Z-Wave smart home: Everything you need to know

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With over 2,100 compatible products available, Z-Wave is one of the most prolific home automation solutions in the world.


What is Z-Wave?

Developed in 2001 by the Danish company Zensys, Z-Wave is a wireless protocol that enables communication between a wide range of smart home devices. Devices that implement the Z-Wave protocol can interact with each other through a Z-Wave central controller, which in turn can be controlled via your smartphone or PC. This allows you to remotely adjust the settings on your smart devices, turn lights on or off or change the temperature of your thermostat wirelessly even when you're not at home.

How does Z-Wave work?

Z-Wave uses low-power radio waves to communicate between devices. This reduces the likelihood of interference from other wireless technologies in your house, since Wi-Fi and Bluetooth operate on far higher frequencies. Z-Wave communications are also encrypted to prevent interference from other Z-Wave networks, and to ensure no one else can take control of your smart home.

Unlike some home automation technologies, Z-Wave uses a mesh network configuration to facilitate communication between devices. Essentially, this means messages can be forwarded from device to device instead of the central controller sending them to individual devices directly. This allows Z-Wave networks to operate over far greater distances than ordinary smart home networks.

Z-Wave also supports the creation of scenes, allowing you to group multiple actions under a single command. For example, you could create a scene that is triggered when you unlock your front door, causing your lights to come on automatically, your security system to deactivate and your coffee machine to start brewing. Scenes allow for deep, comprehensive home automation and are supported by all Z-Wave devices.

Z-Wave's smart home range

Over 600 companies worldwide have thrown their support behind Z-Wave, producing more than 2,100 devices compatible with the wireless protocol. These span everything from lights and thermostats to speakers and security systems. The official Z-Wave website maintains a list of all compatible products, but you'll find some of the more popular product lines below:

Home controllers

  • Vera Edge controller
  • Fibaro Home Center
  • Samsung SmartThings Hub

Lighting

  • Aeotec LED bulbs
  • DHS dimmer switches
  • Fibaro in-wall switches

Appliance control

  • DHS plug-in switches
  • Aeotec plug-in switches
  • Fibaro micro relays

Cameras

  • Foscam indoor/outdoor wireless cameras
  • VistaCam HD indoor/outdoor cameras
  • VBell video VoIP intercoms

Sensors

  • Fibaro motion sensors
  • DHS multi-sensors
  • Vision door/window sensors

Locks

  • Lockwood digital deadbolts
  • Vision deadbolt keypad
  • KAS door locks

Climate control

  • Remotec thermostat
  • Remotec A/C controller
  • Fakro motorised window opener

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