Z-Wave the Home of your Home Automation
Designed by Danish home-automation giant Zensys, Z-Wave has established itself as the de facto standard in wireless home control.
Z-Wave is one of the most widely distributed and reliable wireless home automation systems on the market because it was developed primarily for residential use and sensor networks – and, as a result, it works exceptionally well with the low-power and low-bandwidth appliances found in your home.
The innovative protocol transforms your electronic devices into an intelligent network, enabling them to smoothly interact with strategic applications such as lighting, home entertainment, energy management, security, access control, and remote home monitoring.
Z-Wave vs. X10
This state-of-the-art wireless technology is often considered far superior to powerline home automation systems, due to its advanced speed and reliability. Here are a few points to consider:
Because it is radio-frequency-based, control signals are communicated rapidly using radio waves at designated frequencies. Z-wave can send and receive an acknowledgment of command in 50ms, while X10 systems take roughly one second to simply send a command.
Add the fact that the Z-Wave system can support up to 232 devices, and you end up with is extremely powerful automation technology. Keep in mind, however, that X10 (link: 13_How X10 works.doc) can handle 256 devices, and Insteon can handle many, many more.
Z-Wave has integrated command acknowledgment capabilities, which guarantee that commands and messages are not lost without generating an error. Additionally, controllers do not need to be within the device transmission range, because they function in mesh networks that can be controlled anywhere in or around the home. Each device acts independently, and nodes in the system are repeaters, which ricochets messages until they reach their destination.
Each Z-Wave controller has a 32-bit home code, as opposed to 4 bits for X10. In creating a network, Z-Wave controllers assign a single system-wide home code to each device, where you have to deal with 16 in X10. If messages are received from other home codes, they will not be relayed or responded to, so your home will never be hijacked accidentally.
Does Z-Wave have any limitations?
Like all home automation systems, Z-Wave does have a few minor drawbacks. Because it’s an RF-based protocol, you may experience minor signal issues, especially if you have a very large house with many walls. The more obstacles a signal has to pass through, the shorter the range will become.
Also, while you could fully equip your home with an X10 automation system for just $250, a Z-Wave system usually costs around $600, due to the requirement of a Z-Wave network controller or router.
Because Z-Wave is such a new technology, there aren’t as many compatible products on the market as there are for Insteon and certainly not as many as for X10. However, every day, new wireless products are being released, and in the long run, a wireless home automation system will likely dwarf their powerline counterparts. It happened with cordless and cell phones – and, of course, we all love our TV remote controls, don’t we?
What can we do with Z-Wave now?
Thanks to it’s growing popularity we have seen other vendors jumping on board. From energy meters to smart doors. Check them out in the links below.