Z-wave vs Zigbee Inovelli Sales and Production

Z-Wave sales numbers present a chicken-and-egg dilemma for me. I can’t purchase a Z-Wave fan switch for example because it’s not manufactured due to low sales, but the sales remain low because the product isn’t available. So, what’s the solution? Should I opt for Zigbee/Thread or, worst-case scenario, explore alternative sources? As a company, I understand the necessity of selling products to sustain operations and the strategic allocation of resources in R&D. That’s why I appreciate and support the idea of prioritizing Zigbee/Thread over Z-Wave. However, completely writing off Z-Wave is disheartening for me. It leaves many Z-Wave enthusiasts like myself in a difficult position, wondering what our next steps should be.

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Exactly my thoughts!

You and me both my friend.

I understand the dilemma, trust me, I really do and if you guys have some ideas, I’m willing to work with you all as I know Z-Wave has it’s place.

We aren’t giving up on Z-Wave, in fact, we have a mmWave and a Button Controller in the works that is Z-Wave.

But for the more nice products, Fan Switch and Fan/Light Canopy Module, these are next to impossible to produce for us in Z-Wave because the numbers just aren’t there.

To put it in perspective, even our Zigbee numbers are low on those devices (bc there’s only so many fans in people’s houses). We’ve only produced two batches of the fan switch in Zigbee and are just starting to produce the second one. We even ordered the minimum quantity for those devices which is 3k units (so 6k total). We produced the fan switch just over a year ago.

The Fan/Light Canopy Module is suffering low sales now too. My theory is that it’s bc no one knows what it does except for people who ordered the LZW36, but that’s a marketing problem for me to handle, not a demand problem.

Anyway, my point is, we have to be strategic in where we spend our money. If we’re not getting the numbers we want in Zigbee, which outsells Z-Wave 4-1 at this point (comparing the 2-1/Dimmer switches), that would mean it would take a year and a half to sell through 3k units, which is not great and idk if the manufacturer would even consider those volumes.

Now, I could make the argument that the R&D costs are lower on Z-Wave since we wouldn’t have to pay for ETL/UL, tooling costs, etc (since it’s already covered by the Zigbee variant) and that does help. But still, our break even would be more around 1,000 or so units or a years worth of selling (if all goes to plan, which it never does).

This is my recommendation. I was a Z-Wave fan for a long time (it’s where we started) and I appreciate the technology. However, and this is my opinion, I know there will be alternative opinions, which is fine - Z-Wave is such a niche protocol that pigeon holed itself by not trying to partner with any of the big companies (Amazon, Google, Apple, etc).

Idk if this was laziness, or a strategic decision on their part, but it started back when they didn’t even try to partner with Amazon (I think it was back in 2017/2018) and Zigbee won the contract with their Echos. Regardless, it wasn’t a great decision and it’s basically a technology that only power users use.

Zigbee has caught up to Z-Wave in terms of what it can do and I anticipate Thread/Matter to do the same thing. In fact, our Blue Series has everything the Red Series has and works with more hubs. Sure, there is Long Range, the fact that Z-Wave runs on a different band than WiFi and has better security, but again, that is only something power users and B2B customers care about (in my opinion and being in the industry for 8ish years).

We aren’t writing off Z-Wave. As mentioned, we have a mmWave switch in the works as well as a Button Controller that we just got alpha samples of that will be Z-Wave. We also have the 2-1/Dimmer switch. The only variants we don’t have available in Z-Wave is the Fan and Fan/Light Switches.

For future products, we’ve made the decision to lead with Zigbee (and now Thread/Matter) because those are bigger sellers for us and help us fund more projects faster (be it new innovation or Z-Wave variants).

Thread/Matter has surprised me. The 2-1/Dimmer has already almost caught up to the Zigbee version of the switch. I realize it’s pre-sale so there may be more hype around it, but the other thing Thread/Matter allows us to do is target Apple and Google users which Zigbee/Z-Wave do not.

Ok, now that you have a background and understand where we are coming from, let’s think of some solutions.

The Fan and Fan/Light Canopy are the only ones not supported by Z-Wave right now, so are these the ones you are wanting to develop? If so, let me do some break even analysis(es?) and maybe we can do a crowdfund on our website.

We will still have to order the minimum amount, but I guess if everything is paid for and we break-even, then the extra inventory will just be a bonus.

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I agree that it was a mistake on the part of the Z-Wave alliance; hopefully, they’ve realized their error. Even I wonder why major companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google are favoring Thread over Z-Wave.

Thread/Matter has surprised me as well. Despite initial hesitations due to Zigbee devices not always performing as expected, my experience with Thread-based devices, like 20 light bulbs, has been positive. Perhaps my roadmap will shift towards Thread. The certification requirement for Thread devices is a positive aspect, akin to what I appreciate about Z-Wave - they work out of the box.

The lack of Matter support for Z-Wave/Zigbee seems like a major long-term oversight. Although Z-Wave plans to release a ZWave-to-Matter bridge, it’s yet to be seen. Matter’s advantage lies in relieving device makers of control panel concerns.

Considering the current scenario, crowdfunding for the minimum amount needed seems prudent. While I may be in the minority backing Z-Wave, developments like Home Assistant’s ZWave stick and ZWaveJS certification offer hope.

Let’s say the crowdfunding project requires $50,000 to break even. I believe there are enough Z-Wave enthusiasts to make it happen. However, if I’m mistaken, I’m willing to accept that I’ve backed the wrong standard.

Knowing the background, I’d love to see all future projects with a Z-Wave version. However, if crowdfunding falls short, it’s a clear signal that people are voting with their wallets. I’m ready to support to the best of my abilities, but it requires collective action from the Z-Wave community to make our case to the industry and device makers that Z-Wave isn’t obsolete.

