability to provide seamless wireless connectivity for IoT (Internet of Things) devices. IoT devices, such as smart home appliances, industrial sensors, and wearable technology, often require a wireless connection to the internet to send and receive data. Wi-Fi modules enable these devices to leverage the ubiquity and reliability of Wi-Fi networks, making it possible for users to access and control their devices remotely. This functionality has contributed to the proliferation of smart devices in various aspects of modern life, from home automation to healthcare monitoring and industrial automation.

Another important application of Wi-Fi modules is in the development of embedded systems and wireless communication products. By incorporating a Wi-Fi module into a design, engineers and developers can quickly add wireless connectivity to their products without having to build the Wi-Fi functionality from scratch. Developers can leverage pre-certified modules to avoid the lengthy and costly process of regulatory approval in their end device, significantly reducing development time and complexity, allowing for faster time-to-market and more efficient utilization of resources. With the widespread adoption of Wi-Fi in consumer and industrial applications, Wi-Fi modules have become essential building blocks for creating innovative and connected products across various industries.

Often, a Wi-Fi module will also feature Bluetooth on the same device. Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combination modules (such as our Sona™ line of Wi-Fi 6/6E + Bluetooth 5 modules) further simplify integration by providing both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity in a single module. This is a further value-add for hardware manufacturers, as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are two of the most commonly used wireless protocols and are available on nearly every personal device (such as smartphones and tablets). This makes an OEM’s device further connectable to the existing ecosystem of products in the hands of most users. 

Common Applications of Wi-Fi Modules

Wi-Fi modules have become crucial components in a wide range of applications due to their ability to enable wireless connectivity and communication. Here are some common applications where Wi-Fi modules are utilized:

IoT Devices

Wi-Fi modules play a significant role in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. They enable smart devices such as thermostats, lights, cameras, and speakers to connect to a home or building network, thereby allowing users to control and monitor these devices remotely through smartphones, control panels, or other connected devices.

For example, products like smart thermostats use Wi-Fi modules to connect to the internet, leveraging standards like IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6/6E) to provide sufficient bandwidth, range, and data rates to handle multiple device connections and even stream high-definition video (smart cameras). 

Industrial Automation

In industrial environments, such as manufacturing and logistics, Wi-Fi modules need to be robust and reliable to create wireless networks that connect various sensors, machines, and devices. This connectivity facilitates real-time data monitoring, remote diagnostics, and control, leading to increased efficiency, productivity, and cost-effectiveness.

For instance, industrial manufacturing plants use Wi-Fi 6 to connect various robots and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) on the assembly line to the greater network. The ability of Wi-Fi 6 to handle high density of devices environments ensures that AGVs and robotic arms can receive and transmit information with minimal delays. This synchronization is crucial for real-time data processes where timing and coordination directly impact production efficiency and quality.

Healthcare & Connected Hospitals

Wi-Fi modules are employed in medical devices and wearables, enabling healthcare professionals to collect and analyze patient data remotely. These modules also facilitate wireless communication between medical devices, providing seamless connectivity to hospital networks and systems, helping in patient monitoring, and improving the overall quality of healthcare services.

Healthcare devices are required to comply with strict security protocols to protect sensitive patient data. Wi-Fi modules equipped with Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) encryption are commonly used to ensure data transmitted by diagnostic equipment, patient monitors, and medical records remain secure. Some of the most advanced Wi-Fi modules or System-on-Modules (SOMs) also support onboard FIPS acceleration, which complies with stringent encryption requirements imposed by the US Federal Government in places like government hospitals. 

Retail and Hospitality

The retail and hospitality sectors utilize Wi-Fi modules to not only provide wireless internet access to customers, but also support backend services like inventory tracking and customer management systems. Wi-Fi modules since Wi-Fi 4 generally support dual-band connectivity (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) to accommodate a high density of users with minimal interference. Wi-Fi modules are integrated into routers and access points, enabling reliable and high-speed internet connectivity for guests in hotels, restaurants, cafes, and shopping centers.

In addition to the above applications, Wi-Fi modules are extensively used in consumer electronics, automotive, agriculture, and many other industries. These modules have revolutionized the way we interact with technology, allowing for seamless wireless connectivity and the ability to integrate devices into the larger digital ecosystem. Wi-Fi is generally the most popular Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) technology, and it’s crucial to all of these environments and applications.

How To Select a Wi-Fi Module

Choosing the right Wi-Fi module is key for seamless wireless connectivity and communication. Let's explore the key considerations in selecting a Wi-Fi module for your specific IoT application.

Understanding Wi-Fi Protocols 

The Wi-Fi module you choose not only affects the security and efficiency of your IoT application, but also determines its compatibility and future scalability. Modules should support standard protocols like TCP/IP for networking and HTTP for web services.  Additionally, lightweight IoT applications can leverage protocols like MQTT or CoAP over Wi-Fi, which are designed for IoT with low bandwidth design for effective machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

Wi-Fi modules support a wide range of standards from 802.11b/g/n to 802.11ax, accommodating various application needs. The choice of protocol impacts your module’s data rate, range, and energy efficiency. 

