Z-Wave vs. Zigbee Breakdown – A Price Comparison

Z-Wave and Zigbee have many differences, but which one would end up costing you cheaper? Are Zigbee products cheaper than their Z-Wave counterparts? Let’s check with a detailed price comparison. 

Recently, we’ve been doing some inventory and we found that our love for Z-Wave products is quite obvious. (Heck, it’s even right there in the menu options.) Yet, striving to be an honest outlet for everything smart home, we just can’t ignore Z-Wave’s biggest competitor. ZigBee, much like Z-Wave is a low-power wireless communication protocol that allows for better smart device security and brings in better mesh capabilities compared to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. And while it runs at the crowded 2.4GHz band (and arguably has some issues with certification and interoperability), the fact of the matter is that at a consumer level there aren’t as many differences between both protocols and the primary choice lies with personal preferences.

That said, Z-Wave still holds some ground and benefits over ZigBee overall, especially in terms of reliability. Yet, we came to wonder. Z-Wave is held by a private company and has a stricter certification process. ZigBee is open-source. Wouldn’t that mean that ZigBee devices are overall cheaper? Well, that’s what we are here to find out in this Z-Wave vs. Zigbee Breakdown. We are here to compare the price.

The Price Breakdown Overview (How will we do it?)

To do so, and to simulate a more applicable real-life scenario we are going to search for devices in multiple categories in relation to the household. We are primarily targeting the most commonly used device types in a smart home environment and will focus on a general consumer level that might not necessarily reflect a true smart home enthusiast’s vision. In addition, we are only going for the most affordable products on the market, which might not necessarily be the case in real life.

The Marketplace of Choice

For the marketplace of choice we went with Amazon. The obvious reason for this is because we’ll get a small high five when you decide to support us by purchasing a product from the marketplace. (Helping us keep this operation running, for which, we thank you!) But also because Amazon is by far the biggest online marketplace, which usually has the lowest market prices available, plus the product prices are pretty much retained throughout a more worldwide spectrum. Of course, if you believe there’s a better and more proper option for price comparsion, we’ll love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

NOTE TO EVERY READER: If you find ANY product in ANY specific category that IS CHEAPER than the one FEATURED, whether on AMAZON or on WHATEVER MARKETPLACE/ONLINE STORE you have managed to find it, be sure to let us know in the comments section below. 

We want this Z-Wave vs. Zigbee price comparison to be as honest and as properly done as possible. 

Of course, another reason for the marketplace of choice being Amazon is the fact that it’s a relatively easy way for us to categorize, search and arrange products by price. Yet, that should also be quite obvious.

We’ll also try to include any additional costs that might incur when creating a mesh network with each protocol, such as the added need for repeaters for ZigBee, but this would be done at the very end of the piece as an additional section.

Also note that, in most cases, you will end up buying products that support both protocols. Plus, products from well-respected brands and manufacturers don’t have that big of a difference in terms of price in terms of the wireless and communication protocols used and implemented in a device. 

The Price Categories

The price categories we have chosen are the following. Each respective category, as aforementioned, will be represented by a product that fits the general description of what a product in each category should be.

  • Smart Thermostat
  • Smart Plug
  • Smart Hub
  • Signal Repeater
  • Smart Button (or Doorbell)
  • Smart Security Camera
  • Smart Light Bulb

We won’t indulge into explaining specifics for each product, as it should also be quite clear that this is not a one and true price comparison, but rather just a breakdown of any possible price differences between both protocols, IF there are actually any. That said, without further adieu, let’s get started with our research.

Note: Even though our criteria isn’t as strictly defined, the products should be not be bound by any third-party system. Note that there are less expensive options on the market, even at the time of writing, but they are usually bound by a particular ecosystem outside of the wireless protocol. We also won’t note price differences below five US dollars.

The Z-Wave vs. Zigbee Price Comparsion

To do this, as explained, we’ll try and find the most affordable smart products that advertise themselves as compatible and have mostly positive customer feedback in terms of wireless protocol operation and compatibility. We’ll devise the price comparison with two products in each category, for each specific selected product and will then proceed to do a complete comparison in the final paragraph of this piece. Note that we won’t indulge into too much information about the products and their performance itself, even if we have had the chance to review that specific product.

Note: We will be working with the official price of the product listed on Amazon at the time of writing and we won’t be looking into any discounts the product might have. The results might have changed at the time when you are reading the article. 

Smart Thermostat

Last update on 2018-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

At the time of writing, this is the most affordable thermostat. It works great with Z-Wave and granted that the ‘Zigbee’ part is an actual plug that comes as an addition to the device. Nevertheless, it is sold as a combo and supports Zigbee, hence why here there is no winner in terms of pricing difference.

Smart Plug

Last update on 2018-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The smart plug comparison is slightly different. We can mark our first difference in the price. Even though it is only around $10, the most affordable Z-Wave plug is still 50% more expensive compared to its ZigBee counterpart.

Smart Hub

Preview Product Price
Wink Connected Home Hub Wink Connected Home Hub from $69.16

Last update on 2018-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When it comes to both a Z-Wave hub and a Zigbee hub, you are pretty much able to purchase one hub that works with both protocols and more for your best convenience. Even though we will suggest taking a look at the newest Z-Wave and Zigbee hubs on the market, the Wink Connected Home Hub version 1 is still the most affordable one at the time of writing.

Signal Repeater

Last update on 2018-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

We know that the plug is not exactly a dedicated signal repeater, yet it acts as one and that works for us. There is no real noticable price difference at the time of writing.

Smart Button (or Doorbell)

Last update on 2018-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The button choices for Zigbee and Z-Wave point us to the second price difference on our list. In this case, the difference at the time of writing is around $20 in favor of Zigbee.

Smart Security Camera

Last update on 2018-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

At around $15 difference in favor of Z-Wave, these are the most affordable two choices for a smart home camera. Yet, it should be noted that the Z-Wave camera requires a $9.99 subscription and is bound by the ecosystem of Nexia Home. Yet, it was the best option we were able to find for a dedicated Z-Wave certified camera. Due to the circumstances with this choice, we’ll calculate the difference as if there were none.

Smart Light Bulb

Last update on 2018-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When it comes to the best smart lighting solutions on the market it is best that you stick to a particular lighting ecosystem and not care as much about the protocol. Yet, it is pretty clear that when it comes to single light bulbs, there is not true difference in this Zigbee and Z-Wave price comparison.

The Conculsion (Which is more affordable: Zigbee or Z-Wave)?

If you are on a really tight budget and are going only for the most affordable products, Zigbee might save you a couple of bucks. Nevertheless, as noted there is no true noticeable price difference between products supporting each of the two protocols.

At the end of the day, we weren’t sure what to expect in terms of the results of our Z-Wave and Zigbee price comparison, yet in a way we are happy to see that even though the smart home market is not as competitive as some other tech markets, there is still enough competition to even out the prices of products for the two most popular wireless protocols in the industry.

About Author

With a degree in programming, Ivan loves anything that can engage his thinking. He explores topics ranging from particle physics to religious debates. In his free time, he likes to think about what tech will be in the future.

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