Zigbee and Z-Wave netowork balance

(Someday my dog will be automated) #1

Hi everyone,

I’m new to the forums but have been eyeing them for quite a while. I currently own a Wink Hub which works very well for me, but I’ve been itching to try SmartThings out because of its community, more powerful app, presence sensors, etc., etc. Mainly what held me back was the official Nest integration, which I’m sure should be around the corner.

Anyhow, my question is: which protocol to fancy over the other for the mesh network? Most of the connected devices out there are Z-wave, and now that the new Hub comes with Z-Wave Plus the quality of the network should be better (given my basic understanding).
But… all of the SmartThings devices are Zigbee, and some of the devices I own right now (Quirky Tripper, for example). I’m at the verge of changing my light switches for smart ones, and I’m at a crossroads to which to choose. I love the Lutron Caseta switches, but they don’t provide Z-Wave or Zigbee, and they don’t have ST support. I’ve been eyeing the Leviton and Linear Z-Wave light switches, given that they’re both compatible with Wink and ST, but there’s also the Quirky Tapt and GE Zigbee light switches. I guess my true question for the comunnity is, how do each of you find a balance in between protocols for the devices you own, or do you just go with one of the protocols ignoring the other one?

Just as an example, I’d like to use the ST multi to monitor the vibration of my washer and dryer in the basement to know when laundry’s done, and at on the second floor to get temperature readings to communicate with my Nest Thermostat. But that’s most likely out of the hub’s range. The ST multi is Zigbee, but I’d like to use some Z-wave locks and other Z-wave sutff, as well.

Sorry for the long post and thanks for the replies in advance!

(Bruce) #2

It really doesn’t matter, you can mix the two any way you want. It ends up being driven by the specific devices you get that meet your needs. Most ST installations have both Zigbee and Z-Wave devices, and mesh networks.

(Someday my dog will be automated) #3

Thanks for you reply. That’s what I had in mind. Due to my WAF, I’d like to stick to either very similar light switches or all to be the same. I don’t think I can get away with different switches and wall plates.
Any light switch in particular you’d recommend?

(Benji) #4

Honestly given how much ‘pollution’ there already is on 2.4GHz I’d prefer ZWave, but like @bravenel has said, it’s usually down to what devices you want and what they support.

(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #5

Only things to keep in mind is how far spread out your devices will be.

Zigbee has repeaters (anything plugged in, essentially) and is helpful in extending the range of a mesh.

Zigbee and zwave are both supported in ST and essentially the end user doesn’t know which is which.

Zigbee has plenty of non-overlapping channels with Wifi and I have 5 zigbee meshes in my house along with wifi on all major channels. No issues.

Zwave devices tend to be a bit cheaper. More zigbee devices are coming out every day and lowering that pricepoint.

Bottom line, no need to worry about sticking to one or the other, I have tons of zigbee and a few zwave and everything works pretty well.

(Someday my dog will be automated) #6

Thanks a lot. That’s nice to hear. The impression I got from reading other posts was that people tend to favor Z-Wave, but so far, Zigbee has worked out pretty well for me.
Can you recommend some good Zigbee light switches?

(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #7

Switches or dimmers? I use zigbee dimmers and switches so afraid I can’t recommend zwave stuff.

The Jasco / GE stuff seems good.

Are you looking to swap out all the switches and dimmers?

(Someday my dog will be automated) #8

Both. The previous owner had this very good setup for the 20th century which includes lots of 3-way switches, all being controlled by old incandescent dimmers. I’m not much of dimmer guy, so I’m thinking of changing everything to switches.
Will those work good with LEDs?

(Ray) #9

I have most of my switches z-wave. Smart bulbs and sensors zigbee and a mix bag of everything else such as nest, Amazon echo and ip cams. No point sticking with one standard and have less options. The new GE switches work really well with LED lights and cheaper at Lowes.


There’s a FAQ on zigbee vs zwave which might be of interest. But in general, yeah, one of thr great things about smartthings is that it lets you mix-and-match devices of different protocols, so you can select based on what you need from each device.

(Bobby) #11

Don’t have high hopes on that. I was never able to make mine work. But I ended up with a much better solution. Aeon Labs meter, works very well for me. Do a quick search on this topic to find out more about laundry monitoring.

(Someday my dog will be automated) #12

Wow. This IS and amazing community. I never expected to get so many replies in such a short period of time. I think I’ll go with a mix of both Z-Wave and Zigbee. I’ll just have to look around Home Depot, Lowe’s and Amazon for similar looking switches. I’ll get both Wink and ST compatible products and probably make the change when the v2 Hub is well tested and there is official Nest integration.

