Is Z-Wave Better Than WI-FI?

  • By: Joe Cook
  • Date: November 29, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

No one can dispute that technology is ever-changing, especially In these times, where new inventions in technology are a norm and the internet of things (IoT) is the mother of it all.

Due to the presence of Z-Wave and WI-FI, there is a high demand for smart homes. It is also a known fact that IoT would not exist without Z-Wave. Why? Because Z-Wave is what powers them all. 

In this article, you shall get to know which one between Z-Wave and WI-FI is better. For that reason, you first have to understand how each of them works.

How Z-Wave Works

Z-Wave-wave is a technology that connects devices through a network, allowing them to exchange commands and data in a smart home. Devices in this network communicate with each other through radio waves which are transmitted in a frequency of 800-900 MHz. 

When it comes to Z-Wave technology, every connected device is identified by a node ID. You may ask, “how does this work?” The system uses a source routing algorithm to determine the fastest route to reach the final desired destination.

Let us outline factors considered when choosing either of them.

1. Compatibility

Different companies manufacture different Z-Wave products. However, all Z-Wave products 

integrate with other Z-Wave products irrespective of the manufacturer. In addition to that, products used now are easily compatible with new devices. Therefore, you can rest assured that your old device will still serve you for many more years to come unless you want to replace it with a new modeled one.

Likewise, all WI-FI gadgets integrate easily with each other. However, it is worth it that you know that It’s not easy connecting older WI-FI devices to new gadgets because the technology associated with WI-FI changes fast with time.

2. Fault Tolerance

Usually, some systems can continue functioning well even during failures because they are fault-tolerant. As a product user, this can be of benefit to you since you still get a grace period to look for the best way forward regarding correcting the failures.

Advantages accompanied by fault-tolerance include;

a) Transfer of Less Data

Less transfer of data is a good indicator that the system is not being overworked. Z-Wave technology, therefore, guarantees you extended battery life. On the other hand, when much data transmission occurs, there’s much energy loss, resulting in short battery life.

b) Short Handshaking

Handshake is a process that involves setting up a communication channel between two devices. Here Z-Wave is advantageous because it uses a lightweight protocol. 

On the other hand, it is worth it that you know that WI-FI uses a heavyweight protocol that involves long periods of handshake which results to time wastage, loss of energy, and possible loss of data. 

It may also result in other disadvantages like;

1. Lots of Data Transfer

Using a heavyweight protocol means that data transfer is in large volumes. This, therefore, leads to a short battery life span.

2. Long Handshaking

So much time is wasted when setting up communication channels. Therefore, this may result in delayed message delivery. In addition to that, the battery can also emit heat energy resulting in data interference and increased data loss.

3. Redundancy

Redundancy is when data transmitted uses more than one route to reach the desired destination. In that case, it is worth it that you know that several devices linked to a mesh network topology increase data redundancy. 

Here is how this happens…

Data sent to a destination is allocated the fastest route through the source routing algorithm. 

Since the WI-FI network has a star topology a message has to reach the router from the sender before the router can locate the destination using the IP address. 

4. Security

Z-Wave has AES 128-bit encryption. Therefore it’s not easy to hack the Z-Wave security system. 

On the other hand, WI-FI has WEP, WPA2, and WPA security protocols. This makes the system not as secure as the Z-Wave system since it only requires a hacker to know the IP address of a device to access the network.

5. Congestion

Z-Wave operates on 908.42 MHZ, while WI-FI operates on 2.4GHZ. Due to this aspect, Z-Wave encounters less interference and congestion. 

On the other hand, WI-FI operates on 2.4GHZ and encounters more interference. This is because of unnecessary collisions with surrounding networks. In addition to that, conflict in data transmission is also an issue. 

Data transmission considers the order of priority. The higher the precedence, the quicker the transfer. In a case where two or more devices request for a similar service in use, it causes a conflict. The result is congestion and fault.

6. Installation

It’s easy to install Z-Wave devices over WI-FI devices. As discussed earlier, the Z-Wave devices are compatible irrespective of the manufacturer. Once added to the system, special skills or software are not required, unlike WI-FI devices that require configuration and installation of specific software to integrate with the system.

7. Cost

The initial costs of setting up a Z-Wave network are high. This is because Z-Wave is high tech compared to WI-FI. Also, maintenance costs are low since there are little or no faults.

On the other hand, WI-FI systems are cheap to set up but expensive to maintain because of their faults.

8. User-Friendliness

Z-Wave systems are not friendly because of the technology involved. WI-FI systems are easier to use.

At this point, you may ask…

Z-Wave or WI-FI?

The choice of either system is dependent on the user. Determine what you expect from a system and check through to see whether the prevailing factors are in your favor. Once that is done, choose a system that works best for you.

If you want an advanced system, go for Z-Wave But if not, you can still opt to go for WI-FI. However, it is worth it that you know that locality with many other network systems is best for Z-Wave since WI-FI will experience lots of collisions and congestions. Also, you don’t want your system to be hacked now, do you? For that reason, Z-Wave is the solution.

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