The Z-Wave Alliance has unveiled the specifications for the Z-Wave Long Range protocol to developers. This means that certified developers will soon be able to build products that meet the stringent standards of Z-Wave LR. This is surely a great moment for the world of home automation!
If this is the first time you're hearing about Z-Wave Long Range, then don't feel too bad. We have only very recently heard about the smart home protocol ourselves. Our understanding is that Z-Wave LR is a subset of the Z-Wave 700-Series that we fully expect to take the automation market by storm over the next year or two. From what we can tell, the Z-Wave LR requirements are even more restrictive than Z-Wave 700-Series standards. In other words, while every Z-Wave LR device will also meet the technical guidelines of Z-Wave 700-Series, only a small selection of 700-Series devices will also meet the criteria for Z-Wave LR.
As its name implies, the wireless signal range of Z-Wave LR is no joke. We have heard that certified Z-Wave LR devices will be able to communicate with Z-Wave LR Hubs from up to "several miles" away with direct line-of-sight. This is to be made possible when using the maximum output power of a Z-Wave LR device, which is said to be +30dBm. Silicon Labs, a member of the Z-Wave Alliance, has already achieved a direct line-of-sight signal range of up to one (1) mile when using just over +14dBm of output power. And this should only be further improved upon as more work and experimentation is completed.
In addition, Z-Wave LR technology will make it possible to pair more than 4,000 nodes with a single network, which is way up from the 232 node restriction of current Z-Wave technology. The average battery life is also expected to be drastically improved, as users will be able to go up to ten (10) years without swapping the batteries in their Z-Wave LR devices. And like all Z-Wave technology, Z-Wave LR will be backwards compatible with earlier iterations of Z-Wave. You will be able to bring over your existing Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus devices and use them successfully with a new Z-Wave hub. Conversely, Z-Wave LR devices will be able to pair with older Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus hubs if needed. Just keep in mind that you will need to use a Z-Wave LR Hub and certified Z-Wave LR devices to really take advantage of what the protocol has to offer.
One of the other biggest ways that Z-Wave LR differs from traditional Z-Wave is in the very topography, or general arrangement and structure, of the networks. You have likely heard us referring to Z-Wave as a "mesh network" at some point. In simple terms, this means that almost every device included in the network is able to repeat signals, and adding more devices helps the interconnected network become stronger. But for Z-Wave LR, a different arrangement commonly referred to as a Star Network, or Star Topography, is used instead. In this Star Network, the Z-Wave LR Hub or Controller is recognized as a centralized point that is able to make a direct connection with each individual Z-Wave LR device included with the network. This differs from the mesh network traditionally associated with Z-Wave, as signals are no longer hopping from node to node to reach the Hub or Controller, but rather they are traveling directly between the device and the centralized controller. What really makes a Z-Wave LR Hub so unique is that it is able to utilize a Star Network for any paired Z-Wave LR devices, while simultaneously facilitating a traditional mesh network for any older Z-Wave or Z-Wave Plus devices that you have paired.
Reports indicate that the Z-Wave Alliance will make Z-Wave LR certification available starting in March 2021. The expectation is that we will hopefully start seeing some Z-Wave LR devices enter the market by mid-to-late this year. We also expect to start seeing Z-Wave 700-Series devices become much more commonplace, as the only 700-Series device that we began offering last year was the 2GIG STZ-1 Smart Thermostat. Of course, it won't mean much if alarm system manufacturers don't embrace the technology and begin putting Z-Wave LR and 700-Series controllers into their alarm panels. Consider this to be on our wish list for new panels like the Resideo PROA7PLUS, as well as upcoming panels like the Qolsys IQ Hub and the 2GIG Edge.
Stay tuned to our blog for more information about Z-Wave 700-Series and Z-Wave LR We will keep you informed about the latest and most advanced smart home technology that should begin hitting the market soon. If you have any questions, please email our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is also a great email to use if you are interested in starting new alarm monitoring service to unlock the full potential of your security and automation equipment. Remember that our team is available to help you from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!