The Alliance today detailed a new specification intended to accommodate setups with thousands of devices in environments stretching hundreds of feet. The Alliance says that (), which supports things like door locks, garage door sensors, thermostats, and smart lightbulbs, is backward-compatible with both existing Z-Wave networks and previously installed Z-Wave devices.

Z-Wave, which was born out of Danish company Zensys and came to the U.S. in 2000, is a wireless mesh protocol for , multi-unit, and hospitality use cases. It’s popular — there are an estimated 100 million Z-Wave devices installed worldwide — but ensuring complete home, building, or yard coverage historically required a repeater (or several).

Z-Wave LR eliminates this need with up to four times greater range than regular Z-Wave signals. Z-Wave LR boasts a range of 400 meters and bumps the number of supported devices to 2,000 on a single network, up from the previous limit of 232, while still operating on such low power that some sensors will last 10 years on a coin cell battery.

In spite of the improvements, Z-Wave LR, which operates on the 800-900MHz radio frequency range, still falls short of competing protocols, including Zigbee and the forthcoming Amazon Sidewalk. The 2.4GHz Zigbee supports up to 65,000 nodes at a range of up to 100 meters, while the 900MHz Sidewalk is reportedly capable of sending data up to a mile away.

But Z-Wave has the advantage of broad vendor support. The Z-Wave Alliance has over 700 members, and an estimated 3,000 Z-Wave-enabled devices are available on the market.

The Z-Wave Alliance says the Z-Wave LR specification will be managed and certified under the Z-Wave Plus program and that technical details will be highlighted in a session at Silicon Labs’ virtual conference this week. Z-Wave Plus, which launched in 2004, included features like increased range, extended battery life, over-the-air updates, and additional radio frequency channels.

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