Z-wave plus vs zigbee

Sorry if this has been asked before but all I can find are comparisons to z-wave (not z-wave plus) and zigbee!

I have been going back and forth trying to decide between z-wave and zigbee. From what I can tell, zigbee has better battery life than z-wave. However, the ecolink z-wave plus sensors (tilt and door/windows) are rated for 5 years. So is it accurate to say z-wave plus has the longest battery life?

I also read that cheap zigbee devices have a faster response time than cheap z-wave devices. Does that include ecolink devices? Does that still hold true for z-wave plus? I am mostly referring to motion and door/window sensors.

Another common point is that zigbee devices are typically smaller than z-wave due to lower power requirements. Is that not true for z-wave plus since it also has longer battery life?

And more out of curiosity as it shouldn’t really matter: is the z-wave plus device limit also 232 devices? And max 4 hops?

Essentially I had decided to go with zigbee despite wifi interference reliability concerns (I would just make sure their frequencies are far apart), due to longer battery life and faster response times. But after looking more into z-wave plus I’m not sure those same conclusions are correct. Also, z-wave has the benefit of using hard wired outlets as repeaters for a cleaner look. I am using lutron caseta switches so unfortunately can’t use the switches as repeaters, and zigbee seems to only have plug-in style outlets.

What are everyone’s thoughts?

Use either/both. The hub supports both.


The more technically inclined community members can probably provide specific answers to your questions, but imho you are overthinking things unnecessarily.

Most likely, you can have a good experience with either protocol, or both. If there are other considerations like aesthetics, price/availability where you live, or certain devices you want that are available with only one protocol, then it’s fine to make decisions based on that too.

Plan your device placement so that you have a strong mesh, which applies to either protocol, and you should be fine.

One last thing, it’s important to consider that everyone’s home environment is different, and local factors could adversely affect signal transmission for one protocol or another. Obviously there’s no way for anyone else to predict that with much certainty. As you noted, WiFi can interfere with zigbee; for some people that causes huge problems, while for others none at all.


I decided to go with both. It does take a bit more time in planning so that you don’t have dead spots, but not much.

I like the idea of having both because there may be a future device that I want to add that is only available as a Z-Wave (or only as Zigbee). I didn’t want to limit myself to only having one particular mesh - and didn’t want to go through the hassle of redoing switches down the road. Just trying to avoid a situation where I can’t use a good quality, highly rated product simply because I’m not set up for it.

I think having Zigbee and Z-wave allow for the greatest flexibility for the future without going overboard (in that I’m not going to set up for every available protocol) but If I have these two - I’m pretty well covered. Considering that a lot of the products like wall switches and outlets look exactly alike regardless of if they are ZW or ZB - aesthetics aren’t really a barrier to having both.

Perhaps in the future a format will become dominant, but your guess is as good as mine as to what that format is - At one point I would have said Z-Wave had the better shot at becoming the de-facto standard despite some of it’s pitfalls, but now that Amazon uses Zigbee in it’s echo plus (along with it’s other advantages) I think one could make a great case for Zigbee. But I see both being used for quite a while.


Are you in the US or the UK? The device selection does vary somewhat.

As others have said, I think you’re parsing this a little too finely. (And my saying that is likely to cause the entire community to burst out laughing, since no one is more nitpicky about device differentiation than I am! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

Zigbee typically has better power management than either classic zwave or zwave plus, but some folks in Sweden came up with a new (and patented) Z wave battery option which is now allowing for some very long life zwave devices. The Sensative strip sensors were the first of these, but it looks like the Zwave chip manufacturer may have licensed this for the next generation of Z wave (which is not available yet), as they are now claiming very long life for that generation. We will have to see. But the battery life issue is something you can decide about for each individual device that you are considering, just by looking at the devices that are available for purchase at the time that you are shopping.

Zwave plus does have the best range through clear air for an individual device, that is a single “hop,” but zigbee still does better through rain, snow, or high humidity. And the hop limits have not changed. So again there are some case-by-case factors. If you live in an adobe house, zigbee will probably be better at getting signal to distant rooms because even though each hop is shorter, you have more hops to work with, which can help get signal around walls by going out to the hallway and then back in to the next room.

As far as responsiveness, yes, if you’re looking at the least expensive devices, the zigbee ones are generally more responsive. But there can always be individual model differences. And once you start looking at the better engineered ( and more expensive close parentheses devices like the Fibaro Z wave plus device generally catch up.

