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Zigbee 101

Everything you need to know on your devices’ language

Do you have smart devices at home? Well just like you, they communicate. And chances are they’re speaking Zigbee, a widely used wireless communication protocol.


Why devices communicate?

Smart devices must use a wireless communication protocol to receive the commands we send them when using an app or management platform. They also communicate to send information to the gateway and to your app, such as when they transmit information about electricity usage to generate consumption reports like those found in Neviweb, the management platform designed by Sinopé Technologies.

 

The benefits of Zigbee

  • Low energy consumption
    Zigbee uses little energy to communicate between smart devices, which is especially important when you want to optimize the energy consumption of devices or when you use battery-powered products.

 

  • Extensive network
    The communication protocol uses a network architecture called meshing. In a meshing architecture, every device is a repeater and transmits de signal sent by the gateway. As long as a device remains connected and within reach of another device, it can communicate with the gateway. This makes it possible to extend the network and to have smart devices as far as in the backyard!

 

  • Dynamic communication
    No matter the order in which your smart devices are installed, they will always find the best communication path. This means that even if you remove a thermostat, or if it stops working, communication will still be optimal. The communication path will be automatically modified.

 

  • Compatibility and interoperability
    Since Zigbee is a standard communication protocol, it is possible to connect and use products from multiple manufacturers in the same smart home without using an additional gateway. This means that even if you have two products from different brands, they should be able to work together if they use the same communication protocol. That said, this information needs to be nuanced: for two products from different brands to work together, the manufacturers also need to internally validate the compatibility and «accept» the device so that indeed all the devices can interact on the same network.

 

Are there other communication protocols?

There are other smart home communication protocols.

Wi-Fi is interesting because it doesn’t require a gateway since the communication goes directly through the router. On the other hand, the communication range can be limited and problematic in a large house or if you want to install smart devices in the backyard (to control outdoor lighting or the pool, for example). Each device must be within the router’s range. Otherwise, a repeater must be installed. Moreover, connecting a large number of smart products to the domestic network is generally not recommended for performance and stability.

The Z-Wave protocol has similar benefits to Zigbee, although it uses a different frequency band. However, the penetration rate of this communication protocol is lower, whether in the commercial or industrial market, as opposed to the Zigbee protocol that has a strong presence in both segments.

 

Zigbee, supported by industry leaders

Recommended  by leading figures in the smart home industry like Amazon, SmartThings, Huawei and Signify, the Zigbee communication protocol has a substantial capital of sympathy and an aura of success predicting the best for the Zigbee Alliance.

 

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