Z-Wave: the other wireless automation standard


Readers of Control Engineering 's Machine Control Monthly newsletter are familiar with the Zigbee Foundation and the Zigbee wireless device control standard. They may not realize, however, that it is not the only way to control geographically separated devices without having to install rigid point-to-point wiring, or using an involved networking standard like Ethernet.

According to Zensys , developer of the standard, Z-Wave is a proven and interoperable wireless mesh networking technology used in wireless home control for remote home monitoring, safety and security, and energy conservation applications by controlling a wide array of home devices including lighting, appliances, HVAC, entertainment, and more. Z-Wave-enabled products are available from leading consumer brands in more than 100 products, giving Z-Wave a significant time-to-market advantage over competing wireless home control solutions. More than 125 companies - including industry giants Cooper Industries, Danfoss, Intermatic, Leviton, Monster, Wayne-Dalton and Universal Electronics (UEI) - are members of the Z-Wave Alliance .

Zensys recently launched their third-generation Z-Wave chip, which they claim to be the industry's lowest cost, lowest power consumption chip. Zensys says the new device's key features include:

Support of battery-to-battery networks allows receiving and transmitting devices to operate on battery power, making it possible to have entire networks equipped with battery-operated devices;

15-30% lower cost (depending on volume) than 200-series generation Z-Wave chips expands the range of potential applications to wireless control of less costly home appliances;

Lower power consumption through availability of multiple power modes and enhanced wakeup timer reduces power consumption in many battery-based applications;

Full interoperability with previous versions protects legacy investment in networks incorporating previous Z-Wave versions.

The ZW0301 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) is said to be a complete wireless solution consisting of an integrated RF transceiver, an 8051 microcontroller, flash and SRAM memory storage and a range of peripherals including battery monitoring and ultra low power sleep mode with an enhanced wake up timer. The 300 series SoC is compatible with prior systems and can easily be incorporated into customer's existing product lines.

Zensys plans to release corresponding Z-Wave modules incorporating the new chip. The smallest module - ZM3102 - is 12.5x13.6mm in size and is pin-to-pin compatible with the ZM2102 used in high volume by many OEMs, company says; ZM3102 will cost less than $4.50 in volume.

Z-Wave is the recipient of the 2006 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award in the wireless category, the CNET "Best of CES Award" in the enabling technologies category, along with PC World's 2006 World Class Award, which recognizes the 100 best technologies and products of the year.

—Edited by C.G. Masi , Control Engineering senior editor

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