Q3 2023 Newsletter: Z-Wave Long Range is Commercially Available, Now What.

When we talk with Z-Wave members, press and industry friends, it does not take long for the topic of Z-Wave Long Range to come up. There is a general consensus that Z-Wave Long Range represents a huge opportunity for manufacturers and homeowners alike. Set to be a hot topic of the upcoming Z-Wave Member Summit – let’s take a moment to dive into what Z-Wave Long Range brings to the table for all of us.

Z-Wave Long Range (ZWLR) is a wireless communication protocol for applications where long-range, high performance, increased scale, low power, increased device security, and device interoperability are vital.  Z-Wave Long Range extends connectivity beyond the boundaries of the home with a wireless range greater than 1.5 miles. ZWLR increases the number of end nodes, reduces system cost and complexity with the elimination of repeaters, and improves reliability by combining Z-Wave devices across both a mesh and star network. This unprecedent performance across the IoT makes ZWLR an ideal solution for both residential and commercial properties, as well as primary dwellings, ADUs (adjacent dwelling units), and MDUs (multi-dwelling units).

Since Z-Wave and Z-Wave LR are designed to co-exist, ZWLR reserves network nodes for new or existing Z-Wave mesh network devices to preserve compatibility and guarantee interoperability between certified Z-Wave devices on the network. To unlock the full potential of Z-Wave LR, both the controller and the installed Z-Wave device must feature Z-Wave LR.

With star and mesh networks used in combination, ZWLR is well suited to cover large areas with centrally controlled and monitored systems. Residential applications include extensive exterior and edge of property IoT solutions such as gate access systems, smart lighting including pathway, solar sensors, irrigation systems, door locks, garage door openers, switches, home cameras, security systems, sensors, and more. Z-Wave Long Range can reach compatible systems and end devices in contiguous and free standing buildings on large properties such as pool houses, workshops, granny flats, barns, chicken coops, guest houses, garages, and so on.

How Far is Far?

Perhaps the most exciting benefit of Z-Wave LR is the monumental increase in transmission range. The specification supports a maximum output power of 30dBm which can be leveraged to bolster range capabilities and support future transmission distance up to 1.5 miles. Prior to ZWLR, multiple signal repeaters would need to be installed within a network to achieve transmission distance beyond the boundaries of the home. Z-Wave LR eliminates the need for these repeaters, unlocking new potential for Z-Wave networks and making it easier than ever before to enroll smart home and IoT devices deployed at the edge of the network.

Increased Scalability

Along with a dramatic increase in transmission range, Z-Wave LR also increases scalability on a single smart home network up to 4000 nodes. Compared to Z-Wave (232 nodes), this represents an enormous 20x increase in network node availability. Larger network support enables the addition of potentially thousands of Z-Wave devices on a single network.

Optimized Battery Life

Z-Wave LR offers up to 10-year battery life on a single coin-cell battery by leveraging dynamic power control. This new feature enables the Z-Wave Long Range device to automatically adjust and optimize the radio output power at every transmission. This dynamic power control is critical to supporting future-proof Z-Wave device installations since one of the most compelling use-cases for sensors with increased battery life is the ability to deploy them in hard-to-reach places such as attics, basements, or behind walls.

Z-Wave LR Use Case

Z-Wave LR extends Z-Wave capabilities beyond single residential properties to larger, more complex installations and markets including hospitality, MDU (multi-dwelling unit), smart cities, commercial facilities, factories, large residential compounds, and more.

Property wide water monitoring and management. Launched by Alarm.com in 2023, the Water Dragon™, is a new whole-home water protection solution against potential leaks and unexpected water usage including irrigation systems and water sensors. The Water Dragon, which integrates with Alarm.com powered home security systems, is a single compact device that uses ultrasonic technology to detect and promptly alert homeowners about water issues before they become major problems. Homeowners can also use the Alarm.com app to monitor water usage trends for the day, week, and month, which can help them conserve water and save on utility bills. The Water Dragon is one of the first products offered by Alarm.com that utilizes Z-Wave Long Range. Alarm.com systems are built on Z-Wave for both reliability and dependable interoperability. The Z-Wave Long Range standard was selected for development of the Water Dragon because of the significantly extended range and the elimination of Z-Wave repeaters, both significant considerations for the reliability of water safety and sensing products that are often installed across multiple floors, across all sizes of properties, as well as outside with irrigation systems.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). One of the growing trends in 2023 is the ADU over the garage. Also referred to as a granny flat, garage apartment, or carriage house, this accessory ADU comes with its own kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, making it a fully functional independent living space that brings additional rental income, independent living, and property value. The rising ADU market has made adjacent smart home devices with extended range critical to the streamlined management of these buildings, but particularly the garage. The Ecolink Long Range Garage Controller adds remote status and operating capability to most legacy garage door operators. The Ecolink GDC was the first certified Z-Wave Long Range device and can be paired to a ZWLR enabled panel or hub inside the home.

Benefits to Z-Wave LR for Both Manufacturers and Consumers

  • What are the benefits to manufacturers?
    • Same hardware and software for Z-Wave and Z-Wave LR.
    • It’s a simple run-time configuration.
    • No added cost of repeater
    • Target new market/use cases
    • Their investment in Z-Wave continues to amortize over products.
    • Consumers purchase more devices that work together from same brand.
  • What are the benefits to consumers?
    • Eliminates worry about device range.
    • Eliminates concern for network capacity.
    • Long battery life
    • Their investment in their smart home is protected.
    • With a new Z-Wave LR gateway, consumers can add Z-Wave LR to their existing Z-Wave network and existing devices will continue to work as will new devices.

As one of the most popular smart home protocols on the market, Z-Wave can be found in hundreds of millions of deployed smart devices that are both backwards compatible and interoperable, meaning that no matter when or by whom a Z-Wave device was manufactured, it will still work with newly certified Z-Wave devices, including Z-Wave LR.

At the Z-Wave Summit 2023, being held September 18-20 in Orlando, members can engage in unofficial device-to-device interoperability for Z-Wave and Z-Wave Long Range products.  This is an incredible opportunity to collaborate, knowledge share, and further product development with the Z-Wave ecosystem.

Contact administration@z-wavealliance.org to learn about getting involved with the Z-Wave Alliance.

For more Q3 Newsletter content, check our the Member Corner here!

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