Zigbee vs Z-Wave: Which Is the Better Wireless Technology?

There are four wireless technologies that you can use when creating a smart home. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and Z-Wave are all currently available solutions. You have probably heard of the first two, but the last two are relatively unknown. So, you might be interested in our ZigBee vs Z-Wave technology comparison.

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Essentially, are alternative ways that can be used instead of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for communication between home gadgets. Both offer specific benefits. For example, Z-Wave is lower power compared to Wi-Fi, and it can deliver greater range than Bluetooth.

These technologies allow devices to connect wirelessly, but they work differently than either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Instead of creating direct links between a router or a hub and smart devices, both these technologies use mesh networks. This means data and signals are sent from the router to one device and then on to another. Consequently, the signal can reach devices that are typically out of range of the hub. It “hops” along the pathway created by each device.

In evaluating ZigBee vs Z-Wave, we found that both have qualities like high reliability and low power usage, which are essential aspects of smart home applications. Even so, they have some vital differences that need to be clearly delineated. This article highlights our extensive ZigBee vs Z-Wave comparison and provides our conclusion as to which of the two is the best option.

What Is ZigBee?

Bestseller No. 1
SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus Gateway, Universal Zigbee USB Gateway with Antenna for Home Assistant, Open HAB etc, Wireless Zigbee 3.0 USB Adapter(1 Pack)
  • Pre-flashed with Z-Stack 3.x.0 coordinator firmware
  • Can use ZHA in Home Assistant or use Zigbee2MQTT
  • Base on TI CC2652P + CP2102N
  • +20dBm output gain
  • SMA interface external antenna,Aluminum housing effectively reduces signal interference from peripherals
Bestseller No. 2
THIRDREALITY Zigbee Smart Plug 4 Pack, 15A Smart Outlet with Timer Function, ETL Certified, ZigBee Hub Required
  • [STABLE CONNECTION] With too many smart devices loaded in your home, WIFI connection will be blocked off. Zigbee Connection is the perfect solution to the unstable WIFI connection.
  • [EASY TO SET UP] When pairing with Compatible Echo Devices (Echo 4th Gen, Echo Plus 1st Gen&2nd Gen, Echo Show 10 (2nd Gen & 3rd Gen), Echo Studio), No 3rd party APP, No 3rd party Cloud, No 3rd party Skill and Account linking required, just plug the Smart Plug in the wall outlet and say “Alexa, discover my devices” when pair with compatible Echo devices.
  • [COMPACT DESIGN] The compact size of Third Reality Smart Plugs is space-saving and won’t occupy the adjacent socket. The shape of the smart plug fits the panel very well and improves the use efficiency.
  • [VOICED CONTROL] When Smart Plugs connect with compatible Amazon Alexa Echo Devices or other ZigBee hubs(like SmartThings 2015&2018, Aeotec, Hubitat, Eero 6&6Pro) that can work with Alexa or Google Home. Echo Studio). You can deliver your commands via voice to turn on/off your plugs.
  • [WHOLE-HOME INTELLIGENT CONTROL] You can control your home appliances at any time or any place. For example, you can directly turn off the lights when you are ready to sleep. And the function of timer and schedules helps turn on/off the smart devices at your home (e.g.: lamps, fans, air conditions).
Bestseller No. 3
Amazon eero Pro 6 tri-band mesh Wi-Fi 6 system with built-in ZigBee smart home hub (2-pack)
  • Premium Wi-Fi 6 performance- the eero Pro 6 system covers up to 3,500 sq. ft. with wifi speeds up to a gigabit.
  • Say goodbye to dead spots and buffering- Our TrueMesh technology intelligently routes traffic to reduce drop-offs so you can confidently stream 4K video, game, and video conference.
  • More wifi for more devices - Wi-Fi 6 supports faster wifi than prior standards and permits 75+ connected devices
  • Set up in minutes - The eero app walks you through setup and allows you to manage your network from anywhere. Plus, free customer support is available 7 days a week.
  • Built-in Zigbee smart home hub - eero Pro 6 connects compatible devices on your network with Alexa—so there’s no need to buy separate smart home hubs for each device.

