Z-Wave IoT Communication Network Protocol

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What is Z-Wave?

Z wave (or Z wave or Z-wave) is a protocol for communication among devices used for home automation. It uses RF for signaling and control.

Zwave was developed by Zensys, Inc. a start-up company based in Denmark. Zwave was released in 2004. Based on the concepts of Zigbee, Zwave strives to build simpler and less expensive devices than Zigbee. In 2009 Sigma Designs of Milpitas, CA purchased Zensys/Zwave.

Dozens of manufacturers make Zwave compatible (to a lessor or greater extent) products, mostly in the lighting control space.

Z-Wave is a wireless communications protocol used primarily for home automation. It is a mesh network using low-energy radio waves to communicate from appliance to appliance, allowing for wireless control of residential appliances and other devices, such as lighting control, security systems, thermostats, windows, locks, swimming pools and garage door openers. Like other protocols and systems aimed at the home and office automation market, a Z-Wave automation system can be controlled from a wireless keyfob, a wall-mounted keypad or through smartphones, tablets or computers, with a Z-Wave gateway or central control device serving as both the hub controller and portal to the outside. It provides interoperability between home control systems of different manufacturers that are a part of its alliance. On May 2017, there were over 1,700 interoperable Z-Wave products. As of April 18, 2018, there were over 2,400 interoperable Z-Wave products.

The Z-Wave protocol is an interoperable, wireless, RF-based communications technology designed specifically for control, monitoring and status reading applications in residential and light commercial environments. Mature, proven and broadly deployed (with over 100 million products sold worldwide), Z-Wave is by far the world market leader in wireless control, bringing affordable, reliable and easy-to-use ‘smart’ products to many millions of people in every aspect of daily life.

For a more complete look at Z-Wave technology for non technologists, and to learn more about Z-Wave’s role as a key enabling technology for the Internet of Things and connected objects

Z-Wave is the smarter choice for smart homes. With the largest choice of smart home products, Z-Wave provides more choice for homeowners and renters. So what does that mean for you? It means that you can customize your smart home to meet your needs.

There are many colors, styles and device types to choose from and with easy-to-install and advanced options, Z-Wave has solutions for every home.

Whether you have an existing smart home or are looking to start, our smart guides will help connect you with the right products.

The smart guides can even help you find the right starter kit to give you peace of mind whether you are interested in home security, saving energy, protecting your investment properties or simply enjoying the comfort and convenience of a smarter home.

History of Z Wave:

The Z-Wave protocol was developed by Zensys, a Danish company based in Copenhagen, in 2001. That year, Zensys introduced a consumer light-control system, which evolved into Z-Wave as a proprietary system on a chip (SoC) home automation protocol on an unlicensed frequency band in the 900 MHz range. Its 100 series chip set was released in 2003, and its 200 series was released in May 2005, with the ZW0201 chip offering a high performance at a low cost. Its 500 series chip, also known as Z-Wave Plus, was released in March 2013, with four times the memory, improved wireless range, and improved battery life. The technology began to catch on in North America around 2005, when five companies, including Danfoss, Ingersoll-Rand and Leviton Manufacturing, adopted Z-Wave. They formed the Z-Wave Alliance, whose objective is to promote the use of Z-Wave technology, with all products by companies in the alliance interoperable. In 2005, Bessemer Venture Partners led a $16 million third seed round for Zensys. In May 2006, Intel Capital announced that it was investing in Zensys, a few days after Intel joined the Z-Wave Alliance. In 2008, Zensys received investments from Panasonic, Cisco Systems, Palamon Capital Partners and Sunstone Capital.

Z-Wave was acquired by Sigma Designs in December 2008. Following the acquisition, Z-Wave’s US headquarters in Fremont, California were merged with Sigma’s headquarters in Milpitas, California.[8][13] On January 23, 2018, Sigma announced it planned to sell its Z-Wave business to Silicon Labs for $240m, which was completed on April 18, 2018.

In 2005, six products on the market used Z-Wave technology. By 2012, as smart home technology was becoming increasingly popular, there were approximately 600 products using Z-Wave technology available in the US. By May 2017, over 1,700 products have been certified by the Z-Wave Alliance. As of April 18, 2018, there were over 2,400 interoperable Z-Wave products.

Z-Wave Market:

Over 2400 interoperable products available, 100 million Z-Wave products worldwide.
Extensively used in residential systems throughout numerous business spectrums, including ADT, Alarm.com, AT&T, DSC, GE/Interlogics, Honeywell, Lowes, Verizon, Vivint, and other prominent service providers worldwide.
Found in thousands of hotels, cruise ships, and vacation rentals; including 65,000 devices in the flagship Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.
Actively supported by over 700 manufacturers and service providers throughout the world.
Designed specifically for control, monitoring and status operations; no interference from Wi-Fi or other 2.4GHz wireless technologies in similar band.

Z-Wave is a wireless communications technology for OEMs and developers that is ideal for short range, two-way mesh topology automation networks. The technology is licensed by Silicon Laboratories, Austin TX, and is comprised of a mesh communications protocol stack, a set of device profiles, a wide selection of transceiver chips and modules and a finished product certification program.

Z-Wave’s physical and media access layers (PHY/MAC) have been ratified by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as the international standard (G.9959).

