What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave is an open source technology developed by a Danish company called Zen-Sys (acquired Sigma Designs in 2008) that is revolutionizing home automation. Communicating via radio frequency technology that is designed specifically for home automation applications, most Z-Wave devices, such as Leviton's light switches, are made to give you complete wireless control over your home's various functions.

The technology itself relies on what's called a mesh network. It optimizes for low-power wireless communication that sends small amounts (packets) of information extremely quickly. The inter-communication actually allows Z-Wave devices to learn the fastest route to transmit information among the many devices and between a device and the controller.

It operates around 900MHz, which can compete with some old-style cordless phones, but completely avoids disruption with modern wireless signals such as WIFI or Bluetooth which operate nearer 2.4 GHz.

Z-Wave technology has gained quite a bit of momentum, now supported by over 200 manufacturers (such as Honeywell for use in some of their security systems such as the L5100 or Tuxedo Touch). The average communication distance between nodes in a Z-Wave system is about 30.5 feet, but with the mesh technology, each device acts as a repeater so that you can easily cover an entire home with Z-wave control and not have to worry about wireless signal strength.

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