Piezoceramic based transducers are widely researched and used for structural health monitoring (SHM) systems due to the piezoceramic material's inherent advantage of dual sensing and actuation. Wireless sensor network (WSN) technology benefits from advances made in piezoceramic based structural health monitoring systems, allowing easy and flexible installation, low system cost, and increased robustness over wired system. However, piezoceramic wireless SHM systems still faces some drawbacks, one of these is that the piezoceramic based SHM systems require relatively high computational capabilities to calculate damage information, however, battery powered WSN sensor nodes have strict power consumption limitation and hence limited computational power. On the other hand, commonly used centralized processing networks require wireless sensors to transmit all data back to the network coordinator for analysis. This signal processing procedure can be problematic for piezoceramic based SHM applications as it is neither energy efficient nor robust. In this paper, we aim to solve these problems with a distributed wireless sensor network for piezoceramic base structural health monitoring systems. Three important issues: power system, waking up from sleep impact detection, and local data processing, are addressed to reach optimized energy efficiency. Instead of sweep sine excitation that was used in the early research, several sine frequencies were used in sequence to excite the concrete structure. The wireless sensors record the sine excitations and compute the time domain energy for each sine frequency locally to detect the energy change. By comparing the data of the damaged concrete frame with the healthy data, we are able to find out the damage information of the concrete frame. A relative powerful wireless microcontroller was used to carry out the sampling and distributed data processing in real-time. The distributed wireless network dramatically reduced the data transmission between wireless sensor and the wireless coordinator, which in turn reduced the power consumption of the overall system.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.