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Z-wave In-Depth

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Z-wave Plus : Top Notch Smart Home Products

What is Z-wave and what can we do with it? This page will explain more about the Z-wave protocol and its devices. click here if you want to know more about Z-wave in general

Z-wave logo

1. Origin of Z-wave protocol

Z-wave is a wireless signal used for communication of between a controll center and wireless devices, such as actors and sensors. Just like WiFi is the protocol for wireless computer networks. With Z-wave products you can monitor and controll your house, even when you are not home. You can even create automated scenes. The Z-wave protocol is developed by Zen-Sys, and has become the world standard for wireless home automation. Since 2009 more than 200 small and large companys make Z-wave products.

2. Z-wave frequency

Z-wave works on the sub 1Ghz signal. This ensures better range than for example WiFi (2.5Ghz). Also this frequency is less busy. Unfortunatly there is no world wide freqeuncy, it depends on the region you are in. 

2.1 Tabel Z-wave frequenties

Region Z-wave freq.
Australia 921,4 Mhz
Brazil 921,4 Mhz
CEPT 868,4 Mhz
China 868,4 Mhz
Hong Kong 919,8 Mhz
India 865,2 Mhz
Japan 950 951-956 Mhz
Japan 920 922-956 Mhz
Malysie 868,1 Mhz
Mexico 908,4 Mhz
Nieuw-Zeeland 921,4 Mhz
Russia 869,0 Mhz
Singapore 868,4 Mhz
South-Africa 868,4 Mhz
United Emirates 868,4 Mhz
US / Canada 908,4 Mhz

The maximum transmitting power if 25mW. With a good antenna in open field you will get a range of 200meter.  In a house you could say it will get just as far as an old fashioned DECT-phone. Z-wave devices uses 3 types of antennas, external, wireantenna and the one on the PCB.veer 100 meter.


2.2 Tabel Z-wave obstacles and signal decrease

Materiaal Dikte Afname bereikk
Plaster < 10 cm 10 %
Glas (met coating) < 5 cm 10 %
Stone < 30 cm 30 %
Puimsteen < 30 cm 10 %
Gasbeton < 30 cm 20 %
Red Brick < 30 cm 35 %
Armed concrete  < 30 cm 30..90%
Ceiling < 30 cm 70%
Outerwall < 30 cm 60 %
Innerwall < 30 cm 40 %
Metal stud < 1 mm 90 %
aluminium coating < 1mm 100 %

We advise you to stay away more than 1 meter from other transmitters


3. Z-wave netwerk routering (Mesh)

Devices in a normal network can only communicate when in direct line of sight.

Figur :  Network without mesh-technology. 1 wireless module (no.4) is out of reach.

The Z-Wave protocol makes use of the so-called mesh technology. This means that the signal from another module is repeated to its neighbour module. This increases the coverage.
NOTE: Only mains-powered modules work with routing. Battery modules don't take part in meshing. 

z-wave Meshed network technologie

Figur : Meshed netwerk technology : Module 4 can be adressed by module 3 that repeats the signal.

The routing can repeat itself up to four repeaters. Incidentally, this means that if, for example a Z-Wave plug adapter included in your network, is moved, the Mesh is disturbed. Most controllers will try another route and update the mesh-table. You will experience some delay. Some primary contollers have a manual 'network heal'.

4. 2-way traffic

Z-wave has 2 way communication. This means that the acceptance of the command is reported back to the controller, ensuring you that the action is completed

5. Z-wave devices en network types

Next to the controller thereare 2 network types:
- Actoren 
- Sensors

Het grootste verschil tussen een controller en een slave is de mogelijkheid van de controller om een Z-wave netwerk op te bouwen en te onderhouden. 
Mobiele controllers werken meestal op batterijen en kunnen verplaatst worden, statische z-wave controllers werken meestal op netspanning en staan op een vaste plaats.


5.1 Mains powered and battery-powered Z-wave modules.

As said battery powered modules dont participate in meshing such as main powered modules do. A mains powered module has enough power to repeat the signal and is always awake. Battery devices used the sleep-mode to save battery. At set times (wake-up interval) the modules wakes up and sents data to the controller and als recieves information (e.q. parameter settings) from the controller. The avarage wake-up interval is 15 mins (900sec).

5.2 Multiple controllers.

In a larger network, more than one controller can exist. Only one controller can be the primairy controller. This is the controller that takes care of the configuration of the network and also manages the mesh-database.

5.3 Types Z-wave modules.

In a Mesh network we have a controller and actors and sensors. 

Typen Z-wave apparaten

Click here for some nice smarthome projects

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