Z-Wave is a wireless communications technology for OEMs and developers that is ideal for short range, two-way mesh topology automation networks. The technology is licensed by Silicon Laboratories, Austin TX, and is comprised of a mesh communications protocol stack, a set of device profiles, a wide selection of transceiver chips and modules and a finished product certification program.
Z-Wave’s physical and media access layers (PHY/MAC) have been ratified by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as the international standard (G.9959).
Together, Silicon Laboratories, the Z-Wave Alliance and hundreds of international companies that use Z-Wave technology in their products and services present the largest ecosystem of interoperable wireless control products in the world. The Z-Wave mesh communication protocol stack is embedded in the available chips and modules, and is accessed through a complete set of APIs. Z-Wave chips and modules provide Flash or OTP memory options for the manufacturer or OEM’s application software.
For many products, the Z-Wave chip or module, with its on-board micro-controller, is all that is needed for a complete Z-Wave solution. For companies that choose chip-based over module-based solutions, a range of blueprints of the PCB circuitry surrounding the Z-Wave Single Chip is offered, including antenna circuitry and filters. Silicon Laboratories also licenses reference designs, stack software and APIs to chip manufacturers that are interested in entering the wireless control space, providing Z-Wave porting services that assure quality and accelerate product development. Z-Wave’s industry-leading device specifications are available royalty free, based on a RAND model. The Z-Wave certification program ensures interoperability between all products.
How To Start Developing Z-Wave Solutions
To begin developing Z-Wave products, the first step is the purchase of a developer’s kit. This purchase includes signing a license agreement with Silicon Laboratories for the use of the Z-Wave technology. A complete description of the developer’s kits and licensing process can be found at: https://www.silabs.com/support/z-wave.
Once you receive your developer’s kit license and download the Software Developers Kit (SDK) from the Z-Wave Technical Support website, you will want training on how to best use the components of the SDK. This training is available on-line through the support site; upon your licensing, you will receive secure login information.
- First, purchase the developers kit and sign the license agreement with Silicon Laboratories.
- Join the Z-Wave Alliance as soon as possible to take advantage of product marketing support.
- Develop the product following the SDK guidelines; use Silicon Laboratories and Z-Wave Alliance for support as needed.
- Submit your finished product to Silicon Laboratories for Technical Certification, and to the independent test lab for verification. There is a cost for the independent test lab; consult the Silicon Laboratories Technical Certification information at the Z-Wave Technical Support website for the current fee structure.
- Submit the product information online to the Z-Wave Alliance for Market Certification; there is no charge for Alliance members, but you must be a Full level member or higher to submit Market Certifications.
(Market Certification can be entered concurrently with the Technical Certification taking place.)
- Once you have received both Technical and Market Certifications, a Z-Wave Certification Number will be issued, and you can legally go to market with your product.
All commercial products using Z-Wave technology must be certified for interoperability. This is a primary requirement of the Z-Wave Technology License Agreement; failure to do so is tantamount to IP theft.
Z-Wave Product Certification is a two-part self-certification. The first part is the Technology Certification that ensures your product makes proper use of the Z-Wave SDK and will support device-to-device interoperability. This certification is referred to as the “Technical Certification”, is issued by Silicon Laboratories and is essentially a self-certification that is validated by an independent test lab. To initiate this certification, download the latest certification requirements and certification forms from the Z-Wave Technical Support website. Complete the forms online and submit them to Silicon Laboratories certification management for review. If your forms are complete, Silicon Laboratories will ask you to submit sample products to an independent test lab for verification. If everything checks out, Silicon Laboratories will issue a Technical Certification.
The second part is the Market Certification that ensures that your product carries the proper logo and certification marks, and is adequately represented in the Z-Wave Ecosystem Product Catalog. To initiate this certification, an online form is completed where the Alliance requests a photograph of the product, a description of the product, proof of the proper use of technology and certification marks per the brand guidelines, and basic information on the inclusion and setup of the product in a Z-Wave network. This certification is issued by the Z-Wave Alliance, and requires that the submitter is a Full or Principal member of the Z-Wave Alliance in good standing.
An overview of the certification process is available at https://www.silabs.com/products/wireless/mesh-networking/z-wave/certification.
Together, the Technology and Market certifications equal Z-Wave Product Certification. Again, this Product Certification is required by the Z-Wave Technology Licensing Agreement to use the Z-Wave technology.