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Building A Reliable Z-Wave Network In South African Homes

Building A Reliable Z-Wave Network In South African Homes

So you want to invest by making your house a smart home and the thought pops into your mind of what range does Z-wave have? Your WiFi may already have limitations in your home and need boosters, surely Z-Wave might have some of the same restrictions?

Congratulations you are asking the right questions and your Z-Wave network does require some planning.

Although the newest generation, Z wave plus, does have a longer range than previous generations it is a shorter distance than WiFi. . The theoretical range for Z-wave plus through clear air with no obstacles is about 45 meters for each "hop." That's between one device and the next, or the hub and one device. What do you mean Hop? Remember that Z-wave is mesh network technology so as long as the devices are in range of each other the message can hop back to the the controller/hub

Z-wave's 4 hop limit

Z-wave is limited to four hops per message. So your theoretical maximum with z-wave plus is 182 meters in each direction from each centrally-placed hub. In theory, that is a long distance but obstacles can reduce that range drastically.

The difference between theory and practice

The problem is that there's typically a really big difference between theory and practice. Local architecture usually has many things that interfere with the signal and cause it to stop short of the theoretical maximum. Large metal objects, including cars in garages and refrigerators in the kitchens. Concrete, brick, tinted glass, certain kinds of insulation, water pipes inside The walls, even metallic wallpaper can reduce signal. Humidity either indoors or outdoors also causes problems.

As a practical matter, we typically assume a maximum of 18 meters per hop of Z-Wave plus signal inside a typical home. You may get more, but you may get less depending on the surrounding environment.

So depending on the architecture, shape and size of your home be sure to place your controller/hub in a strategic location.

The booster/repeater question

(Right around now, people usually ask about boosting or repeating the signal, as you might do with Wi-Fi. But that's not available for Z-wave. Per the specification, these are very low energy protocols. They do have a Max ceiling, and most devices are already set to the max.  The best method to boost your max range of Z-Wave network is to use dual purpose devices, a device like a light switch, plug, light bulb that can also act as a repeater. IE devices that can be plugged in your mains to maximize your 4 hop range.

What about my battery powered devices? Devices that are battery powered wont act as a repeater to conserve battery life as the repeaters will naturally draw more power. 

So in conclusion make sure your plugged in devices are nicely and evenly spread to maximize range.

The alternative: multiple zones

What you can do in the case of having a very large home, is to set up multiple controllers/hubs, defining each one as a location.

Coordinating these is easier with some Systems then with others, with our Starvedia Controllers it is quite simple as you can view multiple hubs under one mobile application. In the case for Starvedia it is particularly useful as you are also getting a built in camera so you can look at it as your home automation and camera monitoring system where most likely you would have more than one camera in a large house anyway.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our products just contact us and we are there to help.

We have all the products you need to take you on your smart home journey.

We hope you found this article interesting let us know what you think.

 

Regards

Grant

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