Zigbee VS Z-Wave – Everything You Need To Know

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What does it take to call your home a smart home? A good network connection and some really smart home devices can turn your little hut into a world of technological smartness, which makes your life easier and faster. While choosing devices for your smart home, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are two of the most common options that we look forward to. However, there is more to the story! Zigbee and Z-wave are two “not so famous” technologies that help you in making your home smarter.

Zigbee and Z-wave work differently than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as they connect to a mesh router. The signals and data are transmitted from the hub to a device and then another device and then to another. This makes these two perform more efficiently as the signals can reach the devices which are out of the hub’s range as well. They allow the user to take control over various home automation devices in a very proficient manner.

In this post we will be looking at Zigbee VS Z-Wave, comparing both of these technologies side by side. We will be looking at the features, pros and cons, compatible devices of both Zigbee and Z-Wave. If you are interested in buying a Zigbee or Z-Wave Controllers, you should understand these both technologies. And we have made it quite easy for you.

Z-Wave & Zigbee in easy words?

Smart homes are becoming more and more popular as more and more smart devices are coming to the market. Such devices like the Robotic vacuum cleaners, Combination locks, Thermostats, Smart Sockets and many more, (Our whole website is based on discovering these kinds of devices) are smart and capable of talking to each other with the help of a controller.

Z-wave & Zigbee are the technologies which help these smart devices talk to each other.

In short, a Z Wave or Zigbee network is made up of a controller and smart devices. The smart devices send reports of any events to the main Zigbee or Z-Wave controller.

For example, if any smart switch got activated (like a light bulb turned on, or gate lock opened, or Wifi sprinkler system turned off), then the controller processes that device input and routes it to a user-defined scene that tells the controller what to do with that event.

A simple scene might be, if a gate lock opens, turn on the security camera.

A complex scene might be if the video projector is turned on, dim the lights in the media room, close the curtains and lower the projector screen.

It’s simply amazing how this technology works. If you want to automate your home, then you must know of all the different technologies that you can utilize. There is a lot more than just Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Zigbee and Z-wave are two, extremely incredible wireless technologies that can be used for making your home smarter. They both have their own sets of advantages, disadvantages, uses and consumer bases. The decision of whether Z-wave is a better option or Zigbee is the smarter one to opt for, depends on which one suits your needs. Everyone has different smart home needs and you need to pick the best technology in accordance with those. Therefore, let’s dive into the world of Zigbee and Z-wave and see which one is suitable for whom and how they are different than the regular Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technologies.

Before Zigbee vs Z-wave lets look at them both seperately.

Z-WAVE Technology

Z-WaveZ-wave came into existence in 2004 and was formed by a company called Zensys. Zensys was later on bought by the Sigma designs in 2009. Z-wave is capable of handling 232 devices at one time and uses a frequency of 908.42 MHZ. It is quite easy to setup Z-wave and uses it as each item in the network has its very own node ID. Thus, this makes it a lot secure as well.

Z-wave is being used immensely in smart homes nowadays. The stats show us that 35 million Z-wave compatible units have been sold till yet. According to Michael Wolf, the founder and chief analyst of Next Market Insights, Z-wave has better interoperability than Zigbee.

Features

  • Mesh Networking (Each device is connected to one or more devices)
  • Two-way wireless communication (Devices transmit and receive signals from/to other devices)
  • User-friendly
  • Easy to control
  • High bandwidth (more range of frequencies – means more connectivity to devices)
  • Regular updates about your smart home devices
  • Allows to connect up to 232 devices

Pros. & Cons.

PROS:
  • Here are some features which are extremely admired by the users of Z-wave and which make it a good choice to make:
  • It uses a great frequency which helps in ensuring the fact that it won’t be interfering with any other wireless router at all.
  • Z-wave is very user-friendly. You don’t need to have a detailed insight into technological devices to set it up. You can do so pretty easily and fast too. The user manual along with it helps in setting up the device right away.
  • The major selling point of Z-wave is that it has wonderful compatibility with almost all kinds of devices. Almost all smart home devices can easily connect with Z-wave.

CONS:
  • Here are some drawbacks of Z-wave:
  • It requires a battery change after a little while. They die out sooner than the Zigbee and this is a huge letdown for people who wish to use it a lot.
  • Z-wave is a little costly. It might be out of range for some people.

Who is it best for?

Your home sweet home is the best place to use Z-wave. It is also considered a good option for small businesses. It might not be the best bet for people who want to use it within a large building or want to step outside. Using it outdoor might not bring in the best of user experience. Therefore, it is best for people who want to use Z-wave within their residential places.

