What is Z-Wave and What Devices are Available?

Date : 4-17-2018

Start Building Your Smart Home with Z-Wave Devices

Two protocols have emerged to dominate the mesh network space – ZigBee and Z-Wave. Let’s explore Z-Wave and its devices.

As the smart home matures, innovators look to improve connectivity. You don’t want to bring a new device home to find it doesn’t work because it’s too far from the router.

More developers are looking to use the mesh network to make the smart home work. Mesh networks are like relay running teams. Individual devices act like relay runners. They pass the data baton onto the next device in the network. The data passes through the network until it reaches the hub. It also works in reverse to send information back to the devices.

Using mesh networks solves the Bluetooth problem of devices falling outside the router range. Because the devices pass the data on, they define the size of the range, not the hub. Unlike Wi-Fi, they use less power. Mesh networks can work with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). It helps improve Bluetooth ranges between devices.

Two protocols have emerged to dominate the mesh network space – ZigBee and Z-Wave. Let’s explore Z-Wave and its devices.

What Is Z-Wave?

Z -Wave is a wireless protocol used for communication between devices. It uses low-energy radio waves to send data. You can control everything from a thermostat to a security system, wirelessly. You can use different types of Z-Wave controllers like key fobs, smartphones, or a Z-Wave gateway.

Danish company Zensys developed Z-Wave in 2001. It started life as a system for controlling lights. Z-Wave Plus arrived in 2013. It offered better battery life, wider wireless range, and more memory. In 2005, the Z-Wave Alliance formed to promote Z-Wave technology.

Around 600 devices used Z-Wave technology in the US in 2012. By 2017, the Z-Wave Alliance had certified over 1,700 products.

Z-Wave networks can contain up to 232 devices. The protocol offers a range of up to 30m between devices. But walls or other obstacles shorten that distance. Z-Wave products operate on the 908.42 MHz frequency. That lets them avoid the same bands as your home Wi-Fi network.

The frequency enjoys less congestion, so the data moves faster. Your devices won’t grind to a halt just because your family goes online using their smartphones.

Best of all, the SURE Universal Remote app supports Z-Wave technology. Control Z-Wave devices from your smartphone.

What Z-Wave Devices are Available?

You’ll need a smart home hub in order to control your Z-Wave devices.

Not ready to update your existing products with smart alternatives?

Starting small with a smart switch is a good way to start building a smart home. Choosing an ecosystem like Z-Wave lets you add compatibility to your network from day one.

Other common smart home devices are available too. Here are some Z-Wave devices to start building your smart home.  In addition, GoControl offers smart light bulbs. They even sell recessed bulbs suitable for kitchen or bathroom spotlights. For smart thermostats, choose between Honeywell, GoControl or Trane. Look into water management with devices by HomeSeer or Dome. Kwikset, Schlage, and Yale cover smart door locks.

You can browse further Z-Wave products in their online store.

ZigBee vs. Z-Wave?

Z-Wave isn’t the only mesh network available for smart home devices. ZigBee is their major competitor. Much like VHS vs. Betamax, no one yet knows which one will succeed.

They both have their pros and cons. ZigBee works with manufacturers like Verizon and Fujitsu. Z-Wave counts GE and Logitech among its supporters. Z-Wave is easier to set up, and Z-Wave Alliance released a new security standard, Security 2, in 2017. Z-Wave specifications appeared in the public domain in 2016. They make Z-Wave a great choice for IoT developers.

The protocols can’t communicate with each other. Only one of them will become the dominant mesh network in the smart home.

The Zigbee vs. Z-Wave debate rages on. We’ll keep you up to date with future news.

Over to you – which protocol do you use? Do you use Z-Wave?

 

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