What is Z-Wave and What Can It Do?

Introduction

In This Guide
You'll Learn:
  • What Z-Wave Is
Z-Wave

1 What is Z-Wave

What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave is a communications protocol, like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It's designed to create a personal network of small, simple devices. This makes it ideal for home automation devices.

Z-Wave isn't a 'product' in the traditional sense; you can't "buy a Z-Wave". Rather, you'd purchase a device that uses Z-Wave to communicate.

Z-Wave is very low-power, and designed for home automation..

On top of that, it allows for what's known as a "mesh network". Each device will relay the control signals they receive, even if it's not for them if they're on the same network. In addition, the range is quite high.

The downside to the Z-Wave protocol is the data rate is extremely low by today's standards. Usually no more than 40 kbit/s, and often much less. This is much, much too slow to 'surf the web' over, but because the commands being sent to Z-Wave devices are simple and small, it does not affect them. Remember, Z-Wave is designed so simple devices can take short commands and respond with simple status messages to another computer, not for humans to view content.

Z-Wave Network Information

Since Z-Wave isn't the same as Wi-Fi, it requires its own special 'hub' or 'router'. This is usually a small box that plugs into your current home Wi-Fi router, and acts as a 'bridge' between the Z-Wave network of lights and appliances, and your computers, smartphones, and tablets. This is the Primary Controller, and keeps track of all the security information, what devices are on the network, their status, etc., and relays that information in a simple, easy to use format to a program or app on your computer or smartphone.

After that, each device that uses Z-Wave must be "paired" to your Z-Wave Controller. They will then relay any instructions sent out by the Controller to any other nearby devices; creating a "wave" of the commands.

Examples

Smart Locks

Yale, Schlage, Kwikset, and others have both started offering locks that use Z-Wave to communicate.

Smart Electrical Outlets and Switches

A number of companies, including GE, offer replacement switches, outlets, and power strips to transform your normal lighting and small appliances into smart lighting.

Sensors

A large number of sensors are available from a variety of companies. These include door and window sensors, water sensors, and temperature sensors.

Open Source

The Z-Wave protocol is open source. This means any company can pick up the specifications, and create products that will work with your existing Z-Wave controller and devices.

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In This Guide
You'll Learn:
  • What Z-Wave Is
Z-Wave

What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave is a communications protocol, like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It's designed to create a personal network of small, simple devices. This makes it ideal for home automation devices.

Z-Wave isn't a 'product' in the traditional sense; you can't "buy a Z-Wave". Rather, you'd purchase a device that uses Z-Wave to communicate.

Z-Wave is very low-power, and designed for home automation..

On top of that, it allows for what's known as a "mesh network". Each device will relay the control signals they receive, even if it's not for them if they're on the same network. In addition, the range is quite high.

The downside to the Z-Wave protocol is the data rate is extremely low by today's standards. Usually no more than 40 kbit/s, and often much less. This is much, much too slow to 'surf the web' over, but because the commands being sent to Z-Wave devices are simple and small, it does not affect them. Remember, Z-Wave is designed so simple devices can take short commands and respond with simple status messages to another computer, not for humans to view content.

Z-Wave Network Information

Since Z-Wave isn't the same as Wi-Fi, it requires its own special 'hub' or 'router'. This is usually a small box that plugs into your current home Wi-Fi router, and acts as a 'bridge' between the Z-Wave network of lights and appliances, and your computers, smartphones, and tablets. This is the Primary Controller, and keeps track of all the security information, what devices are on the network, their status, etc., and relays that information in a simple, easy to use format to a program or app on your computer or smartphone.

After that, each device that uses Z-Wave must be "paired" to your Z-Wave Controller. They will then relay any instructions sent out by the Controller to any other nearby devices; creating a "wave" of the commands.

Examples

Smart Locks

Yale, Schlage, Kwikset, and others have both started offering locks that use Z-Wave to communicate.

Smart Electrical Outlets and Switches

A number of companies, including GE, offer replacement switches, outlets, and power strips to transform your normal lighting and small appliances into smart lighting.

Sensors

A large number of sensors are available from a variety of companies. These include door and window sensors, water sensors, and temperature sensors.

Open Source

The Z-Wave protocol is open source. This means any company can pick up the specifications, and create products that will work with your existing Z-Wave controller and devices.

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