ZIGBEE Technology

ZigbeeThe style inspiration of Zigbee kicked in the world of technology in the 1990’s. This digital radio style network started off in the 90’s but became a prominent device in 2004. Even this formal introduction and classification was done in 2004. Further advancements were done to Zigbee in 2006 which helped it in earning a huge place in the wireless network globe.

Zigbee is an open standard based wireless technology and promises to deliver low power consumption to the users. The mesh technology is impeccable of Zigbee and makes it a great choice to make for home automation. Zigbee is also considered secure or it is safe to say that it is more secure than Z-wave as it is an open standard based tech. it is also termed as robust and reliable by Ryan Maley who is the director of strategic marketing for the Zigbee Alliance.

Features

Zigbee is gaining popularity in the commercial and residential industry as it carries some amazing features which make it a good wireless technology option to make.

  • Centralization control system
  • Monitoring activities
  • Remote control device
  • Low power frequency
  • Low power consumption
  • Bluetooth enable
  • Sleep mode
  • Long lasting battery
  • No limit to the number of devices you can connect it to; goes up to 65,000

Pros. & Cons.

Zigbee is a highly appreciated wireless technology. Even when a lot of people don’t know about it; people who use it, have raved it with good and positive reviews mostly.

Here are some of the perks that it has to offer to its users, which make it a good choice!

PROS:
  • Zigbee has low power consumption. The batteries are pretty much long lasting and you will enjoy using it as it won’t die out in between.
  • It also costs less than Z-wave which makes it an affordable choice to make.
  • The range of connectivity with Zigbee is pretty much fascinating. It can hop up to 15 times which allows you to use it in larger buildings and outdoors as well.
  • There is absolutely no limit to the number of devices that can be connected with Zigbee. You can connect as many as you want. This usually depends on your type of usage but no limitations are always better and more fun.

CONS:
  • It is specifically great for large-scale use and this makes it a bit of a headache for people who wish to use it at home. Setting it up is a bit of a hassle.

Who is it best for?

Zigbee is the best bet for tech-savvy people. It is wonderful for people who wish to use it for a project due to its amazing scalability. As it is low cost, it can benefit large-scale businesses and projects a lot. The compatibility can be a bit of an issue but if you go through a bit of troubleshooting, then it is fine to run on numerous devices and gives you a huge range too.

Zigbee vs Z-Wave – What’s the difference?

So, what’s the main difference in Zigbee vs Z-Wave? We now have an idea about both the devices, how they work and what kind of coverage do they offer. Thus, we can now compare Zigbee vs Z-wave so that we are able to understand how they differ from each other and which one is a better choice to make.

  • Z-wave carters to smart homes specifically. It allows you to connect up to 232 devices which do seem sufficient or more than sufficient for someone who has to use it at home. On the contrary, Zigbee is able to connect with up to more than 65000 devices and also supports innumerable applications as well. Zigbee is more of an open standard whereas Z-wave carters the perfect smart home needs.
  • Z-wave runs on 915 MHZ ISM band in the United States and 868 MHZ RIFD band in Europe. On the other hand, Zigbee runs on a standard 2.4 GHz ISM band which makes it more vulnerable to interferences. There is a larger possibility of interference on Zigbee. However, Z-wave is slower than Zigbee. The data rates of Zigbee are 40-250 kbps whereas Z-wave has a data rate of 9.6-100 kbps.
  • Taking about the frequency, Z-Wave works on 900 MHz where Zigbee on  2400 MHz.
  • Zigbee has an open standard which means that it has a huge developer support for radios. On the other hand, Z-wave has a proprietary radio system.
  • Z-wave has a limit of four hops. On the other hand, Zigbee has 15 hops which allow it to connect easily in larger places too.

Zigbee vs Z-wave –  What do they have in common?

As there are some differences, there are also some common points in Zigbee vs Z-Wave. As both of these are wireless technologies, you obviously find some similarities in them as well. Here are some things that are common in Zigbee vs Z-wave:

  • Both of these technologies are mesh networks.
  • These wireless technologies are mostly used in some specific areas. For instance, both are used in security systems and urban smart grid controllers.
  • Both of them use the same protocol; IEEE 802.15.4 low-rate personal area network (LR-PAN) for the unified physical layer (OSI Layer 1).

zigbee vs z-wave

 

Z-Wave vs Zigbee – Compatible Devices

There is not a huge difference in the list of compatible devices of Zigbee vs Z-wave. Where Zigbee has almost 2500 devices which are compatible, from 400 members of its alliance, Z-wave is no far away with 2400 compatible products from 700 members.

