Buying sensors - Zigbee fix or return and buy Z-Wave instead?

Yeah, they’re freaks of nature. LOL

Just talked to my friend who pointed me to Home Assistant, apparently he has several of the extenders unused (came with his Ikea blinds) so I may be able to get hold of a couple to experiment with.

I’m still waiting for the Z-Wave gateway to arrive so I can do a comparison, tho the door sensor arrived. It’s a lot bigger than expected but also has screw terminals which could be extremely useful for some other things I have been pondering in the future.

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Well, seems Z-Wave doesn’t really have much better range than Zigbee (surprising to me due to different frequency) - though the Z-Wave sensor does seem to “keep trying” a lot longer than the Zigbee ones and fail with severe lag as they get out of range vs just dropping off a cliff.

I’ll have to see how a sensor does if I get hold of this Zigbee extender for my final decision, but I figured I’d share that tidbit

Long post incoming (hopefully some helpful info for you):
I’ve got an extensize Z-Wave in-wall switch network (also a few baseboard heating controls & two door locks), and also a few Zigbee devices (2 buttons & a motion sensor for now).
I use the Nortek Zigbee & Z-wave USB stick and it’s been working well.
It was a little finicky to get everything set up in HA, but now it seems to be working. I had to pair the Zigbee devices a few times to get them working properly, and I did notice range was an issue (especially with the Smartthings Motion Sensor). It seemed to work better having the devices very close to the USB stick during pairing. Once paired I was able to get button responses across the house (~2000 sq. ft.) Moving the USB stick away from a bunch of networking gear in my network closet seemed to help with range and probably reduced interference. I used a long USB extension cable to get it away from the other gear.

I switched from using the Wink hub and the Zigbee Smartthings buttons are already 66% more useful just pairing them to a different system. HA revealed that they can send double-click and long-press commands to the hub, which allows a single button to do three separate actions, pretty neat bonus!

One thing to note in regards to battery life, the Smartthings button and Motion sensor that I had bought this past summer (June I think) needed new batteries about 7 months later. Possibly faulty batteries, possibly too much interference, or the devices were too far from the hub. I’m not sure, but according to Samsung they should last 6-12 months. I think they use more battery because they also report temperature on a regular basis. Compared to the Ring alarm z-wave sensors that are installed around the house that have a multi-year battery life expectancy. I’m considering creating custom battery holders so I can use rechargeable batteries instead. The Z-wave buttons are much more expensive (Fibaro ~$70) and even with replacing the batteries more often it’s still quite a bit cheaper to get the smartthings zigbee versions. Can’t believe all these ‘smart’ devices that create tons of batteries for the landfill.


I also have the Nortek USB and have to say over the moon with Zigbee, I have a large apartment/flat and have the IKEA lights/smart plugs on a mesh with their gateway. I then have a seperate mesh with a single IKEA socket paired to the Nortek stick right in the middle of property, then multiple push buttons/door/temp/motion sensors on this this. Working really well and and so much more reliable than the previous wifi sensors i was using (and battery so much better).
Before i added the socket to my sensors and Nortek stick mesh it was flaky and i had issues, it was another thread that said add a light/socket in middle of property and this solved everything and loving the new set up!

I was going to move everything to ZHA or Deconz, but I had several tell me to keep the bulbs on the Hue hub. Do you have Hue bulbs on your ZHA or Deconz mesh? or keep the bulbs separate on the Hue hub?

If I have Zigbee plugs as routers in a few places through the house, would those take care of the appropriate routing over the ZLL bulbs?

I was really looking to forward to consolidating, but didn’t want to introduce instability with the ZLL bulbs on the network. My plan is to have all light switches as Z-wave so that mesh is solid (already in place) and then any plugs would be Zigbee to build out the mesh for zigbee sensors (so much cheaper!).

I ultimately ended up going Zigbee (with the ConBee II USB adapter) for my sensors. Seems that there’s the best selection at the lowest price and the range of Z-Wave didn’t seem any better even though it is on a frequency I thought ought to be better.

