Advice automation strategy zigbee, wifi,

Hi everyone,

I am trying to plan the automation of my house and I am struggling to choose the way to go. My goal is (in this order):

  • control the lights of my house (with switches). I will then have smart bulbs to control brightness but they won’t be always on as I’ll keep the wall switches.
  • control the motorized shutters.
  • control the thermostats based on room temperature.

The initial idea was to use Zigbee and not wifi to create a nice mesh with low consumption, but I am a little stuck. I explain myself.

The plan was to use switches as repeaters (I don’t want external repeaters such as plugs,…) but I then discovered that switches without neutral such as the sonoff zbmini L2 are end nodes. I then thought of using the sonoff zbmini, but then discovered that I probably don’t have access to both N and L since connections are like:


Then I thought of using the dual for the shutters as repeaters, but then discovered that sonoff dual are only wifi… I then found the aquara (anyone has experience with them? Are they good repeaters and any good for shutters control?):

At this point I am asking myself if I should re-consider using wifi or keep searching for a good Zigbee solution.

Any advice? Am I missing something?

Thank you and have a great day!

Don’t do that. Install smart switches/dimmers and dumb bulbs.

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Indeed it would be ideal, thanks for the advice. But I think it won’t be possible in some places as I have “large panels” with multiple switches :(.

There are many options for this. There are wifi/zigbee/zwave modules you can fit behind the existing switches or in the roof. There are also smart mechanisms that take up no more space than the existing switches.

Do you mean switch+dimmers that can be installed behind the switch? Do you have any advice for a good zigbee one? Is there a way to place such devices in the ceiling near the bulb? I guess it depends on the house wiring… Still have to learn a bunch of things :slight_smile:

Yes.

I just installed Wiser zigbee dimmer and switch modules everywhere in my house. They are not cheap but they are good.

Yes. Most of my switches are installed on the architrave around the door. There is no room behind them to install them in the door frame. So they were installed in junction boxes in the roof near the light fitting. There is an issue with doing this. The maximum temperature in your roof. I live in a cool-temperate location so this is not an issue for me (I logged the roof space temperature for a couple of years to check). However if you live in a hot climate this may exceed the device’s operational temperature (50°C for the Wiser modules).

There are cheaper options. e.g. I also looked at these https://www.ozsmartthings.com.au/products/oz-smart-zigbee-dimmer-switch

Is it correct to believe that placing them close to the bulb makes the repeater better (I guess they are not end nodes since they have neutral and live)? This way they are outside of the switch metal box and close to the center of the room

Yes it very likely will improve the signal if the device is up higher and away from metal objects. You can (should) use a fire-proof plastic junction box.

i’m going through a similar evaluation…

i found this and it was helpful, but not definitive for me… so this might also be helpful to you:

you said (and your diagram illustrates) you don’t have both live and neutral in any box. so doesn’t that inherently prevent what you want for all of them to be repeaters? i think there are a couple specialty switches that are repeaters w/o neutral. not completely sure how they do this. maybe they sneak a little current through the load even when off? :person_shrugging:

just curious… you are clear you don’t want separate repeaters is that to keep a clean look in the house? don’t have places to hide them away? or is there a functional consideration i should also be thinking about?

The Wiser dimmer modules are two wire (no neutral) and are repeaters.

The Wiser switch modules require a neutral (and are repeaters).

Dimmer:
dimmer

Switch:
Untitled

Also note those are push-button (momentary) switches. You can have up to 16 in parallel for multi-way switching.

Also this works “out-of-the-box” with Zigbee2Mqtt. I’m not sure about ZHA.

ah interesting. thanks! i bet the dimmer is indeed trickling a very small amount of power through at all times. if you were to put a very low wattage incandescent bulb, connectivity tester, or multi-meter, when it’s “off” i think it’d light up a little… still, worth the tradeoff.

i’ll look at dimmers more…

Yep that’s exactly how it works. And is why the “LCD” device is shown to the right of the circuit. It’s a capacitor in parallel with the load to ensure some current is always flowing. It also stops some lights flickering when off. I did not need them with any of my LED lights (bulbs and down-lights).

Hi,

Thank you for the video! I actually watched it just after posting my last message yesterday. Interesting, but I don’t want to change my current wall switches.

I still have to understand and check the wiring in my house but I am pretty sure I have no neutral (not totally true since I sometimes have plugs close to my switches, I could get the neutral from there).

Indeed I don’t want external repeaters for how they look. Additionally I don’t want to use plugs for this and in some places, like corridors, it may be hard to hide them and placing repeaters near the wall behind furniture is not ideal (I guess). I would like to find a cleaner solution :slight_smile:.

I still don’t fully understand how the no neutral repeaters can work without any difference in potential :confused:.

Interesting to see no neutral repeaters. In this case installation behind the switch seems more straight forward as at bulb location I won’t have access to live and “switch output”. I need to check if there is enough room for dimmer + shutter control + (???) :).

BONUS: I was looking at sonoff zbmini more in detail, do you know why they need neutral in AND neutral out additionally to live in and out? I would expect something like the aquara where you have one neutral and the live in and live out.

There’s a VERY good chance you WILL have access to live, switched live and neutral. If not exactly at the bulb location, all 3 cables will be present in the ceiling rose. Go double check, but that’s how cables are traditionally run.

Unless they specifically say that it’s a double pole relay, then that neutral out is always bridged to neutral in (unless the relay also monitors power). It’s there for convenience so if your neutral is joined together with a connector, you can plug in both ends instead of shoving 2 cables into a single terminal.

Thank you for your reply. I’ll check better as soon as I have a little time, but I don’t see why I should have live and switched live close to the bulb :thinking: .

Oh yeah they measure power consumption I think and it make sense if they are there for convenience! It is a pity it is so hard to find the internal schematics of these devices… It makes everything harder.

If you don’t have live & switched live at the bulb itself, live will probably be somewhere very close in a junction box in the ceiling.

As long as the live is in the same breaker and on the same phase (you don’t mention anything about 3 phase wiring, so am assuming single phase), you’ll be fine.

Ah ok, sure then I agree, just didn’t want to add wiring if I could :). But it may be the best option!

If you can’t access the ceiling rose / junction box, then yes, you’re gonna have to pull a wire of some sort:

  • Either pull a neutral (or 2 if you have Nin & Nout in your relay) at the switch location, or
  • Pull a permanent live (from the same circuit) to your bulb

Just go with whichever is the shorter / least hassle option if you don’t have access to the ceiling rose