Z-Wave - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave is the leading smart home technology found in millions of products around the world. It is a wireless technology that operates on low power. Z-Wave technology inside everyday products allows these products become “smart” – giving them the ability to talk to each other and enabling you to control the devices and thus your home, from anywhere.

What does Z-Wave do?

Z-Wave allows the user to automate, monitor, or remotely control electronic devices, making a house into a Smart Home. Examples of this include automatically turning on lighting for safety, turning off lighting for efficiency, automating the home temperature based on a schedule or based on occupancy, remotely locking/unlocking doors, or getting notifications of water, fire, movement, energy use, etc. The combinations are limitless and can be customized to fit your life.

Is Z-Wave the only smart home technology? Why is Z-Wave better?

Z-Wave is one of several wireless protocols, including WiFi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee. Z-Wave’s wireless signal uses low power, which allows for long battery life and small, almost invisible devices (for battery operated devices) and efficiency for devices that are line powered. It is also away from the congested WiFi bandwidth, which leads to lost signals and a shorter range. Z-Wave is a mesh network, which means unlike Bluetooth and WiFi, each line-powered Z-Wave device acts as a repeater in the “mesh” (think fishing net) which increases reliability and overall range. Z-Wave is also secure; all by itself on the frequency range, which gives better security over all others. Z-Wave and ZigBee are similar, but Z-Wave features over 2400 certified devices made by 700 companies, which guarantees lower prices and better designs.

What is the frequency of Z-Wave?

In Canada and the United States, Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus operates at 908.42 MHz in standard mode. If using Long Range wireless mode, available exclusively in 700 series and 800 series Z-Wave Plus, it operates at 912 MHz.1

What versions of Z-Wave are there?

There have been several version of Z-Wave made available since the technology's first release in 1999. In total 8 different generations of Z-Wave have been released including 5 generations of Z-Wave and 3 generations of Z-Wave Plus. 800 series is the newest version of Z-Wave to have been released.2

Which version of Z-Wave is best?

The best version of Z-Wave is also the newest: 800 series. It's the 8th generation of Z-Wave technology to be publicly released since 1999. However, not all the products you'll want to use are currently using Z-Wave 800 series, so there are some important rules to follow;

  1. Aim to only purchase devices which use Z-Wave Plus or Z-Wave Plus V2 technology. Those using older technology don't feature the same speed, security, or battery efficiency of Z-Wave Plus.
  2. Where you can, purchase either 800, 700 or 500 series Z-Wave products dnd do so in that order. 800 series is the best version of Z-Wave Plus, 700 series is the second best, and 500 series is the third best.
What is the wireless range of Z-Wave?

The distance / range which Z-Wave devices can communicate across is determined by two main factors: 1/ the version of Z-Wave used and 2/ the obstacles between devices. Open air is roughly 300 feet. Indoors could drop to 30 feet. In instances where the required distance is greater than the range of a device, all line-powered Z-Wave devices act as repeaters to stretch the range (up to 4 hops).

Do I need a Z-Wave Hub? A Gateway? a Controller? What’s the Difference?

Controller, Hub, Gateway. For the average user, these terms can be used interchangeably. A Z-Wave controller is any device that controls a Z-Wave network. A Controller could be a remote, or it could be a security panel. You need some type of Z-Wave Controller to control Z-Wave devices. A Z-Wave Hub is a Controller in a box, with a plug and a way to connect to your internet. It’s a more specific term than Controller, and gives a visual of the center of the Z-Wave network; which it is. A Z-Wave Gateway is also a hub, but usually (not always) includes a few other smart home technologies, to give a more complete smart home experience. When getting into security panels and Gateways, be sure that Z-Wave is included in the available technologies.

Can I use Z-Wave on my phone?

Yes, with a Z-Wave controller and the manufacturer's App, you can control your smart home from your phone, tablet, or laptop; anywhere you can get internet. Stand-alone Apps will NOT work with Z-Wave, as your phone doesn’t have the required Z-Wave chip.

I found a FREE Z-Wave App in the App Store and need to activate it.

There are a few Z-Wave Apps available, but none of them will work without a Z-Wave controller. Every certified Z-Wave controller will give the user directions on where to obtain the proper App.

Will Z-Wave work with my existing WiFi router?

No, you need some type of Z-Wave Controller to control Z-Wave devices.

Do I need internet to use Z-Wave technology in my home?

The most basic networks (a remote and a few Z-Wave bulbs or plug-in modules) will work without internet. Most Z-Wave Gateways will not be able to talk to Z-Wave devices without being connected to the internet.

Will Z-Wave devices work with my security panel?

Z-Wave devices are made to be interoperable. They are designed to work with any Z-Wave controller from any security provider (Vivint, ADT, Alarm.com, FrontPoint, Protect America, etc) but ultimately this is up to the security company, and would best be answered by them. Several companies, like Simplysafe, do NOT allow Z-Wave integration at this time.

What Z-Wave devices will work with my existing Z-Wave Gateway?

Z-Wave devices are made to be interoperable. They are designed to work with any Z-Wave Controller from any manufacturer. It is up to the manufacturer to allow basic operation of any device. Contact us and we can help you determine the best devices for your home.

I just bought a new house, which has a Z-Wave security system. Where do I get the password?

Z-Wave is smart technology; not a brand. Contacting a distributor (like us) for information on a lost password, unfortunately, won’t get the desired results. ZWaveProducts.com does not maintain any passwords or have access to Z-Wave networks. The best course of action is to contact the real estate broker who handled the sale. Perhaps he or she can contact the seller with more information. Also worth a try is the actual manufacturer of the device. They may be able to help with a factory reset (depending on the device). Please keep in mind, for security purposes, there is no ‘universal’ password that we can supply to get you into your security system or Z-Wave gateway.

Will Z-Wave devices with with Amazon Alexa or Google Home?

Many Z-Wave Gateways offer Alexa or Google Home integration, so the user can voice control Z-Wave devices. Neither Amazon Alexa nor Google Home have Z-Wave chips, so Z-Wave devices will not work with either one, without an Alexa (or Google Home) friendly Z-Wave Controller.

Is Z-Wave is hackable? What security problems does it have?

Official statement from Silicon Labs: We want to be very clear: installed, previously paired Z-Wave devices are secure and not vulnerable to a downgrade attack. This represents practically all 100 million Z-Wave devices in homes today.

Source(s)

1 Z-Wave frequencies
2 Z-Wave technology