Is the z-wave market dying?

I hate to sound so dire, but it seems many z wave devices don’t have updated versions of themselves. The Zipato z wave bulb is discontinued, great product, quite responsive. Neither Zooz, nor Fibaro have introduced any new sensors in some time. Am I mis-reading the market or is there something else going on?
Just a thought.

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From my POV in my market (Australia) the extra cost of Zwave (chip licensing, lack of scale due to slightly different radio freq) means they’re priced out.

I started with Zwave and a Vera, but Wifi and ESPHome is much cheaper, even with needing to have a robust Wifi network with multiple APs.

I feel the same way in the US. I started with Z-wave and converted to Zigbee because the availability of devices was more robust. I’m sure there will be arguments in the other direction, but just my point of view.

The brick and mortar companies carry only a few z-wave switches in stock and no other devices. With Zigbee they offer lights, locks and door locks.

Could be even harder for Z-Wave when vendors switch to Matter/Thread.
In doubt they may decide to put development effort into a new and growing technology.

It‘s a little bit a pity since my Z-Wave network works quite reliably.

On the other hand: Technologies are evolving and things do change. New technologies bring new possibilities.

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As long, as Zwave is here, I stick with it. I can trust my setup, the quality is proven in my own home. And that matters the most for me…

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Z-wave has only a single manufacturer for chips. Back during the COVID lockdowns, they were unobtanium to device manufacturers with 1-2 year waits for availability. This forced Z-wave-only companies like Inovelli to pivot to Zigbee, as their warehouse shelves were empty waiting for Z-wave chips.

I’m waiting to see if Z-wave can recover, or if the chip shortage put a nail in its coffin…

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Z-Wave is probably dead.

Z-Wave had some pros and cons.
Pros:

  • Less congested frequency
  • Certified, so just works
  • Establishing brands of vendor, so no product today, vendor gone tomorrow

Cons:

  • Certification process makes it more expensive
  • Only one chip vendor, so single point of failure
  • Restriction on frequency usage, so fast transmitting PIRs would never be possible
  • Low customer exposure, so it is hard to get the customer to buy into the eco-system at first

Z-Wave competes with Zigbee and Zigbee also have some pros and cons.
Pros:

  • Many products
  • Cheap products
  • Vendors can expand the protocol themself
  • No restriction on frequency usage
  • Lots of chip makers
  • Lots of customer exposure

Cons:

  • Congested frequency
  • Many vendors come and go, so support might be difficult to find
  • Not always compatible with other products

People generally want a cheap product that just works, which none of the protocols could really offer.
At the point of sale a customer can not see a product will not work properly, so price will be the prevailing factor on the purchase, which makes Zigbee products the winner.
Z-wave vendors really saw that a single chip maker in the world can be an issue and with the emerging Matter protocol, which is promoted as the replacement of both Zigbee and Z-wave, they have all to win by moving to Matter and ditch Z-wave.

Matter improves a lot for a Z-wave vendor and not so much for a Zigbee vendor.
Matter requires a certified product, which Z-wave vendors are used to and this process will “kill” the many one-day vendors from the Zigbee market, which level the playing field.
Matter is supported and promoted by all the big tech players, so the exposure to a customer is huge.
The Z-Wave frequency is the loss in this deal, but for a vendor is still a no-brainer.
Z-wave will therefore die and the vendors will move to Matter and claim they are now supporting the procotol of the future.
Zigbee wil still live on for a while, because the many one-day vendors from China can not certify their products for Matter and still compete on price.

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I agree for the most part, but

White label vendors from Tuya, and Tuya is already making (and selling) Matter devices.

I’ll chime in with my dissent. I think Z-wave is doing great, and Zigbee is in trouble.

Zooz has introduced over a dozen new products, including its XS sensors, over the past few years and (according to their recent email) has several new products in the pipeline. They have also upgraded almost their entire line to 800-series over the past year or so, demonstrating a commitment to long-term viability.

Similarly, Aeotec continues to upgrade and introduce products, and Shelly bought an entire company (Qubino) to begin introducing a Z-wave line. Zwave-js is incredibly stable, eliminating most of the pain of early Z-wave implementations to the extent that for the past few years, Z-wave “just works” every time.

