Z-Wave FAQ
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
   
  What is Z-Wave, and why do I want it?
If you ever wanted to have a reliable automated home, but thought the technology was not available, well, its here now! Here are some answers to frequently asked questions that should give you a good overview of the new Z-Wave technology and why its the ideal solution to automating your home and your life.
 
   
 

I have read that Z-Wave is a type of X10, is this true?
Z-Wave is not X10! Some recent articles described Z-Wave as being Wireless X10. This is totally incorrect, Z-Wave is a totally new wireless home control technology that is not X10 based. Read the rest of this FAQ for all the facts.

 
   
 

What can I do with this?
Z-Wave devices may be used to control lighting, appliances and temperature in your home. You can control these device manually, via remote control or via HomeSeer HS2 software. If you use HS2, many control options are available for your Z-Wave network. For example, you can create schedules to turn your lights ON at sunset, and OFF at sunrise, access your home from the web to control devices or even speak commands to control your Z-Wave network!

 
   
 

Can I create scenes? I'd like to dim all my lights to different dim levels when I start a DVD.
Yes, you can easily set this up with HomeSeer HS2 software using 'events'. Simply create an event inside the software and include device 'actions' in the event for each light switch or lamp module you wish to control. The event may be triggered manually, via voice or you can create a trigger based on an infrared command*. There is no limit to the number of devices you can add to an event. You can also add other actions such as speaking, playing a WAV file, launching an application, or sending email.

 
   
 

I have heard of X-10 technology, why not use that? What is the difference between X-10 and Z-Wave?
While X-10 is indeed used for automating lights and appliances, Z-Wave fixes many of the problems with X-10 and offers many new features. Here is a comparison:

 
 
 Feature/Issue  X-10  Z-Wave
Technology Powerline (uses existing wiring in your home to transmit commands) RF (radio frequency) based at 908.42 Mhz
Installation Normally requires an electrician to install a phase coupler at your electrical panel to couple your power phases. If not installed, the system may be unreliable. No extra hardware required for installation. System may be installed by the end user.
Protocol Uses simple bit patterns on the powerline to transmit ON/OFF commands to devices. No checking is performed on the data. Uses data packets similar to Ethernet. Each packet includes a checksum for reliable transmissions.
Reliability No acknowledgement of transmitted commands. If a command is lost, the controller such as the PC is not aware of the missed command.

Powerline noise can accidentally turn devices ON or OFF.

Other electrical devices in the home can impact performance and cause commands to fail.

All commands are acknowledged by the destination. The source controller will re-try the command until it succeeds. Commands may be re-routed through other modules to avoid range issues.

Unaffected by powerline issues or other electrical devices in the home.

Security Totally unsecured. Neighbors could possibly control your devices. Each home is assigned a unique Home ID. Its not possible for anyone other than the home owner to control your devices. Devices are "linked" to your home when they are installed.
Performance 300 baud data rate 9600 baud data rate (32 times faster than X-10)
 
     
 

Since Z-Wave is RF based, isn't there an issue with range?
No. Each Z-Wave module (like a plug-in dimmer module, or wall switch) can act as a RF repeater. When a controller sends a command to a device, it may route the command through other modules in your home to get the command to its destination. Range from the controller to a single module is rated at 100 ft. Commands will route through a maximum of 4 devices. This gives the system a max range of 400 ft. Routing is done automatically and the user does not need to be aware of it.

 
   
 

Is Z-Wave 2-way? Does the controller know the status of devices?
Unlike X-10, all Z-Wave devices are 2-way. What this means is that the controller always receives an acknowledge from a device. If it sends an ON command, the device acknowledges that the command was received and executed. The handheld remote will display an error message if the command was not executed. The HomeSeer software will set the status of a device to "Unknown" if a command was not acknowledged. HomeSeer can also trigger an event based on this. This allows you to monitor critical equipment and get notified if its in the incorrect state. Also, HomeSeer can request the status of any specific device, or all devices. This way, the HomeSeer software will always display the correct status of a device (ON/OFF/DIM/Temperature/Etc.).

 
   
 

How fast is Z-Wave?
To send a single command to a device, and get an acknowledgement, takes about 50 milliseconds. This means you can control many devices with a single command and have them respond instantly.

 
   
 

Can you use more than one remote control?
Yes. You can use as many remote controls as your like, but there is an upper limit of 254 devices per system. This includes a mixture of controllers and switches (IE: wall switches, lamp modules, etc.)

 
   
 

Do you offer any starter kits so I can purchase everything I need together?
Yes. Visit our kits page for details.

 
     
 
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