Learn All About Z-Wave Technology with this Quick Guide

If you’re new to the idea of smart home automation, you’ve likely come across quite a few unfamiliar terms. One of those terms, Z-Wave, is commonly used to designate certain smart products, but what does it actually mean? In this blog, we define.

Defining Z-Wave

Z-Wave is a type of technology protocol used to enable wireless communication between devices. First developed in 2003, Z-Wave really started taking off in 2005. Z-Wave is a wireless communications protocol used primarily for home automation. It is a mesh network using low-energy radio waves to communicate from appliance to appliance, allowing for wireless control of residential appliances and other devices, such as lighting control, security systems, thermostats, windows, locks, swimming pools and garage door openers. Like other protocols and systems aimed at the home and office automation market, a Z-Wave system can be controlled via the Internet from a smart phone, tablet or computer, and locally through a smart speaker, wireless keyfob, or wall-mounted panel with a Z-Wave gateway or central control device serving as both the hub controller and portal to the outside. Z-Wave provides the application layer interoperability between home control systems of different manufacturers that are a part of its alliance. There are a growing number of interoperable Z-Wave products; over 1,700 in 2017, and over 2,600 by 2019.

How Z-Wave Works

Like Wi-Fi, Z-Wave allows devices to talk to each other without any cords connecting them. However, Z-Wave’s protocol enables much more reliable connections because of how information is transferred from one device to another. Instead of sending a signal directly from point A to point B (which can weaken over distance, especially if you have a large home), Z-Wave uses what is called a mesh network to “hop” the signal across devices until it reaches its final destination. Each device that the signal stops at along the way reinforces the strength of the communication. The more Z-Wave devices you have throughout your home, the tighter your mesh is going to be.

On the practical side of things, Z-Wave devices are controlled by a central hub that you can interact with via a smart device such as a smartphone, Apple Watch, or tablet. You simply tell the hub what you want (turn on the lights, view security cameras, lower the music level, check the weather, etc.), and the hub sends out the appropriate command to the right smart device in your home.

Why Use Z-Wave Devices?

Z-Wave devices offer a lot of benefits for the end consumer. Here are a few of our favorite features:

1) Easy to Install: Many Z-Wave devices are designed for DIY smart home automation, meaning that you don’t have to hire a programmer to set up your smart home for you. The same goes for the physical installation process—Z-Wave devices can be installed as easily as attaching a magnet to your wall or inserting a smart plug into an outlet

2) Wireless: Because Z-Wave devices communicate wirelessly, you don’t have to compromise the clean look of your home’s interior design with a bunch of cluttered wires and cords. The devices communicate across a mesh network that keeps signals going strong, from one end of your home to the other.

3) Security: Z-Wave offers the most secure standard for home automation, a clear requirement when automating things like door locks. To keep your smart home secure, Z-Wave communication uses AES-128 encryption, the same level of encryption used by financial institutions to keep your sensitive banking information safe. Each device receives a unique ID so that it can only be controlled by you.

4) Low Power: If being eco-friendly is important to you, Z-Wave devices are a good choice. Unlike Wi-Fi-based devices, which drain a lot of energy on a regular basis, Z-Wave devices use very little power. The standard battery life for Z-Wave products is several years, although breakthroughs in technology have enabled some Z-Wave batteries to last up to a decade!

5) Versatile Device Selection: Z-Wave is the most popular and highly used protocol for smart home hubs. Tons of smart home devices use Z-Wave, with new products coming out daily. With Z-Wave, you can control so many different aspects of your home – protect from water damage with a smart water valve shut-off device, monitor the energy consumption of small appliances with a smart plug, and even get notified when your smart mousetrap catches that pesky rodent.

Whatever smart application you’re looking for, you can use Z-Wave to control all of your devices in one central system.

Are you ready to start using Z-Wave technology in your home or business? View our Z-Wave smart home automation devices or contact us to learn more.