Z-Wave vs. Z-Wave Plus — What’s the Difference?

Z-Wave vs. Z-Wave Plus

What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave technology is a form of wireless communication specifically designed to monitor and report statuses in residential and small business environments. If you have some form of smart home controller, chances are that it uses Z-Wave. As the market leader with over 70 million products in use, this technology is what keeps your connected home running efficiently.

What is Z-Wave Plus?

Z-Wave Plus is a certification given to products that utilize the extended features of the next generation of Z-Wave technology. While Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus have a lot of things in common, there’s also some big differences in functionality as the “Plus” products take advantage of expanded features. The devices are “smarter”, easier to install, and generally a big improvement over the last generation Z-Wave.

Z-Wave vs. Z-Wave Plus — Things in Common

As mentioned above, Z-Wave Plus is an extension of the original Z-Wave, so the basic technology is largely the same.

  • Two-Way Wireless Communication – Your smart home controller and connected devices can talk back and forth to each other. If a message isn’t acknowledged by one or the other, the message is repeated. This guarantee of continued communication makes your smarthome operate more smoothly and consistently.

  • Status Updates – Z-Wave technology allows you to monitor the status of any device connected to your system. Lights, heating, appliances, and more are all online sending status reports.

  • Mesh Networking – Z-Wave features Mesh Networking which covers dead spots. This aspect of the technology ensures your home will be connected even over long distances, and is perfect for big installations.

  • Easy Control – Z-Wave technology is easily controllable, and offers a variety of methods to access and control your home. Use a remote control, a central hub, a smartphone app, or a website to keep your home operating at maximum efficiency.

  • Z-Wave vs. Z-Wave Plus — Differences

    Although the two have a lot in common, Z-Wave Plus is a clear improvement over its predecessor. Extended features include:

    • Increased Range – Devices can communicate from up to 150m away as long as there’s no significant interference.

    • Battery Life – 50% more battery life keeps your devices online longer.

    • Bandwidth – 250% more bandwidth means your network can handle larger amounts of data and continue operating at maximum efficiency.

    • F Channels – Three included “F Channels” improve the connections of your device, minimizing interference and increasing bandwidth.

    • Plug-n-Play – New devices can be added easier than ever before, with convenient plug-n-play that will automatically connect new devices to your smarthome network.

    • Improved Self-Healing – Z-Wave Plus is better at continuing to operate when something goes wrong, taking steps on its own to address the issue and being more resilient with fault tolerance using the “Explorer Frame” feature.

    • Standardized Updates – No matter the Z-Wave Plus device, they all use a standard method for over-the-air firmware updates.

    • Improved Product Information Capture – Z-Wave Plus can more easily capture information on new products for the certification database.

    Is Z-Wave Plus Backward Compatible with Z-Wave?

    Z-Wave Plus is backward compatible with Z-Wave, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

    Both the range of your devices and the controller can be affected. If you include regular Z-Wave products in a Z-Wave network, you won’t be able to take advantage of the increased range that “Plus” controllers offer. Additionally, if your controller is Z-Wave and not Z-Wave Plus, none of the products on your network can take advantage of Plus features.

    In short, make sure you have a Z-Wave Plus controller if you’re buying Plus products, and regular Z-Wave products can be used in the Plus network albeit without some of the functionality.

    What is Z-Wave Alliance?

    The Z-Wave Alliance is a group of industry leaders who are working together to try to make Z-Wave the standard for smart home technology. Although there are over 70 million Z-Wave devices in use, there are still other forms of communication used.

    Being able to add new products to your home and have everything work seamlessly on the same network is the goal, as having brand-exclusive devices stifles innovation and harms the end-user. Founded in 2005, the alliance continues to collaborate towards a future where all smart devices can work together.

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