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Z-Wave and LightwaveRF Range Test

We often get asked what range Z-Wave devices have and what are their real-world usable distances. So this weekend, faced with the option of painting fences or doing something more interesting, I thought I'd put it to the test.

What follows is my unscientific testing of several Z-Wave and LightwaveRF On/Off sockets together with the three Z-Wave controllers.

The Test Setup

I decided the best way to do this was to leave the controllers where they, are in my office, and then using extension leads into the garden, test the sockets at various distances from the controllers.

I live in a very old house, the main walls are 0.6m thick solid stone; one central wall plus the outside walls. These walls play havoc with Wi-Fi signals, meaning I have two routers to allow Wi-Fi coverage all around the house. So this should provide a good test environment for any wireless home automation system.

The wireless commands would have to travel from the office, through a single brick wall, across a 5m stair-space to the outside wall, and then down the garden to the sockets. This would be a single route test, so the Z-Wave signals would not be routed via other Z-Wave devices.

I tested each socket at various distances starting at 10m from the office and then testing again at 5m intervals until the socket no longer responded to On/Off commands sent from the controller.

As I also run a LightwaveRF system via the VERA controller with a RFXtrx433 transceiver, I decided to also test that.

The Results

As you can see from the table of results, most of the sockets worked up to around 18m, with the TKB working incredibly well with all controllers up to the maximum range for this test of 27m (that was the maximum length of the two extension leads). The surprising result was LightwaveRF. The LightwaveRF sockets kept up with the Z-Wave devices and worked at the maximum range of 27m.

  VERA ZipaBox Home Center 2
Everspring On/Off Plug (AN157) 18m 18m 18m
Everspring On/Off Plug with meter (AN158) 18m 18m 18m
TKB On/Off Plug (TZ68) 27m 27m 27m
LightwaveRF Sockets (JSJSLW321) 27m - -


Although this test didn't use any of the sophisticated features of Z-Wave routing and repeating, it did provide a simple way to test raw wireless range of the controllers, plugs and technologies. And, as the wireless signals had to travel through a standard brick wall, a solid stone wall and then open space, it's a good representation of real-life installations.

My main conclusion from these tests is that the wireless distance for most applications shouldn't be a concern, all the controllers and technologies perform well, and that's without using Z-Wave signal routing or repeating.

See you soon.


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