Z-Wave explained: what is Z-Wave?

Updated a month ago 5 minutes

Z-Wave is a term that pops up a lot in the world of smart home. So what is it? In short, it’s a wireless smart home technology. A lot of companies use Z-Wave to make wireless sensors and other devices. That’s why it’s one of the six wireless technologies in Homey.

You can see Z-Wave as a sort of Wi-Fi, but created specifically for home automation. It offers some advantages over Wi-Fi or other wireless technologies for home automation.

Pros and Cons of Z-Wave

Z-Wave is a popular technology for smart home, because it offers some distinct advantages over other wireless technologies:

For starters, it has a standardized protocol. This means all devices ‘speak the same language’, making them easy to integrate with each other, and with Homey.

Next to that, Z-Wave has two-way-communication: devices confirm commands given to them. This makes Z-Wave devices very reliable. It makes sure devices never miss a command, and allows your sensors to dub as a smart security system.

Another advantage is the fact that Z-Wave uses a different wireless band than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth do. This ensures a very good range in homes – even through walls. It also makes sure Z-Wave and other signals do not disturb each other. No matter how busy the Wi-Fi is around your home, Z-Wave devices will have no issues connecting.

Z-wave sensor Fibaro Motion Sensor
Z-Wave’s size and power-efficiency allows for beautiful, small devices like this motion sensor from Fibaro.

The technology also requires very little power. It allows very small devices like a Fibaro Motion Sensor to run on a single battery for years.

And last, but definitely not least: Z-Wave is built as a mesh network. Mesh networks allow all the devices to talk to each other and repeat commands. In practice, it means range and reliability of the whole network improve with every Z-Wave device you add.

Z-Wave mesh networking explained
Mesh networks like Z-Wave allow devices to talk to each other and relay commands

Disadvantages

Every technology has its trade-offs. For Z-Wave, this is mainly its price. The reliability, range and standardization it offers are not for free. Z-Wave is a premium technology, with a premium price. If you’re shopping on a budget, you’re often better off with devices using Zigbee or 433MHz technology. Still, a Z-Wave system remains a lot cheaper than wired systems like KNX. In general, a Z-Wave sensor, module or switch will set you back around 50 bucks.

Also, you cannot connect Z-Wave devices directly to your phone. Your phone does not feature a Z-Wave antenna. So you always need a smart home hub or Z-Wave Controller to connect with Z-Wave devices. Luckily, Homey includes Z-Wave, so if you have Homey you have nothing to worry about.

Homey Z-Wave hub controller
You need a hub like Homey to connect to Z-Wave devices

Conclusion

To sum up, Z-Wave is a powerful, energy-efficient and premium smart home technology. It’s widely used for both alarm systems and home automation by prominent brands like Ring, Fibaro, Yale, Danfoss, Alarm.com and Homey.

These brands all make attractive devices which you can often install yourself. With its reliable wireless technology and mesh networking, Z-Wave is thé premium choice to automate your home.

Smart home lights work with Homey

Getting started with Z-Wave

Building a Z-Wave setup is quite easy. As it is a wireless technology, there’s obviously no wires to install. To get started, you just need Homey and a Z-Wave device, for instance a Fibaro Wall Plug. The technology builds the mesh network itself when devices are added to Homey. There’s no need to enter passwords or SSIDs like with Wi-Fi, and the devices figure out the optimal routes for commands and messages themselves.

Now, Z-Wave is a great technology, but not the whole world runs on Z-Wave. There are several other wireless technologies out there powering Smart Home. That is why we recommend to stay versatile with Homey. Homey is not only a Z-Wave controller, but can also control devices on your Wi-Fi, and via Bluetooth, Infrared, Zigbee and 433MHz signals. All these technologies may not mean much to you, but basically they are all the ways to wirelessly control devices. And with Homey, you can control them all.

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