ZWAVE VARIES BY COUNTRY
Zwave frequencies are different in different countries because different countries use different frequencies for things like ambulance communications, cordless phones, and mobile phones. Zwave frequencies are licensed for ranges that will not interfere with these local communications.
For this reason, it may be illegal to use US Z wave frequencies in a country that reserves those frequencies for, say, ambulance communications. So it’s not just a technical issue.
All of that said, much of the Caribbean uses the US frequencies anyway. And in 2015, a number of South American countries also adopted the US frequencies. This was a change from their previous assignments.
So if your region uses US frequencies, you’re fine with the regular smartthings version.
If your region does not use US frequencies, you need to check locally to see if there are any legal restrictions against using the US frequencies.
If there are no legal restrictions, and nothing local that will interfere with the communications, then as long as the hub and the devices use the same frequency so they should be able to talk to each other.
When the initial kickstarter manufacturing run was done there were a few units sent to initial backers in Europe that used the European zwave frequencies. Since November 2015 the hub has only sold with either a US frequency zwave antenna or a European frequency antenna (currently sold only in the UK).
There has been some discussion that future ST generations may include versions for other Z wave regions but nothing official yet.
In part because of the legal issues, each hub is manufactured and certified with a single Zwave frequency which cannot be changed later.
SO IF IT’S LEGAL TO USE US FREQUENCY ZWAVE IN MY COUNTRY AND I HAVE A US FREQUENCY HUB, CAN I FIND OTHER ZWAVE DEVICES TO WORK WITH IT?
Maybe, but if your country uses a different voltage, it May be hard to find a device with, say, European voltage and US Zwave, although there may be some made for the Latin American market. And some US voltage devices can work with other voltage through a transformer. So you may have to check with the device’s manufacturer.
If you have a European Zwave frequency SmartThings hub, many devices certified for European zwave should be OK. Aeon Labs is a good source for devices offered in zwave frequencies for several different regions. Again each single device will have only one frequency and can only be used with a hub that exactly matches that frequency, so check what you’re buying when you place the order.
ZIGBEE IS THE SAME FREQUENCY RANGE WORLDWIDE, BUT COMMUNICATION PROTOCOLS MAY VARY BY MANUFACTURER
Zigbee, on the other hand, uses the same frequency range everywhere. However, different manufacturers use proprietary communication protocols on that frequency. So in that case it’s not a country to country issue but rather one of different manufacturers’ devices not being speaking the same dialect.
SmartThings is certified for the Zigbee Home Automation protocol. But not Zigbee Pro, although it may work with some pro devices.
Some smart bulbs use the Zigbee Home Automation Protocol, like GE Link, and those should work with SmartThings directly. Smart bulbs that use the Zigbee Light Light Protocol like Philips Hues will work best if there is an integration between SmartThings and their “bridge.” Hues integration is currently in Beta.
Hues are made for most countries; check the Philips website. Osram Lightify is also made in multiple formats.
In addition, different countries set different regulatory maximums on signal strength from zigbee devices. The US allows for “boosted zigbee” which is a signal strength of up to about 20. Europe however limits signal strength maximum to around 12. This means that many American-made zigbee devices, including some of the SmartThings branded US models, are illegal to operate in the UK, for example. So you also need to check those limitations before importing any zigbee devices from another country.
WHAT DEVICES SHOULD I GET IF I LIVE IN A COUNTRY THAT USES THE US ZWAVE FREQUENCY BUT 220v POWER?
This may be The most challenging situation until home automation becomes more popular in South America. The US version of the SmartThings hub can run on USB power, so you will probably be okay with that.
There are some smart bulbs made for that market; check with Philips or local home automation resources.
Battery operated devices, of course, will work fine.
The challenge is door locks, switches, and mains-powered appliances. Zigbee doorlocks do exist, but as of this writing do not work well with SmartThings.
For switches, zigbee devices using the HA 1.2 protocol are probably your best bet. Aeon Labs, a major zwave switch maker, has expressed an interest in the market, it’s worth contacting them to see what’s available.
For more discussion of 220v power with the 908 Zwave frequency, see: