What is Z-Wave technology?

You’ve seen the term. We’ve said it in basically every home security review we’ve ever written. If you’ve read any articles about home automation, Z-wave has surely been mentioned.

But what is Z-Wave technology?

Z-Wave is a wireless connective technology that links compatible devices together. Think of it like Bluetooth. Just like with Bluetooth, if devices are Z-Wave compatible, they can be linked using specific radio waves.

But with Z-Wave, instead of communicating directly to each other, devices work together through a central hub. This makes the connection stronger and less likely to break with distance.

Once you have a Z-Wave hub, adding new smart devices is a cinch—and you can control them all through either the hub itself or through your smartphone via an app (depending on what kind of hub you have).

How do you set up a Z-Wave hub?

Many different types of devices qualify as Z-Wave hubs. If you’ve read a few of our home security reviews, you’ve probably seen us talk about the control panel as a “hub.” But you don’t have to have a home security system to set up Z-Wave—it’s just very convenient.

Samsung SmartThings and Wink (both available on Amazon), among others, make Z-Wave hubs that allow you to add on compatible devices. But if you want to include home security as part of your smart home, it’s definitely easiest to just choose a system with a Z-Wave compatible control panel.

What kinds of devices can you include?

Any device with a Z-Wave logo should integrate easily into a Z-Wave system. The logo means the device has a Z-Wave chip and will work with your central hub.

As for what types of devices you can include, the list is virtually endless:

  • Locks
  • Lights
  • Thermostats
  • Garage door controllers
  • Voice control devices (Amazon Alexa, Google Home)
  • Security sensors
  • Fan controllers
  • Window blinds/coverings
  • Plugs and outlets
  • Sirens and alarms

And that’s not all. Z-Wave technology has been on the market for over a decade, and it keeps making its way into new types of devices.

Where can you get Z-Wave compatible devices?

Many retailers make Z-Wave compatible devices—just look for the Z-Wave logo on the package. You can find devices online, in brick-and-mortar stores, and through Z-Wave specific retailers. Amazon also makes it super easy to shop for Z-Wave compatible products.

You can also usually buy smart devices directly from your home security provider and add them to your control panel with an installer code.