Zigbee Compatible Devices

Here is a list of devices or products that are compatible with Zigbee. It consists of some really famous and great brands or companies that almost all of us are aware of:

Z-wave Compatible Devices

Here is a list of some really amazing products that are compatible with Z-wave:

  • Samsung Smart Things
  • Wink Hub
  • GE Appliances
  • LG Smart Thing
  • Somfy Blinds and Drapery Motors
  • Yale Smart Locks
  • August Smart Locks
  • ADT Security Hub
  • Honeywell Thermostats
  • Kwikset Smart Locks
  • Hogar Milo
  • Logitech Home Harmony Hub Extender

Z-wave has more members than Zigbee. It has around 700 companies whereas Zigbee has 400. This opens up Z-wave for further device compatibility in the future. However, Zigbee wins with the fact that it also supports battery operated smart home devices and even light switches.

Best Z-Wave vs Zigbee Controllers

Now that we have learned all about the Z Wave & Zigbee technology, let’s talk about some of the best controllers which supports them.

Things to consider before buying

  • Total no. of smart devices you want to control.
  • Combination of different protocols and their compatibility with the controller you’ll buy.
  • How much do you want to customize your home? The more you want, the costlier the controller will get.

Our Choice

Still, we did the thinking for you and we think that The Wink Hub 2 is the best Z Wave & Zigbee Controller overall.

View on Amazon

Why do we like it?

  • It has both Wi-Fi (dual-band) and Ethernet support
  • Very user-friendly and installation is very easy.
  • Apart from being the best controller for both Z-Wave and the Zigbee, it even supports some of the less popular mesh networking standards as well.
  • It has the support of almost all the important protocols needed mostly.
  • And it is still pretty affordable along with all this. Check the price of its different variants.

Samsung SmartThings V3 Hub is our Runner-up

View on Amazon

Samsung is growing in every field and Smart Homes devices are are no exception. The v3 hub lets you control and monitor your home from anywhere through the app. It is also compatible with both Z-Wave and Zigbee.

SamrtThings V3 vs V2

Now the v3 is an upgrade from the SmartThings V2. It has Bluetooth and Wifi as well as latest Zigbee & Z-Wave protocols support.

Why V3 is better than V2?

  • It is 30$ cheaper than the v2.
  • Has Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity.
  • Supports latest Zigbee & Z-Wave protocols.
  • New devices just need QR code to be scanned for pairing so easier to set up.

Why V2 is still great?

  • V3 has no battery backup as we saw in V2.
  • Only 1 USB port in v3.
  • V3 has lower CPU 500 MHz vs 1 GHz for V2 & has lower RAM (256 Mbs vs 512 Mbs of  V2)
  • Unlike V2, V3 doesn’t have the “video core module” so it doesn’t support the cameras that connect locally but still supports cloud-connected cameras like Arlo.

These can also be the reasons why V3 is cheaper.

We feel that the V3 is great, but we will surely miss the battery backup (even with the leak issue most people talked about). As for as the memory and CPU is concerned, V3 performance is still not affected by it as it is more efficient. Both these controllers are compatible when it comes to Zigbee vs Z-Wave.

Zigbee vs Z-wave; Which one to choose?

So now we are to our final question, which one wins the Zigbee vs Z-Wave battle? We have done a detailed insight into both the wireless technologies individually and have compared them with one another too. if you are super clear and have sorted out your needs for a smart home then you probably know what you are looking for and which one of these technologies is going to be your best bet.

Zigbee and Z-wave provide short to the medium range by their nature; that is how they are made. Some companies have stated that they had to put up 3 times more mesh nodes in their building so that they could make their Zigbee work better. If you have a workplace to handle then you can clearly understand that costs like these can add up to your budget quickly.

However, the mesh is not a bad option completely. If you look towards your residential places; then they can be a pretty much good option to make. Homes usually require small to medium range coverage and it makes your smart home devices run pretty fine too. These wireless technologies won’t be providing a complete and wonderful flow of signals in a huge building. But for your home; you know that you can make your smart home devices run just fine with Zigbee and Z-wave.

In the end, it all really comes down to the fact that what you need. What are you looking for in your wireless technology and how many smart home devices do you want to run? What is your budget and how much are you willing to spend is also very crucial to sort out before you make a pick. The answer is highly dependent on the range you are looking forward to and are in dire need of. Also, make sure that you check on the compatible devices and brands before you make your pick.

Make a smart pick! Analyze your needs and then invest in what seems the best for your home.

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