  •  802.11be (Wi-Fi 7) was just released in January 2024 by the Wi-Fi Alliance. This advancement promises to boost the speed and stability of wireless connections, however, it is not yet recommended for design as support is scarce. 
  • 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) is highly recommended for applications that demand high data throughput and efficiency, particularly useful in environments with many connected devices. It allows OEMs to optimize for both ends of the performance scale, from low bandwidth and low power consumption up to high bandwidth and throughput, and everywhere in between.
  • 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) offers improved speed and bandwidth for sense areas.
  • 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) provides a cost-effective solution with a good balance of range and speed for less demanding applications.


Ezurio’s Wi-Fi module portfolio supports the full range of available standards, including Wi-Fi 6, allowing you to select the feature set and connectivity that best meets your products’ needs. Our comprehensive portfolio provides a secure and reliable wireless connection for the even the harshest environments.  

Frequency Bands & Range

The choice between 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and the newer 6 GHz bands can significantly impact the performance and scope of your IoT applications. These bands influence the overall performance, connectivity range, and operational efficiency, particularly in environments with varying levels of interference and spatial challenges. 

  • 2.4 GHz band provides extensive coverage and the best penetration through obstacles. It’s ideal for applications that are spread across large areas or need to operate in environments with many physical barriers, such as smart agriculture or industrial automation in large factories.
  • 5 GHz band offers faster data speeds and reduced interference, making it preferable for applications that require high data throughput. This band is well-suited for environments with dense electronic traffic, such as smart homes or offices with multiple IoT devices.
  • 6 GHz band, introduced with Wi-Fi 6E, extends the capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 by providing additional spectrum that reduces congestion and allows for even higher throughput and lower latency. This band is perfect for applications that demand ultra-high speed data transmission and minimal interference, like virtual reality setups or high-definition video streaming in medical devices. 

Ezurio’s Wi-Fi Modules take full advantage of these options. Many of our modules, such as the Sterling LWB5+ and Sona NX611, have dual-band capabilities, able to operate in the 2.4/5 GHz spectrum. Our newest Wi-Fi 6E module, Sona IF573, utilizes tri-band Wi-Fi 6 (6 GHz Spectrum Support). This allows a device to switch to the 5 or 6 GHz band to maintain high performance in crowded settings or opt for the 2.4 GHz band to ensure broader coverage in obstructive environments. 

Voltage and Supply Current Requirements

Power supply requirements are crucial for ensuring the longevity and stability of your IoT device. Wi-Fi modules vary in their voltage and supply current specifications. 

It's important to select a module that matches your system’s power capabilities to avoid issues like overheating or insufficient power, which could lead to unreliable device performance.

Importantly, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E modules provide newer Wi-Fi features such as Target Wake Time (TWT) that allow the device to intelligently work out a sleep/wake schedule with its gateway, meaning the module can sleep for much greater lengths of time in between transmissions. The extremely fast modulation schemes introduced in Wi-Fi 6/6E also means the device spends less time transmitting in general during the time data is being sent, a further savings to power consumption.


Data Rate Needs

The data rate requirement is dictated by your application's need to transmit and receive data. High-performance applications, such as video streaming devices, require modules with higher data rates, while applications like sensor networks might not need as much bandwidth. 

Evaluating the data intensity of your application will help determine the appropriate data rate capability of your Wi-Fi module.

As mentioned previously, new modulation in Wi-Fi 6 represents a large increase in throughput. Wi-Fi 6 and 6E use 1024-QAM, an improvement over 256-QAM represented in Wi-Fi 5. This is a 10-bit scheme that increases capacity by 20% over Wi-Fi 5, a significant increase. Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are able to deliver significantly more throughput than previous Wi-Fi standards. 

Microprocessor/Microcontroller Compatibility

Choosing a Wi-Fi module that is compatible with your existing microprocessor (MPU) or microcontroller (MCU) is essential. The module should be able to interface effectively with the MPU/MCU to handle the computational needs and data traffic of your application. Factors to consider include:

Communication Interface: UART, SPI, or USB are common interfaces that should be compatible with your MPU/MCU. Our Wi-Fi modules commonly support multiple interfaces for Wi-Fi, such as PCIE 3.0 and SDIO 3.0. 

Processing Power: Ensure the MPU/MCU can handle the module’s driver and software stack.

Operating System Support

Wi-Fi modules come with varying levels of support for different operating systems. Whether you’re using a lightweight real-time operating system (RTOS) or a more complex Linux distribution, the module needs to be compatible with your operating system to ensure smooth integration and operation.

Our operating system support is tailored to our customers’ requirements, including support for Linux and Android. Our Linux Backports package also provides a massive compatibility matrix with previous kernel versions, reducing OEMs’ efforts in integrating our modules into their host Linux system. 

