Zigbee vs Z-Wave: We have no shortage of smart home protocols. Two popular options are Zigbee and Z-Wave. But which one is better for you? We cannot give an unambiguous answer to that question, but we can explain the differences and unique possibilities.
With wireless standards and smart home protocols, we ensure that devices in your smart home remain connected to each other. There are several smart home protocols and two of them are very popular. These are Zigbee and Z-Wave. Although both standards are similar, there are indeed differences. With both protocols you can bypass other standards, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. But which protocol is the best one to choose? We’ll give you a hand with this article.
Do you really want to learn everything about the standards in the meantime? Check out our extensive background article. Here you can read all about Zigbee , while you read all about Z-Wave here . In this article we compare the standards.
Differences between Zigbee and Z-Wave
There are many similarities between Zigbee and Z-Wave, but there are also differences. For example, Zigbee supports many more devices within one network, namely more than 65,000 devices (also called nodes in the mesh network). Z-Wave can handle 232. For most people, that will probably be enough. But if you have a lot of plans, have a house that is much too large or want to make entire office buildings smart, it is important to know that there is much more flexibility in the network of the former protocol.
In addition, Zigbee is an open standard, which the Zigbee Alliance has behind it. In this case, an open standard means that much more is possible and that various parties can develop along with it, but that compatibility problems can also arise. It is not guaranteed that every Zigbee product will work with another Zigbee product. Z-Wave is from Silicon Labs and is more closely monitored and controlled. This ensures that every Z-Wave device supports every Z-Wave controller, although the exact implementation may vary. In addition, the network is more reliable due to the control.
Since both protocols are mesh networks, they pass the network’s signal from device to device. That’s called hopping. The devices themselves are often not connected to the internet but communicate with a central hub or smart home hub connected to the internet . While Z-Wave allows up to four ‘hops’ between a hub (also called controller) and a device, there is no limit with Zigbee. Z-Wave does have a greater range. The range is up to 30 meters, while happy Zigbee is 10 to 20 meters. This is the range as the crow flies and without obstacles.
There is nothing to compare in terms of security, as both protocols use AES-128 symmetric encryption. Moreover, both protocols are said to be secure and cannot be hacked. However: you will always have to think about the devices that you allow in your network and how you can best secure them. Think of unique passwords (which you can automatically generate by a password manager, for example) or by using secondary networks in the house.
Furthermore, it is important to know that Z-Wave is a more unified concept. Zigbee is divided into different protocols. For example, you have Home Automation, Smart Energy Profile, SEP energy management, Light Link, digital health, healthcare at home and more. And no, devices from the different protocols cannot communicate with each other. Zigbee 3.0 should solve these problems by working more like Z-Wave. All protocols then come together, as it were, at 3.0.
Finally, we see a small price difference between Z-Wave and Zigbee. Zigbee devices are generally a bit cheaper than their Z-Wave variants.
Both smart home protocols can count on the support of a large number of smart home product manufacturers. Zigbee now has more than 2500 devices from more than 400 manufacturers to its name, while Z-Wave has 3200 from more than 700 manufacturers. When it comes to the more premium brands of smart home devices, Zigbee has an advantage over Z-Wave. Below is a list of some of the best known manufacturers that support this protocol.
List of Zigbee Manufacturers and / or Devices:
- Philips Hue
- Samsung SmartThings
- Amazon Echo
- Hive Active Heating
- Ikea Tradfri
- Belkin WeMo Link
- Athom Homey
- Click on Click off
On the ZigBee Alliance website you can find a full list.
List of known Z-Wave manufacturers and / or products:
- Samsung SmartThings
- Athom Homey
- LG SmartThinq
The Z-Wave Alliance website you can view a complete list.
Zigbee vs Z-Wave: which one is better?
At the time of writing, the market for smart home equipment and associated (mesh) networks, smart home protocols and communication standards is still quite young. It is difficult to predict which of the two protocols mentioned in this article will ultimately win. It may also be that they both continue to co-exist and develop themselves. There is a good chance that they will grow towards each other and will therefore increasingly resemble each other; but we welcome differences between them in that case.
In addition, nowadays we also come across a lot of devices that support both Z-Wave and Zigbee. Think of various smart locks, dimmers and smart home hubs, but that is more to make it easy for the user and to offer a choice. If you plan to stick to larger and more famous manufacturers for your smart home equipment and want to spend as little as possible, Zigbee is the better option now. If you are looking for more range, a more stable connection and better compatibility, Z-Wave may be better.