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Collaborating networks built of hundreds or thousands of tiny, simple nodes, usually operating at low duty cycles, transmitting only few bytes of data are commonly referred to as sensor networks. Since nodes are mostly battery operated, the number one design goal is energy efficiency. It has been understood, that the extreme energy demands can only be met by optimizing all layers and even more important, across all layers. In this paper we do thorough analysis of the impact of physical layer parameters, namely detection, modulation and channel on the energy consumption of a node. Moreover, we look at different basic channel access schemes and evaluate their performance under different load conditions.