FAQ: Is Z-Wave Plus Better than classic Z-Wave? Is it Backwards-Compatible?

Z-wave plus is the newest generation (2015) in zwave. It is also called fifth generation, or gen five, Z-wave. Lots of improvements.

The zwave piece itself is smaller, which means sensors and other devices including it can be smaller, and it also means less power draw.

Along with some other energy management improvements, this should mean for example that battery life is longer. They were really trying to go for a two-year battery life on a Z wave plus door lock. We’ll have to see if they really got there, but they are a lot closer than the previous generation.

Range has been improved pretty significantly. That will help a lot, not just with the actual range, but with the quality of the mesh since it means devices will have more routes available then they had previously, because each device can talk to a wider selection of Other nodes. Fingers crossed, but this may also mean Fewer lost or delayed messages.

Transmission time from the hub to a node will be faster.

It will now be possible to do firmware updates over the air if the device is also Z wave plus and is set up to do that. That’s a nice feature.

Pairing is supposed to be easier, although that remains to be seen.

There are also some network-management improvements which you won’t see but you will see the results of.

So better battery life, longer-range, faster transmission, over the air firmware update, smaller physical device size, lower energy draw, and a bunch of network-management improvements . All good.

This is why I said I personally would upgrade from SmartThings hub V1 to V2 even if the only difference was that V2 was zwave plus. :sunglasses:

it’s also why almost all zwaveproduct manufacturers except the really really low end ones will be coming out with new device lines over the next 18 months that shift to Z wave plus.


The previous generation devices will still work fine, so you could have a network that mixes and matches generations. But you need the primary controller to be zwave plus to get full benefits.

If you have a classic Z wave controller (like smartthings v1) and you add some individual wave plus devices to your network, like sensors, the individual devices will still have the improved battery life, and obviously they will still physically be smaller. You won’t get all of the other advantages, though. In particular, you can’t do over the air firmware upgrades unless the controller is also Z wave plus.

The logo looks almost exactly the same except it includes the word “plus.”


Thanks @JDRoberts Interesting summary.

Is V2 ZWAVEplus ? Specs on the pre-order page don’t say.

Yes, V2 is Zwave Plus.

Does anyone know if Z-Wave plus brings in better security? Honestly, I’ve seen videos on YouTube about how easy it is to hack in a Z-wave network and unlock someone’s door. It only takes being close enough to the controller, a laptop with a terminal emulator application, some knowledge of hexadecimal, basic command line skills, and a 900Mhz module that speaks z-wave connected to your laptop via serial port. This is why I can use z-wave for everything else, except for the front door of my house. I don’t particularly care if you hack into my zwave to switch on my kitchen light. LOL

Zwave plus itself didn’t introduce any new security features.

However, about 18 months ago zwave did introduce a new security framework, S2, and that will be mandatory on all devices certified as of April 2017.

As far as the YouTube videos, I’m not sure what you saw, but it’s not easy even with older generations. Zwave locks use 128 bit AES encryption and you must have physical access to the lock in order to pair it to a new controller. The new S2 framework was primarily designed to address security issues for other device classes which were not using the same level of security as the locks do.

The most popular Zwave locks are designed by Yale and Schlage, and I feel confident neither company would want their name on locks which were easily bypassed.

If you could provide a link to an article or video describing the issue, we might be able to put it in context. :sunglasses:

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  1. Are there any devices that support S2 that are available for purchase now? Just curious?

  2. What does secure inclusion with a zwave plus device mean/do?
    for example: What is the difference with including an Aeon Smart switch with and without secure inclusion?

Physically, pressing the inclusion button once causes the aeon smart switch to be included “normal”, clicking on it twice causes it to be “secure” included.

I haven’t seen any out yet that are using S2. One of the interesting things about the new requirement is that any Z wave plus device (fifth generation or series 500, it’s all the same thing) could have its firmware updated to use the S2 framework. But again, I don’t know any manufacturer that has released such updates yet.

( note also in that article how the Z wave alliance representative is saying “all devices on the network” – – what they’re saying is that with S2 a contact sensor could have the same level of security as the locks previously did.)

As far as secure inclusion, that means that an encryption key is exchanged at the time of pairing.