Cheat Sheet: Z-Wave
Home control technologies have, for the most part, been restricted to custom installed, high-end systems. Often those systems use wired and proprietary protocols for sending signals around a house. Z-Wave is a recent wireless networking protocol that has been adopted by many manufacturers for control of home entertainment products, lighting and thermostats that can be installed and set up by the home owner at reasonable prices. Developed and licensed by Zensys, the technology uses a narrow bandwidth for sending control commands and small packets of data, but it doesn’t have enough bandwidth for audio or video signals. Z-Wave is a two-way system operating on a 908MHz frequency in a mesh network in which every device assists the system, each acting as it’s own repeater. Commands go first to the target device for the remote or controller. If the command doesn’t get there, it will start networking through other Z-Wave devices in the house. Z-Wave is available in a single-chip design, which can cut down on cost and power consumption. The technology has four billion unique IDs, compared to 256 for X-10.
How much support does Z-Wave have among consumer electronics manufacturers?
There are over 125 members of the Z-Wave alliance, all of whom either have or are in the process of developing Z-Wave products. Monster Power, Leviton, Intermatic, Wayne Dalton HomeSeer, Exceptional Innovations and Logitech are among manufacturers now offering Z-Wave products.