Together, Silicon Laboratories, the Z-Wave Alliance and hundreds of international companies that use Z-Wave technology in their products and services present the largest ecosystem of interoperable wireless control products in the world. The Z-Wave mesh communication protocol stack is embedded in the available chips and modules, and is accessed through a complete set of APIs. Z-Wave chips and modules provide Flash or OTP memory options for the manufacturer or OEM’s application software.

For many products, the Z-Wave chip or module, with its on-board micro-controller, is all that is needed for a complete Z-Wave solution. For companies that choose chip-based over module-based solutions, a range of blueprints of the PCB circuitry surrounding the Z-Wave Single Chip is offered, including antenna circuitry and filters. Silicon Laboratories also licenses reference designs, stack software and APIs to chip manufacturers that are interested in entering the wireless control space, providing Z-Wave porting services that assure quality and accelerate product development. Z-Wave’s industry-leading device specifications are available royalty free, based on a RAND model. The Z-Wave certification program ensures interoperability between all products.

How To Start Developing Z-Wave Solutions?

To begin developing Z-Wave products, the first step is the purchase of a developer’s kit. This purchase includes signing a license agreement with Silicon Laboratories for the use of the Z-Wave technology. A complete description of the developer’s kits and licensing process can be found at: https://www.silabs.com/support/z-wave.

Once you receive your developer’s kit license and download the Software Developers Kit (SDK) from the Z-Wave Technical Support website, you will want training on how to best use the components of the SDK. This training is available on-line through the support site; upon your licensing, you will receive secure login information.

First, purchase the developers kit and sign the license agreement with Sigma Designs.
Join the Z-Wave Alliance as soon as possible to take advantage of product marketing support.
Develop the product following the SDK guidelines; use Silicon Laboratories and Z-Wave Alliance for support as needed.
Submit your finished product to Silicon Laboratories for Technical Certification, and to the independent test lab for verification. There is a cost for the independent test lab; consult the Silicon Laboratories Technical Certification information at the Z-Wave Technical Support website for the current fee structure.
Submit the product information online to the Z-Wave Alliance for Market Certification; there is no charge for Alliance members, but you must be a Full level member or higher to submit Market Certifications.
(Market Certification can be entered concurrently with the Technical Certification taking place.)
Once you have received both Technical and Market Certifications, a Z-Wave Certification Number will be issued, and you can legally go to market with your product.

Z Wave Product Certification Procedure:

All commercial products using Z-Wave technology must be certified for interoperability. This is a primary requirement of the Z-Wave Technology License Agreement; failure to do so is tantamount to IP theft.

Z-Wave Product Certification is a two-part self-certification. The first part is the Technology Certification that ensures your product makes proper use of the Z-Wave SDK and will support device-to-device interoperability. This certification is referred to as the “Technical Certification”, is issued by Silicon Laboratories and is essentially a self-certification that is validated by an independent test lab. To initiate this certification, download the latest certification requirements and certification forms from the Z-Wave Technical Support website. Complete the forms online and submit them to Silicon Laboratories certification management for review. If your forms are complete, Silicon Laboratories will ask you to submit sample products to an independent test lab for verification. If everything checks out, Silicon Laboratories will issue a Technical Certification.

The second part is the Market Certification that ensures that your product carries the proper logo and certification marks, and is adequately represented in the Z-Wave Ecosystem Product Catalog. To initiate this certification, an online form is completed where the Alliance requests a photograph of the product, a description of the product, proof of the proper use of technology and certification marks per the brand guidelines, and basic information on the inclusion and setup of the product in a Z-Wave network. This certification is issued by the Z-Wave Alliance, and requires that the submitter is a Full or Principal member of the Z-Wave Alliance in good standing.

Z-Wave offers integrators and system designers a world of business opportunities, along with the products and training to make those opportunities pay dividends for both you and your clients.

Now integrators can easily deliver all the hot applications that customers are asking for, including remote home and business management, energy conservation, connected solutions for independent aging, real estate and property control and more. All with no new wiring and the confidence that comes with an interoperable standard that works seamlessly between brands.

There are now over 2400 interoperable Z-Wave products available for every application, from brands your customers know and trust. The boom in smart home services now being touted by major service providers opens the door for you and lets you get your customers past the starter kits. And we’re right behind you with the training and support you need, both online and at shows and events.

If you’re even moderately interested in DIY home automation, you’ve likely run across the name “Z-Wave” at some point. And then you probably wondered, “What the hell is a Z-Wave?!”

Z-Wave does not describe some new shotgun-to-brain-resistant strain of zombie apocalypse. Nor is it a massive rogue wave caused by underwater tumult miles off the Zanzibar shore. It’s also not a new way of grading on a curve, where the highest and lowest scores are forced to fight to the death in a gladiatorial arena, using only their wits and sharpest #2 pencils to survive.

Much like the X-Men or the Justice League, there is an alliance of Z-Wave member companies, which goes by the ominous moniker of the Z-Wave Alliance. Unfortunately, they don’t gather in a secret lair, they wear suits instead of capes, and their super powers are mainly limited to promoting synergy and interoperability. I doubt a single member has been bombarded with gamma radiation or escaped a dying planet.

Actual facts indicate the Alliance was established in early 2005 by a group of control manufacturers, and now has support from over 250 companies, including some big names like Honeywell, Belkin, Kwikset, Yale, GE, Black & Decker, and Leviton. To date, more than 900 different products have been certified by the Z-Wave Alliance.

Learn more about other IoT Wireless Communication Protocols:

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MeenaG Staff

Internet of Things Enthusiast