ZigBee is an open technology that has become the global wireless standard language for smart device communication. Although the technology was originally developed for commercial use, it now serves as the sensing and control standard in many residential areas.



ZigBee allows smart devices to connect via a mesh network which, again, is a system that transfers information from one smart device to the next until it reaches a hub. The importance of such a connection is that you can expand and widen your network of home automation devices without the need for high-powered transmitters.



ZigBee utilizes AES-128 encryption, which is the same level of protection that major banks use, plus network keys to keep your smart devices secure. However, you should note that various devices that use the technology made by different companies, so the standards can vary. Recently, ZigBee device makers have received criticism for security measures because researchers revealed that even a door lock was vulnerable to hackers.

The ZigBee Alliance is made up of 400 member organizations that utilize, develop, and improve ZigBee’s open-standard wireless connection. This implies that clients can mix and match smart home devices from different manufacturers and add new devices as their needs change over time.



ZigBee technology needs little power; devices can be sustained by a single battery for up to seven years. They come with a green-power option that makes it possible for clients to select devices that do not need batteries at all. The biggest drawback is that this technology was developed primarily for retail and utility industries. Although it is a popular technology for home use, consumers should have technical know-how for setup and maintenance to use it properly.

ZigBee best serves the do-it-yourselfer or technology expert who needs a system she or he can install and customize with their preferences. ZigBee allows you to control your home environment with a scalable and compatible mesh network.

What Is Z-Wave?

SaleBestseller No. 1
Aeotec Smart Home Hub, Works as a SmartThings Hub, Z-Wave Zigbee Gateway, Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, WiFi
  • Easiest way to make your home a smart home: Wirelessly connect and control a huge range of smart devices - over 5,000 are available from dozens of brands - including voice assistants, lights & switches, speakers, cameras, sensors and more
  • Automate connected devices: Any device you connect can be included into automations which can be intelligently managed
  • Control via Sapp and voice: Monitor and control connected devices, and run automations, using the Samsung SmartThings app on Android, iOS, and iPadOS, or voice user interfaces Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Requires an internet-connected Wi-Fi router (available Ethernet port recommended), plus a smart phone or table running the SmartThings app
  • Compatibility: certified to work with Google, Alexa, SmartThings, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave Plus, and ZigBee protocols. Not compatible outside of the USA.
Bestseller No. 2
Home Connect 620 Keypad Connected Smart Lock with Z-Wave Technology Featuring SmartKey Security in Venetian Bronze
  • Works with Z-Wave 700 panels and hubs (will also work with existing Z-Wave 500 panels and hubs)
  • Up to 250 user codes with a 10-button keypad
  • SmartKey Security with convenient re-key
  • Extended wireless range and battery life
  • Improved security with easier network enrollment using a QR code
SaleBestseller No. 3
Hubitat Elevation Home Automation Hub - Compatible with Alexa, Google Home, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Lutron
  • New Z-Wave 700 radio supports S2 security and SmartStart device inclusion (Model C-7 hub)

Z-Wave is one of the original technologies for wireless networking and automation of homes. It is a proprietary technology that was developed specifically for clients to control and monitor their home smart devices remotely. The technology continues to set the standard for automated heating, appliances, security, and lighting, among other smart devices.



A Z-Wave hub typically serves as the controller in your home network. It allows you to connect up to 232 devices wirelessly, making it easy for them to communicate with each other. The more connected devices you introduce into your network, the further your signal can reach. It uses a mesh system similar to that of Z-Wave which allows signals to hop from one smart device to another. This means that when two devices are connected outside the signal range, they can communicate by way of the various devices in between.



The Z-Wave Alliance is made up of 375 companies, and it recognizes about 1,500 products that are all interoperable with each other. Nine out of 10 leading communication and security companies in the U.S. use Z-Wave in the smart-home solutions they offer. This technology is used by 325 manufacturers, meaning that there are many options for devices that will communicate with each other.

