Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Bluetooth and Z-Wave are all short-range wireless communication technologies, and they all have their own technical features and advantages. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are the communication protocols we are very familiar with, and Z-Wave and ZigBee are two wireless communication protocols widely used in the field of smart homes.

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Short-range wireless communication technology

Issue 2: Z-Wave


What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave wireless protocol technology features

How does Z-Wave work?



What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave was originally led by the Danish company Zensys and entered the United States in 2002. In 2005, the Z-Wave Alliance was established (although not as powerful as the ZigBee Alliance), but the alliance now has hundreds of corporate members. Like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee, Z-Wave is a wireless communication protocol that is a low-power, low-cost, and high-reliability technology that focuses on connections in smart home devices.

At the end of 2019, Silicon Labs, the owner of Z-Wave technology, and the Z-Wave Alliance jointly announced the opening of the Z-Wave specification, making it an approved multi-source wireless communication protocol. Many smart devices support communication with each other based on the Z-Wave standard protocol. In terms of market share, Z-Wave has a relatively high popularity rate in Europe and America. Currently, more than 100 million Z-Wave devices have been deployed worldwide, and there are more than 3,000 certified products. Especially with the joining of Cisco and Intel, it has strengthened Z-Wave's position in the field of smart homes. It can be said that Z-Wave has great development potential in the future smart home market.

Basic specifications of Z-Wave

Standard: Z-Wave Alliance ZAD12837/ITU-TG.9959

Frequency: 900MHz (ISM)

Range: 30m (effective coverage)

Data rate: 9.6kbps, 40kbps or 100kbps


Z-Wave wireless protocol technology features

 Compared with Wi-Fi, Z-Wave has much lower power consumption but a larger range than Bluetooth. In theory, the communication distance can reach 200m, which is suitable for narrowband applications. Z-Wave uses low-power radio waves to communicate between devices.

(1) Low power consumption is suitable for long-term use of low-power devices with built-in batteries.
(2) Large transmission range and long transmission distance.
(3) Interference problems between various devices can be avoided as much as possible.
(4) Support device linkage and can control up to 232 devices.
(5) Has a security layer and provides a key mechanism.

However, Z-Wave also has some disadvantages. For example, the transmission rate is relatively low and it is not suitable for bandwidth-intensive applications (such as audio/video transmission); it uses single-channel transmission data and its self-repair ability and anti-interference ability are slightly lower than those of ZigBee protocol. In addition, module prices are higher than ZigBee's and frequency band and standard restrictions are strict. Therefore, fewer mainstream brands of smart home products in China use Z-Wave.


How does Z-Wave work?

Z-Wave adopts a mesh network networking method using low-power radio waves to achieve communication between devices. Z-Wave can work in the wireless frequency range of 800-900MHz. Unlike ZigBee's operating frequency of 2.4GHz (the main frequency of Wi-Fi), Z-Wave uses low-frequency bands of 908.42MHz and 868.42 MHz respectively to avoid interference from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee wireless signals.

The actual frequency at which Z-Wave devices operate depends on the country or region where the device is used. For example, in the United States, frequencies of 908.40MHz, 908.42MHz and 916MHz are used; while in the UK and Europe frequencies of 868.40MHz, 868.42MHz and 869.85MHz are used.

In Wi-Fi networks, devices must be connected to a central hub (usually a router or other access point), while Z-Wave devices are all linked together to form a mesh network. Because Z-Wave is a cellular protocol, a single connected smart home device only needs a strong enough wireless signal to communicate with other devices in the network. The Z-Wave Alliance states that any Z-Wave hub should be able to control any Z-Wave device, making it easier to integrate multiple Z-Wave devices.

Z-Wave technology was originally designed for wireless control in smart homes and other small commercial building monitoring fields; therefore it is mainly used in smart homes and small commercial building monitoring fields. However, because its power consumption is lower than Bluetooth's and smart home devices that support Z-wave respond faster than those using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth