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How to Choose a BLE Module for Your Electronic Device

If you are searching for ways of adding BLE connectivity to a project, there are lots of options. Therefore, how can you choose the right BLE module for you?

BLE (bluetooth low-energy technology) can be grouped among the smart devices’ recent developments. BLE also plays a significant role in different applications for the complex IoT applications. This article exhaustively explains what BLE modules are as well as how to choose a BLE module for your electronic device

What Does Bluetooth Low Energy Mean and Why is it Popular?

This can be described as wireless networks using low power, which is very effective in 2.4 GHz ISM bands. In addition, it is important for enabling the device connection within a small radius.

Furthermore, the BLE module can be added to a brand-new device making use of a SoC (System-on-Chip) or module approach. Settling for devices having in-built antennas will suit this exercise.

What is Mesh Networking Using BLE?

bluetooth low-energy technology
bluetooth low-energy technology

In majority of cases, the BLE doesn’t have mesh networking as a feature, in contrast to the similar wireless protocol such as ZigBee. However, there are great BLE solutions having this feature.

Usually, this BLE permits active devices present in an operating range of ten meters. Moreover, this mesh networking ability helps to improve the functionality by ensuring the control of different devices using just one device.

In addition, BLE mesh networking is necessary for the expansion of the coverage area of the network. Therefore, devices don’t need to have direct connection in order to communicate during mesh networking. Instead this system avails the decentralized network, which enables a greater and expansive reach.

This feature’s key hack is that all mesh networking devices can relay a message. Therefore, rather than the traditional direct communications in typical systems, with mesh networking, you are availing yourself of the option that involves intermediary devices.

This provision has a major upside, which is that it usually increases the range of coverage. Furthermore, bluetooth mesh is important in reducing the consumption of current coupled with allowing simultaneous control of many devices.

How to Choose a BLE Module for Your Electronic Device

There are some considerations to take note of when choosing a BLE module. Here are they:

  • Does this module offer support for the BLE features which the project needs?
  • Can it be multi-protocol capable when the project needs the multi-radio system?
  • Compliance, certification, and type of antenna
  • The RF performance, operating temperature, interfaces, and core of the module
  • Is it a reputable module vendor, in terms of quality and support?
  • OTA updates support
  • Consumption of power

BLE Support

When the application requires high transmission throughput, search for modules supporting 2M PHY as well as advertisement extension. For the longer ranges, choose modules which support the LE Coded PHY.

To ensure indoor positioning and location as well as tracking of the applications, you will want to work with modules which support angle of departure or angle or arrival mechanisms. This list can continue, however the major criteria has to do with the features necessary for your applications.

Multi-protocol Capability

Is your project related to multiple radios? If your answer is yes, then search for modules having in-built support for the multiple protocols.

Imagine your project makes use of both BLE and Zigbee, then you’ll desire a module, which can offer support to the two protocols. This saves you the stress of designing and building the two radio systems.

Usually, this module contains just one radio chipset; therefore support for the two protocols would be conducted in a manner that is time plexed. Ensure you remember this because it can cause some new capabilities and limitations for every supported protocol.

Compliance, certification, and type of antenna

Also, you need to consider the antenna type the module uses. The antennas meant for the bluetooth modules can be majorly classified in two. These are the directional antenna and omnidirectional antenna.

  • Directional antenna focuses on the radio signals present in a specific direction
  • Omnidirectional antenna helps in radiating the signals into a specific area (360 degrees) to help in maximizing the rate of coverage.

This antenna type needed depends on the requirements of the applications. For example, if the device will be used for different orientations, you might need to try omnidirectional coverage with modules using an omnidirectional antenna.

When you have the product covered in metal, and you need its antenna to radiate from this enclosure, and not in it, then you need a directional antenna.

With respect to compliance and certification, many manufacturers of module usually sell their products tested or pre-certified. This comes as great news to the non-traditional radio frequency manufacturers that wish to incorporate these wireless modules in their products; however, they lack the experience in RF development.

RF performance, operating temperature, interfaces, and core of the module

The microprocessor is the core or brain of this module, which helps in deciding the processing capabilities of the module. Another significant factor here is the interfaces of the module. How this module goes ahead to connect the peripherals outside it is very important in determining the compatibility. Select a module that has the needed processing power to suit your application.

In addition, the operating temperature of the module has to work in a similar range of temperature as the product.

Finally, high output power and RF sensitivity modules provides you with a reliable link budget as well as caters to additional range without requiring any external amplifier. Put the needs of your product in mind, then the onus to getting the right module would be easier.

Reputable and Reliable BLE module vendors


Always work with module vendors having a strong support structure and a great reputation. This will ensure that your products get to the market very quickly coupled with offering updated high-quality modules in terms of SDKs, security features, etc.

Power Consumption

Consumption of power plays an important role regarding BLE products. This is due to the fact that majority of the products make use of power sources of current-constrained such as lithium ion cell batteries.

The radio and CPU of the module would be included among the components that are power hungry in the product. Whenever it has to do with the amount of power that a module utilizes during the sleep, receive, and transmit modes, you can choose the one having the best power-saving design, in order to cater for the product’s battery life expectancy.

Other Parameters

There are other factors you will want to consider. These include development tools, packaging size and dimensions, hostless or hosted architecture, rate of transmission and more.


Cost is a serious concern for most applications. Moreover, the whole ownership cost linked with a choice of module might outweigh the unit cost of the module as a significant factor. The total cost involves software and tool purchases, certification expenses, added time for development,  post-development efforts for maintenance that are associated with the choice of device.

Asides pricing, important questions that you need to ask your vendor include the nature and type of software and hardware development as well as integration support provided (which includes mobile app creation and cloud services), availability of the regional support, experience level of the vendor with this technology, the need for the external components, actual listing and certification versus compliance, as well as the upgrade path into emerging standards like Bluetooth 5.

Hostless or hosted architecture

The design of several BLE modules is made to serve as peripherals for drop-in communications, with messages transfer as their main function. These modules function as “black boxes” that are attached to host processors, which handle all the other operations of the device, simply carrying out the data transfer and setup commands of their host.

The other modules can be described as stand-alone hostless devices, which serve as BLE peripherals and user configurable system controllers. A good number of modules may serve in any of the architectures, which at times requires additional development or software effort to become hostless.


Here, the amount of space that a module takes in a PCB board could be important in several applications. This could have an effect on the complexity and cost of the printed circuit board required to offer support to the device. For applications like wearable devices, the height of the module may also be a serious concern.

Rate of transmission

First, there is a need for you to have a well-defined purpose for your module. This will help you select the right rate of transmission.


To learn how to choose a BLE module for your electronic device will depend on your budget and the needs of the application. If you need a module that has lots of great features, then expect a higher price tag. If your desired module will have a good range, you must be sure it has huge output power and high sensitivity. Lastly, always work with a reliable and reputable vendor having great technical support.




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