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Learn About Z-Wave and Mesh Networks

When setting up your Ring Alarm or Ring Alarm Pro system, it's important to understand how your devices communicate with one another so that your Alarm components can use the strongest signal possible. 

What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave is a wireless communication protocol that your Ring Alarm devices use to speak to the Ring Alarm or Ring Alarm Pro Base Station. 

What frequencies does Z-Wave use in the United States? Is it different from wifi?

Yes: Z-Wave uses 908.4Mhz, 916Mhz while wifi uses 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. Learn more information about Z-Wave and its protocols.

Traditional "hub and spoke" networks include one central hub or access point in which all devices are connected. You are likely familiar with this network type already, an example is if you have 1 router (hub) and your wireless devices (spokes) connected directly to that router. This is the most common network in most homes.

How does Z-Wave work?

In contrast, Z-Wave devices create what is called a mesh network. Unlike a traditional "hub and spoke" network where each device only communicates with a central hub (access point), Z-Wave devices can communicate with each other as well. That means that a network of Z-Wave devices will create a net-like "mesh" that has a number of advantages over “hub-and-spoke” networks, such as:

  • Z-Wave networks usually have a greater range than traditional hub-and-spoke arrangements. An Alarm or Alarm Pro Base Station has a range of about 250 feet on an unobstructed path.
  • Because devices can communicate with each other over multiple paths, their range can be extended even further.
  • Mesh Networks are more robust than hub-and-spoke arrangements because signals can be re-routed if one of the connections is lost.

When setting up a Z-Wave mesh network, the devices that act as extenders or "nodes" of the mesh are only those that plug into a wall. Battery-operated devices do not generate enough power to act as a mesh node. In the case of the basic devices that come with your Alarm system, it means that your Ring Alarm or Ring Alarm Pro Base Station and Range Extenders will act as mesh “nodes” while your window/door sensors won't extend the Z-Wave signal.

Compatibility and distance

Another consideration when setting up a Z-Wave mesh network is that all Z-Wave devices are compatible with one another and that more repeating nodes may strengthen your network. If you're having a problem with a device reaching your Alarm or Alarm Pro Base Station, you can always use a Z-Wave range extender plugged in between the device and the Alarm or Alarm Pro Base Station to help it communicate.

Remember, when it comes to your mesh network, the more devices you have connected, the stronger your network becomes.

Read our Network Guide to Wireless Range and Interference.

Last updated 7 months ago