Z-Wave vs ZigBee vs WiFi

This is another one of those questions that gets asked all the time.  What are the pros and cons of these various technologies and which is best?  Well first of all there isn’t a “best” for everyone nor is there a reason you have to ONLY stick with one throughout your house.  Many times a mixing of protocols is best.  In this post I’m going to attempt to break down the pros/cons of each one to help better educate your buying decisions.

These are going to be generic, it’s possible a specific product may not quite slot into this list.  My hope is that you can use it as a starting point though.  Alright so let’s break things down and take a look at the good and bad of each protocol!



  • Cheap
  • Easy to deploy
  • No hub needed


  • Typically 2.4GHz only
  • Typically proprietary (only works with their app)
  • Added devices to WiFi can impact entire network
  • Prone to interference
  • Can be very insecure/phone home
  • Higher power requirements



  • Operate in largely un-used frequency band
  • Can mesh together up to 4 hops
  • Largely standardized
  • No direct Internet connectivity
  • Low power requirements


  • More expensive
  • Requires a hub



  • Relatively cheap (usually between Z-Wave and WiFi)
  • Can mesh together up to 10 hops (40 for PRO)
  • Low power requirements
  • No direct Internet connectivity


  • Operates in a very congested frequency (2.4GHz)
  • Less standardized
  • Requires a hub
  • Limited products such as switches

At the end of the day there isn’t a right solution for everything.  However both Z-Wave and ZigBee offer a lot of benefit over WiFi.  And if you choose to go with a mesh network setup you should *probably* pick one.  Since it meshes together every node you add improves the network reliability.

If you have any opinions feel free to post them in the comments!

Happy Automating!


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