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Z-Wave® vs Wi-Fi – What’s the difference?

With Boundary we’ve cut the wires. Well all but one from the hub to a plug. Otherwise, it’s a completely wireless alarm system. You might be wondering how all the components talk to each other? A good guess would be Wi-Fi – because that’s what most cheaper smart security systems use – but for maximum protection all communication between the hub, siren and intelligent sensors uses world-class Z-Wave® (700 series with S2 security).

Let’s start with the basics though. What actually is Z-Wave technology, how is it different to Wi-Fi and why have we chosen it to help our devices communicate?

What’s Wi-Fi?

While most people use Wi-Fi every single day, there’s a good chance that many don’t actually know what it is. For those who aren’t sure, Wi-Fi is the technology that allows you to connect to various devices wirelessly. It’s actually a web signal sent from one device to another that’s then translated in a way it can be understood.

A slightly more complex way of defining Wi-Fi is that it’s a set of protocols that enable communications between enabled devices. These devices will include wireless routers and wireless access points. It operates using radio frequencies on a 2.4GHz network as standard.

So what actually is Z-Wave technology?

Developed in 1999 and named after its creator, Zensys, Z-Wave mainly saw popularity for business networks. Now it has become the primary wireless technology used by smart home devices.

Z-Wave is a mesh network that’s been specifically designed for optimal performance, low-energy use and high security. It allows wireless devices to communicate with each other.

How does Z-Wave differ from Wi-Fi?

First of all, Z-Wave uses a much much lower frequency. We’re looking at a frequency of between 800-900 MHz in comparison to Wi-FI’s 2.4GHz. This low frequency means there’s practically no interference, which reduces the chances of slow communication between your devices that a busier, higher interference, frequency can often succumb to.

The other main difference comes down to how it operates. While Wi-Fi needs a router to run, and everything then connects to this device, Z-Wave operates using a ‘mesh’ network. This means that rather than using a centralised hub, every device in the network connects to the other devices in the network, helping extend the wireless connections.

Why we use Z-Wave technology for our home security system

Here’s why for us it was the only choice:

Best in breed security

Every signal is end-to-end encrypted. Making remote security updates super-secure. Using the latest 700 series chip sets in our technology also means even a sophisticated criminal with a jamming device outside your home couldn’t fool your Boundary system into giving away any information that could be used to breach your home. Another reason to sleep well.

Superior battery life

Another great plus for Z-Wave is how little power each component needs to operate. Who needs trailing wires all over their home when you can expect a full year of battery life? And don’t forget our intelligent motion sensors also give you a low battery warning 1 month beforehand.

Set and forget range

Z-Wave operates on a shorter wavelength than Wi-Fi systems and range is commonly 100m in the open and 50m inside a building.

Good long-term choice

All Z-Wave® products work with all other Z-Wave products. There are 100m products using Z-Wave in homes worldwide. Developed in Denmark 10 years ago, it’s a world-class smart home security standard that is here to stay.

Wi-Fi protection

Boundary only uses Wi-Fi to report to the Alarm Receiving Center (ARC). And if your Wi-Fi goes down or a burglar cuts the internet supply, we offer a central alarm hub with cellular back-up that will automatically switch to cellular data if Wi-Fi goes down. Plus, whatever happens you’ll always be able to set/unset your app AND press the panic button to trigger the siren. Boundary’s got your back.

Find out more about how Boundary works.