Furthermore, both Ring (Amazon) and Alarm.com use Z-wave sensors for their home security solutions, and these companies seem to be doing just fine. Their products are also compatible with Zwave-js hubs for people like me who want the devices but not the service.

Z-wave’s biggest drawback is lack of breadth. I have several Wi-Fi (esphome/tasmota) devices in my home because there is no Z-wave equivalent — four-channel relays, touch-enabled dimmers, and yes, lightbulbs, which the Z-wave market has collectively seemed to abandon. I try to buy Zooz sales or Ring refurbs to get prices comparable with Zigbee, so price is only an issue some of the time.

Zigbee, on the other hand, suffers from cross-vendor compatibility issues, as well as interference from both Wi-Fi and USB3. More importantly, Zigbee uses the same underlying protocol, and therefore the same hardware chips, as Thread — leaving developers of new products with a decision to support either a legacy protocol with known issues, or a trendy new protocol with native IP support. If Matter eventually “takes off” as the control layer for Thread and Wi-Fi, Zigbee products could start getting very hard to come by.

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Z-wave seems to move more and more into parts of the market where reliability and security are more important than cost, like alarm systems. Lights and other simple stuff work well enough with Zigbee, or even WiFi. Why should a manufacturer invest in the certification of a light bulb, if there are already well established products from Philips Hue, or cheap stuff from Ikea and Tuya?
It’s very frustrating to browse through the list of certified devices and find out, that most of them are no longer available. I have just moved into z-wave, because the TechniSat Shutter switches are the best drop in replacement for manual shutter switches here in Germany, but I can’t find replacements for other stuff, or the other stuff is not so important that I want to pay the z-wave price.

Another point to remember for Z-wave is that it’s not entirely targeted at consumers. There are a number of large companies (I don’t remember specifics, but ones similar to ADT) that use Z-wave based alarm systems. So even if there aren’t a ton of end-user consumers, there’s still a lot of Z-wave product going around as part of closed-off security systems.

I’m hoping some of the more knowledgeable folk around here can beef up my comment with more details (possibly @NathanCu?)

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There are a lot of plusses for organizational purchases for ZWave. Specifically not having the fractured spec. But then there’s also ZWave Long Range and S2 security on devices participating in a security system that allowed things like the ADT deal and Ring etc.

But IMHO single source on the SI ZWave chips is where it all got sideways. While it kept everything guaranteed to be compatible, when pandemic made availability an issue, the benefits of multiple suppliers became readily apparent - because up until that time I had expected ZWave ans Zigbee to pretty much keep pace with one another.

That has a huge turn in the market as now traditionally ZWave shops like Inovelli and Aeotec are now putting out Zigbee gear. (because do you really think they’re going to sit around for two years for the pipeline to fill back up? Uh. No). THAT in turn has some really interesting devices on the horizon such as the new inovelli blue (zigbee) MMwavve switch… That thing would have NEVER existed had the ZWave chip shortage never happened (Right out of Eric Inovelli’s mouth - they went into zigbee because they needed to sell stuff.) and it’s one of the cooler devices I’ve seen. That’s what attracts people. Good devices.

The ZWave alliance announced late last year they were opening the spec to a second fab for the silicon. That’s an awesome change and necessary. Unfortunately I think a couple years too late.

Dead. No. Not dead. It’ll stick around for quite a long time. I’d say at least ten more years if X10 is anything to judge by. MATTER probably has at least two before it’s ready for my mom (read:tech averse general public) to be able to use it reliably. When MATTER becomes as reliable as ZWave or Zigbee is NOW, the we’ll start talking about the death of a spec. Until then I need a few more Jasco wall switches. :wink:

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When I called Z-wave for dead, then I meant that once Matter support a device type, then you will see about a year later that no new devices of that type gets released for the Z-Wave protocol.
My guess is that in 3 years Matter will have matured and expanded the support to around the same device types as Z-Wave and then pretty much all consumer product development will stop.

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I think, Z-Wave is quite alive and kicking. Jut now, Z-Wave Long Range is about to enter the EU market.

True, there aren’t many different Z-Wave devices available compared to the Zigbee market.
But if you value dependability and compatibility,

I battle with my Zigbee sensors on a weekly basis while everything Z-Wave just works.

