ZigBee is an open global standard for wireless technology designed to use low-power digital radio signals for personal area networks. We know, that’s a brain-full. But stay with us.
Appliances and devices that have ZigBee built in help people create Smart Homes. The term “Smart Home” is being used more than ever, but it isn’t simply jargon that tech heads throw around.
A “Smart Home’ is one which has devices that communicate with each other, sometimes seamlessly, other times not so. These devices such as your kettle, air-con, washing machine and even security system can “talk” to each other so that their functions become automated and thus saving you time.
The brand of smart device will determine what “language” they use to communicate. These languages, otherwise known as protocols include Wi-Fi, Zwave, Bluetooth and ZigBee.
A protocol is a set of rules the devices operate by, so they know how to behave. Each set of rules or “languages” is a bit different. So, ZigBee can talk to ZigBee, and Bluetooth can talk to Bluetooth, but ZigBee and Bluetooth can’t talk to each other and comprehend.
If you can imagine a room full of people speaking English. The conversation is easily understood, but if you add German and Italian into the conversation, suddenly things are very difficult to understand!
When learning multiple languages, your education costs quickly mount.
It is at the discretion of the manufacturer to decide how many of these protocols (or languages) a product will support or “speak”.
This is not to say you are locked into a brand if you decide on one protocol. There are many brands on the market that are multilingual, sharing protocols and supporting multiple types.
ZigBee is one protocol that is quickly becoming popular in the consumer market. The ZigBee communication protocol is perfect for your Smart Home as it runs off much less power than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
ZigBee has been designed to operate in a sleep mode until a signal is received, which means even a device that runs off a single AA battery can last for years.
Each product is known as a “node”, a little part of a bigger network. When you have more than one product in your home that speaks ZigBee you create a “Mesh network”. Sounds confusing, but don’t worry it’s not!
Mesh networking works like a daisy chain. It is a highly effective way to send signals a long way. When you have multiple ZigBee enabled devices in your home, they bounce signals off each other to increase the signal range. This means that knocking down walls of your house to get better signal strength is now a thing of the past, Hooray!
ZigBee sends signals on a very low frequency of 2.4 GHz, which means it won’t interfere with things like your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or phone networks. This low frequency also helps keep the power usage of products at a minimum.
ZigBee devices are controlled by a “home base”. This is a hub that connects to your home Wi-Fi, or in the case of carbonTRACK, WiFi and a 3G sim (just like a mobile phone!) inside of the hub. This links to your smart phone so you can control your devices from an app. With a hub that speaks ZigBee in your Smart Home, you can connect and contral to 64,000 devices!
carbonTRACK speaks ZigBee, we design and build ZigBee hubs and products so you can create your own Smart Home.