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When it comes to wireless technology, you’ve probably known all about Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but what about Z-Wave?
History of Z-Wave
Z-wave was first founded by the two Danish engineers of a start-up company named, Zensys. Their actual motive was to build something to automate homes, but this later turned out to be a protocol implemented by many companies all over the world.
Later in 2008, it was acquired by Sigma Designs. After seeing the potential of this technology, many other companies also joined the alliance, which is formerly known as Z-Wave Alliance.
What is Z Wave ?
Z-Wave is the leading wireless technology behind many of the secure, trusted brands that are working to make everyone’s home smarter and safer. This technology is used to power sensors, modules, plugs, remotes, and many more smart devices. With Z-Wave, smart home products can communicate with each other no matter what brand or platform they are built on using a central smart hub.
Z-Wave is a close standard protocol used on mesh networks for wireless communication between intelligent devices at home, offices, and other places.
This protocol supports communication between devices in a closed network. This means that one cannot access the governing code of Z-Wave publicly. It prevents the code from being altered by anyone. It also implies that every Z-Wave device has a unique ID that gives it access to any Z-Wave remote. This closed structure is the core of the Z-Wave protocol as it assures effective interoperability and security.
The Z-Wave protocol uses a radio-wave frequency or signal communication between appliances. Specifically, the protocol supports communication with at most 232 devices using 908.2MHz frequency. Communication between devices can be successful within 50m of distance. These features make Z-Wave a compelling option for Internet of Things (IoT) home automation applications. Meanwhile, for hospitals, malls, offices and any other buildings with large areas, it is better to use Zigbee.
Security plays a vital role in determining what network structure to use.
Z-Wave uses the same protocol as Zigbee - the AES128 standard of encryption for information security and has made it a mandatory benchmark for certification. AES128 is a trusted security standard that online banks and government agencies use. However, the Z-Wave protocol has an extra layer of security. Security 2 (S2) layer is also tagged as mandatory for every device that needs Z-Wave certification. This layer protects smart devices from being used in a DDOS attack.
So what’s the difference between the Plus and non-Plus versions of Z-Wave? The addition of ‘Plus’ means the device contains a newer generation of the technology - 500 series chip that takes advantage of the Z-Wave hardware platform, also known as Next Gen or Gen5. Z-Wave Plus certified products feature a high level of compatibility and security that enhance your experience with extended features, faster and easier installation and setup. Z-Wave Plus products have longer battery life, operate faster, an increased wireless range and improved noise immunity. The Plus range can also pair with each other with an extra layer of security, making it even harder for people to snoop in on your sensors and switches.
The regular Z-Wave devices and the Plus ones can seamlessly work together, so you never have to worry about that.
What is Z-Wave compatible with
Samsung SmartThings, Fibaro smart sensors, GE Appliances, LG SmartThinq, and many others. It cannot connect a massive number of devices altogether. The number of devices that can be connected is limited and the hops as well. The Z-Wave protocols and their devices are much slower when compared with the Zigbee protocol and its devices.
Z-Wave is a powerful, energy-efficient and premium smart home technology. It has significant advantages over Bluetooth and it offers better battery life than Wi-Fi-based devices.
At the same time, Z-Wave is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s low-power, and thus not suitable for high-bandwidth appliances like wireless speakers. At the moment, the technology leads the market when it comes to sensors, whereas smart lights are more likely to support Zigbee or Wi-Fi, or the upcoming Matter technology (we will speak about Matter next time). It is ideal for users with basic understanding of technology.