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Clustering protocol is the most typical hierarchy protocol for wireless sensor networks. It has higher energy efficiency and better network management than traditional flat protocols. However, typical clustering protocols such as LEACH, have some drawbacks: unreasonable distribution of cluster heads, large consumption by the single-hop communication between cluster heads and the sink, and strong dependence on cluster heads. To solve these 3 problems, we proposed a novel ring-based topology, and designed an energy-efficient ring-based hierarchy routing protocol (RHR). This protocol does not need position information, centralized processing and critical synchronization. The whole network is divided into many homocentric rings so that the distribution of the key nodes tends to uniformization. Many multi-hop routes are maintained between the key nodes of neighboring rings so as to reduce the communication consumption. The regularly ordinal updating of key nodes leads to more balanceable energy consumption. Each node has many key nodes for transmission, which improves protocol robustness. Simulation results prove that this new protocol can prolong network lifetime efficiently, and its energy efficiency is better than LEACH and LEACH-C, especially for large-scale wireless sensor networks.