Z-Wave networks and devices are assigned unique IDs for communication with your hub. This rules out the possibility of another hub controlling your hub’s connected devices. Devices such as alarms and door locks require trustworthy, inviolable security. This technology uses AES-128 encryption. As long as devices “speak” the Z-Wave language, you’ll have a reliable central hub for your smart-home environment.



The technology is user-friendly, and it provides a simple system that clients can set up by themselves. However, you can still hire a professional to install the system in your home. After purchasing your Z-Wave hub, you can decide which devices you want to connect. However, perhaps the greatest drawback is that the system is expensive and expenses can add quickly if you use many devices.

It serves best a person with a basic understanding of technology works or wants to keep his or her home efficient, secure, and easy to maintain. Z-Wave works with the most popular brands and smart devices and therefore clients don’t experience a lot of limitations.

ZigBee vs Z-Wave: What’s the Best Option?



Both ZigBee and Z-Wave use mesh networks. In a mesh network, the signal comes from the central hub just like in a star network configuration. However, devices do not have to communicate directly with the central hub in a mesh network. Instead, it allows each smart device in the network to operate as a repeater and pass the signal on to another device in sequence. This affords mesh networks great versatility. They can cover greater distances and even navigate obstacles better than other wireless options.

While Z-Wave networks support up to four hops between the controller and the smart device, ZigBee networks are not limited to a specific number of hops. A Z-Wave network is limited to 232 total devices, but a ZigBee mesh can conceivably allow up to 65,000 connected devices… although you would probably run into bandwidth issues long before getting close to that number.


battery life

Both technologies are very low-power and use a fraction of what a Wi-Fi network needs. This is a major benefit for smart devices. In fact, some devices using ZigBee or Z-Wave can run on a single coin cell battery for years. However, any device acting as a frequent repeater in the mesh network will need a bit more power. This means that battery-operated devices are not usually programmed to act as repeaters.


The Z-Wave Alliance ensures that every Z-Wave device complies with a strict set of standards. Each Z-Wave certified device works will all Z-Wave certified controllers. Over 600 manufacturers produce over 2100 Z-Wave certified products that can be plugged into your new or existing network.

However, ZigBee has a perceived lack of interoperability. The certification has not been harmonized, in the sense that one body and standard certifies software and the other certifies hardware. There are many interoperable ZigBee products available, but the technology’s reputation for optimum compatibility is a work in progress.



Operating at higher frequencies reduces the range of the signal. ZigBee operates at 2.4GHz, compared to 908 MHz for Z-Wave. That higher ZigBee frequency allows for more data to be transmitted, but in turn, it reduces the range of the signal. Z-Wave signals can travel up to 330 feet in an outdoor and unobstructed setting, whereas a ZigBee signal can travel about 40 feet in a similar setting.


Since Z-Wave devices have more range than ZigBee devices, you can anticipate fewer reliability issues stemming from range issues. This means that Z-Wave is more reliable than ZigBee overall. However, a perfectly designed ZigBee network can be reliable in the right environment.


Both these technologies use the AES encryption standard so that no one can get control of your smart home or devices by hacking the signal. The Z-Wave Alliance has incorporated a new Security 2 (S2) framework, making it impossible for such a system to be compromised in a DDOS attack.

Your Best Option?

In our view, Z-Wave is better for most applications because of its:

  • Greater range
  • Easy interoperability
  • More reliability
  • Better certification process


If we were to choose one technology between the two, Z-Wave would be a safer and more straightforward choice. In part, this is because the Z-Wave Alliance has made it easier for clients to take advantage of the interoperability. You can simply buy products that can plug right into your network. It also has a greater range and less interference.

Z-Wave networks allow more devices to connect with few reliability issues. ZigBee has a loose certification process, making interoperability challenging under some circumstances. It has a lesser range and is more likely to run into issues with reliability when more devices are connected. We hope that you have enjoyed and learned from our ZigBee vs Z-Wave comparison and can move on to build the home network of your dreams very soon.

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