WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and Z-Wave: what exactly are these wireless technologies and what are the main advantages or disadvantages between them. If you are thinking of buying a connected product such as smart light bulbs, for example, then surely you have already heard about these technologies.
The way that IoT devices connect to the Internet and each other is their control protocol; if IoT devices are people, think of the protocol as their common languages. Like on Earth, there are a few different languages, or protocols, that devices can speak, including:
WiFi: WiFi is by far the most common control protocol; it means that your IoT device will use the regular Internet provided by your Internet Service Provider. While this doesn’t require an additional hub, note that it can slow your web surfing speeds down, especially if you have a ton of different IoT devices set up at once.
Z-Wave: Don’t want to mess with your home’s WiFi? Z-Wave is a wireless technology that won’t interfere with your WiFi; rather, it operates on low power at 908.42 Mhz in the U.S and Canada. Z-Wave is a low energy wireless communication network primarily used to connect smart lighting, security devices, thermostats, and other smart home automation systems. Unlike Wi-Fi, this low power system can run on a single coin cell battery for several years. One of the major advantages of Z-Wave is that all of their devices comply with a very strict set of standards. The Z-Wave alliance ensures that every Z-Wave device is compatible with each other and can easily plug into the mesh network.
ZigBee: Similar to Z-Wave, ZigBee is a mesh network and universal language that lets IoT devices communicate. Zigbee is a low power global wireless technology used for device-to-device communication. Zigbee allows you to control multiple devices remotely, from all over the world, with the use of mesh networking. This open wireless system runs on low power and can run battery-operated devices for up to seven years.
Bluetooth: Finally, Bluetooth is another mesh technology that lets people control and monitor IoT devices and automate systems.
For most people, WiFi-connected devices will be sufficient, but for more advanced smart homes, you might want to switch to a mesh network like Z-Wave or ZigBee.
The Internet of Things (IoT) initiative that connects smart home devices such as doorbells, lights, locks, security cameras, and thermostats has made it easy for everyone to install and use these gadgets in their homes, but you still need some sort of mechanism to control them. In some cases, just a phone will do the trick, but if you use multiple different products or services, you might need a home automation hub to control everything and have the devices interact with each other. Smart home automation allows you to tap into high-tech functionality and luxury that wasn’t possible in the past. As technology development continues to expand, so will the possibilities for consumer home automation to make life easier and more enjoyable.