Z-Wave vs Z-Wave Plus – Differences Explained

If you’re looking for a way to automate your house, then you’ve probably stumbled across Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus. You can find these names in lots of the supported products’ descriptions.

If you want to know what is Z-Wave and Z-Wave, then you’re in the right place. Today, we’ll be explaining both protocols, so you can decide your ideal choice.

What Is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave is a wireless communication technology that you can use at your house mainly for home automation. This protocol utilizes a wireless network connection to connect the house’s appliance together.

History

The innovative technology started with a Danish start-up company called Zensys in 2004. In late 2008, Sigma Designs purchased Z-Wave, and in 2018, Silicon Labs acquired Z-Wave. The company’s headquarters is currently in California, USA.

The main intention behind Z-Wave was to create a simpler and less costly alternative to ZigBee, which is one of its main competitors.

Features

The main principle of Z-Wave technology is to use radio waves in low energies to send from device to device. This connection results in creating a mesh-like network. This allows devices to pass signals to one another through intermediate devices.

Z-Wave allows you to take control and connect many of the house devices and appliances. For example, you can connect lighting controls, thermostats, and windows through the protocol. Moreover, Z-wave can control doors, security systems, locks, and swimming pools.

Each device has a maximum range of 300 feet. However, with the intermediate device, you can transfer the wireless signal to devices that are out of the 300-foot range. As long as each of the system’s devices is within 300 feet of the other, the signal transmits.

Since the Z-Wave mesh network can hold up 232 devices, doing the maths gives you total coverage of 69,000 feet. This makes the Z-Wave range more than enough for even the large mansions and properties.

Similar to most home automation protocols, you can control a Z-Wave system via the internet, your desktop, smartphone, or tablet.

Additionally, you can control it locally via a wireless key fob, a smart speaker, or a wall-mounted panel.

The features give Z-Wave users full control over their devices and their functionality from anywhere.

As long as the panel devices support Z-Wave gateway, you can use them to control Z-Wave in your house.

Each device in the Z-Wave network gets its own identification code, which helps the system to remain safe and secure. This also makes it easier for you to set up the system.

One of Z-Wave’s greatest assets is its mobility and reliability. Z-Wave doesn’t interfere with other wireless networks, so you don’t have to worry about interference issues with your wifi or other systems.

Currently, there are over 3000 certified products for smart homes that are compatible with Z-Wave.

What Is Z-Wave Plus?

While you might think that Z-Wave Plus is an all-new technology, this isn’t the case. Z-Wave Plus is a new certification program that’s designed to help customers utilize the next generation of Z-Wave technology.

This means that Z-Wave Plus allows users to enjoy extended features and functions. For example, Z-Wave Plus offers an enhanced range in the network.

Not only did they improve existing features, but they also added some revolutionary features that haven’t been around before.

Key Similarities

As I discussed earlier, Z-Wave Plus is a certification extension to the regular Z-Wave technology. This makes them principally the same. So naturally, they’ll have a lot of things in common. Here are some of the similarities that you may find between them.

Monitoring the System

Both technologies give you the ability to observe the status of any connected device. With both systems, you can relieve the status report about your heating, lighting, or operating appliances.

Mesh Network System

One of the greatest features of Z-Wave is its ability to cover dead spots through a mesh network system.

With this technology, you can make sure that no matter the range and distance, the house will stay connected. This technology makes both regular Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus products excellent for large properties.

Easy Set-up and Control

Another feature that Z-Wave excels at is being a breeze to set it up. You don’t need to do any kind of rewiring, and the process of installation is relatively simple.

Moreover, after installation, you can access and control the whole house with ease. There are also a wide variety of methods to access it, such as smartphones, tablets, or desktops.

Luckily, the process stays as simple as it was in the new generation of devices with Z-Wave Plus. You can still remotely control the entire system with a push of a button!

Backward Compatibility Between Regular and Z-Wave Plus

Before heading to the difference between Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus, you need to know an important thing. Z-Wave Plus is backward compatible with regular Z-Wave products. However, there’s an important point to take into consideration.

In order to enjoy the full potential of Z-Wave Plus’ features, you have to use a Z-Wave Plus controller. This means if you use a regular Z-Wave controller in your network instead of Plus’, you’ll still control the plus network. Yet, you won’t enjoy the plus features.

Similarly, if you use a Plus controller on a regular network, the controller won’t be able to run the Plus’ features.

You can use regular and plus Z-Wave controllers interchangeably. However, it’s preferable to opt for the Plus controller in your Z-Wave Plus network to take full advantage of its features.

Key Differences

There are some technical variations regarding the two protocols. However, these kinds of differences won’t matter to homeowners and everyday users. Here’s a list of all the differences that you need to know, as per the certification details.

Range

One of the most obvious differences between the systems lies within their ranges. The Z-Wave Plus range has a significant extension. The new technology ranges at about 500 feet, which is higher than the old one of 300 feet. (67% increased range)

Battery Life

Z-Wave Plus deceives uses less power because they’re smaller and more energy-efficient. The average device operates on a coin-cell battery for up to 10 years. (50% improvement in battery life)

Bandwidth

The Z-Wave Plus system uses 5th-generation technology. This gives the plus system more bandwidth and better performance. (250% more bandwidth)

Over-the-Air firmware updates (OTA)

With the OTA updates, all you need to do to update your Z-Wave Plus to the latest features is to click the update button. This feature isn’t standardized in the regular Z-Wave systems.

RF Channels

In the Plus system, there are three RF-channels to reduce electronic noise and unwanted signals. This also improves the security of the Plus system.

Plug-N-Play

With the new Plus technology, including new devices is easier than ever! Just plug in the device and click connect, and you’ll have a new device connected to your network.

Self-Diagnosis

In the Z-Wave Plus, if anything goes wrong, the system runs a self-healing protocol to diagnose and possibly fix the problems. This feature also happens automatically, which means that you won’t always have to wait for a professional to come and repair the system for you.

Do You Need to Upgrade to Z-Wave Plus?

The answer depends on your personal preferences.

If you already have a Z-Wave technology, and you’re satisfied with its capabilities, then you don’t need to upgrade to the Z-Wave Plus. But if you’re unsatisfied with the regular features and you think that the mentioned differences might come in handy, then you’re good to go.

If you’re new to the home automation systems, then going directly for the Z-Wave Plus system is your best bet.

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