I was a z-wave guy and rarely had issues, although I only had maybe 20 devices in my old house.

In my new house, I decided to go with Zigbee. In particular, your 2-1’s along with Hue bulbs and downlight retrofits. The primary factor in this decision was the ability to bind the switches directly to the lights (in particular the Hue downlights) so the switches always “just work” regardless of the state of the hub.

I am coming to regret this decision. Some days I feel like Zigbee is the spawn of Satan. I have 45 or so 2-1’s and fan switches, and about 35 Hue bulbs and downlights of various types. No old or sketchy Zigbee devices to gum things up. Yet, things work ok about 90% of the time; randomly stuff just doesn’t work for no obvious reason, and it’s always something different, rarely the same device. I’ve gotten to the point that I’m toying with the idea of ripping out all the Zigbee 2-1’s that aren’t bound to Hue lights and replacing them with Z-wave versions.

Where am I going with this? Well, I personally think mesh networks suck and Z-Wave LR solves that problem nicely. Hubitat now supports Zwave LR, and no doubt other hubs do or will soon. Perhaps if you prominently feature the fact that (with the proper hub) your Zwave devices no longer have to deal with mesh issues, your sales might increase. If I had a dollar for every conversation about mesh problems (with either z-protocol) I’d be wealthy man.

Given the choice between Zigbee or Zwave LR, I can’t see why anyone would choose Zigbee unless the device needed to participate in a Zigbee group.

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I only heard of Inovelli because of the fan canopy module during my research to try and find a solution for the house I just moved into where the switch controls both and there isn’t a wire for the fan.

I actually wanted the Z-Wave version, and I’m still not ordering. But I don’t know how long I can wait. Coming out with the Blue devices first seems to give them an advantage to anyone impatient, that’s for sure.

But I see in trips to stores older Z-Wave devices on clearance. There just seems to be confusion on them, and the fact there are newer and better series makes each retail outlet question if they want to buy the next version and then sigh as they have to put the older 500-700 series on clearance. ZigBee has that advantage in terms of stability among versions.

But I really respect Z-Wave going open source and 900 Mhz is a big appeal to me. I’ve no interest in adding more noise to my 2.4 GHz environment.

I will say, Leviton has been a good supporter, but even they are pushing their WiFi devices. They do, however, have a good selection that would meet my needs. They even have an add-on switch WITH an LED on it, which is enticing. (Will it work with Inovelli devices?).

That would be awesome, but now I have to wait longer before I buy anything in my new house :smiley: It would be great to go all Inovelli and missing the fan modules was my biggest blocker. Second is lack of LED on the add-on switches… :wink:

Well that’s an easy one. Those three founded Matter in 2019 with the Zigbee alliance. Also anyone who made a WiFi smart device will have a huge interest in Matter since they wouldn’t have to use some third party service like Tuya or write their own. Z-Wave, if I am remembering correctly, would only be addressable by Matter at the gateway level.

This is a good interview/video with the Executive Director of the Z-Wave alliance and it gives me good hope on the protocol.

I’ve had zWave (54 devices) for nearly 10 years now and can say it is rock solid. I’m building a new house and chose to use Thread/Matter 2-1 switches… I pray that it works out and really looking forward to more thread/matter devices. (electrical goes in around August).

As for fan modules. I’ve recently started researching which fans I will put in the new house. This market is getting confusing but it appears bond may end up being the strong-hold. The movement to DC fans and integrated LEDs means the traditional canopy and wall 3-speed A/C speed controllers won’t work well. (I’m not fully versed so don’t slam me if I have some of that wrong…lol)
As it stands now, I am looking to make sure all of my fans are bond controlled (Minka Aire) or Modern Forms.

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Exactly. Unfortunately, I don’t have the option to “switch to Zigbee”, since my alarm panel (which is also my hub) only supports Z-Wave, so I’m stuck with needing the light/fan controller combo (LZW36?) which seems to no longer be made.

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Split to a new topic, as this is/was a Z-wave vs Zigbee discussion in the Thread project discussion.

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I’d encourage switching hubs away from the alarm panel. Most (all?) don’t have the custom driver support for fancier switches likes Inovelli’s to work completely.

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This would be awesome. I love my red switches, and I’m sticking with dumb fan switches until a z-wave option is available. I’d be all over a crowdfunding option.

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I’ve been a primarily ZWave user as well, but fairly recently started adding Zigbee devices to my setup (all in Home Assistant). I have about 10 or so now, vs 40 for ZWave. Thus far I’d say I’m glad I started out with and mainly have ZWave. I’ve had a couple weird hiccups already with Zigbee:

  • at one point, a set of smart plugs that I had associated with a 2-1 just decided to stop working
  • my controller had a weird issue where it stopped working due to a channel mismatch. I had to manually edit the config file to fix it

I also much prefer how managing ZWave devices, config/network works.

This helps reinforce my decision to stay with Z-Wave. I was hesitant and second guessing, but I really feel it’s better.

Maybe using Z-Wave as the guinea pig platform for new devices would help bolster sales. Once the bugs are ironed out then it can be released to the masses in ZigBee. And with any luck, the early adopters can decide if they want to buy the Z-Wave one first. I know from a business perspective for Inovelli this is risky because ZigBee volume is higher so they see a quicker ROI, but just a thought.

I think this is opposite from what they are actually doing. There are a lot of costs that go into R&D and tooling and manufacturing. If they do zigbee first, they can sell a large number and are much more likely to recoup costs sooner. Then it is an incremental cost to put out a zwave version if the market will support it. Zigbee really outsells zwave, so putting in a ton of investment and trying Zwave first doesn’t make sense from the business end of things.

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I’m really surprised by this. I have same setup and my network works near flawless. What coordinator are you using?

Hubitat. C8-Pro.