Z-Wave Smart Home Blog

Z-Wave vs. Wi-Fi vs Bluetooth: A Breakdown

Z-Wave vs. Wi-Fi vs Bluetooth: A Breakdown

One of the easiest ways of explaining an unfamiliar technology is to compare it with something people already understand. That's why you might hear things like: "It's like Wi-Fi, but…" or "It's similar to Bluetooth, but…" when talking about Z-Wave. And it's true that all three technologies have a lot in common. They're all wireless, and each has its role to play in the future development of the smart home. But that's where the similarities end.

Like Wi-Fi, Z-Wave relies on wireless technology to send information through the air in and around your home, from one point to another. Like Wi-Fi, it relies on advanced security to make sure that those bits and bytes aren't intercepted bad actors. And like Wi-Fi, it ties together a larger network of devices, so that each can communicate with the other.


While your Wi-Fi network probably sends and receives large chunks of data around your home—giant email attachments, streaming audio and video, and all of the two-way data sent and received by multiplayer video games—Z-Wave doesn't have to carry quite so heavy a load. The information sent back and forth over a Z-Wave network consists mostly of tiny commands, like "turn on this light" or "adjust thermostat to 74°," along with small status updates, such as "this light is current at 45% brightness" or "this door is locked."

As such, Z-Wave can operate at much lower frequencies, and with much less power. What's more, whereas every new device added to your Wi-Fi network makes it weaker and less responsive, the mesh-network capabilities of Z-Wave means that every new device added to your smart home actually makes your Z-Wave network more robust and further-reaching.

All of which makes Z-Wave sound a lot more similar to Bluetooth, right? Well, not quite. It's true that the two share a good bit in common. Simpler pairing than Wi-Fi, for example. Z-Wave and Bluetooth also require less power and have lower bandwidth.


Unlike Z-Wave, most Bluetooth devices don't yet support mesh networking. And although that will certainly change in the future, it's uncertain right now how many Bluetooth devices you'll be able to connect to a single smart home control system. Z-Wave, meanwhile, is capable of supporting dozens of connected devices. Hundreds, in fact, as Z-Wave is inside the most robust controllers available in the marketplace today.

It's for those reasons, and many others, that Z-Wave remains the best wireless technology for reliable, far-reaching, energy efficient smart home control. But committing to one doesn't necessarily mean you're locked out of other wireless options. Some Z-Wave hubs, like SmartThings and Wink, include built-in support for Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth (although the full potential of the latter may not be unlocked just yet). The point remains that different technologies have different purposes – so don't let the this OR that story get you down.


Z-Wave, learn about, smart home, smart hub, SmartThings, Wink

Top Tips to Getting Started with a Z-Wave Smart Home

Top Tips to Getting Started with a Z-Wave Smart Home

This month we're going back to basics with Josh from ZWaveZone.com, an awesome resource for everything Z-Wave home automation related. If you're new to the world of smart home, you may be wondering where to start and how using Z-Wave can benefit you and your home. Josh offers his top tips and tricks to getting started with a Z-Wave home and products he loves.

A Z-Wave hub, a gateway, a controller - what's the difference?

A Z-Wave hub, a gateway, a controller - what's the difference?

If you've been thinking about adding some smarts to your home, you may have already researched light and dimmers, door locks and thermostats—all of the various bits and pieces that go into creating a connected home experience. But how do you get all of this stuff to talk to each other and create a completely integrated smart home system? Do you need a hub, gateway, or controller?

Piece of Cake - AT&T Digital Life

Linear - Z-Wave Wall Mount Dimmer Switch

Control your home with the Apple Watch? Z-Wave's got it covered.

Control your home with the Apple Watch? Z-Wave's got it covered.

The Apple Watch is already great at a lot of things. It's perfect for keeping tabs on your personal fitness goals, for quickly checking (and even replying to) text messages and phone calls, for glancing at the weather forecast, and even for paying for purchases with Apple Pay. But what about controlling your home?

Setting scenes: the magic of smart homes

Setting scenes: the magic of smart homes

The concept of home lighting is pretty simple: you hit a switch, the room is illuminated. The light switch functionality hasn't changed much since its invention. But what if you could power them all of your lights down instantly at the touch of a single button? With Z-Wave smart home technology, you can. Quite easily. And that's just scratching the surface of the intelligence you can add to your home with automation called "scenes."

Home Security Bear - Vivint

Samsung's 2016 smart TVs control your gear

A Smarter Kitchen

A Smarter Kitchen

Of all the rooms in your home, your kitchen is probably one of the most important to you. The kitchen is a gathering place where your family comes together to discuss the day, work on homework and of course, eat! Smart kitchens are gaining a lot of attention in the world of smart home with new appliances and gadgets being released

Keep Your Holiday Dinners Running Smoothly with Smart Home Tech

Keep Your Holiday Dinners Running Smoothly with Smart Home Tech

With smart home technology, you can take the stress out of hosting your first (or fifteenth!) family holiday dinner, or at least remove some of the most common frustrations.

Become an Awesome Neighbor with Smart Home Technology


Instead, just use smart locks to give them a virtual key, and to give a virtual key to baby sitters, dog walkers, and temporary guests. You don't need to ask your neighbor to water your lawn while you're out of town, or to check to see if you closed the garage door and turned off the lights. You can monitor your lawn watering, and the status of your doors and lights, with your smartphone or tablet.

A Glance at Top Trends in Smart Home Technology

Security Sales & Integration

Home technology is always moving, always improving, always promising to provide ease and convenience to our lives. So what sort of innovations stand to make a big impact? Here are 10 developments you'll want to keep an eye on.

Why Smart Homes Will Be a Million Times Better Than 'The Jetsons'


A smart, or connected, home is defined as one where the lights, heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC), security alarm and other household devices can be automated and remotely controlled by a smartphone, tablet or computer. The key drivers in smart home adoption are home security, energy efficiency, entertainment, convenience/productivity, connectivity and health monitoring.

Smart home features that families want in their next home


Smart technology is about learning and customization, and that's what smart thermostats are beginning to offer. Smart lighting features provide homeowners with elegance, ambience and energy efficiency.

What's New

Smarthome 101: How to make your home smarter


We hear an awful lot about smart homes these days. We know about smartphones, smart watches, smart appliances, smart cars, and more. As these separate devices converge around the places we're in the most, the internet of things rises up around us.

Basic Smart Home Technology Terms and Definitions


Home automation itself is the process of setting up your home appliances, entertainment, surveillance, and more so that you can control these with functions and features on a computer, smartphone, or tablet. A smart home is a home that has installed products that can be controlled with home automation.

Best Smart Locks of 2016

Tom's Guide

Of all the different types of smart home products — lights, thermostats and cameras, to name a few — smart door locks are among the most popular. Going beyond the simple key, these locks can be operated using your smartphone, and can be connected to a larger smart home system to make your life easier.

Two Things to Look For When Buying a Smart Switch or Outlet: Smart Home


Z-Wave and ZigBee are both radio protocols that require a hub of some sort to translate the language of the device to a language your phone can understand. These plugs are often more affordable if you already use a platform like SmartThings or Wink.