Z Wave vs WIFI: A War between Waves

Z wave vs. WiFi

If you’ve ever come across smart home devices, you must have seen the term Z wave. 

Nowadays almost every smart home device uses Z wave as the data transferring media. But that doesn’t mean that Z wave is completely new. It’s been out there for several years. But only recently it’s been used in devices.

So, what in the world is Z wave? 

For now, just keep in mind that Z wave is another medium connecting several devices. We’ll come back to that a bit later. 

Now-

We’re here to give you a bird’s eye view on Z wave vs. WiFi. So, we’ll cover the basic knowledge about the Z wave and wifi. 

Ultimately, from here you’ll know all about these two mediums. And with those facts, you’ll be able to choose your connectivity medium. 

Now, let’s jump right into the details without wasting any more time-

What is Wifi?

Before going deep let’s clear out the basic knowledge. Do you know the basic functionality of Wifi? What exactly is this? 

Well, simply put, WiFi is a wireless network that creates a local area network. And as we have stated that it’s a wireless network, it doesn’t use any cables while establishing the network. 

However, the actual internet connection doesn’t come from WiFi. Rather it comes from a modem. But this modem relies on either a physical connection or cellular network. 

While entering into a wifi network, you’re actually connecting with a wifi router. This router connects to a modem and this modem, in turn, connects to the internet. 

Wifi Aware is a relatively newer version of the WiFi. This enables devices to automatically find out and communicate with one another based on closeness. In normal wifi the users can know who else is sharing the network. But in wifi aware it’s possible to know how close these devices are. 

What is the Z wave?

In 2001, a company named Zensys brought in Z wave. In 2008, another company named Sigma Designs bought this technology. 

So, what is Z-wave?

This technology is actually a mesh system that connects devices. Z wave uses low energy waves during this process.

Here’s the thing- on internet, your connection doesn't stay the same always. It can go down if –

  • Your modem fails

  • Your ISP suffers an outage

  • Your country’s submarine cables get damaged

But this isn’t the same in case of mesh networks. Here devices are free. These devices connect to one another without a middleman. 

Even if the distance between two gadgets become too vast, these utilize a third device between them to keep the connection on. But in this case, the third device doesn’t need to access the data. 

And this mesh network grows stronger with every new connection. Think of it like this- you’re connecting strings among 5 points. Each point will have a string connected to each other. So, you’ll have 120 strings. 

Now, what if you connect this string among 10 points? You’ll have 3628800 strings. 

Now imagine devices instead of those points and connections instead of those strings. 

Difference Between Zwave and WiFi

Here we will compare these two technologies on some common grounds. However, we won’t declare any winner between z wave or wifi. We will simply lay out some facts here. The rest will be on you. 

Battery Life

Wifi is infamous for huge battery drain. Be it a smartphone, laptop or a smart home device, connecting to a network is highly energy consuming in case of Wifi. Although people have claimed that wifi aware is more power-saving than the regular wifi, still the rate is alarming.

How does that affect your smart home devices? Well, think of all your smart home devices consuming a little more energy while being connected to wifi. 

On the other hand, the Z wave goes a little soft on power consumption. One of main reasons behind this is that the Z wave max data transmission rate is 100 KBPS. 

Resiliency

Regular wifi is centralized. At least this is the case in case of 1 router. Although wifi aware is router free, it’s only limited to connecting one device at a time. Moreover, wifi aware works in a limited range.

On the other hand, Z wave uses a mesh network and for that, it’s more resilient. Which is the highest seeking feature in case of security systems. In a Z wave connection, the more devices you get the better your system becomes. This is truly one of the highlighted benefits of z wave.

However, the Z wave supports 232 nodes at max. In the case of wifi, with an increased number of devices, your connection gets slower. 

Does z wave interfere with wifi? This is a common question nowadays. 

The answer is yes. But this amount of interference is negligible.  

Privacy

WiFi security risks are one of the hottest topics out there. Just because of this reason many homeowners use wired home automation system instead of a wireless one. 

However, this isn’t the case in z wave. As Z wave is a closed system, the owner company has provided some extra protective layers into it. 

For example, ever z wave network has unique IDs for communicating with the hub. This is the same in the case of Z wave products. And as the cherry on top, z wave has the AES 128 encryption. 

Availability

Z wave is now being available on all kinds of devices. But there’s a slight problem here. Z wave is completely owned by a company. If the company decides to stop investing in z wave then we can’t do anything. They could simply stop giving updates or in the worst case, they could stop it altogether. 

However, the probability of doing that is super low. Because who wants to kill a highly profitable business? 

On the other hand, WiFi has no such issues. 

Final Thoughts

Z wave vs wifi has been a debate for a long time. We just poured in some facts about both the technologies here. 

Although z wave is superior to wifi in many aspects, one simple drawback is keeping it in the consideration area. Which is the data transmission speed. 

But we would recommend you using both the technologies for your smart home. 

Thank you and good luck.

    Derek Watson

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