If you are in the US, there are some in wall receptacles for zigbee, although not many.

In general, unless you have a reason to only stick with one protocol, one of the advantages of SmartThings is that you can look at each device you are considering on a case-by-case basis, knowing the general guidelines but not using those as an absolute rule. :sunglasses:

If you’re not willing to use the plug in pocket sockets as repeaters for aesthetic reasons, though, then I would tend to steer you towards zwave as you will have a greater choice of repeaters. And I personally will generally pay extra to get a zwave plus device over Z wave classic when both are available, although there are exceptions even there. If I just need an extra beaming device, for example, to improve the performance of Z wave door lock, I may get the least expensive refurbished Z wave classic plug-in I can get, since I’m just trying to solve a very specific problem.


I use both Zigbee and Z-wave. I am more partial to Z-wave, have used it longer and have a back collection of Z-wave devices. The Z-wave mesh is very strong and reliable in my home.

The zigbee mesh is non-existent but does work. I have the hub, which is compatible, and then about 20 sensors. I have issues with sensors dropping in and out. This is because I do not have any zigbee repeaters and all the work is carried by the hub. I am ordersong some zigbee repeaters to replace some of my z-wave wall modules to help with this. I think we determined in another post one for every 5 sensors.

I will have a minimum of 1 z-wave and 1 zigbee repeating device in every room starting at the hub. I believe this plug here will actually repeat both protocols (Iris Model 3210-L):
Purcahse: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Iris-120-Volt-White-Smart-Plug/999925330
Discussion: [RELEASE] Iris Smart Plug (3210-L) Zigbee Plug with Z-wave Repeater

You cannot go wrong with either and I see great benefit in going with both. Just make sure you plan out your “mesh” in advance so you don’t leave any devices out.

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Thanks for all the feedback everyone! Keep it coming. I know I am probably putting too much thought into it but that’s half the fun! Very good points regarding about the higher zigbee hops allowing for shorter hops and a stronger mesh. I think my house is small enough with the hub centrally located that this isn’t a deciding factor for me.

I don’t plan in installing repeaters for both networks until there is a compelling reason. For now I see good options for both zwave plus and zigbee for all the stuff I want so deploying both would just be unnecessary cost.

The main thing I am interested in is battery life. The ecolink zwave plus line is rated at 5 years:

I know the Sensative Strips are rated for 10 years but the amazon reviews leave me with serious reliability concerns. Does anyone know of a zigbee door/window sensor with 5+ years battery rating?

A secondary concern is size. If anyone knows any well rated options that have 5+ years battery and is smaller than typical, please let me know.


Thanks for all the detailed answers! I checked out the fibaro door/window sensor. The manufacturer’s page only lists it as 2 years battery (although I can’t tell if this is for thee zwave or zwave plus model), but it is smaller.

I am in Canada, but order a lot of stuff off US sites and use a package forwarding service when necessary. Are there any specific wired zigbee outlets you are aware of? I wasn’t able to find anything.

I just saw the fibaro zwave plus sensor uses the same large battery as the ecolink zwave plus (CR123A). So I think the fibaro 2 year battery rating is just more honest than the 5 year ecolink rating, or fibaro hasn’t updated the specs on their website to reflect their newer zwave plus model. The fibaro is smaller, and if its higher quality the price is only marginally higher on amazon.

Thanks for recommending fibaro! Please let me know if anyone has any other brand recommendations, including zigbee.

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I am also new to this so I have not considered battery life…or pet sensitivity. I jumped in quick, saw Iris had good reviews and was locally available - not always the best way. I have learned a few things from you now lol. I may consider upgrading my sensors overtime as the batteries need to be replaced, especially now that we are adding a dog to the family.

Yeah Iris was the one I was considering for zigbee too. I haven’t found a better alternative but would be willing to pay a bit extra if there is a “premium” alternative available. How has the battery life been for you? The support page says up to 2 years, and it uses the larger CR-2 battery so I assume that is somewhat accurate:


This thread mentions a very low profile one by NYCE:


It doesn’t have many reviews though so hard to say how good it is. They rate their battery at 5 years but that seems like an overestimate based on the fact that it uses a tiny battery, or maybe it just has a very slow response time.

The eco-link can be configured to be low sensitivity, which will improve the battery life but often doesn’t meet people’s requirement because it makes it much slower to respond.

