Wireless technology has become increasingly common in today’s environment. We use it every day with our smartphones, remotes, and automated technologies, among so much more. But wireless tech can be confusing when you’re trying to choose the right technology, especially when it comes to home automation.
This week, I’ll help by explaining the differences between two widely used wireless protocols: Bluetooth and Z-Wave.
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth technology is most often seen connecting smartphones, home audio systems, and computers with wireless accessories or components. Products such as the Bekey OrangeBox or Blumoo Universal Remote HomeBase, for example, turn your smartphone into a Bluetooth remote for your door lock or your TV, respectively.
Bluetooth devices are commonly used in close proximity to each other, so you can’t, for example, use your smartphone to remotely control your Bluetooth-enabled home audio system while you’re at work. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your preferences.
Furthermore, Bluetooth compatible devices do not require you to have a central hub to manage them. One of the paired devices is the controlling device and the other is the accessory, and that’s about as complex as the system gets.
Bluetooth devices use shortwave RF frequencies at 2.4 GHz, and can transmit their signal up to 30 feet away. Signal interference most often occurs when a large number of Bluetooth devices are operating simultaneously in the same space.
What is Z-Wave?
Z-Wave devices are used almost exclusively for home automation and security. Z-Wave boasts a unique mesh-network technology that allows you to control a whole collection of devices, where every Z-Wave device in your network can help relay signals to the receiving Z-Wave device. Each device (or node) can receive and pass along Z-Wave signals up to 100 feet indoors, providing a strong, reliable wireless network that becomes stronger with every added device.
Z-Wave networks are managed by a hub or controller, and are setup by connecting to your home internet via a web portal. After initial setup, your Z-Wave network can be accessed remotely from any web-connected device with a browser, or a compatible mobile app.
For an in-depth explanation of everything Z-Wave, take a look at the recent post “What is Z-Wave, and Why Is It So Popular?” Also, check out the Fibaro Motion Sensor or the Zipato ZipaMicro Z-Wave Controller, two of the most versatile Z-Wave devices on the market.
Bluetooth vs Z-Wave: Summing Up the Differences
- Most often used to connect accessories to a main device/system
- Ideal for short-range communications
- Typically pairs one device with just one other device (maybe two)
- No hub required; main device serves as the controller
- Most often used in home automation and security systems
- Suitable for long-range communications
- Allows control of hundreds of devices
- Uses a hub/controller to manage connected devices
Visit HomeControls.com to find a Bluetooth or Z-Wave device that can make your home audio system or home automation system smarter and more connected.