SmartThings uses wireless technologies to communicate with connected smart devices. These technologies are Z-Wave and ZigBee.
What are Z-Wave and ZigBee?
Z-Wave and ZigBee are wireless radio frequency communication protocols designed for control, monitoring, and status-reading of connected devices.
In other words, Z-Wave and ZigBee are the different “languages” your SmartThings Hub and devices use to “talk” to one another.
For more detailed explanations of these protocols, visit the:
What frequencies do Z-Wave and ZigBee use?
- Z-Wave: 868.4 MHz
- ZigBee: 2.4 GHz
How does the SmartThings Hub use Z-Wave and ZigBee?
The SmartThings Hub contains internal Z-Wave and ZigBee radio antennae to communicate wirelessly with Z-Wave and ZigBee devices.
The Hub acts as the primary controller for the Z-Wave and ZigBee networks.
How do smart devices use Z-Wave and ZigBee?
Samsung SmartThings devices (Outlets and Motion, Multipurpose, Arrival, and Water Leak Sensors) contain ZigBee chips to receive and provide information.
Other devices compatible with SmartThings might have either a Z-Wave or ZigBee chip.
How do controllers and devices work together?
A Z-Wave or ZigBee device can be connected with only one primary controller from which it receives and responds to commands. The device cannot be simultaneously connected with another controller.
In other words, a smart device can only connect and communicate with one SmartThings Hub. A device connected to Hub A will not respond to commands from Hub B.
What is the range of a Z-Wave or ZigBee network?
Without any obstacles (such as walls or furniture) and depending on environmental factors, range may be up to approximately:
- SmartThings Hub: 130 feet
- Z-Wave or ZigBee devices: 50-100 feet (between two devices, no signal “hopping”)
To extend range, Z-Wave and ZigBee both utilize mesh networking. Mesh networking allows a Z-Wave or ZigBee signal to “hop” through other Z-Wave or ZigBee devices (respectively) to reach the destination device. Certain powered Z-Wave or ZigBee devices can act as wireless repeaters to increase the range and strength of the mesh network.
Our Compatible Products page includes notes for each device that indicate whether it is a wireless repeater.
Read this guide to wireless range and repeaters for an in-depth look at range and mesh networks.
Can Z-Wave and ZigBee communicate with each other?
No. For example, a device with a Z-Wave chip would not be able to talk to a controller with only a ZigBee antenna.
Similarly, a ZigBee device will not affect a Z-Wave mesh network, and vice versa.
How many devices can be on a Z-Wave or ZigBee network?
- Z-Wave: Up to 232 devices. The controller counts toward the total number of devices on the network; in other words, up to 231 devices could be connected with a single SmartThings Hub.
- ZigBee: ZigBee networks do not have a concrete limit on the number of devices. Some users may have hundreds of devices, or more, on a single network. However, larger networks will require more wireless repeaters to ensure optimal signal range and strength.
What is the difference between Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus?
Z-Wave Plus is the latest technology certification standard, designed to offer improved compatibility, range, battery life, and pairing. All Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus Certified devices are fully interoperable and compatible. The Samsung SmartThings Hub (Hub v2) is Z-Wave Plus Certified by the Z-Wave Alliance.