What are Zigbee and Z-Wave? Everything you need to know!


It’s a decent article with just a couple of errors, like the following, which just isn’t true:

Every Zigbee network needs at least one controller device but can support more than one.

That statement would be true for Z wave. Zigbee, in contrast, can be configured for some profiles without any coordinator, but most typically can only have one.

Still, pretty good.

They got it right that zigbee handles hostile environments better, but failed to mention that that’s a specific factor for outdoor devices, because humidity, rain, and snow can all create signal dispersion.

Also, they got it right that Z wave only allows for 4 hops, but failed to mention that Zigbee home automation allows for 15 into the hub and 15 out, and potentially thousands of devices versus the 232 for Z wave.

Still, mostly right, which is impressive these days. :sunglasses:

For those who’d like to read a little more, the following:

And the Wi-Fi issue, which they sort of mentioned but didn’t really emphasize:


I would also strongly disagree that zwave is “more mature” than zigbee. They were both standardized in the same year, 2003. But they had different missions and different ways of getting there. In terms of do it yourself home residential devices, right now you have more choice with Z wave, although that may very well change because of the echo plus. But it is zigbee which is used in the very high-end home automation and security systems, including control4. It’s just that zigbee was never designed for “piece at a time” Device acquisition for DIY residential work. In most cases you bought a whole set of devices at once and they were all tuned to work together.

If you live in the US, you likely already have zigbee devices in your home. Most television set top boxes use zigbee, as well as most smart meters. And there are many more medical devices that use zigbee than use zwave.

The difference isn’t maturity. The difference is ease-of-use for the do it yourselfer.

Just sayin’… :wink:


If you had to pick one, which would it be?

Just one between Z wave and zigbee?

For many of us, myself included, the primary reason for selecting SmartThings was that it supports multiple protocols. I like to choose the protocol based on the specific device placement and use. So at my house, we typically use Lutron Caseta (which is neither zigbee nor zwave) for light switches, zigbee for smart bulbs and sensors, and Zwave for door locks, plug-in pocket sockets, and in wall micros. We also have some Bluetooth devices which are used with HomeKit.

If I had to pick just one, personally I wouldn’t give up the hue bridge, and I really like zigbee sensors, so it would be zigbee, but I know that I might have some issues with Wi-Fi interference with fixed location devices like door locks. I have a pretty good technical background and know how to deal with that stuff, but it can be challenging for people who don’t have a strong technical background and access to the right tools. But that setup would mean giving up my Lutron light switches, which I really don’t want to do.

If I were recommending a single protocol solution for someone who didn’t have a strong technical background and just had a regular house in the US and was going to install everything themselves, I would recommend Z wave. It’s just a little simpler for DIY Single protocol installations.

But in the real world people are not usually limited to just one protocol, so for someone with simple needs who is doing everything themselves and didn’t have a strong technical background, these days I more commonly suggest they look at HomeKit with Lutron switches and the Phillips hue bridge not just for smart bulbs but also for their sensors and handheld remotes. If they want something pretty simple that works with SmartThings, it’s the same suggestions but they can also use zwave locks and button devices and zigbee sensors if they want.

So that’s the answer I would give, but in the real world I just don’t stick to only one protocol, either for myself or when making recommendations to others. Choice is good. :sunglasses:

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