Modbus ASCII vs Modbus RTU vs Modbus TCP/IP

In the different industry of the device to device communication or conversation occurs systematically.they have use different type of protocol.some of the use open protocol and some of the use proprietary protocol

Modbus as an Open Protocol

Open Protocol manufacture adapt easily and integrated their product in market

An “Open protocol” means the specifications are published

Specifications are used by anyone freely or by license.

Advantages of open protocols include support by software vendors, multiple manufacturers

One of the most common protocol industrial electronic devices used today is Modbus.

Today we will discuss about Modbus.

If you are working with automation field or Electronics Field or automation have used Modbus as protocol often. But have you know what is a difference between Modbus: Modbus ASCII VS Modbus RTU VS Modbus TCP/IP

Modbus Industrial Internet of Things(Modbus IoT)

  • How Modbus works?
  • What is Advantage?
  • How Modbus use in a network?

Modbus is the network protocol.most of the industrial applications used today. It is a Free universal open protocol. Modbus has been around industries for over 40 years. New Automation industrial product also comes with Modbus protocol.there are so many other Protocols also available. But Modbus is still preferred protocol.

Must Read : OPC-UA vs DA

How Modbus works?

  • Modbus is Client/Server or Request/replay architecture. Modbus work on Application layer protocol. Please see Modbus specification
  • Modbus is a client/server architecture where a client will request data from the server. the client can also ask the server to perform several actions. The client generates or used function code.
  • Communication in Modbus network the protocol determine each server(Controller) all known Client(device address), recognize message address to it determine the kind of action to be taken and extract any data or other information contained in the message.

Message exchanged between the client and server is called Frames.

Must Read : What is Profibus ? How Profibus Work ?

Modbus Frames :

There are two types of Modbus Frames

1)Protocol Data Unit(PDU)
2)Application Data Unit(ADU)

  • PDU=>Contain Function Code and Data
  • ADU=>It’s little more complex ADU Contain Additional Address and Error Checking.

In that Function Code Represent the set of Action to perform. The Data Represent information usage in action

Set of action like reading & Writing here that is describe 4 Data Format Shown below…….

Type Table Name
1-9999 Read-Write Discrete Output Coils
10001-19999 Read Only Discrete Input Contacts
30001-39999 Read Only Analog Input Registers
40001-49999 Read-Write Analog Output Holding Registers

And More about Modbus function code…

Function Code Register Type
1 Read Coil
2 Read Discrete Input
3 Read Holding Registers
4 Read Input Registers
5 Write Single Coil
6 Write Single Holding Register
15 Write Multiple Coils
16 Write Multiple Holding Registers

Must Read : Profibus vs Profinet

How Modbus use in a network ?

Modbus is a serial communication protocol. originally developed by Modicon in 1979. Use with Modicon PLC. Modbus is a very simple protocol. Modbus protocol also defined as a master-slave protocol. means device operating as master will poll one or more device operating as slave.master user read data from slave device register. master user Write data from slave device register. In Modbus protocol one master communication with many devices.Approx 240 device. Here describe a difference between Modbus ASCII VS Modbus RTU VS Modbus TCP/IP below.

The 3 most common Modbus type used today :
1)Modbus ASCII
2)Modbus RTU(Based on Serial communication Like RS485, RS422, RS232)
3)Modbus TCP/IP(Based on Ethernet)

Let’s start With………………….

Must Read : Devicenet Protocol and Network


  • Modbus was originally developed ASCII Character to decode a message.
  • This version is still used today. Modbus RTU and Modbus ASCII two modes incompatible to each other.
  • Most Important point is Modbus RTU device can not communicate with Modbus ASCII device

Communication frame structure:
Bit per byte: 1 Start, 7 Bit, Even, 1 Stop

Name Length Function
START FRAME 1 char Starts with colon “:”
ADDRESS FIELD 2 chars logical number
FUNCTION CODE 2 chars As Per Read or Write function
DATA n chars Data + length will be filled depending on the message type
ERROR CHECK 2 chars Error check (LRC)

Must Read : IEC61850 Protocol and Standard


The difference between Modbus RTU VS Modbus TCP/IP

Modbus TCP/IP: Modbus TCP/IP simply Modbus over ethernet.IP Address is used for communicating slave device. With Modbus TCP/IP the Modbus data simply inside in a TCP/IP network

  • In Modbus TCP/IP network Modbus device using regular ethernet cables and switches communication with other users

The big difference Modbus TCP VS Modbus RTU is

  • MBAP headler or Mobus application header. In MBAP message slave id begging of the message is removed. as well cyclic redundancy check is removed
  • Modbus TCP/IP uses Port 502(Modbus TCP Port)
  • In Modbus TCP/IP used Modbus Server & Modbus Client Network. any Modbus device connected switches or series of switches.

Modbus TCP/IP protocol used Interprotocol addressing

  • IP Address
  • Subnet
  • Default gateway(Modbus gateway)

[Transaction ID]  [Protocol ID]  [Length]  [Unit ID]  [F Code]  [Data]

Must Read : Modbus TCP/IP


Modbus RTU is simply Modbus over serial like RS485, RS422, RS232
Modbus used one of three electrical interfaces:


  • In RS232 Simple point to point arrangement.
  • If you only need to connect one device to another and the distance between two devices is less than 50 feet or 15 meters than RS232 is done the best job


  • To connect more than two devices and distance is greater than 50 feet you should use RS485 or RS422.
  • In that media, master communicates with multiple slave device.RS485 is by far most popular and support up to 32 nodes over the range 4000 feet.
  • The speed of Modbus message send at is known as the baud rate or bit per second. Make sure all device on the network use the same baud rate typically 9600-19200 is used
  • In Modbus serial network has a master device that issue command to the slave. and slave not received transmit information unless they used a command to do from the master
  • Only one master in a network and a maximum of up to 247 slaves .each with unique slave id 1 to 247
  • RS485 cannot drive more than 32 nodes.repeter is required. Here master is connected to the slave device use of daisy channel manner. Modbus not supported ring topology or star topology

[Slave ID] [F Code] [Data] [CRC]

Must Read : Protocol Overview

Must Read : Communication Overview

  • What is Advantage?

When it comes to choosing a network for your device, Modbus Protocol offers several Useful advantages :

  • Modbus is simple to implement for device vendors.
  • Modbus is open protocol so It doesn’t require a specific Media or Physical Layer, unlike many proprietary protocols, so Modbus networks are built on cheap and common infrastructure such as RS485, RS422, RS232, Ethernet links.
  • The specification is available for free. and there are licensing fees. You are no depending on one vendor for support. also provide Additional sample code, implementation examples, and diagnostics are available on the Modbus toolkit
  • Suitable for small-to-medium volumes of data (<= 255 bytes)
  • Easy connection, Acknowledged data transfer
  • If you choosing Modbus you have a good chance of avoiding compatibility problems and future upgrade problems

Must Read : Protocol in Computer Network