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Starting a Z-Wave home automation system from scratch can be a daunting project. Z-Wave is a very forgiving and easy-to-use system, which makes it great for DIY smart home projects. However, if you have never worked with Z-Wave technology before, you run the risk of making mistakes. That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to the most common Z-Wave mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Using Uncertified Devices
If one of the devices you’re considering adding to your smart home system is not Z-Wave certified, it’s a red flag. Z-Wave certification gives you the guarantee that the product you’ve chosen meets the Z-Wave Alliance’s high standards for security, interoperability, and performance. Uncertified devices carry the risk that they don’t support adequate encryption, which increases the likelihood that they could be hacked. And if a device fails to achieve certification because it cannot adequate perform or integrate with other products, why would you want to deal with the hassle of trying to make it work in your system?
2. Choosing Incompatible Devices/Hub
Just because a device has the word “smart” in its title doesn’t mean it will integrate seamlessly into any smart system. You need to choose both your hub and your complementary devices with care. When searching for different devices, such as leak sensors or smart plugs, verify on the website that each component is compatible with your hub. If none of the devices you want to use are compatible, maybe it’s time to reevaluate which hub you’ve chosen.
3. Not Taking Advantage of Z-Wave’s Versatility
The most common starting point for DIY smart home automation is an “off the shelf” box solution featuring a hub and your typical smart light bulb, motion sensor, smart outlet, or water leak sensor. There’s definitely something to be said for covering your bases with the standard system, but don’t forget one of the main advantages of a DIY system: tailoring it to fit your lifestyle.
There are tons of Z-Wave devices out there. You can get a smart device that manages your lawn irrigation or one that actively keeps your home safe from water leaks. You can get a device that attaches to your keychain so that you never lose track of your keys. You can even get a smart mousetrap that will alert you whenever Stuart Little springs the trap!
4. Considering Everything that Goes into Z-Wave Range
Yes, your smart water leak sensor or night light might say that it has a Z-wave range of 200 feet, but there are a lot of factors that can affect range. For example, are there large appliances or concrete walls between the Z-Wave device and the hub? Do you have baby monitors in the home? Even large mirrors might have some effect on the signal strength. It’s best not to stretch to the edge of the capable range of any device.
5. Going Completely Wireless
One of the great things about Z-Wave technology is that many of the devices can operate using batteries, which means you don’t have to plug them into any outlets. The mistake happens when you go 100% wireless and don’t use any plugged-in devices. Each component of your Z-Wave system that is constantly plugged into power functions as a signal repeater.
The more plugged-in components you have, the stronger your signal strength will be throughout your home. All of the Z-Wave devices form what’s called a mesh network, which can bounce information from the farthest device to the hub, overcoming the normal limitation of Z-Wave signal range. If you don’t ever plug any devices into power, your mesh network is likely to have some holes, which can compromise the performance of the entire system.
Z-Wave has so much to offer, but as is the case with any technology, it’s important to know what you’re doing. Avoid the five mistakes listed above, and you’ll be well on your way toward smart home success. For more guidance on Z-Wave devices and DIY smart home automation, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter!