LightwaveRF or Z-Wave - which to choose?
LightwaveRF is a new technology launched in 2011 by the UK company JSJS Design. It uses a simple wireless technology to provide remote control of lighting and power at a very low cost. It does't have the advanced features of other technologies, but it's easy to install, easy to use and is very affordable.
So how does LightwaveRF compare to Z-Wave and which technology is the most suitable for your planned set-up?
LightwaveRF is a new low-cost home automation technology based on the 433.92MHz frequency band. Although not related to the old X10 technology, LightwaveRF does share its 1970's spirit and economical appeal. It has been designed to meet the needs of the majority of people looking for simple control of lights and power sockets.
Simple Wireless Technology
Lightwave uses a simple, low cost wireless technology to transmit commands to individual LightwaveRF devices. For most applications it is more than capable, however, it does not have the advanced features of a mesh network technology such as Z-Wave.
- Direct Transmission - Commands are sent directly from a LightwaveRF controller or sensor to any paired LightwaveRF device (slave).
- No Acknowledgment - the network doesn't know if messages have been received by the device, and the status of that device is not known. However, the Smartphone app does tell you if it's unable to communicate with the WiFi-Link.
- No Routing - messages cannot be routed via other LightwaveRF devices, messages only go directly from the controller or sensor to the receiving device.
- Shorter range - LightwaveRF has a shorter indoor range of 15m compared to Z-Wave’s 30m, although the LightwaveRF range can be extended by using a LightwaveRF Signal booster.
LightwaveRF has a fantastic range of stylish retrofit switches, dimmers and sockets which simply replace your existing units, with no additional wiring or changes to walls, back boxes etc.
Each LightwaveRF device needs to be ‘paired’ individually to each controller and sensor that you wish to control it with. The process is very easy - simply press the button on the device and then press the selected 'On' button on the controller.
Although a LightwaveRF system doesn't need a central controller, as each remote control communicates directly with each paired device, adding the WiFi-Link to your system opens up your options. The WiFi-Link is a simple hub giving basic Smartphone or computer access to the system (via Wi-Fi or Internet), however, it lacks the sophisticated control options of similar Z-Wave controllers such as the VERA Lite.
LightwaveRF networks are limited to a total of 64 devices and each device can be paired with only 6 controllers or sensors. The 64 device limit is more a limitation of the controller memory than of LightwaveRF technology itself.
The current LightwaveRF range only includes UK style sockets and therefore LightwaveRF is only sold to UK customers.
LightwaveRF has been designed to be a very low cost home automation technology, switches and controllers are around half the cost of other technologies - you can start a fully functional LightwaveRF network for as little as £25!!
Z-Wave is an established Home Automation technology with a huge range of products for all applications.
Z-Wave’s mesh network ’understands’ the current status of all devices on the network and can adapt itself to ensure signals are routed in the best possible way to avoid any ‘dead-spots’.
- Two-way wireless communication - all messages acknowledged, if one gets lost it is automatically repeated
- Mesh networking - automatically covers dead-spots, great for large installations
- Routing - commands can be routed via other Z-Wave devices ensuring the maximum reach of your network
Adding Z-Wave wireless control to light switches and power sockets is usually done using modules that are installed into the switch/socket back box. There are no Z-Wave retrofit switches or sockets that offer the easy replacement and great looks of the LightwaveRF range.
Each device needs to be ‘included’ into the Z-Wave network, this is done by pressing a button on the device which enables the Z-Wave network controller to add the device to the network.
Just like LightwaveRF, a Z-Wave network does not necessarily need a central controller, but by adding one you're able to control your network in sophisticated ways and access your it via the Internet. The Z-Wave controllers like the VERA and Fibaro Home Center 2 offer incredibly versatile control of your system, including complex event triggers, scripting and programming of 'If/Then' queries.
Z-Wave has a huge range of products cover all aspects of home automation such as lighting, power management, security and heating.
|Wireless Frequency (EU)||433.92MHz||868.42MHz|
|Maximum number of devices||48 total||232 per controller|
|Maximum number of Controllers||6 per device||Unlimited|
|Maximum Range||35m (outdoors) - 20m (indoors)||50m (outdoors) - 30m (indoors)|
|Device Status Report|
|Devices act as repeaters
(mains-powered devices only)
|Device Types||Controllers & Slaves||Controllers, Slaves
& Routing Slaves
|Devices added to Network||Devices manually
|Smartphone Apps||iPhone / Android||iPhone / Android|
|Socket Styles||UK only||UK, Schuko & France/Belgium|
|Retrofit Sockets & Switches||Switches only|
|Insert Modules||Relay only||Relay & Dimmers|
|Heating Control||End 2013|
|Internet Gateway Controller|
|Number of products available||30+||100+|
|Scenarios - Applications that the products are most suitable for.|
For a full comparison of all Vesternet Home Automation technologies, take a look at the Complete Home Automation Feature Guide.
LightwaveRF is a great technology if all you want is simple control of lighting and power sockets and your home's not too large. Its simple wireless technology works well, it's easy to configure and it offers an affordable entry to home automation.
Z-Wave offers a more flexible and robust system with its mesh network that includes routing of signals, command acknowledgment and device status updates - but it's probably the power of Z-Wave's controllers that really set it apart from LightwaveRF.
The LightwaveRF WiFi-Link is a good internet access hub, but it doesn't have any of the control or programming capabilities of the comparable Z-Wave products. You get a simple, easy to use app which is the same whether you use a smartphone or computer, but you don't get any other access to the system. If this is all you want (or need), then LightwaveRF is the technology for you.
The other thing to consider is the range of available products. Z-Wave has a huge range covering all aspects of home automation, no matter what you want to do, there are Z-Wave products available to support you. LightwaveRF currently is tailored to lighting and power sockets, although we expect the range to expand through 2013. You should bare this in mind when choosing your technology.
For more information take a look at the full range of Z-Wave and LightwaveRF products, or take a look at our new Scenarios section for help choosing the right products for common cases such as heating, lighting and security.
Copyright Vesternet 2014