Z-Wave is a low-power wireless technology designed specifically for remote control applications. Unlike Wi-Fi and other 802.11-based wireless LAN systems that are designed primarily for high-bandwidth data flow, the Z-Wave RF system operates in the sub Gigahertz frequency range and is optimized for low-overhead commands such as on-off (as in a light switch or an appliance) and raise-lower (as in a thermostat or volume control), with the ability to include device metadata in the communications. Because Z-Wave operates apart from the 2.4 GHz frequency of 802.11 based wireless systems, it is largely impervious to interference from common household wireless electronics, such as Wi-Fi routers, cordless telephones and Bluetooth devices that work in the same frequency range. This freedom from household interference allows for a standardized low-bandwidth control medium that can be reliable alongside common wireless devices.
As a result of its low power consumption and low cost of manufacture, Z-Wave is easily embedded in consumer electronics products, including battery operated devices such as remote controls, smoke alarms and security sensors. Z-Wave is currently supported by over 160 manufacturers worldwide and appears in a broad range of consumer products in the U.S. and Europe.
Z-Wave is a mesh-network technology where each node or device on the network is capable sending and receiving control commands through walls or floors and around household obstacles or radio dead spots that might occur in the home. Z-Wave devices can work singly or in groups, and can be programmed into scenes or events that trigger multiple devices, either automatically or via remote control. Some common applications for Z-Wave include:
Remote Home Control And Management
By adding Z-Wave to home electronics such as lighting, climate and security systems, it is possible to control and monitor these household functions via remote control, based on manual or automated decisions. The control can be applied to a single device or group of devices, in a single room or zone or throughout the entire home. Z-Wave devices can also be monitored and controlled from outside of the home by way of a gateway that combines Z-Wave with broadband Internet access.
Z-Wave is envisioned as a key enabling technology for energy management in the green home. As an example, Z-Wave enabled thermostats are able to raise or lower automatically based on commands from Z-Wave enabled daylight sensors. Grouped scene controls can ensure that unnecessary energy consumption is minimized by various all-off states for systems throughout the home such as lighting, appliances and home entertainment systems.
Home Safety And Security Systems
Because Z-Wave can transceive commands based on real time conditions, and is able to control devices in intelligent groupings, it allows novel extensions of traditional home security concepts. As an example, the opening of a Z-Wave enabled door lock can de-activate a security system and turn on lights when children arrive home from school, and send a notification to a parent's PC or cell phone via the Internet. The opening a Z-Wave enabled garage door can trigger exterior and interior home lights, while a Z-Wave motion detector can trigger an outdoor security light and a webcam, which would allow the end user to monitor the home while away.
Z-Wave’s ability to command multiple devices as a unified event makes it well suited for home audio and video applications. For example, a simple “Play DVD” command on the remote control could turn on the needed components, set them to the correct inputs and even lower motorized shades and dim the room lights. Z-Wave’s RF technology is also well suited as an evolution of conventional infrared (IR) based remote controls for home electronics, as it is not constrained by IR’s line of sight and distance limitations. In January of 2008, Zensys announced a single-chip solution that pairs Z-Wave with IR control, positioning the technology as an all encompassing solution for home remote controls.
Z-Wave mesh networks can begin with a single controllable device and a controller. Additional devices can be added at any time, as can multiple controllers, including traditional hand-held controllers, key-fob controllers, wall-switch controllers and PC applications designed for management and control of a Z-Wave network.
A device must be “included” to the Z-Wave network before it can be controlled via Z-Wave. This process (also known as “pairing” and “adding”) is usually achieved by pressing a sequence of buttons on the controller and the device being added to the network. This sequence only needs to be performed once, after which the device is always recognized by the controller. Devices can be removed from the Z-Wave network by a similar process of button strokes.
This inclusion process is repeated for each device in the system. Because the controller is learning the signal strength between the devices during the inclusion process, the devices themselves should be in their intended final location before they are added to the system.
Products and applications from the Z-Wave Alliance fall into all major market sectors for residential and light commercial control applications. These include lighting, HVAC and security control, as well as home theaters, automated window treatments, pool and spa controls, garage and access controls and more.
Range: Approximately 100 feet (or 30 meters) assuming "open air" conditions, with reduced range indoors depending on building materials, etc.
Frequency band: The Z-Wave Radio uses the 900 MHz ISM band: 908.42MHz (USA); 868.42MHz (Europe); 919.82MHz (Hong Kong); 921.42MHz (Australia/New Zealand).