What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave is a wireless protocol designed for home automation, specifically for remote control applications in residential and light commercial environments. The technology uses a low-power RF radio embedded into electronic devices and systems, such as lighting, access controls, entertainment systems and household appliances.

Unlike WiFi and other wireless network systems that are designed primarily for high-bandwidth use, the Z-Wave protocol operates at sub-gigahertz frequency (around 900MHz).

Designed and developed in 2008 by Zen-Sys (a Danish company), Z-Wave is a well established platform for automation. There are currently over 250 manufacturers world wide and a broad range of consumer products available in the market.

Radio Specifications:

  • Bandwidth: Three speeds which are all supported and interoperable 9600bit/s, 40kbit/s, 100kbit/s
  • Range: 30m assuming no obstructions, range reduces based on walls and other blocking materials
  • Frequency: 921.42MHz (Australia/New Zealand)..refer Frequency note below

Z-Wave Network:

Z-Wave uses a mesh network to connect devices and extend it's range. This means that each device can relay commands to each other allowing for a distribution of data.

Each Z-Wave network is identified by a Network ID, and each device is further identified by a Node ID.

The Network ID (also called Home ID) is the common identification of all nodes belonging to one logical Z-Wave network. The Network ID has a length of 4 bytes (32 bits) and is assigned to each device, by the primary controller, when the device is "included" into the Network. Nodes with different Network ID’s cannot communicate with each other.

The Node ID is the address of a single node in the network. The Node ID has a length of 1 byte (8 bits). It is not allowed to have two nodes with identical Node ID on a Network.

A Z-Wave network can consist of up to 232 devices, with the option of bridging networks if more devices are required.

Z-Wave Alliance

The Z-Wave Alliance is a consortium of over 250 independent manufacturers as of 2014, who have agreed to build wireless home control products based on the Z-Wave standard. Principal members include ADT, GE/Jasco, Evolve, Ingersoll-Rand, Linear, FAKRO and Sigma Designs.

As of 2014, there are more than 1100 different products certified by the Z-Wave Alliance. Products and applications from the Z-Wave Alliance span all major market sectors for residential and light commercial control applications. These include lighting, HVAC and security control, as well as home theaters, automated window treatments, pool and spa controls, garage and access controls and more.

This alliance continues to drive the development and growth of Z-Wave, making it one of the most extensive Home Automation solutions today.

Frequency Note:

Please note that there are different frequencies for different regions of the world, this means devices purchased in one region will not work with controllers or devices for another. When purchasing devices ensure you confirm the region of your controller matches the device.

For reference, Active Automation supplies only devices and controllers that support the Australia/New Zealand frequency (921.42MHz)

This table shows other common regional frequencies:

Frequency  Region 
 921.42MHz  Australia/New Zealand
 868.42MHz  Europe
 908.42MHz United States