Mal Lansell has just released his xPLZwave software which adds full Z-Wave support to xPL…

“xPL now includes support for Z-Wave RF devices. based on the Z-Wave SDK from ControlThink, the xPLZwave service for Windows 2000, XP, MCE and Vista provides full control and status reporting of activity in a Z-Wave network.

Operating in conjunction with other xPL applications, it is now possible to fully integrate Z-Wave devices into a home automation system. xPLZWave also includes a configuration application providing full management of a Z-Wave network, with support for inclusion and exclusion of devices and the editing of groups and device parameters.

Z-Wave is an increasingly popular short-range wireless protocol aimed at the home control market. The system is similar in cost X10, but is far more responsive and reliable, with the ability to report back the current status of devices, and to specify exact brightness levels for lamps. Being wireless, it shares X10’s advantage in not requiring expensive retro-fitting in existing houses.

Z-Wave devices form a “mesh network”, where each device relays messages on to its neighbours, thus allowing the network to cover an entire home while consuming a minimum amount of power. The mesh approach means that messages can be automatically rerouted if a device should fail.

A Z-Wave network does not require a PC to operate. devices are organised into groups, so that switches and lamps can control one another directly. To automate the system, or add custom behaviours, a PC Z-Wave controller and software such as xPL will be required.

Unfortunately, ZenSys (the inventors of Z-Wave) are being very short sighted and do not provide support for open-source development. The manufacturers of the various PC Z-Wave controllers also do not provide details of their protocols. This means that providing free software to control Z-Wave devices is currently not possible. There is a reasonably priced alternative. ControlThink have created a Z-Wave SDK that is sold for under $70. This is designed primarily to work with the Intermatic USB Z-Wave Stick (which is included with the SDK for us customers), but it also supports other controllers such as the HomePro USB Z-Wave interface”

More information here:

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