The Fibaro rating is based on what they consider to be typical settings, in particular where it is used for turning on lights when someone walks into a room.

As far as I know, the only device which right now is using the new power management technology for zwave are the sensative strips, which promise 10 year battery life. But they don’t have a motion sensor, just a contact sensor. And as mentioned previously, they hold a patent on their power management technology.

I have only had them installed for two months now. Seem to be draining faster than expected, but that is on me for not setting up an adequate zigbee mesh. Once I resolve that deficiency, I expect them to perform better and last longer.

That was my original delima. While I wanted the pet sensitivity, I did not want my wife to walk past a light switch and the lights still not turn on. Four kids, money is tight. She has to see value or the project is DOA Walking past the light switch, then turning around to turn the light on because the motion sensor thinks you might still be a dog is of little value to a wife :smiley: My work around for pet sensitivity is that all my WebCore lighting pistons capture ‘Away’ mode and do not turn lights on based on motion (or switches). Similarly, my night mode only goes to 1% to 10% based on the room size and has much shorter inactivity periods. I may also introduce fade commands to soften the on/off blow…not sure you can really fade to 1% though.

2.4 ghz is just so crowded. Where I sit now there are 5 2.4 ghz networks i can see. In the back center of my house i can see 7 sometimes 9 networks. And I have very few neighbors. Can’t imagine all the problems that could crop up in a city.

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This is a zigbee outlet. It’s been discontinued, but is still available. So community members are using it, although I believe the energy reporting is not working with it, just on/off

SmartenIT makes both a single and dual in wall micro which will work as a Zigbee repeater


I should add that assuming the echo plus is successful, which is hard to tell now, I do expect to see more zigbee home automation (ZHA) devices available by the next holiday season, because that will create its own market. But it’s too early to tell how well it’s selling yet.

Also, lots of rumors that IKEA will add more Devices to their zigbee line this summer, but those are still just rumours.

I’ll throw my 10c worth in.
My preference is to run both protocols. I like Zigbee mainly for making my own devices since there are more devices open for use such as XBee and TI radio modules. The Sigma ZWave radio modules require a $2K investment to be able to use them.

If I wanted one network to use solely purchased equipment I’d use ZWave as Zigbee often use multiple endpoints to get full functionality of a device. SmartThings doesn’t seem to handle this or at least not in the device drivers I’ve seen. For instance the Zigbee door locks do the lock/unlock ok but other functionality such as storing codes etc don’t work through SmartThings. I’ve got a Zigbee high Current switch that works great but the current measurement is in another endpoint and I can’t get it to work. The hub doesn’t seem to discover the extra end points. I haven’t tried for a while so it may have changed but it seems Xwave gets more attention from the developers due to population of installed devices.


I can see about a dozen other WiFi networks in my apartment. And my ST hub is only about a foot away from my WiFi access point.

I haven’t noticed any real issues with zigbee. Probably helps that my apartment is only about 1100 sq ft. :man_shrugging:

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Im in the suburb with 50-ft to 70-ft wide lots and 2,000 SF homes. I can see 8 wifi points from my house right now - sometimes this number is as high as 12. Most of them are AT&T units as they seem to now be installing two per house. Used to all be mostly 2.4 GHz but I am seeing more 5 GHz units.

I use 2.4 GHz units as not everything in my house is 5 GHz compatible and I would probably have to install another repeater or two to get good quality coverage. I had to assign fixed channels to my wifi because of noise and interference issues. Since doing so it has been mostly trouble free. Dropped wifi connections are still a occasional reality despite a strong signal. Really wreaks havoc on my ring pro doorbell.

I have not noticed interference with my zigbee sensors as much as it seems to be dropping, not interference. I have carefully selected the zigbee channel to avoid interfering with my wifi. I will know for sure once I install the repeaters.

When I got new neighbors their WiFi messed with my doorbells as well. Quick change of the wifi channels fixed that. When I remember I’ll ask them to change channels to the same as the neighbors on the other side of me.

I believe all the dropped zigbee devices are from interference. Don’t have proof, but I got zigbee repeaters just for my fans (that I can see from the hub) just to combat this.

That smartenit in-wall unit looks interesting. I like that it is certified on zigbee.org (at least the dual version is), but it lists it as zigbee v1.0. Would that pose a compatibility problem relaying v1.2 devices?

I came across this one too:

But that and the Quirky one don’t specify if they are v1.2, and don’t appear on zigbee.org so I can’t check.