Affordable home automation has arrived at last: even some of the larger, old-school alarm companies are “bundling” these services with traditional intrusion protection to appeal to more homeowners. Makes sense – even ADT has entered the fray with its new Pulse platform. As I have written elsewhere, ADT’s offering leaves much to be desired: however, the simple fact that even the alarm industry’s 800 lb. gorilla is finally combining home automation with home security must be significant. But what’s the new technology that alarm companies are offering for connectivity and control of your lights, locks, thermostats, and other appliances? It’s called Z-Wave.
Z-Wave is a proprietary wireless communications protocol designed for home automation, specifically to remote control applications in residential and light commercial environments. The technology uses a low-power RF radio embedded or retrofitted into home electronics devices and systems, such as lighting, home access control, entertainment systems and household appliances.
What is Z-Wave Used for?
Many people have heard of X 10, an older (and less reliable) technology that works over your home’s electrical circuitry. For a good comparison: Z-Wave represents an improvement over X 10 in the same way that cellular communication is replacing “hard” copper phone lines. In other words, Z-Wave is the future.
By adding Z-Wave to home electronics such as lighting, climate and security systems, it is possible to control and monitor these household functions via remote control, based on manual or automated decisions. The control can be applied to a single device or group of devices, in a single room or zone or throughout the entire home.
Remote Lighting Control
The most basic usage of Z-Wave control is a plug-in device – like a lamp. And that is where the more advanced alarm companies often start their Z-Wave offering. Being able to turn on your desk or bedroom lamp (or a small appliance) when you are away is one advantage – and can give the impression that you are home, unlike the old-fashioned approach of “lights on timers” that most of us have seen.
But There’s More!
It gets better, because Z-Wave can be integrated with your alarm system to take you way beyond remote light control. For example, imagine doing the following with your plug-in lights:
- Program a light to turn on or off, in conjunction with an alarm event.
- Program a light to turn on or off, in conjunction with your alarm system being armed or disarmed.
- Program a light to turn on or off, in conjunction with a door opening or closing – based on time of day.
As you can see, this device is about much more than just remote control of your lights. This is real integrated functionality to increase your security and peace of mind, save energy, and get the most value from your alarm system.
FrontPoint offers a Z-Wave light control module, and we include the ability to program and control this device remotely with our popular Interactive level of monitoring. Future posts will cover other Z-Wave devices, like locks and thermostats – and talk more about the technology. It’s only natural that FrontPoint, as the #1 ranked alarm company in the US for wireless, interactive home security, would be on top of this new technology. When it comes to systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually to defeat, FrontPoint is the clear choice. And yes, we can keep the lights on – or off – for you!