What is Z-Wave?

What is Z-Wave?
Z-Wave is a wireless network technology used for automating lighting, heating, security and other appliances, things in the house.  Each light switch has it’s own radio that talks Z-Wave, or traditional switches can be used with a companion Z-Wave device that sits behind the switch in the electrical box.   Powered by 120V here in North America, Z-Wave here uses a frequency of around 900 MHz and avoids interference with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.   The Z-Wave devices are “dumb” knowing only a few things about themselves and knowing the path to their neighbors and to the home controller, or the brain of the network.

How does it work?
As described above each device in the Z-Wave network has its own little radio That talks to the brain or a C wave controller. There must always be one Primary sea wave controller in each network. There can also be secondary controllers and there can be many secondary controllers in a Z-Wave network, but only one Primary.   Our Vera Z-Wave controller is the Primary controller in our network, and when we purchase a new Z-Wave switch or device for our network, we have to add it (known as Pairing) to our Vera Controller.   Vera then knows about the device and finds the optimal route to that device and to other devices, sometimes routing through that new device.

What types of devices and controllers are there?  
As of December 2014 there are over 1000 C wave devices on the market today, and the list is growing everyday.  Many of the major security companies have adopted some type of C wave controls in their systems, and many of the big box stores such as Staples, Lowe’s, Home Depot, all have their own home automation controller brand.  For a more detailed list on both controllers and devices you can use with your C wave network please see our Z-Wave Controllers and Z-Wave Devices section

What is this new Z-Wave Plus?
Z-Wave Plus is a newer more extensible version of the Z-Wave protocol but uses the 500 Series Chipsets for a greater plug and play experience.   Z-Wave Plus certification now includes a technical aspect, where is basic Z-Wave certification was more of a marketing certification.  Now it’s a full fledged Marketing and Technical certification, pushing ease of use and interoperability to a higher level. For more information on Z-Wave and Z-Wave plus, we urge you to see the Z-Wave website at Sigma Designs at http://z-wave.sigmadesigns.com

Why Not Zigbee?
Zigbee is a fine technology That in some cases competes with Z-Wave but they are more complementary to each other than anything.  Z-Wave was the first technology to start appearing on the retail market for DIY home automation. Zigbee was more focused on commercial technologies such as power meter reading, water meters and other markets.   Z-Wave has over 1000 devices Currently available that for the most part interoperate together.   Zigbee is playing catchup when it comes to devices and controllers available to the home market.