SmartHome Blog article on zigbee vs zwave (Jan 2019)

Wow, is this an inaccurate article! :disappointed_relieved:

Whoever wrote it is obviously not a network engineer or a pro installer, but someone without a strong technical background reading information from other articles and then trying to draw conclusions from them. This is like hearing someone on the 6 o’clock news talk about 5G cell service. :scream:

Some of the stuff is just flat wrong: zigbee does have hop limitations, and in particular, the most frequently used profile for Home automation is 15 in and 15 out.


The suggestion for which to use outdoors is not only wrong, if they had done any research on what’s available for, say, sprinkler systems they would’ve found that those devices are almost always zigbee. That has to do with signal dispersion, which I know is technical, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant.

Zigbee Profiles

No mention of zigbee profiles at all, which is a huge issue when shopping for home automation equipment.


Also, interoperability is another huge issue for people selecting home automation devices, and here the blog just goes straight off the road all together into some kind of fantasy land.

GE appliances, Yale smart locks and Honey thermostats also play nicely with both the big Zs.

GE smart appliances have Wi-Fi, not zigbee or Z wave. ( The lighting systems designed by Jasco and released under the licensed GE name are available in either zigbee or Z wave, but those are not appliances.) Yale locks, just like Schlage and Kwikset, can be purchased in either a zigbee model or Zwave model, not a dual protocol model as the article implies. And I’m guessing by “honey” they meant “Honeywell,” but again, different models have different protocols.


They also come to a dead wrong conclusion on locks, suggesting that Zigbee would be better for locks because of better power management.

It’s true that Zigbee typically has better power management, But because of the potential for Wi-Fi interference, Z wave is usually a better choice for a DIY project for a fixed location device like a door lock. With a sensor, you can move it around and find a location with less interference. But a doorlock is where it is for most people.

I’m not saying never uses zigbee locks: they will work well for a lot of people. I am saying that Zwave is an easier choice for most home DIY lock projects, especially if you also have a Wi-Fi video camera or doorbell in that area.

(The article also says that Z wave is not subject to interference, which is just flat wrong. Baby monitors, cordless phones in the 900 MHz range, and some other devices can and do cause interference with Zwave. It just doesn’t get interference from Wi-Fi. That’s important, but it’s not the same thing as saying zwave is not subject to interference.)


Because zwave is a proprietary protocol, I would argue that it is likely to be intrinsically more expensive than zigbee devices. And there are three factors pushing zigbee device prices lower right now.

First is the increasing availability of very low cost zigbee home automation devices from China, which we have seen with the Xioami and Glepto devices. Because zigbee is the same frequency for home automation for much of the world, most of these devices can also be used in the US. That’s not true of zwave, because China and the US use different Z wave frequencies.

Second is the Amazon echo factor. The stealth hub inside the echo plus and echo show models supports zigbee but not zwave.

You can still use Z wave devices with echo as long as you have a smart hub like smartthings to act as a “man in the middle.” But the ability of some zigbee devices to work directly with Amazon Alexa devices is hugely expanding the DIY market, and we are starting to see prices fall in a number of device classes including locks and plug-in modules.

And third, IKEA has now introduced their line of home automation, Tradfri, which uses the same zigbee profile that the echo plus does. (Also the same as smartthings.) these are crushing prices for home automation devices with safety certifications, as opposed to the cheap no-name Chinese imports. For example, Ikea has a plug in module for $9.99, about half the price of the other big brand zigbee modules. And about a third the price of zwave devices.

For all three of these reasons, I expect to see this trend continue, with the least expensive reliable safety certified devices being zigbee within a year or so.


Anyway, I’ve had several people ask me about article, so I just wanted to put a pin in it here.

Here’s the blog article from January 2019

As an alternative, here is the FAQ from this community which compares zigbee and z wave:

I appreciate the effort to tackle a difficult but important subject. Also I really like the structure of the article. :sunglasses: I think they identified all the right points. I just wish they had had the article reviewed by a technical expert before going ahead and publishing it.


Somehow I’m picturing you fuming, talking into whatever voice recognition software you use wishing it could capture the nuance of your annoyance.:joy:

Great post!

1 Like

Thanks for your views. I’ve been sitting on the fence, putting up with my aging, unreliable X-10 equipment while waiting for a trend to develop in the Zigbee vs. Z Wave competition. It looks like 2020 will be the year that Zigbee becomes the dominant technology with the (eventually) widest array of products at prices equivalent to or cheaper than X-10.