Q&A About Z-Wave

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Ask the Expert / Updated April 2, 2007 09:00 PDST

Q. Do you know of any Z-Wave ceiling fan interfaces yet? I'm new and just starting to implement Z-Wave in my home.

A. There are Z-Wave switches that will turn a fan on and off. At this time, however, there are no Z-Wave fan speed controllers or switches that would allow you to control the actual speed of the fan. There are several companies working on these fan speed controllers so we expect to see them on the market before too long.

Q. I am searching for an easy solution for integrating a security system via Z-Wave. I don't know if these exist yet, but I need window and door magnetic switches for a security system, which will then integrate into a Z-Wave control system. Are these out there, or still on the wish list?

A. There are no direct to Z-Wave door and window magnetic switches available at this time. There are some scheduled for certification so I would expect to see them on the market soon. There are home monitoring systems from Xanboo and iControl that use

400MHz window and door switches bridged to Z-Wave controllers to provide the same function.

Q. I have two four-plex apartment buildings that are about 100 yards away from each other. I would like to know if there is a way to control the heat in the winter in each of these apartments wirelessly using Z-Wave. I would like to be able to control them from my laptop from inside one of the units. I would like to be able to see what the temperature in each unit is also from on my laptop. There is no internet available at these sites. What options would I have for this project?

A. The best solution is to create a separate Z-Wave network for each unit and come in to each unit via an internet or RS485 bridge. As there is no internet available and I'm assuming you don't want to run cables, you could use a single Z-Wave network, one home ID, and control each unit as if they were rooms in a single house. While Z-Wave is a low-power RF Mesh networking technology and 100 yards is beyond the design range for the technology you may find that you can get Z-Wave to communicate over this distance in clear space, i.e.. no physical obstructions. You could test this by purchasing a few plug-in appliance modules and put one in each building and see if you get communication. I would place the plug-modules as close to each other in each building and starting with both modules on the upper floors of each building. This may work, I've seen Z-wave modules work over this distance, however, your best bet is to use a bridge product and keep each building as a separate Z-Wave network.

Q. What is the modulation in Z-wave?

A. The modulation of Z-Wave is FSK in the 900MHz ISM band

Q. I'm looking to replace a couple of existing regular switches in my theater room with Z-Wave switches. I have a Harmony 1000 remote. Will my Harmony remote control up to four different Z-Wave switches? Is it easy to program? Where can I get switches? Are they reliable?

A. First, the Harmony 1000 remote will directly control your Z-Wave switches. It's also easy to program. Log on to Harmony's web site and set up your control menus and scenes, and download that to the Harmony

1000. Then use the Harmony 1000 to create a link between each of the logical devices (the ones you created menu items for on the web site) with the actual physical switches in the room. This is a push the button process. You're done, sit back and enjoy!

Switches are currently available from Intermatic, Wayne Dalton, ACT, Monster, and Leviton. They will be available from Cooper Wiring Devices and Jasco-GE in the next few months.

Z-Wave is very reliable. Every command sent to a receiver is acknowledged by the receiver. If the transmitter doesn't receive the acknowledgement from the receiver it resends the command. If there is still no acknowledgment the command is routed to the intended receiver using other Z-Wave devices to relay the command. As long as you have a Z-Wave device every 30 meters or so you will have no problems with communication reliability. The products themselves are also very reliable, we are working with the best in class manufacturers in each product category. Leviton, Cooper, Intermatic are all companies that have been in the residential lighting business ever since electric lighting was invented. Harmony and UEI are the leaders in universal remotes. All these products are very reliable and well supported.


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Robert L Bass
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