I tried both ZHA and deCONZ, ended up finding that ZHA was harder to troubleshoot and didn’t give me battery readings on my sensors so I’m going with deCONZ even though I don’t like the “hacky tacked on” feel with it having separate passwords and having to manually reload to detect new stuff.

I’ve got no bulbs (ok, I was given 1 Cree bulb, not a fan so far) and I have no interest in getting any more of them based on my experiences.

A friend of mine was nice enough to give me a couple IKEA TRÅDFRI Signal repeater units that came with their blinds and they didn’t want, they appear to be working (and show as lightbulbs oddly) but I’m still not 100% confident and I’m still experimenting.

I really hate how the bulbs work though - the Cree bulb I put in a closet seemed neat at first, but in many cases it can end up stuck on with no way to shut it off. If the power blips or someone accidentally turns it off or unplugs it, the light turns on and stays on until (1) the server boots back up, (2) the network is re-established, and (3) an event triggers that would turn it off. This seems a horrible way to do things, I’d hate to have that happen away from home and all the lights are just on for hours or days…or in the middle of the night after power is restored be rudely awakened by all the lights turning on. I plan to avoid “smart” bulbs that apparently are all rather poorly designed and can’t remember their last state. When they don’t come back on the network, they’re also a huge PITA to “reset” into pairing mode and often take me 10-15 minutes to get the on-off cycles right to re-pair it when I’ve broken the network.

My plan has fallen back to my original idea - Zigbee for mainly sensors, WiFi Sonoff S31 plugs (esphome), and then when I one day move on to switches I’ll get Z-Wave wall switches or dimmers that can function like traditional switches but with a bit of smart. I MIGHT consider getting or building a LED controller for RGB strip as accent lighting but I would have to use something that can default to “off” or pair it with a Z-Wave/Sonoff switch that makes sure it stays off after blips in power.

This has re-enforced my feeling that “smart” things should only be secondary devices, and that the primary operation should be simple bulbs with simple switches - or smart switches that “fail safe” to basic switches defaulting to off position when they go offline.

I am still 100% in love with replacing “dumb” lamp timers on floor lamps and radios with “smart” S31 plugs though. Amazing!

I keep all my ZLL lights (Hue and Ikea) on the Hue hub. Right now, I’m at 50 bulbs on my Hue (technically the max amount).

No. In order for a repeater to repeat, it needs to be on the same mesh. With that said, there are some plugs that do work with Hue and those will repeat. However, you shouldn’t need them so long as you have enough bulbs. On a ZLL profile hub, like the Hue, the bulbs are repeaters (and quite good at it when on a ZLL mesh), so you shouldn’t need any other repeaters for it.

This would work. I currently have all my Zigbee sensors (motion, contact, water leak, and temp/humidity) on HA (through ZHA) along with a ton of plugs. Most of my bulbs are on Hue (have to get a second Hue hub and most the rest of my lights over to it). Two meshes, yes, but each one doing what they are best at.

Huh??? ZHA gives battery readings.

This is supposed to be a safety feature so that the bulb can operate as a normal bulb would.

However, this is easily solved by putting your HA instance onto UPS and creating a couple of easy automations. I currently have HA on a UPS and when the power goes out, my HA keeps running (my UPS can support my rPi for about 30+ hours). When HA detects that the power has gone out (using apsupsd), it captures the scene of all the lights in the house. When the power is restored, it restores that scene. If anything, my bulbs might be on for all of a second, if even that long.

You are also testing on perhaps the worst bulb ever. Crees have never been known for their “smarts”. Most bulbs now a days have last-state power-on behavior (LIFX, Hue, GoControl, and most Tuya based bulbs).

Mine just had “?” for all the battery readings on ZHA, dunno why. They also randomly were pairing as odd things, for example a door sensor pairing showing as a door-lock instead of a door open-close sensor taking multiple attempts to correctly pair. It was strange, even resetting the sensors didn’t help.

I do have my server on a UPS but there’s a few edge cases when it wouldn’t come back for an extended time, (e.g. if the UPS is fully drained, it has to recharge before turning the servers on or it’ll all go down hard if it blips out again) and then still there would be a rude awakening when lights turn on at 2AM or something as you’re trying to sleep. It’s a poor “solution”.

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