The popularity of smart devices is growing at an incredible pace. Ordering pizza with the help of Alexa is one thing but when you have two dozen devices right at your fingertips, whether you are home or not, that’s when you really feel powerful.
Right now, no one better handles this task better than Z-Wave mesh network technology.
Wait, who? What?
Z-Wave may not be Apple-famous but if you even think about moving towards the home automation, you must know what it is. In this article we’ll help you get the grasp of how Z-Wave became an essential part of home automation and what it’s capable of.
There is quite a bit to say about Z-Wave, from the software standpoint as well as hardware.
In most simple terms, Z-Wave is a language that helps all your devices at home talk to each other at the same time, giving you full control through Z-Wave applications or then internet.
Here’s a fragment of Z-Waves incredible story to world domination. The protocol was developed and introduced in 2001 as a wireless means to connect various devices. Despite slow growth and lack of investment at first, 3rd generation Z-Wave was so successful that it gave birth to the Z-Wave Alliance. Alliance is a group of companies that basically promised to nurture and promote Z-Wave. That’s all it took and now over 1,700 devices can communicate through Z-Wave.
Now, the interesting part – how does it work? We won’t get into too much detail (after all, you’re probably more excited about all the things it can do) but there are some things you must know before you use Z-Wave.
One of the reasons why Z-Wave is such a smart technology for home automation is that it uses radio frequency rather than popular-but-not-so-reliable Wi-fi. So, even if your internet connection goes down, your devices can still communicate. When we are talking about Z-Wave powered home locks, pet feeders, plant-watering, etc. that’s incredibly important.
Z-Wave connects your devices in a mesh (non-hierarchical) network which simply means that devices get to ‘talk’ directly resulting in a better performance and again, reliability.
Theoretically, Z-Wave can support a couple of hundred of nodes at once but, at least now, the performance drops once 40 nodes are connected into a single network. Which shouldn’t be a problem in most households and, hopefully, will be taken care of in the future.
Z-Wave can juggle many tasks at once from a simple on/off tasks to monitoring and notification. And that’s what we are very excited to talk about next.
Theory is important, we would not say otherwise. But while the software/hardware combo is fascinating in the Z-Wave, the application capabilities have been extended on an unfathomable scale in the last several years. As we mentioned, already there are 1,700 Z-Wave products. And the home automation age is just getting started.
So, excuse us for our slightly over-the-top enthusiasm over the power of Z-Wave but it can, and does a lot.
If you really got into it, tomorrow your whole house, including lights, locks, heating, music systems, windows and siding, and so much more could be automated and controlled with the help of Z-Wave.
Here’s what you can do with Z-Wave.
Let’s start with something you already know. As we briefly mentioned before, a line of Z-Wave-supported products can be set up for monitoring things like temperature, humidity, checking for and notifying you about the smoke and gas concentration, etc.
This Z-Wave Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide from First alert is a perfect example.
Not surprisingly, home automation became a favorite for people who are often not home. This is again where Z-Wave has helped tremendously taking home monitoring into another level. You can go the simple route and install security cameras that you can connect to at any time or, go advanced by installing various sensors (motion, sound, glass/door breaking, garage door movement, flooding, etc).
To get the idea of what each of these devices are capable of, you can check out the GOCONTROL GB00Z-2 Wave Glass Break Detector
https://www.amazon.com/GOCONTROL-GB00Z-2-Glass-Break-Detector/dp/B01BKWGAAA or the Fortress S02-F Wireless Home Security Alarm System https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPXLB86. But please note, while the potential is there, the ways this technology is applied are changing and not every product is perfect right of the bat.
Knowing what is going on at home while you’re away is great. Knowledge is power and all that. But this is not where Z-Wave capabilities run out.There are two kinds of activation tasks these devices can perform – binary or range.
Binary activation devices have the simple on/off functionality. Most of the tasks they perform are just that, simple. Like flicking the lights off that you forgot before running out the door.
Although, it might be worth noting that there are also products in the market that some will see extremely valuable despite their functional limits. For example, Leak Intel’s Z-Wave 3/4″ Water Control Valve https://www.amazon.com/Leak-Intel-Certified-LIFETIME-WARRANTY/dp/B01LE9OD3A could make the difference between remotely shutting down the water and thousands of dollars in flooding damage.
Range activations includes actions like dimming/brightening the lights at a certain time of the day.
Of course, if you can monitor and activate, you can also manage your home automation network remotely. A universal remote control should work but the market has been filled with a new generation of remote controls for more and easier functionality. .
Just to give you an idea of what they can do, check out the Wayne-Dalton HA-09WD HomeSettings Remote Control https://www.amazon.com/Wayne-Dalton-HA-09WD-HomeSettings-Remote-Control/dp/B001HL7MLG or the Z-Wave Minimote from the Aeon Labs. https://www.amazon.com/Aeon-Labs-DSA03202-v1-Minimote/dp/B00KU7ERAW. Most of these new remotes will differ from a $3 Universal Remote in that they have some sort of a memory, so you can assign devices into groups and manage them as you like. For example, instead of dimming each light individually, you can assign several to one and manage it that way.
The coolest feature you can use, at least in our minds, is the ability to gain control via flash drives and IP gateways. Which simply means that while you’re on a holiday a thousand miles from home, you can reach your whole home network through a computer or a smartphone.
What you need for that is a controler hub, something like the VeraPlus-US Smart Home Controller Hub https://www.amazon.com/Vera-Control-VeraPlus-US-Smart-Controller/dp/B01BX9P89Y. The advantage of a controller hub is that it gives you an incredibly easy way to manage the network – add new devices, group devices, update firmware. All of this from anywhere in the world. Plus, Z-Wave can not be voice-controlled by itself, so if you want to connect your devices to Alexa or Google Home and use voice commands, a hub is necessary.
Probably some of you have already started planning how you can use Z-Wave to automate your home. It’s that good. Others might be disappointed. In essence, Z-Wave doesn’t do much more than simple monitoring and a couple of different activation tasks.
But that’s the beauty of it. It’s so simple. And you can’t say the potential isn’t there. Once your home automation network grows, managing everything can soon become a burden, remotely at that! But with Z-Wave you can set up various triggers and alerts that will immediately transform your home.
Imagine the possibilities and start experimenting. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us – we’ll do our best to help.
Here are the posts listed on Z-Wave Products:
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