What Is Z-Wave

Learn more about the Z-Wave device and its low power protocol

Z-Wave is a low power protocol, which lets devices run on batteries for years at a time while communicating relatively complicated information. However, to be able to do that it transmits at a reduced power and its signal can more easily be blocked. Without any obstructions, a single Z-Wave device's range is advertised as 100 feet in open-air. However, as shown in the chart below, different materials cause different signal strength drop-offs. For example, if a customer has a decorative brick wall, it may be worthwhile to avoid a direct connection through it and install in-wall light switches on either side. Likewise, be on the lookout for refrigerators, filing cabinets, cars, and other large, metal fixtures!

Z-Wave signal strength through different materials

Open Air 100%
Glass (0.3") 80%
Wood (3") 67%
Brick (8") 50%
Concrete (4") 40%
Masonry block (8") 33%
Steel (0.2") 20%
Reinforced concrete (4") 17%

Tips for avoiding the short range of devices

  1. Use additional AC powered Z-Wave devices to relay signals to further away devices.
  2. Avoid obstructions (such as brick walls and large appliances) for better connectivity results.
  3. Try Link Quality tests to verify that devices are in range of the panel.
  4. For devices that can't communicate directly with the panel, we recommend having a "Good" link quality in addition to having two other AC powered devices with a "Good" link quality as their neighbours.

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