Z-Wave or Zigbee


New Member
It seems like one big advantage of so-called mesh networks like Zigbee and Z-Wave is that there does not have to be any wiring to the switch as long as the device being controlled contains the appropriate circuitry.

IOW, if I installed a dozen Zigbee or Z-Wave can lights in a room, then the switch could just be stuck on the wall with double-sided tape. It seems like this would save a great deal of money in new construction.

If so, why can't I find Zibee/Z-Wave can lights (or whatever)?

Am I missing something?
I doubt anyone would ever make them.

Would you like to add about $50.00 to every can light to make them Zwave or Zigbee?

What if the network had trouble and you couldn't use your lights?

It would't save any money and actually cost alot more as wire is really cheap compared to something being Zwave/Zigbee enabled...Especially new construction.
They will come.

As Brian said, would you pay a $50 premium for a smart can light? Probably not. But sometime in the (hopefully near) future, that premium will be $5, and may be worth it. ZenSys has recently released a $3 ZWave chip, and they have a road map to a $1 chip. When they get to $1, they will have the necessary volume. When they have the necessary volume, they will get to $1. It takes time.

ZigBee is a lot newer than ZWave, and so it will also take awhile. The price may drop quickly than ZWave because 1) there is a lot of competition for ZigBee chips from really big semiconductor manufacturers, and 2) the industrial market will produce the volumes needed to drive down the prices. But every ZigBee device needs to be tested and certified before it can come on the market, and that has slowed (stalled?) the release of products.

But I do believe the "Switch in every light" will happen. I expect to see ZWave and ZigBee enabled CF-Bulbs also.
Enocean has shown off a "motion-powered" portable light switch which I believe conforms to at least part of a 802.15.4 or Zigbee stack. And I _believe_ I've heard that manufacturers in the Z-Wave world will be making stick-on battery-operated light switches at some point. I think that will be cool.

If the chips and surrounding hardware get inexpensive enough, one day people will just start embedding wireless chips in the lamps (and like Rocco said, in long-life light bulbs).

BrainD, regarding cost, I would bet it currently costs more than $50 to wire a switch -- even more for 3 and 4 way switches (same light, more switches).

1. Electrician to run the wire and wire the switch (30-45 minutes)
2. Extra drywall labor cost to cut out for the box
3. Labor to tape for painting.
4. Double or triple the cost for three-way or four-way switches

The cost of the wire is negligible and the cost a standard box and switch would be less than the cost of the Zigbee switch, so there would be some offset. A 3,000 SF custom house may have 60 - 80 switches.

Now consider the convenience of moving in and deciding where you want your switches after the fact and then also being able to change them around based on the way you use your house.
It seems to me that, as the number of nodes in the network goes up higher and higher, that Zigbee's much higher speed would become more and more and of an advantage, as long as the cost could be gotten semi-competitive.
A little more on the cost issue:

This is from UC Berkeley Center for the Built Environment:

(I think he is talking about commercial buildings)

"According to CBE research specialist Charles Huizenga, the cost of installing today's wired switches is approximately $150 to $200 per switch. “Improvements in wireless technology will make our system cost effective for many applications. We estimate that within a few years, the installed cost of our wireless devices could be as low as $25 per device,†he said."
A 3,000 SF custom house may have 60 - 80 switches.
That sounds like a _very_ custom house to me. Mine is just a little less than 3000 feet and I only have around 20-30 switches that would need 'automating' for all the lighting, etc.
2. Extra drywall labor cost to cut out for the box
3. Labor to tape for painting.

When I was doing construction I've never heard anyone charging per box when dry walling. Maybe it's just around here or maybe it's just another way of getting a few dollars. Although when I roofed there was a charge for the actuall vents but not a extra charge to for the extra cutting around it. The time was considered minimal and was quote was based mainly on square footage and pitch.

You’re still going to have to wire to the lights itself.

What about issues where your lights don't work because of a network failure?

This is hard enough to keep a good WAF/GAF now if the remote doesn't work. I would hate to tell her well you can't use the lights until the repair man (me in this cases) fixes it. Hopefully both this protocols will mature and issues fixed as there still in the early stages.

It does have its places but I sure wouldn't build a new construction house like you referred to based on this premise. I really like the idea of a X10 stick a switch in Zwave (what I use personally) to add a switch but it would really be bad if the battery died and the lights wouldn’t work.

Commercial construction is a bit different then most homes. First some are union members and make much more then others (again speaking locally). Commercial construction electrical wires have to be covered with metal conduit.
It's not that the drywall sub charges per cutout; however, when doing a takeoff from a set of plans, the contractor is naturally going to charge based on the time he estimates it will take to do the job. If he knows there will not be any cut-outs for switches, his price should be lower (for both drywall and painting).

All this is really missing the point. It's a given that installing a switch is more expensive than not installing a switch. Maybe it's $5 more; maybe it's $100 more. The real question is whether there is a net benefit (real or perceived) to replacing fixed, in-wall switches with portable switches that can be stuck on the wall wherever the homeowner desires (and moved around, added, removed, etc.).

Regarding the number of switches in a house, every house will be different. Really, the total number of switches is irrelevant. If it makes sense for one switch, it would make sense for any number of switches.

As for battery life, a battery wouldn't be required for the Zigbee circuitry in the can light (there is electricity at the light). Batteries for the Zigbee switches are estimated to last 10 years. That's one of the advantages of mesh networks.