These technologies connect different devices wirelessly, but are quite different from Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as far as their way of transmission is concerned.
Basic features of both the technologies
In order to decide which technology is better for smart home automation lets first discuss how both technologies work.
A. Working through mesh networks
It is important to know that these technologies do not need the devices to be connected directly to either the router or the hub. Instead, they run on mesh networks, so when the signals and data are transferred from the hub to a device, the device in turn sends it to another device and the process continuous further.
Ultimately, you would be successful in sending a signal to a device that is apparently out of range of the hub. This becomes possible because in a mesh network, every device starts acting as a repeater and keeps on hopping on the “pathway”.
B. Extremely low consumption of power
A remarkable advantage of using these technologies i.e. Zigbee and Z-Wave is that they require very little power to operate. Sometimes the battery of such devices may last as long as seven years. The devices that use Zigbee and Z-Wave technologies include smart plugs, smart thermostats, door locks, switches, sensors and certain hubs like Wink and Amazon Echo Plus.
Comparison between ZigBee and Z-Wave
Zigbee is an open standard technologyand therefore it can be integrated with any device or hub. It was basically designed for commercial establishments, but people started using it in smart homes.
Z-Wave is a product of Danish company Zensys. It was launched in the year 2001 and the original purpose of creating it was for your smart home.
Basic difference between the two
Both these technologies operate in a mesh network, but the real difference between the two is that Z-Wave can relay a signal only 4 times on the intended network, while there is no such limitation with Zigbee.
Zigbee may interfere with Wi-Fi devices
Both these technologies work over a mesh network, but their capabilities are entirely different.
If you are using many Wi-Fi devices in your home or office, you should go for Z-Wave.
Volumes of data transferred
Now, let's discuss the volume of data transferred by these technologies.
The radio frequencies used by Zigbee are 915 megahertz and 2.4 gigahertz. If there is a Wi-Fi device in your home, it can cause interference because both the frequencies will overlap, and it will be difficult for them to communicate clearly.
Z-Wave operates at 800 to 900 megahertz frequencies and that's the reason, it creates no conflict with Wi-Fi frequencies.
Zigbee wins hands down in terms of data transfer speed.
Number of devices that you can connect
Another major reason why Zigbee is superior to Z-Wave is that you can connect a far higher number of devices in the same mesh network through Zigbee.
Zigbee can connect with around 65,000 devices.
Z-Wave supports only 232 nodes.
Theoretically, it is rare to find anyone working with more than 232 devices at their home, but if you are operating in a bigger home or mansion, then Zigbee would be a better option.
Range of data transfer
The difference between both these technologies is the difference in the distance each device can transmit data across.
Zigbee can transfer data anywhere between 30-65 feet away.
Z-Wave can transmit data till 100 feet away.
However, there are certain other factors that decide the range that can be covered by each such technology.
In a smart home, most of the devices are therefore able to repeat the signal in a mesh network.
Both the technologies ensure safety of your smart home. It is made possible through effective smart door locksand perfectly working motion sensors for alarm systems.
Here is a brief list of compatible devices for each of these technologies.
If you are using different types of devices in your smart home, then you should bring a hub, which can communicate with both these technologies, such as Wink or Samsung SmartThings, which work perfectly well with both Zigbee and Z-Wave.
To install and operate Zigbee, you require knowledge of the system, whereas the installation of Z-Wave network is quite easy. With Z-Wave, you can remotely control the home appliances and it is quite convenient for the users. The devices that use Z-Wave are comparatively cheaper and affordable, whereas Zigbee devices have a high replacement cost.
So, both these technologies have their own merits and demerits. You should choose according to what you are looking for.