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Thread: White Paper on Z-wave

  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Default White Paper on Z-wave

    Hi Everyone,

    To all Z-wave installers who like me make a living from selling z-wave and having to compete with other technologies. I want to share with you a white paper I wrote comparing Z-wave with KNX,X10,Zigbee,EnOcean.

    Ill be writing a second one about MODBUS/CBUS.

    Here is an excerpt:
    The Smart Home Automation industry in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been growing at a rapid pace since its dawn over the last several years. The market is becoming more and more aware of the capabilities of having a complete automation system whether at the scale of individual residences, palaces, real estate developments, and hotels.
    In basic form, automation includes systems that control Lighting, Appliances, HVAC, Curtains and Multimedia. The market in the UAE has not only begun to realize the benefits in terms of comfort, security, and luxury. But also in terms of energy saving and increasing property value, thus all these realizations will continue to lead to a booming market in the UAE.

    As automation is somewhat of a new technology in the mainstream market, one must be aware of the countless number of underlying technologies that connect and allow for the communication between a user and the Light Dimming Systems or Air Conditioning Systems. On the surface, these technologies may seem to lead to the same functionality, but in the back-end, they are different in potentially catastrophic ways. This leads us to the reason why we started composing this article, that is, to shed light onto the pros and cons of the different technologies (regardless of product or vendor) which are available in the UAE market today.

    Any automation system is composed of 2 high-level components, the controller, and the modules. The modules include light dimmers, relay switches, thermostats, motorized curtain control systems, distributed speakers..etc. which are to be controlled by the home owner. The controller, is the heart of the system from which signals are sent to “Dim the lights” or “turn on the air conditioning”. The method of communication between the controller and the modules are the Automation Communication Technology which we wish to address in this article. The method of communication can either be through wires or wireless and are usually in line with certain protocols or standards of communication. This article will explore and compare KNX, X10, Zigbee, En-Ocean, and Z-wave.

    The criteria for comparison which we will explore are the following:

    -Reliability of Communication: How reliable is the communication between the Controller and the Modules? When a message is sent to a module, the system must ensure the message’s arrival and confirmation of receipt. Scoring well in this criteria is very important to ensure that even under circumstances of wired or wireless interference messages are resent until confirmed by the receiving module. Not all protocols comply with this requirement.
    -Security of Communication: The protocol must guarantee that a 3rd party cannot infiltrate an existing system and operate it with unauthorized access. The results of a hacker entering a parking lot of a hotel and turning all its lights off is disastrous.
    -Features and Capabilities: It is important that automation technologies go beyond just controlling individual modules and have the capability to integrate with other systems most typically entertainment since that is an area of high usage of any home owner. Example: Easy Integration with Multi-room Music Systems, Multi-room multimedia distribution systems (Movies, Videos, Pictures, Music)...etc.
    -Investment Protection: It is important to make sure that installed Controller or Modules can be easily replaced in the future. Consider having installed a system that has some components fail after 5 years, and at the same time, the company which installed it became bankrupt. The home owner would be left with no choice but to completely revamp the entire electrical system in the residence which would cost more in time, labor, and equipment that what was originally paid for the automation system. Having a system that is standardized means that any other company can support it or replace certain parts with different products, maybe from different vendors, in order to ensure continued operation.
    -Interoperability: This criteria refers to the capability of the Controller to speak to multiple Modules from different manufacturers. This will ensure that a system is made up with Lighting, HVAC, Curtains, Appliances, and Multimedia Control Modules are purchased from different manufacturers which are the best or most specialized in those fields. This ensures that a system has the best-in class Modules for each particular purpose. It is not logical that the best manufacturer of light dimmers is also the best manufacturer of curtain control systems, or audio systems. Some communication protocols are closed or proprietary, thus forcing the customer to purchase everything from a single manufacturer. This criteria also overlaps with the Investment Protection Criteria since having an interoperable system will give future flexibility to easily replace Modules even if the company which installed them has closed down.

    and here is the full article (this links to my website)

    Let me know what you think. I appreciate comments Maybe we can put amendments to the article based on your feedback!
    Last edited by hadiesper; 28th December 2010 at 01:08 AM. Reason: Formatting
    HadiEsper - First Z-wave Smart Home Automation Solution Provider in the Middle East

  2. #2
    Automated Home Lurker
    Join Date
    Sep 2010


    Interesting article. I've been looking at Z-wave for a while now, but my concern is that it is not very open. I have my own home automation software, and I can't find a decent SDK, except for the one from ControlThink. It's even for free now, but it only works with their own USB controller. And I couldn't find any other way for custom integration of Z-wave devices. The other solutions/protocols (X10, ...) have plenty of SDK/API or other programming integration.

    I'm also based in Europe, and not much availability of EU devices here. There are only a few websites that offer those products.

    If I'm wrong (I do hope so) feel free to correct me on this.

    My Digital Home Server -

  3. #3
    Automated Home Jr Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010


    very cool work you got there soitjes.

    It is true Zwave does not have many SDKs out there. But I dont think you need more than the SDK from sigma directly (they bought zensys).

    I must warn you against controlthink. Although I love their software, they have stopped the development of their SDK since about 16 months. proof of that is that new z-wave features like multi-channel are not implemented in their code.
    HadiEsper - First Z-wave Smart Home Automation Solution Provider in the Middle East

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