Thanks to everyone for this helpful information!


As far as repeating, pretty much any device connected to mains power will act as a repeater in both the Zigbee and Z wave protocols. That includes light switches, plug-in modules, plug-in sensors, etc. (It does not include smoke alarms, because they don’t want to miss an alert by being busy repeating a message for a light switch.)

Zigbee devices only repeat for other zigbee devices, and Zwave devices only repeat for other Z wave devices.

You can buy standalone devices for either zigbee or zwave which do nothing but repeat, but most people would rather spend the extra 10 or 15 bucks and get a dual purpose device like a light switch or a plug-in module that both repeats and functions for control of a specific device.

And the newest generation of Zwave, Zwave plus, has improved range so it’s now close to equal with zigbee. The Zwave standard requires backwards compatibility, so you can mix-and-match classic Z wave and Zwave plus devices on the same network.

(Gary D) #14

I’ll give you a slightly different opinion…

What if “SmartThings” doesn’t work out for you? I’m not saying it won’t, but when choosing between mesh technologies, it would be wise to also consider how useful the devices will be if ST is no longer an option for you. In that case, what are the list of hubs you might fall back to, and what do they support?

I had this issue when I decided to give ST a try… 3 Lutron switches are now collecting dust in a parts bin in my garage.

For that reason, the majority of devices in my own home are z-wave. While more and more hubs are handling both technologies, there are still many that support ONLY z-wave.

(Someday my dog will be automated) #15

Ok. This much I knew about the repeaters. Are any of the two protocols faster in your opinion?


Don’t hold your breath on that one: we’ve been told by SmartThings staff in the forums that that may never happen.

Nest doesn’t like open platforms and smartthings’ whole vision is about an open platform.

Nest has a bunch of rules for its official integrations which have nothing to do with technology, and everything to do with limiting access to the thermostat controls.

If smartthings went for official integration, they would have to limit it to only specific smartapps, only specific functions, it would get very complicated and restrictive.

So we’ve been told it’s likely that the unofficial integrations that we have in the community will always be preferable for the typical smartthings consumer to any official integration they might do. And that they’re unlikely to do an official integration because of the complexities having essentially two categories of smart apps would require.

Again, search the forums for more discussion.

(Someday my dog will be automated) #17

That’s why I’m just thinking of getting products that are ST and Wink compatible. Wink is working well for me so far, none of the problems I read about people experiencing all those issues. From the videos I’ve seen and posts I’ve read, ST tends to work faster while Wink has a 1-2 second lag (which is not terrible).
The annoying part came when I read that Zigbee devices are usually “hub-specific”. With Wink I have the option of the Tapt light switch, but it probably won’t work as good with ST or some other hub. The same with the ST sensors.

Because of this, I was leaning a bit more towards Z-Wave.


Not noticeably faster from a human perspective. zigbee is slightly faster than classic Zwave but again zwave plus has a lot of improvements and one of them is faster transmission time ,so again it’ll end up being about the same as zigbee.

If I were designing a commercial installation with a sensor net with 1500 node I would use zigbee. And I think so would everybody else.

But if I were outfitting an apartment with five rooms, some lights, a doorlock, and a couple of motion sensors, I’d use zwave for most of it.

Device for device, I usually prefer the Zigbee versions but they are usually more expensive and better engineered so it’s not so much the protocol as it’s just aimed at a different market.

You need enough devices of each type to strengthen the mesh. But beyond that I choose more by individual device and use case than by protocol.

(Gary D) #19

@JDRoberts is probably a better person to clarify this, but my impression is that zigbee is a much more open “standard” than z-wave. For that reason, many vendors have made their own “flavor” of zigbee that isn’t quite standard - and so doesn’t quite work with other devices. IT’s kind of like the android OS… it’s “open” enough that samsung, HTC, motorola, and everyone else makes their own variation (which is a nightmare for app devs.)

Z-wave, on the other hand, is a more closed standard, so there isn’t the freedom to make variations. If you go too far from the spec, z-wave won’t certify the device. This is more in line with apple’s mobile OS… It’s more expensive to dev for, but your pretty much assured it’ll work with anything that has an apple logo.

(Someday my dog will be automated) #20

That I read recently. But have also read from in the forum from some of the ST staff that it is in the works. That would be a big no, no for me, mostly because of my WAF. I have various Nest products and my wife really likes them.

So for now, it’ll be Wink and ST compatible products and wait and see. I’m in no rush and would like to see what the new hub comes along with. Also, Nest will most likely come up with some sort of hub of their own, after the Revolv purchase.