Z-Wave Series: Concrete and Brick Buildings

Earlier this year, Frostdale decided to join the Z-Wave Alliance (and was the first manufacturer in South Korea to do so!) in order to make our products compatible with the low power, low cost wireless platform. But despite Z-Wave’s rapid success as a standard for home networking solutions, consumers and integrators alike still have plenty of questions. This post will be the first in a series about Z-Wave and its applications, and was inspired by a question we received from an integrator overseas.

In an email received yesterday, our integrator friend mentioned that in his home country most buildings are constructed with concrete walls and wondered whether the wireless option would be rendered obsolete. While it is true that concrete walls and other obstacles do limit the range of wireless communications, Z-Wave can certainly still be an effective solution.

Network Stability

For a strong and stable network, we don’t recommend placing devices more than about 30 meters apart in any installation. We also suggest accounting for standard obstacles such as walls or large appliances by reducing that number by roughly 30 percent for each obstruction. For concrete walls that number inches up to about 40 percent, but the signal still remains viable. In fact, Z-Wave has a reach of about six meters (20 feet) even with three concrete walls in the way.

Network Strength

As most of our readers probably already know, Z-Wave relies on a mesh networking topology. This means that each device can function as an independent router, and that the network can be extended by placing devices within range of one another irrespective of where the signal originates. In other words, the control panel might be in the family office, too far from the switch in the upstairs bedroom, but by placing a device somewhere in between, the network remains sound. So, like other mesh networks, those in concrete buildings become more durable and functional as devices are added to the system.

Conclusion

Building standards vary quite a bit around the world, and the type of structure can certainly affect the feasibility of different home networking solutions. However, Z-Wave and other wireless automation solutions can be effectively deployed in places where concrete or brick interior walls are the norm, but might require a few rough measurements beforehand. As one of the most cost-effective solutions for home automation and energy management, that extra bit of effort should quickly pay for itself in added convenience or reduced utility costs.

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