Z-Wave Long Range Promises Four Times the Range, Longer Battery Life, and Full Legacy Support

New Z-Wave LR networks will support over 2,000 nodes, the Z-Wave Alliance claims, without sacrificing backwards compatibility.

The Z-Wave Alliance has announced a new specification that it claims boosts range fourfold, scalability tenfold, and can run for 10 years from a coin-cell battery while retaining full backwards compatibility with existing Z-Wave systems: Z-Wave Long Range (LR).

"The Z-Wave LR specification is the first of many technical developments to come from within the new Alliance standards development organizational structure," explains Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance. "As smart home networks continue to grow, mature, and add more complex devices, there is a need for more robust technology to support them. With Z-Wave LR, we are building upon Z-Wave’s legacy of strong networks by supporting more devices in a home or building with increased node counts and greater range. It’s more important than ever that IoT devices live on strong, reliable networks, and we’re excited to support this with the latest Z-Wave specification."

According to the specification, brought to our attention by EE News Embedded, Z-Wave LR improves upon its predecessor in three key areas. The first is coverage: The Alliance claims Z-Wave LR can operate at four times the range of standard Z-Wave, meaning it's possible to cover a wider area without the need for repeaters. The second is in scalability: A single Z-Wave LR network deployed in the home can operate with more than 2,000 nodes — 10 times as many as Z-Wave supports. Finally, Z-Wave LR is claimed to optimize battery life — offering sensors the ability to run for up to 10 years from a single coin-cell battery.

A key feature, of the new standard, though, is not in what it's bringing to the table but what it's not taking off it: Z-Wave LR, the Alliance says, is completely network- and feature-compatible with existing Z-Wave networks, allowing new Z-Wave LR devices to operate on existing Z-Wave networks and new Z-Wave LR networks to support existing Z-Wave devices — though without all of the shiny new features, of course.

The standard has not yet been publicly released; more information is available from the Alliance's website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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