All you need to know about Z-WAVE

Z-Wave comes in different frequencies:

  • Australia: 921.42 MHz
  • China: 868.42 MHz
  • Europe and South Africa: 868.42 MHz
  • India: 865.22 MHz
  • Japan: 951-956 MHz
  • Hong Kong: 919.82 MHz
  • Malaysia: 868.10 MHz
  • New Zealand: 921.42 MHz
  • Singapore: 868.42 MHz
  • UAE: 868.42 MHz
  • USA/Canada: 908.42 MHz
  • Brazil: 908.42 MHz

The beauty of Z-Wave is that it provides interoperability between devices from different manufacturers, but you can’t mix and match different frequencies. Currently there are over 500 approved Z-Wave products. Each country allocates RF spectrum differently for different devices. If you are from South Africa and buy devices from the USA with the USA frequency, it will work but you might get interference from other devices have the same frequency in South Africa.

Why doesn’t the Z-Wave Radio use the 2.4GHz band?

The sub-GHz frequency range used by Z-Wave throughout the world has a physical propagation range that is approximately 2.5 times the equivalent 2.4GHz signal. This allows for the Z-Wave radio to consume less power compared to wireless devices that operates in the 2.4GHz band. Apart from that, the 2.4 GHz band is very crowded with, for example, Wi-Fi networks.

Which applications are best suited for Z-Wave?

The Z-Wave protocol is designed for residential control and light commercial systems. Typically these systems have between five and two hundred plus nodes distributed around the home and garden area. The system is designed for ease-of-installation because a typical installation is made and managed by the homeowners themselves. A typical control node is a lamp, light switch, thermostat, remote control, or motor to drive garage doors or curtains. The amount of data transmitted is small but reaction time has to be fast, and communication must be reliable. The Z-Wave system is designed to be low cost, so the mass consumer market is now able to enjoy the benefits of home control systems.

What is the range of a Z-Wave device?

The range of a Z-Wave signal is strongly influenced by the environment; for example the number of walls that the signal has to move through. Typical ranges achieved by Z-Wave customers are 30 meters indoor and over 100 meters outdoors in the open air. But because Z-Wave is a mesh network protocol it can route commands from one node to another until the command reaches it’s end destination, thus increasing the distance.

How many nodes can be present in a single Z-Wave network?

A single Z-Wave network can include 232 nodes. If necessary, more than one network can be bridged to extend the number of nodes further, although this is normally not needed in a residential environment.

Does Z-Wave support battery-operated devices?

Yes. A typical Z-Wave network contains a mixture of AC powered and battery powered nodes. Battery power is used for remote controls, sensors, and switches. AC power is used for devices, which require power to operate, such as lamps and power sockets.