Z‑wave is a wireless protocol of Home Automation that sends RF signals from one device to the next over a frequency of 908 MHz here in the US, and it is the same in Canada and Mexico. Z‑Wave devices are very easily adapted for use in many applications because all Z-Wave products use the same language, thus it is easy for them to communicate with each other as well as they are easy to install, do not require any rewiring, affordable, very reliable with over ten years in the marketplace, and also secure at the same time. In fact Z-Wave products use the same encryption methods as online banking! Plus, there are lots of choices for the consumer to choose from as far as styles & colors, not to mention the already 20 million products in homes worldwide manufactured by some of the biggest brand names in the world.
Once you setup your own personal Z-Wave network by pairing or including your first device(s), every system is then automatically given a local or “home” network id by the controlling device, also known as a controller. This addition of devices as you expand your network is actually creating what we call a “mesh” network. Each and every device added into the network or “mesh” makes your network more robust, increases its range AND its security – as opposed to X-10 for example, where your neighbors can accidentally turn on or off the devices in your home if they are within range on the same leg of the powerline source as you, and on the same house code.
Lighting control is the simplest form of use for z-wave, and especially when using plug-in lamps and/or appliances as they do not require any hardwiring in order for the end user to control them. All you need is a receiving device (we call them modules) to receive the signal, and a transmitter to send the controlling signal to that module. Just plug in your lamp to a Z-Wave Lamp Module, plug the lamp module into a wall outlet and then use a controller or transmitter to control the functions of your new Z-Wave controlled lamp! The same procedure can also be used with a Z-Wave Appliance Module to control small plug-in appliances such as ceiling fans, air conditioners, radios (remember those good old-fashioned radios that we used to dial in an AM or FM channel in lieu of a fancy name like Pandora and an Internet connection?) and even TV’s.
Now of course if you prefer a more permanent system and want to control your existing ceiling and/or wall lights, you can do that as well by simply replacing your existing light switches with Z-Wave ones. Next time I am going to expand on hardwired lighting control, and on how you can use Z-Wave to control the in-wall lights in your home and some of the important issues in that regard.
Kelly R. Foster – HA World