When it comes to connecting together your highly variable smart devices, the network protocol is the language they communicate by. Z-Wave is one of the most common forms of wireless communciation that is used to achieve this purpose.
This article will explain to you what exactly Z-Wave is and all you need to know to be informed on such protocols when building your smart home ecosystem.
Related: Zigbee vs Z-Wave
What is Z-Wave?
Z-Wave is a wireless mesh network protocol that allows smart devices to communicate together to enable automation. It was created in 2001 by the Zensys alliance with the intention of creating a wireless standard for IoT devices. It is one of the most widely used protocols alongside Zigbee and Thread. The alliance is comprised by many of the leading brands in home tech including:
This is just a handful of names out of hundreds and if you have a device which has Z-Wave connectivity then that manufacturer will be part of the alliance.
Z-Wave have released a new protocol called Z-Wave Plus which is an upgraded version of the original Z-Wave.
How Z-Wave works
A standard Wi-Fi connection is not suitable for device to device communication in automation chains. This because it consumes too much energy and no internet is needed as smart home ecosystems are internal networks.
Z-Wave is a wireless mesh network which means that each node (device) in the chain acts as a signal repeater. The automation chain does not require every device to be directly connected to the smart hub. The benefits of this include:
- Lower energy consumption
- Larger smart home ecosystem
- A common language between devices
There isn't too much to be concerned with when it comes to the technical specifications. The most important spec on our list is the device limit or maximum number of devices that you can have on a single Z-Wave network.
- Standard: Z-Wave Alliance ZAD12837 / ITU-T G.9959
- Frequency: <1 GHz
- Range: 0 – 100 meters
- Data Rate: 9.6 – 40 Kbps
- Device Limit: 232
Z-Wave device compatibility
Z-Wave works with over 1,500 devices currently, the second most after Zigbee which works with 2,000. The big players in the smart home market mostly work with Z-Wave, but it is always important to check. Here are a few manufacturers that devices are compatible:
There are too many to include on this post so click here to see them all.
What about Zigbee or other protocols?
Z-Wave is one option or connection type for your smart devices with others including Zigbee, Thread and WeMo. Ironically the push for standardizing the communication of smart devices by these alliances has actually resulted in a many options which somewhat achieve the opposite.
Thankfully, smart home hubs are designed to work with all the major network protocols so you don't have to worry. Don't worry about making sure all your devices are Zigbee or Z-Wave, as long as you get yourself a smart hub that works with all the major alliances.