When it’s about replacing existing (EU 55mm) wall switches with smart ones, I found only two viable products, both Z-Wave:

There are the rather basic Technisat in-wall light and shutter switches, and there are the most versatile and excellent Matrix 55 switches by danish company Logic Group.

True, those are kinda pricey compared to Zigbee stuff, but in return you can expect them to work with out any trouble whatsoever.

My personal opinion on Matter:
I think it’s quite overrated.
While the general idea is sound, the implementation is not.
First off, it’s just another system adding to the already clogged 2.4 GHz band.
I’m not even talking about EM radiation effects on people.
Z-Wave’s sub Ghz has a lot more coverage, especially indoors.
Feature wise, Matter might one day be able to do what Z-Wave can do already.

My projection for the future is the market dividing into cheap, flat learning curve, low maintenance entry level tech for the masses (= Matter and whatever becomes of Zigbee) and high end, high price really useful stuff (= Z-Wave).

Buy cheap, buy twice.
Buy smart, buy Z-Wave. :wink:

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Does anyone know if Zooz or Inovelli are present in the HA community? I know back in my SmartThings days they would occasionally comment in the ST community.

If they are present here it would be very interesting to get their take on the Z-Wave market.

@Eric_Inovelli is a member here.

Feel free to read the Inovelli forums, where he and the company are candid (to the point of embarrassment at times) about the industry, supply chain, and issues of being a small manufacturer…

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Hey - happy to chime in. I actually get this question a lot. Let me come back to it later tonight or first thing in the morning. I just wanted to comment so I get notifications so I can remember to return.

Looking forward to the discussion!

Edit: Ok, my response below :slight_smile:


This is a complicated subject, and for the record, this is my opinion only. I do base a lot of our business strategy off of it, but it’s still just an opinion.

It’s my stance that Z-Wave is not, in fact, dying, but rather being positioned as more a B2B type protocol instead of a B2C (ie: DIY customer) protocol.

Z-Wave has always been a niche protocol that power users deploy in their houses. This is a small market, but still large enough for companies like us, Zooz, Jasco, HomeSeer, etc to get by and even innovate. But it is no where near as popular as WiFi that can be manufactured for 1/3 of what Z-Wave can and 1/2 of what Zigbee can.

It was around 2017 when I noticed that Z-Wave got the short end of the stick when Amazon chose Zigbee as their protocol of choice for their Echos. This was the start (in my opinion) of the transition from B2C to B2B for Z-Wave. Couple that with Silicon Labs purchase of Z-Wave in 2018 and that basically sealed my opinion. Now SiLabs had Z-Wave and Zigbee and from a marketing standpoint, it wouldn’t make sense to pit them against each other. It makes more sense to reach a different market. Use Zigbee (which was already positioned well in the B2C market via Philips Hue and Amazon) to target B2C/DIY and start to transition Z-Wave to target the B2B industry that cared about security (ie: Alarm.com which is the largest alarm company) with the exception being Ring which targets DIY.

So, what else is Z-Wave doing that would indicate they’re targeting the B2B sector? Well, they just added Long Range, which was a direct response to LoRa, which is very popular in the agricultural and MDU (multi-dwelling unit) space. The MDU space alone is such a huge segment and by having 100’s of 1000’s of units in a tight space makes it impossible for protocols such as WiFi and Zigbee (or any other 2.4 GHz protocol) to operate effectively (whereas Z-Wave runs on 908 MHz).

Ok, so in summary, the mainstream market is not the target of Z-Wave anymore (not since 2017/2018 in my opinion) as all the major voice assistants use WiFi, Thread, Zigbee (and now Matter) and while it may seem like Z-Wave is, “dying”, it’s simply because we (us power users) simply aren’t being targeted anymore.

This is great news for companies like Zooz, us, HomeSeer, etc that are able to put out great products to people who have outgrown (or will outgrow) the entry-point of Home Automation and want the benefits of Z-Wave (security, 908 MHz, interoperability, and a rich history of development that just works, etc) and don’t mind paying a premium to do so.

Happy to expand further on any of my points above – sorry if I was all over the place, it’s been a long day haha.

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That makes a lot of sense @Eric_Inovelli, thanks for your insights.

I do hope the Z-Wave players don’t abandon B2C completely.

Nabu Casa joining the Z-Wave alliance might help.