What is Z-Wave and what are the advantages?
You may often encounter Z-Wave when you are searching Smart Home products, read this article to find out exactly what it is!
3 December 2018
You may often encounter Z-Wave you are searching Smart Home products, we are here to explain in a clear language what Z-Wave is!
As you dig deeper into Smart Home products, you quickly find out that different brands or systems use different ways to communicate their products with each other and with your smartphone or tablet.
Whilst there are some lamps that communicate via the Wi-Fi signal, you may also encounter the terms Zigbee and Z-Wave in this category. The last two communication protocols are usually less known, but in fact both can be compared with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth: they ensure that devices can effectively communicate with each other.
In a previous article, we briefly explained what ZigBee means. In this article we will go deeper into another communication protocol: Z-Wave.
Z-Wave versus Wi-Fi
Z-Wave is a so-called 'mesh network', as is Zigbee. In order to explore this, we must first explain how a traditional (Wi-Fi) network works.
A traditional network consists of a transmitter (a Wi-Fi router for example) and several receivers that receive the signal (smartphone, laptop, PC, etc.). If the connection between the sender and receiver is lost, you will no longer have access to the internet (in the case of Wi-Fi).
A mesh network is arranged in such a way that an apparatus receives the signal from the transmitter, even if the device is not directly connected to the transmitter. How is this possible? This is because all devices also communicate with each other and spread the signal further from the source.
For example, if you have a series of smart lamps in your home, your smartphone or tablet (via Wi-Fi) communicates with the Hub (or Bridge), which in turn tells the lamps what to do. Whereas, using the Zigbee or Z-Wave network, the lamps themselves can send the same (Zigbee or Z-Wave) signal to each other.
The Advantages of a Mesh Network
To portray the advantages of a mesh network, we will continue with the example of the series of lamps. If the connection between one lamp and the Hub is broken, a lamp will still receive the signal from another lamp that it should light up: despite the broken connection with the Hub, the lamps functionality remains intact. If this had been a Wi-Fi signal, the lamp would not have worked.
Second, if a lamp is outside the range of the Hub, it can still receive the signal to light up. Imagine, you have a lamp on the ground floor, on the first floor and at a large distance in the garage. The lamp in the garage cannot directly receive the signal from the Hub but is able to receive it from the lamp closest to it, which in turn will have received it from the Hub or another lamp.
In terms of energy use, it is also advantageous to use a mesh network: the devices use minimal energy, so that they will work on batteries for years and do not have to be connected to the mains. For comparison: devices that work with Wi-Fi must always be connected to the mains meaning they will consume more energy.
Many Smart Home products work with the Z-Wave protocol to ensure stable and fast communication. The protocol ensures that you can effortlessly operate and coordinate your lamps, thermostat, curtains, security system and door locks with your smartphone or tablet.
Easily Create Your Own Network
To explain Z-Wave simply, the product is developed by one company and all devices (from different brands) use the same chipset. This ensures that all Z-Wave devices literally and figuratively speak the same language and communicate easily with each other.
For example, if you have a series of smart Z-Wave lights in your home and want to expand them with a smart camera, so that you can set the lights on when you enter. You can confidently choose a Z-Wave camera knowing that it will work effortlessly within your existing network.
With every Z-Wave product that you add to your Smart Home network, your network becomes more powerful. Z-Wave signals find the best possible route to all devices in your home and new devices are easily integrated into them. If a device does fail the network will find a new route via other devices to transmit the signal.
What do you need for a Z-Wave Network?
First you need a Hub (or Bridge) that will translate the signals from your smartphone or tablet to Z-Wave signals. When choosing a hub, you have the choice of a separate Z-Wave Hub in your home (which only fulfils that function), or a device that also functions as a Z-Wave Hub.
Once you have purchased one of these, you can effortlessly add Z-Wave products until you have transformed your home into a true Smart Home. Let the lights come on automatically when you come in or let your home heat up to the temperature that you find most comfortable. Enjoy these and many other possibilities that your new mesh network offers!
Z-Wave or ZigBee?
At 50five we are fond of comparisons: products, brands, prices, apples, pears and so on! As a result of this, we have previously put both mesh protocols side by side and compared them. This comparison can be found here: Z-Wave vs. Zigbee: which is better?