Unite Zigbee and Z-wave into wifi direct on a common basic 2.4ghz wifi 5 level network?
Matter doesn’t seem to be more secure than Z-wave Plus or Zigbee 3, which I think were dumb to be competing like HDDVD and Bluray. But is Matter basically just apps that can connect to wifi without a dedicated hub?
Matter was designed to solve a market problem: to make it easier for non-technical consumers to select devices that would work with what they already had at home. Which meant one device that could work with either Apple home, Amazon Alexa, Google assistant, or SmartThings. (And also potentially aqara, Tuya, Ikea, and some additional platforms that don’t have their own voice assistants. But each platform, including the big four, have been rolling out matter support bit by bit, with different bits for each platform, which is part of the current confusion.)
Zigbee and Z wave function at the networking level, just like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and thread.
Matter is at a level above that, the application layer. So it’s not going head to head in the way you were asking about. Right now, the options are matter over Wi-Fi, matter over thread, or matter over bridge (which can bring in really any protocol that someone wants to build a bridge for, right now, primarily Zigbee or Bluetooth, but also a couple of proprietary protocols).
So its end goal is to make it easy for people to buy and set up devices. That’s really it.
Unfortunately, during the first year in 2023 it’s spectacularly failed at that goal, because the independent third-party standard organization allowed the use of the matter logo long before things were standardized. so it meant more research was required, not less.
Hopefully that will change in the future, we will just have to see.
But in any case, it’s not designed to be an improved protocol. Just an improved buying and setup experience.
It’s true that matter does require local operation, which could be a plus for some platforms like smartthings, but Apple home and a number of Z wave and zigbee platforms already operate mostly locally, so again, it’s not aiming for a technical advantage.
The detailed discussion of matter, and how it impacts smartthings is in the following thread:
Also, Z wave is not currently participating in the matter project. There is an option called unify which the chip developer is working on that would allow zwave to join the party, but so far, no hub manufacturers have signed onto that that I know of. Again, that is discussed in more detail in the thread I linked to above.
I’m a techie, I like having more secure features that are fast and work well. My new Matter bulbs popped up on plugging them in on Smarttthingf app, that was great. And it needed, I suppose, more secure than the Gen 1 Z-waves they replaced.
Without Z-wave it’s still a segmented market and a mess. It’s crazy how some things are mostly Z-wave like locks and switches, and other entire genres like bulbs and motion sensors are mostly Zigbee. I hope they figure this out soon and get past all this, at least Smartthings is good enough that it doesn’t really ‘matter’ which you pick.
strong Wi-Fi can drown out Zigbee, but doesn’t have any effect on zwave. Professional installers can deal with those issues, but DIY people typically don’t have the tools to do so. Or the interest in doing the research it takes to get it right. So historically Z wave became popular for fixed point devices like light switches and door locks since those devices couldn’t be easily moved to a different place in the room to avoid Wi-Fi interference, making z wave a simpler choice.
Lightbulbs were a different issue. Zwave prior to 2023 has a maximum of 232 Devices per network. Zigbee can go into the thousands. ZWave has only one profile. Prior to 2020, Zigbee had multiple specialty profiles For different purposes (one for medical, one for retail, one for powerline management, etc.) And open to developing more. Some of those are pretty stripped down, and don’t depend on hubs in the same way that zwave does. In part, because of that, Zigbee has much better power management for battery powered and even batteryless energyharvesting devices (like the original Phillips hue tap).
Several major lighting companies, but particularly Phillips, Were interested in developing Smart lightbulbs that could be used in small commercial buildings. They didn’t want building maintenance to have to change batteries, but they wanted to be able to add lighting control devices without wiring. They wanted to be able to support hundreds of lightbulbs on one network. And they preferred to minimize the use of Hubs. And then they realized that this new profile might also be absolutely perfect for non-installer projects, whether it was an individual college student buying something for their dorm room or a 4 floor retail space.
Put all of that together, and you come up with a new profile introduced in 2016: Zigbee Light Link. (ZLL) . Absolutely brilliant engineering. It met all of the requirements I just listed, And the devices were inexpensive enough for the home market. It didn’t even need an app if all you wanted was a handheld or wall mount remote And some bulbs. Add an app and a bridge to get to it, and you could do lots of fancy effects with a very intuitive UI. The result was that Phillips hue absolutely crushed the smart bulb market, and z wave smart bulbs started to fade away almost entirely.
Sure, WiFi bulbs continued to hold a relatively small market share, but they used up highly valuable slots on a Wi-Fi network, and at that time many routers maxed out at 32 Wi-Fi devices total. Not enough to do a whole house worth of lighting. Also, Wi-Fi Devices used about 15 times as much power as Zigbee, so you couldn’t get those Kinetic energy remotes and switches, and even handheld battery powered WiFi remotes were pretty hopeless. The Wi-Fi devices were great if you wanted your lightbulb to also play music, of course, but not that many people wanted those and if they did, they didn’t want them in every bulb.
So… Although the reason why Z Wave dominated light switches and Zigbee dominated smart bulbs between 2015 and 2021 did have to do with market forces, they weren’t random arbitrary decisions. There were solid network engineering factors involved that led device manufacturers to choose one protocol over the other in each case.
motion sensors, same thing. Zigbee devices use less power than z wave, and the network can support many more devices. One of the first Zigbee projects I worked on was an agricultural sensornet with a typical deployment of 2000 sensors. You want the battery life to be as good as possible, and you don’t want a network limited to under 250 devices.
But even for a typical residential install, longer battery life is highly desirable. Take a look at the physical Dimensions of a typical PIR motion sensor for z wave and Zigbee. In most cases in order to meet an acceptable battery life, the Z wave device will be much larger so that it can hold bigger batteries, even if the two use exactly the same sensor hardware.
Z wave motion sensors continue to be made and sold so that they can go into single protocol systems that include (wait for it…) Light switches and door locks, but head to head most potential customers will prefer the smaller Zigbee devices. So again, it’s the intersection of market demand and engineering factors that drives the protocol selection.
I really appreciate the info. It does make sense to have different formats, but like the post following yours said it’s so annoying that even Samsung is selling non-Zwave hubs and they’re the only ones that are new and fairly affordable. Oh well. I just wish Amazon supported Z-wave too, if nobody supports Z-wave going forward a lot of people like me will be stuck with door jams.
Actually I did look over that earlier. In the end it’s not the end of the world if Z-wave dies I guess. I had a V2 hub just drop dead, which turned out ok since the V3 is awesome. I just hope it lasts. Just the thought of having to rewire all those switches someday is scary though, and the fact that smart door locks are insanely overpriced too.