The Internet of Things and the rise of home automation technology have revolutionised the way people go about their daily lives. When we talk of home automation, it can range from the very basic like having a lamp turn on when one enters the room, to the most detailed such as having lights shine brighter or go dimmer, getting doors opened or locked, rooms cooled or heated up, pets fed, and plants watered –all done automatically. And these are just for starters. Fact is, home automation is moving into the mainstream as more households realise the convenience, security, and energy efficiency that smart homes offer.
If you’re one of those who have yet to dip their toes into the smart home technology, there’s no better time than now to do so. With a growing range of sensors, systems, and devices, it’s gotten easier to smarten up your home. One welcome development on the smart home tech front is the introduction of the latest Z-Wave hardware: the 500 Series. Also referred to as the 5th Generation Z-Wave or Gen5 Z-Wave, the 500 Series platform and its accompanying certification program the Z-Wave Plus, bring more powerful features aimed to enhance the consumer’s smart home experience.
What is Z-Wave?
But let’s backtrack a bit first. At this point, those who are still new to this entire home automation concept may ask: Z what?
The simple definition of Z-wave is that it is a radio frequency (RF) control protocol designed to facilitate communication between various devices made by different manufacturers. It runs on a low frequency 900MHz band that has less interference and longer wavelength. This allows for easier penetration of walls and objects, making it a very suitable fit for home automation tasks.
In a nutshell, Z-Wave is the wireless language spoken by the devices, systems, and appliances in the smart home space. Your house can have different household products from different companies –lights, door locks, thermostats, electric outlets, and more– in one smart home network, all communicating through Z-wave.
What’s new with Gen5 Z-Wave
So what makes Gen5 Z-Wave a far more superior technology than its predecessors? Here’s what the Z-Wave 500 Series offers:
● Increased bandwidth. From the previous data rate of 40kbps of the older series to the now-higher 100kbps (a 250% increase), Z-Wave 500 is guaranteed to allow faster communication among devices.
● Greater range. The latest Z-Wave features a 67% improvement in RF range.
● Larger memory. The Gen5 series also comes with an added 400% of on-chip memory. This means greater flexibility for developers as they can include all Z-Wave protocol features yet still have sufficient memory for their application’s code.
● Lower power consumption and longer battery life. Z-Wave Gen5 now boasts 50% longer battery life due to the significant decrease in the chip’s power consumption.
● Over-the-Air (OTA) firmware updates. This feature gives you the capability to remotely update your every Z-Wave device through the Internet.
● Plug and Play or Network-Wide Inclusion (NWI). Older Z-Wave technologies required products to be near each other for enrollment into the network. But this newly-introduced feature allows the homeowner to install the devices around the house before adding them to the network through the central control system.
● Improved self-healing and fault tolerance. Z-Wave works using a mesh network, with each device acting as a repeater for the other devices within the mesh. Z-Wave Gen5 yet improves on this technology with the network effortlessly healing itself if one device goes down or is moved to another location.
● Better security. Unlike the 300 and 400 series, Z-Wave Plus now includes AES-128 encryption.
● Backward compatibility and interoperability. Got smart home products that aren’t Z-Wave Plus certified yet? Don’t worry. All Gen5 products are designed to be backwards compatible and interoperable with older Z-Wave devices.
Riding the Z-Wave
The many significant benefits of the latest Z-Wave are certainly a lot to process. But we don’t really need to get into an indepth explanation of every performance enhancement made to know that Z-Wave 500 Series is the standard to beat when it comes to home automation technology.
So whether you want to have the perfect shade of light to set the right mood, a security system that gives you the added benefit of convenience, or an intelligent sensor that responds to real-time events within your connected home, you just need to look for the Z-Wave Plus certification to get that seamless smart home experience.