Physical Characteristics and Environmental Conditions

Finally, consider the physical size, temperature range, and PCB layout specifications of the Wi-Fi module. The module should fit within your device without causing design constraints. Moreover, it must operate reliably under the environmental conditions it will be exposed to, such as temperature extremes.

By considering these factors, you can select a Wi-Fi module that not only meets your technical requirements but also enhances the overall efficiency and reliability of your IoT application. At Ezurio, our experts are dedicated to helping you navigate these choices, ensuring that your IoT solutions are not only viable but also future-proof.

Common Challenges of Integrating Wi-Fi Modules 

Integrating Wi-Fi modules into existing systems can pose several challenges, particularly when adapting new technology to established infrastructures. Here are some common obstacles that may arise during this process:

Compatibility Issues

Ensuring that the Wi-Fi module is compatible with the existing hardware and software environment is often the first hurdle. This includes compatibility with the microprocessor or microcontroller, operating system, and other peripheral devices. Issues may arise from differing communication protocols, voltage levels, or physical interface standards.

Signal Interference

Wi-Fi operates in frequency bands that are often crowded with signals from various devices such as microwaves, Bluetooth devices, and other Wi-Fi networks. This interference can degrade the performance of the Wi-Fi module, resulting in reduced data rates, increased latency, or connection instability.

Power Management

Wi-Fi modules can be significant consumers of power, which can be a critical issue in battery-operated devices. Effective power management strategies are essential to ensure that the module does not drain the device's battery too quickly. This may involve optimizing sleep modes, signal strength, and data transmission rates.

Security Concerns

Integrating Wi-Fi connectivity introduces potential security vulnerabilities. Ensuring data privacy and system integrity requires implementing robust encryption methods, secure boot mechanisms, and regular software updates to mitigate risks from new threats.

Physical and Environmental Constraints

The physical size of the Wi-Fi module and its antenna requirements might not always fit neatly within the existing device design. Additionally, environmental factors like operating temperature range and exposure to elements can affect the performance and durability of the module.

Software and Firmware Updates

Managing updates for the module's firmware and its integration with the system software can be challenging, especially if the system requires high uptime. Updates are crucial for performance and security but must be handled without disrupting the normal operation of the device.

Regulatory Compliance 

Wi-Fi modules must comply with international regulatory standards concerning electromagnetic interference, spectrum use, and wireless communications. Ensuring compliance can be particularly challenging when deploying devices across multiple geographical regions.

Addressing these challenges requires careful planning and testing during the integration process. At Ezurio, we provide support and expertise to help customers navigate these issues effectively, ensuring a smooth transition and reliable operation of Wi-Fi-enabled IoT applications.

Our modules come with several regulatory pre-approvals for the most common regulatory regions our customers deploy into, such as FCC, ISED, CE, UKCA, AS/NZS, MIC, and more. And we’re always available to help you certify and deploy into MORE regions via our experienced certifications team who has experience certifying products all over the world. 

Choosing a Wi-Fi Provider

Choosing the right partner for an embedded Wi-Fi module solution is essential for ensuring reliable performance, seamless integration, and long-term support. In a time when hardware differentiation has become difficult, a competent partner provides robust hardware and software solutions, comprehensive documentation, and compliance with global regulatory standards. This leads to smoother development processes and faster time-to-market. Additionally, experienced partners offer strong technical support and updates, which are crucial for maintaining and optimizing the functionality of your product over its lifecycle. In short, the right partner minimizes risks and enhances the overall quality and reliability of your project. Under Ezurio’s roof you’ll find more than three decades of experience that address every single step of hardware and software development. We’re a collection of dedicated hardware engineers, full EMC and regulatory technicians, software designers and a global support organization that is ready to get into the weeds to get products to market.

Final Thoughts On Selecting a Wi-Fi Module

Selecting the right Wi-Fi module for your IoT application involves careful consideration of several key factors including the protocol, frequency band, power requirements, data rate, compatibility with existing microprocessors or microcontrollers, and support for the intended operating system. 

Additionally, physical size, environmental resilience, and design layout play crucial roles in ensuring the module fits seamlessly into your device architecture. At Ezurio, we are committed to helping you navigate these choices, providing the expertise and support needed to integrate Wi-Fi capabilities effectively into your IoT solutions. By addressing these considerations, you can enhance the performance, reliability, and scalability of your IoT applications, ensuring they not only meet current demands but are also primed for future advancements.

Under Ezurio’s roof you’ll find more than three decades of experience that address every single step of hardware and software development. We’re a collection of dedicated hardware engineers, full EMC and regulatory technicians, software designers and a global support organization that is ready to get into the weeds to get products to market. Our line of Wi-Fi 6/6E + Bluetooth combination modules are the easiest route to add wireless to your host design, with the least integration efforts and the most work done for you in advance. They represent a full range of wireless use cases, from the most lightweight to the most powerful, from full bandwidth streaming to lightweight industrial applications. 

Learn more about our Wi-Fi 6/6E + Bluetooth combination modules at our website.