What is Z-Wave?
Z-Wave is a wireless technology that allows your home electronics to communicate with each other, and you, through a remote control.
The wireless communications protocol is used for home automation, allowing you to wirelessly control certain ‘smart’ devices in your home, such as security systems, thermostats or lighting. You can control these using your smartphone, tablet or computer, no matter where you are.
This is incredibly useful as it allows you to turn off your heating when you’re at work, for example, or turn on a light at night when you’re on holiday, to prevent it from looking like the house is empty all week. Not only can it help save you money, it can improve the security of your home.
You can be notified by your door locks when your children have arrived home from school, or see who’s ringing your doorbell when you’re not in the house, among many other useful acts.
Another bonus is that it is brand-agnostic, meaning that you can choose any brand of Z-Wave product each time, rather than being limited to just one manufacturer.
How does Z-Wave work?
If Z-Wave connectivity is added into a product’s design, such as thermostats, lights or locks, then it becomes a ‘smart’ device. These Z-wave products can then ‘talk’ to each other wirelessly (controlled by your phone, tablet or computer), carrying out the desired function.
It can be added to almost anything that is electronic, and all of these devices in your home are united into an integrated wireless network by Z-Wave. Best of all? It’s simple, taking just seconds for you to add a new device into the network yourself, and it is also secure.
What products are available?
There are many products available, from many well-known and established brands, making it easy for you to create the perfect smart home. Some of the most popular products bought are thermostats, lights, motion detectors and locks for your doors.
Be sure to check for the Z-Wave (or Z-Wave Plus) logo on any products you buy, which certifies that the product has successfully passed testing and is legitimate.
How is Z-Wave powered?
Thanks to Z-Wave being a low-energy technology, which is highly efficient, it is possible for many devices to work on battery power. These are often capable of working for more than a year at a time on one charge, before you find yourself needing to recharge them.
Some devices will need to be plugged into the wall, while it is also possible for AC outlets to become ‘smart’, giving you even greater control over energy usage in your home.
Will Z-Wave interfere with my Wi-Fi?
Because Z-Wave works on a different frequency, it will not interfere with your Wi-Fi network.
Will Z-Wave work in a large house?
Thanks to it working on a mesh network, Z-Wave will work even if you have a large house. This is because signals are passed around between devices (known as “nodes”), as they are relayed from the source to the destination. The more devices you have, the stronger your network will be, as there are more node sources.
If there is a problem transmitting a signal along one of your devices, there are alternative paths that the signal can take, travelling to alternative nodes.
What is Z-Wave’s range?
For two Z-Wave products, the average range between them is approximately 40m (120ft), when there are no obstacles between them.
However, your home is unlikely to have 40m of clear space, as walls and furniture will be in the way. Therefore, the mesh network allows the signals to ‘hop’ through other products that use Z-Wave, travelling around until it reaches its destination. Up to four ‘hops’ are supported by Z-Wave, and the more devices you have, the greater the coverage.
Is Z-Wave secure?
Each Z-Wave network has a unique ID, which is assigned to each device within the network. This ID is different for each hub, meaning that your neighbour cannot control any of your devices.
Door locks and other high-security devices will require an extra level of security. Using AES128 encryption, your devices will be given a level of security on the same level as major banks. Although not every Z-Wave hub supports this encryption, the vast majority do, while all hubs that have the Z-Wave Plus certification are required to have AES encryption as standard.
How many Z-Wave devices can I control?
Z-Wave is a highly ‘scalable’ technology. This means that you can make devices, rooms, or your entire home smart at a pace that suits you, choosing to introduce Z-Wave whenever it is convenient.
As it is scalable, as many as 232 devices can be controlled using just one device, which should be more than enough for your home.
How can I become a Z-Wave distributor?
There are hundreds of manufacturers worldwide selling Z-Wave products, each of which organise their own product distribution. It is recommended to join the Z-Wave Alliance should you wish to get involved and connect with manufacturers, with a consortium of them making up the Alliance.
How can I develop Z-Wave products?
If you want to become a Z-Wave developer, then you should check out Sigma Designs. They provide Development Kits to people, or companies, who have an interest in creating Z-Wave products.
Where does Z-Wave work?
The world-standard wireless technology currently works in:
Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan
Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria
Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic
Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia
Finland, France, French Guiana
Germany, Greece, Guatemala
Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary
Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy
Jamaica, Japan, Jordan
Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg
Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro
Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway
Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal
San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sweden, Switzerland, Suriname
Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turks and Caicos
Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay
What is the difference between Z-Wave and other home technologies?
The main benefit to choosing Z-Wave over other home technologies is interoperability, allowing you to select devices from hundreds of different brands and manufacturers, giving you greater diversity in terms of the smart devices you obtain for your home.
Z-Wave and Amazon Echo
In an attempt to combine Amazon offerings with services from other vendors, under a straightforward and enjoyable speech-recognition platform, the online retail giant has been developing the Amazon Echo.
A number of major Z-Wave developers have been working to integrate the Echo into their products, with many companies providing new services for the Echo each day.
Z-Wave and Apple Watch
If you have an Apple Watch, you should be able to use it to control your smart devices, provided you have an iOS version of the Z-Wave enabled smart home app.
Z-Wave and Apple HomeKit
A relative newcomer to the smart home market, Apple HomeKit is still undergoing plenty of improvements. The technology giant is working to integrate Z-Wave and HomeKit systems together, with exciting times ahead being predicted.
Z-Wave and Nest
Although Nest is not able to communicate with Z-Wave devices directly, there are some products which allow integration with Nest devices, via a gateway. This is thanks to the manufacturers allowing different technologies to integrate with each other. Cloud connections that have gateways may also be able to allow Z-Wave devices and Nest to communicate with each other.
What other systems does Z-Wave work with?
Thanks to there being hundreds of manufacturers, Z-Wave works with many systems, and just some of the most famous include: Alarm.com, ADT Pulse, SmartThings, AT&T Digital Life, Nexia Home Intelligence, Vivint, Lowe’s Iris and Staples Connect.
What’s the difference between Z-Wave and ZigBee?
Z-Wave and ZigBee both perform similar tasks, with the short-range, wireless technologies helping you to control devices remotely. Although ZigBee is the more versatile of the two, the range of Z-Wave devices is greater than it is for ZigBee devices.
Z-Wave has a noticeably simpler protocol than ZigBee does, enabling developing to be carried out both quicker and more straightforward, in comparison to ZigBee which is uses a very complex protocol, resulting in developments taking longer.
ZigBee devices are more likely to experience interference with Wi-Fi, radios and Bluetooth, due to it using the 2.4 GHz ISM band, whereas Z-Wave has a frequency of 908.42 MHz. In order to try and reduce the likelihood of interference being a problem, many ZigBee devices have co-existence features built in.