Z-Wave Announces New Long Range Specification

September 14, 2020 by Luke James

A new long-range specification is here, and it's got a few contending features compared to Amazon Sidewalk and Zigbee.

Z-Wave Alliance, the global organization dedicated to advancing the Z-Wave wireless smart home protocol, has announced that it has increased the wireless range fourfold with its new Z-Wave Long Range (Z-Wave-LR) specification. This specification, which operates at a radio frequency range of 800 MHz to 900 MHz, is also said to stretch the life of a typical sensor powered by a coin cell battery by up to ten years.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after Z-Wave announced its completed incorporation as a solely independent non-profit organization. It also unveiled its seven founding members under its new standards development organization (SDO), which include Ring and Silicon Labs. 


Improving Coverage and Scalability

As the number of smart devices in the average home rises, so too does the demand placed on home networks increase.

To support this growth, Z-Wave’s new specification has been designed to increase scalability and provide better coverage. This coverage expansion may bring more connectivity options not only for home networks but also for other environments that rely on smart devices, such as factories and hospitals, too. 


The Z-Wave Alliance is supported by 700 companies offering 3,000 products that are all interoperable with one another.

The Z-Wave Alliance is supported by 700 companies offering 3,000 products that are all interoperable with one another. Image used courtesy of the Z-Wave Alliance


In terms of scalability, Z-Wave-LR can increase the previously-supported 232 devices to over 2,000 nodes in a single home network. This represents a 10-fold increase from Z-Wave. To deliver increased coverage, Z-Wave-LR does away with Z-Wave repeaters and instead increases the transmission range found in Z-Wave—specifically, with a range of 400 meters.

This increased range unlocks huge potential for Z-Wave networks and makes it much easier than ever before to deploy new devices, even across relatively long distances. For instance, the extended wireless range may improve the wireless transmission range of peripheral Z-Wave devices, such as gate-access solutions and garage door sensors.


Interoperability and Backward Compatability

As with all certified Z-Wave devices, Z-Wave-LR is backward compatible with any previously installed Z-Wave device and can be installed into any Z-Wave network. 

The new Z-Wave-LR specification will be managed and certified under the Z-Wave Plus V2 certification program. This currently requires the inclusion of the S2 security framework as well as SmartStart, a Z-Wave technology that enables simple setup and installation of Z-Wave devices by scanning a QR code. 


A sampling of the types of products supported by Z-Wave

A sampling of the types of products supported by Z-Wave. Image used courtesy of the Z-Wave Alliance

“The Z-Wave LR specification is the first of many technical developments to come from within the new Alliance standards development organizational structure,” said Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance.

Klein added that it’s more important than ever that IoT devices are deployed on strong and reliable networks, and that Z-Wave is excited to support this with its latest specification.


What's Next for Z-Wave-LR?

How exactly does Z-Wave-LR size up to other long-range specifications? As mentioned previously, the Z-Wave-LR supports up to 2,000 nodes within a range of 400 meters, operating in the 800 MHz to 900 MHz band. Alternatively, Amazon Sidewalk boasts network coverage up to a mile away, operating at 900 MHz. Another competitor, Zigbee (2.4 GHz), can support up to 65,000 nodes up to 100 meters away.


  Z-Wave-LR Amazon Sidewalk Zigbee
Frequency Band 800–900 MHz 900 MHz 2.4 GHz
Communication Range 400 meters 500 meters 100 meters
Network Size 2,000 nodes 700 nodes 65,000


In an interview with GearBrain, Klein revealed that three big-name members of the Z-Wave Alliance (he did not specify the companies) are in the process of alpha testing Z-Wave-LR. These companies will be releasing hardware for the new specification, prior to the beta release in Q4 of 2020, which will allow other companies to begin developing their own products around Z-Wave-LR. Klein explains that the Z-Wave Alliance will unveil a general release of the long-range specification in the first few months of 2021.