What is Z-Wave Plus?
Quite simply, Z-Wave Plus™ is the newest certification in the Z-Wave family. Just like your cell phones have progressed from a flip phone (RIP Nextel i90) to a mini-computer capable of just about anything (like controlling an entire house), Z-Wave has come a long way since its inception.
Z-Wave Plus™ offers 50% improvement in battery life, 67% improvement in range, 250% more bandwidth, Over the Air Upgrading (OTA) and many more capabilities in which we’ll discuss further.
To better answer the question, “What is Z-Wave Plus”, it’s important to understand the history of Z-Wave and how it has progressed since its humble beginnings in 1999.
What we plan to do is give a brief overview of Z-Wave (click to learn more about Z-Wave in our Z-Wave Home Automation Review) and its improvements over the years, while ending on a robust description on Z-Wave Plus Technology.
If you’d like to be taken to the section all about the Z-Wave Plus now, feel free to click the button below (we won’t be offended).
Z-Wave vs Z-Wave Plus Products
Z-Wave has improved significantly over the years and continues to set the standard for the Smart Home industry. They were the first to ensure that every single one of their products, regardless of year manufactured, version and brand, could talk to each other. This is not a true statement with other protocols.
The Z-Wave Plus (Series 500 Chipset) improves on the original Z-Wave platform, by offering some incredible enhancements. We’ll go into more detail in the next section, but the major improvements are:
- 67% improvement in range
- 50% improvement in battery life
- 250% more bandwidth
- Three RF channels for improved noise immunity and higher bandwidth
- New Plug-n-Play Network-wide Inclusion feature
- Improved self healing and fault tolerance with Explorer Frame feature
- Standardization method for Over the Air firmware updates (OTA)
- Improved product information capture for product certification database
What this means for consumers is that these products should install easier, have richer device profiles, improved self-healing and longer battery life.
Benefits of the Z-Wave Plus Series 500 Chipset
There are many benefits to the Z-Wave Plus Series 500 Chipset as outlined above. Now, we’ll break down what those benefits actually are and what they mean for you as a consumer.
Z-Wave Plus Range
What is the range (distance) of Z-Wave Plus? Great question. In non-obstructed settings, the range is 167 meters (547.9 feet) which is 67% greater than Gen4 Z-Wave which is 100 meters (328.1 feet). Please note, however, the more Z-Wave products you have, the longer the range becomes since non-battery powered devices have the ability to repeat the Z-Wave signal.
Increased Battery Life
For Z-Wave products that are powered by batteries, Z-Wave Plus offers a 50% improvement in battery life. This is extremely useful for your Z-Wave Smart Sensors or other battery powered devices you may have. Our Z-Wave Plus Door/Window Sensor can last up to 2 years without replacing the batteries!
2.5x Increased Bandwidth
Z-Wave Plus Devices offer 250% more bandwidth than Gen4. More bandwidth = more speed = improved response time between devices. What this means is that a device that may be acting as a repeater can handle more and relay the signal on faster. Your robots, IFTTT applets, and triggers should all perform faster too.
If, for some reason, there is an issue with your Z-Wave network, Z-Wave Plus devices will heal & repair the network faster than before. They have greater fault tolerance with the Explorer Frame feature, which is used to heal broken routes (within the mesh network) caused by devices that have been moved or removed.
Three RF Channels
Z-Wave Home Automation Technology has always had the ability to take a signal from one device and “relay” (also called jumping) it to another up to 4 times all the way to the HUB. Z-Wave Plus takes this technology a step further, and gives the signal multiple channels to communicate on, allowing for more complex signals to be sent and received (ie: your robots, IFTTT, triggers can be more complex and faster now).
Plug and Play (Seriously)
DIY Z-Wave Home Automation is now easier with the Gen5 (500 Series) Z-Wave Plus certification. The new Plug-n-Play Network-wide Inclusion feature allows for faster inclusion (pairing) to your HUB. In addition, before Gen5, Z-Wave devices would typically have to be included right next to the HUB before their final destination. With Z-Wave Plus Devices, this is no longer the case.
With Z-Wave Plus devices, the manufacturer or distributor can now push Over-the-Air (OTA) updates directly to the device, eliminating the need to connect a cable from the device to a controller, PC or notebook. This is obviously helpful for any troubleshooting or quality issues that may be present within the device.
Z-Wave Plus Compatibility
One of our favorite things about Z-Wave Plus (and Z-Wave in general) is that it is compatible with any version of Z-Wave. This means if you have a Series 200 switch, it will talk to Z-Wave Plus and vice versa. In addition, Z-Wave Plus is brand agnostic (meaning any Z-Wave Certified brand) allowing all brands to play nice in the sandbox together! Lastly, many major Smart Home HUB’s work with Z-Wave. Z-Wave Plus works with: SmartThings, Wink, Vera, HomeSeer and many more.