Not every Smart Home is truly smart. Most beginners have to learn this lesson the hard way. Catchy-sounding gadgets and technologies such as Alexa, smart light bulbs, and connectivity are used a lot, but the road towards a home with seamlessly connected technologies is often rocky. Here, the protocol standard forms the biggest hurdle.
In our series on Smart Home Standards, we will introduce and explain the various common standards. This article sheds light on the Z-Wave standard and highlights its strengths and weaknesses.
What is Z-Wave?
Z-Wave is a wireless standard used for private home automation. Two Danish engineers developed it back in 2001; however, it took another three years until the introduction of the first Z-Wave-ready devices. One year later, in 2005, the Z-Wave Alliance was founded. Over 600 manufacturers make up this international organisation. They constantly develop and improve the protocol and compatible devices. There are already over 2,000 devices that can be integrated, and this figure is set to increase sharply in the future. Bosch, Deutsche Telekom, Devolo AG, LG, Logitech, and many more well-known companies are members of the alliance.
Z-Wave-Plus, the «successor» of Z-Wave, arrived in 2013. Among other improvements, it offers easier integration of new devices.
Benefits of Z-Wave
With a technology as widespread as Z-Wave, it’s hardly surprising that it comes with various benefits.
One advantage of the technology is its mesh network, turning each node in the home automation system into a sender, recipient, and transmitter at the same time. This allows for a greater reach and better network coverage, which in turn improves reliability and reduces the susceptibility to errors.
All the same, no data packets are lost in the process. With Z-Wave technology, the sender of a message not only sends a message to the receiver, but also waits for a confirmation. If the sender does not receive a confirmation after three tries, an error is registered.
A Z-Wave network can comprise a maximum of 232 devices, which can be either a plus or a downside, depending on the individual scenario of use. For any average Joe, this should be more than enough.
Drawbacks of Z-Wave
The most significant drawback of this wireless standard lies in the frequencies. Different frequencies are used in different countries. Seamless integration of devices from other countries cannot be guaranteed. This means that a bargain from a foreign online shop can soon become a worthless gadget.
To name two examples, the frequency of Z-Wave within the EU is 868 MHz, while US networks use 908 MHz. This means that Smart Home devices from these regions cannot communicate with each other.
More articles from the Smart Home Standards series: Bluetooth