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Home Automation

Which Version of AXIS Gear is Right For You?

9th November 2016

If you’re considering AXIS Gear to upgrade your home, you have two versions to choose from. The first is to simply add Gear to your window shades to automate them. The second is to add Gear to your home automation system or integrate it with your other Smart Home devices. If you just want to automate your shades or have an understanding of the Smart Home, the next paragraph is all you need to get started. If you’re looking to dive into the wonders of the Smart Home and home automation for the first time, the rest of this article has you covered.

The Basics

If you simply want to automate your shades using the on-device controls of Gear and your mobile devices to control and set schedules: you simply need the Bluetooth Version of AXIS Gear. Via Bluetooth, Gear can communicate with all other Gear units in your home and with your mobile devices for control, scheduling, and automation. It is as simple as that.

If you’re looking to integrate Gear with your other Smart Home devices, what you want is either the ZigBee Version or Z-Wave Version of AXIS Gear. Which one do you need? It’s simple! If the other Smart Home devices you own (or hope to own in the future) use ZigBee then you want the ZigBee Version. If those devices use Z-Wave, then the Z-Wave Version is for you. If your Smart Home hub or devices use both, then either will do, but you may want to have a look into what future products you want to own will use and make your decision based off that.

If you’re looking to get into Smart Home automation for the first time and are unsure which version is for you, we break it down in the following sections.

Why Not Wi-Fi?

The brain that typically controls devices either speaks the language of ZigBee or Z-Wave. These are the most popular wireless communication technologies available today for the smart home. Each offers similar features and have some slight differences in benefits, drawbacks, and communities.

The reason that standard Wi-Fi is uncommon is due to the fact that it consumes a heck of a lot of power. Although there are some cool benefits, such as being able to monitor and control devices while away from home, the power consumption of Wi-Fi is too great.

Bluetooth is better at conserving power but has a limited signal range and a maximum amount of devices. This simply doesn’t work when you are looking to automate an entire home with a large number of devices from light bulbs, switches, cameras, etc.

ZigBee (and Thread)

ZigBee has nearly 400 companies that use, develop, and improve ZigBee’s globally standard wireless connection. This means that any ZigBee device can be used anywhere, and is not limited by geography or location. ZigBee has a signal range of 35 feet and a maximum number of devices of 65,000.

Also, in 2014, Google’s Nest Labs and a few other companies announced Thread, which uses the same wireless connection as ZigBee. They also announced that they are collaborating to enable ZigBee to work with Thread.

What this means to you:

  • ZigBee works regardless of which country you are in.
  • ZigBee’s collaboration with Thread means you can integrate with products like Nest.
  • Common ZigBee devices: SmartThings, Logitech Harmony, Nest (via Thread)


Z-Wave consists of 375 companies and 1,500 products that work together. Z-Wave has a signal range of 100 feet and a maximum number of devices of 232.

However, Z-Wave uses a wireless connection that is not a global standard. As such, they can’t be used outside of their “home” regions as they use different radio frequencies (ie: North American devices can’t connect with European ones). It’s similar to the way DVDs work.

Each region uses a different frequency and so needs a different chip to be purchased and developed for (from a company perspective). This is why AXIS Gear is initially only compatible with North American Z-Wave frequencies at launch.

What this means to you:

  • Z-Wave is country specific and Gear is only currently compatible in North America.
  • Common Z-Wave devices: SmartThings, Logitech Harmony

The Nitty Gritty

In the end, it really comes down to the devices you want to use in your Smart Home. If the devices you have or want to add into to your home primarily use ZigBee then go for the ZigBee Version of AXIS Gear. If they mostly use Z-Wave, go for Z-Wave, but remember that Z-Wave is country-specific and may not work in your country!

If you have any questions on which version is best for you or need help finding out which other products use what: just shoot us an email at hello@axis.life. We’d be more than happy to help you figure out exactly what you need to make the Smart Home of your dreams come true!

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