What is Z-wave Technology? Smart Home Automation Solution

By Home Techie / November 1, 2018
What is Z-wave technology?

​You are out having a delicious dinner in a fancy restaurant and suddenly remember, “oops! I have left the front door lock open.”
What do you do?
You dig into your pocket, bring the smartphone out, and with a single swipe lock the front door.
That’s Z-Wave technology for you.

Ok, I may have oversimplified things a bit.
That’s why in this article, we are going to have a detailed discussion on this topic. So, read on to find out more on Z-Wave technology, its pros and cons, Z-Wave products and much more.

​What Is Z-Wave & How Does This Work?

Z-Wave is a wireless protocol that connects all your residential smart appliances to a Z-Wave hub to Control the devices.
It employs a mesh network which uses radio waves to let the home devices communicate with each other.

That way you can remote control the security systems, bulbs, thermostats, and in short every appliance that has a Z-Wave logo on it. ​
With the Z-Wave technology, you can control as many as 232 appliances from a single device.


But how does Z-Wave technology work?

Suppose you are about to enter your home and want to turn the lights on. You press a button or use your smartphone app to send the signal to the hub.

Which then uses the 860-910 MHz to allow the connected devices to talk to each other and pass instructions.

Due to having a low band, the signal won’t be interfered by the Wi-Fi or mobile messages.
Now, remember that these nods aren’t connected to each other; instead they are all connected to a central hub.
That way, you can control these appliances through a single app.

Z wave network range

​What’s The Z-Wave Alliance?

The alliance was established by sigma designs which was later sold to silicon lab.
Z-Wave alliance consists of more than 250 companies, which are the leading manufacturers in the wireless home appliance market.

The job of the Alliance is to regulate the industry and make sure the Z-wave products are up to the standard.

All the Z-Wave products are perfectly compatible with each other since every Z-Wave device is approved by the alliance before it hits the market.

​What’s Mesh Network?

In a mesh network, a certain number of nodes passes data to each other via radio signals. It keeps hopping from device to device until it arrives at its destination.

That way, it ensures the participation of every device in the data transfer.

Should a few nods fail to relay information, the network re-configures on its own, which results in fault-tolerance and significantly cuts down maintenance expenses.

​What Kind of Products Are Supported by Z-Wave Technology?


Z-wave supported Devices


As of 2018, more than 2400 products from 700 manufacturers are certified by the Z-Wave Alliance.
Among them, you can find-
•    Sensors
•    Lock
•    Network devices
•    Security appliances
•    Water-related devices
•    Installer instruments
•    Window covering
•    Infrared gadgets
•    Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) [Learn about HVAC]
•    Entertainment regulator
•    Fan control
•    On/off switches
•    Thermostats
•    Doorbell

You might like also: Best 11 Z-​Wave Thermostats in 2018

​The Alternative Technology to Z-Wave

Z-Wave technology isn’t the only way you can make your home smart. There are other alternatives. Let’s take a look at them.

  • ZigBee

ZigBee is a wireless home automation protocol that lets you monitor your smart home devices from anywhere.

Its low consumption of power and low-cost makes this an exciting option.

Moreover, the system is really easy to install and doesn’t take up much time.

That said, due to using the same MHz frequency as the Wi-Fi, it may experience interferences from Wi-Fi and other networks. 
Organization: Zigbee Alliance.


  • Universal Powerline Bus

Let’s make this clear; I don’t think that you want to get this communication protocol for your house.

That’s because it’s a powerline-only system. 

​Means it will cost you a lot of money, and it’s not easy to install either. Get on Wiki.


  • Insteon

Think of it as a cross between UPB and ZigBee. Not only it uses powerline, but it also employs a wireless protocol for communication between devices. ​Insteon is a California based company.


  • Wi-Fi

Nowadays, you can find a lot of smart home gadgets that are compatible with Wi-Fi.

However, I’d recommend against using Wi-Fi as it consumes a large amount of energy which isn’t ideal for battery-powered appliances.

To make matters worse, those smart devices will have to compete with other connected devices such as smartphones, tablet, and laptop for bandwidth. As a result, it can make the entire communication protocol slow.

The only upside of using Wi-Fi as your home automation protocol is that you won’t have to buy a hub separately.


How to Setup Z-Wave Home Automation:

​Advantages of Z-Wave Technology

  1. Easy setup.
    As it’s a wireless system, the configuration is incredibly easy.

    You just need to connect the device to the plug, switch it on and you are good to go.
    No professional help. No wire. And no fuss.

  2. Reasonable Price.
    When compared to the other smart home systems, the price seems very affordable.

  3. Very Secured.
    Security is a matter of utmost importance. And this is where Z-Wave really shines.

    Read more:  Is Z-Wave Secured?

    Are they unhackable?
    Nope. No system is.

    However, they are as safe as a smart home system can get. In this system, every data transfer is acknowledged.
    That way, it ensures that your home and the network is safe from potential intruders.

  4. Interoperability.
    As I have mentioned earlier, Z-Wave products are regulated by the Z-Wave Alliance.
    As a result, all Z-Wave products are interoperable.

    That means you won’t be stuck with only one manufacturer and can purchase residential smart devices from various companies.

  5. Ensures Health Safety.
    Fact; Health is wealth.

    Fortunately, the Z-Wave alliance knows that.
    That’s why the devices are made in a way to ensure minimum electromagnetic emissions.
    So, yeah, Z-Wave technology is safe.

Disadvantages of Z-Wave Technology

  1. Latency.
    Compared to the hardware system and other home automation solution, it takes a bit longer to execute the command. And that’s perfectly normal.

    Networks based on radio waves tend to be a tad slower than the hardware system.

  2. Not Ideal for A Huge Mansion.
    If you live in a 3000+ square feet house, then Z-Wave technology isn’t for you.
    The system isn’t equipped to cover that much area.


Conclusion

That’s about all you need to earn about Z-Wave technology.
If you guys learned a thing or two or had some confusion cleared up because of this article, I’d love to hear about this.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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