ConBee III (ConBee 3) from Dresden-Elektronik based on Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 +20dBm radio SoC/MCU

FYI, ConBee III (ConBee 3) from Dresden-Elektronik been officially released in early November 2023.

https://phoscon.de/en/conbee3

ConBee3 runs an updated variant of Dresden-Elektronik’s custom deconz Zigbee firmware with their own serial protocol interface (which does not look to have updated documentation yet), as such is primarily meant to work with Dresden-Elektronik’s own deCONZ/Phoscon Zigbee Gateway host application (and the matching deCONZ integration) as a replacement for the older ConBee / ConBee II (ConBee 2) and RaspBee / RaspBee II (RaspBee 2) Zigbee Coordinator adapters

Note! Be aware before buying that ConBee III (ConBee 3) does not yet work with Home Assistant’s ZHA integration because it has not been updated with support ConBee III (ConBee 3) interface, though support for it has recently been added to the zigpy-deconz library that it depends on → Conbee III support by puddly · Pull Request #232 · zigpy/zigpy-deconz · GitHub

Zigbee2MQTT (a.k.a. Z2M) is however supported as the zigbee-herdsman library that it depends on has already been updated for the new ConBee III (ConBee 3) interface → Update deCONZ adapter and driver by ChrisHae · Pull Request #788 · Koenkk/zigbee-herdsman · GitHub

ConBee III (ConBee 3) hardware board is based on the more modern Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 +20dBm radio SoC, which is the same as MCU chip as Home Assistant SkyConnect (USB stick) , ITead’s “Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus V2” (model “ZBDongle-E”) , Aeotec Zi-Stick (model “ZGA008”) , easyiot ZB-GW04 Zigbee dongle, as well as in the SMLIGHT SLZB-07, however all those other adapters are running Silicon Labs Zigbee EmberZNet firmware with its standard EZSP (EmberZNet Serial Protocol), while ConBee III is running custom Zigbee firmware with its own deconz serial protocol.

https://phoscon.de/en/conbee3

ConBee III (ConBee 3) - What’s new

The shipping firmware supports Zigbee 3.0 and Zigbee Green Power devices. A separate OTBR (OpenThread Border Router) firmware will also be made available as a tech preview soon.

  • modern SiLabs EFR32MG21 micro controller
  • custom Zigbee 3.0 and Zigbee Green Power firmware
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for future Thread and Matter applications
  • integrated push button for service functions

Migration is only possible if want to continue using deCONZ/Phoscon

Seamless migration from deCONZ/Phoscon to ZHA or Zigbee2MQTT is not possible (nor vice versa).

If using deCONZ then it is possible to transfer a Zigbee installation to a new system using the Phoscon app backup function. This allows you, for example, to transfer an existing Zigbee network from a ConBee or ConBee II to the ConBee III without having to re-pair/re-joing all devices.

https://phoscon.de/en/conbee3/upgrade

Note! If using deCONZ addon then version 2.24.x` or later of the is required for the ConBee III dongle.

If using Home Assistant’s native ZHA integration with any Zigbee Coordinator then you can easily replace/upgrade it to a new ConBee III adapter via the built-in radio migration feature, just follow → https://www.home-assistant.io/integrations/zha#migrating-to-a-new-zigbee-coordinator-adapter-inside-zha

It is by the way generally recommended to upgrade the firmware on a new ConBee/RaspBee adapter before you start using it for a new installation or before migrating to it. See:

https://github.com/dresden-elektronik/deconz-rest-plugin/wiki/Update-deCONZ-manually

https://deconz.dresden-elektronik.de/deconz-firmware/?C=M;O=D

https://flemmingss.com/how-to-update-conbee-conbee-ii-firmware-in-windows-10/

Upgrade is possible if want to continue using same Zigbee software

Upgrade from ConBee 2 / Raspbee 2 is possible only if continue using the same Zigbee software, see:

PS: Why not buy and migrate to a other radio type if you are using the ZHA ( Zigbee Home Automation) integration or Zigbee2MQTT? IMHO, the only good reason to buy a ConBee or RaspBee adapter today is if want to use Dresden-Elektronik’s deCONZ/Phoscon as both the ZHA integration and Zigbee2MQTT have better support for Silicon Labs EmberZNet (EZSP/Ember NCP) and Texas Instruments Z-Stack ZNP based Zigbee Coordinator adapters than what they have for the ConBee/RaspBee adapters.

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My zigbee never been better than since I got rid of the conbee2 (sorry no rant just a conclusion).

I have a sonoff stick with z2m now.

I’m just informing about all the options as a public service, competition is good IMHO, so do check out:

Regardless of the adapter used, be sure you first read and try follow all tips/advice here before troubleshooting any issues deeper → Zigbee networks: how to guide for avoiding interference + optimizing using Zigbee Router devices (repeaters/extenders) to get best possible range and coverage

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Update on Home Assistant’s ZHA integration support; the upcoming (not yet released) Home Assistant core 2023.12 looks to get bumped to zigpy-deconz radio library version 0.22.0 which puddly committed initial Conbee III support to:

https://github.com/home-assistant/core/pull/104335

https://github.com/zigpy/zigpy-deconz/pull/232

https://github.com/zigpy/zigpy-deconz/releases/tag/0.22.0

https://rc.home-assistant.io/blog/2023/11/29/release-202312/

https://rc.home-assistant.io/changelogs/core-2023.12

PS: There is also a ZHA draft pull release for CB3 USB product description for automatic USB discovery under Home Assistant OS (e.i. ZHA whitelisting for automatic USB discovery of ConBee 3 adapter):

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Note! It is currently not possible to migrate to (or from) another ConBee adapter in Zigbee2MQTT.

For Zigbee2MQTT (Z2M) see discussion here → migrating coordinator from Conbee 2 to Conbee 3 · Koenkk/zigbee2mqtt · Discussion #19785 · GitHub and the related feature request for its zigbee-herdsman library here → deconz adapter/driver does not support backup and restore for ConBee/RaspBee by dresden elektronik? · Issue #665 · Koenkk/zigbee-herdsman · GitHub

Summery; Migration from one ConBee/RaspBee adapter to another is currently not possible inside Zigbee2MQTT. For that to be possible Zigbee2MQTT would first need to add support for deconz adapter backup and restore features, as the deconz adapter code in the zigbee-herdsman library which Zigbee2MQTT depends on does not yet support Zigbee network backup and restore from ConBee/RaspBee Zigbee Coordinator adapters, as such you can not simply backup your old ConBee II adapter to a file from inside Zigbee2MQTT and then just restore such backups from file to your new ConBee III adapter (as you can with Texas Instruments based z-stack adapter in Z2M because that already supports the backup and restore feature inside the zigbee-herdsman library) → FAQ | Zigbee2MQTT

See related feature requerst and discussion:

PS: Note that before creating a backup for migration you will always first need to upgrade the firmware on your old ConBee/RaspBee adapter before doing a backup! (That is however not needed if backing up an old Silicon Labs or Texas Instruments based Zigbee Coordinator). It is generally also recommended to upgrade the firmware on the new ConBee/RaspBee adapter before migrating to it.

https://github.com/dresden-elektronik/deconz-rest-plugin/wiki/Update-deCONZ-manually

https://deconz.dresden-elektronik.de/deconz-firmware/?C=M;O=D

https://flemmingss.com/how-to-update-conbee-conbee-ii-firmware-in-windows-10/

Not tested but should work now for ZHA integration in Home Assistant 2023.12

Full changelog for Home Assistant Core 2023.12 → Bump ZHA dependencies (@puddly - #104335) → Bump all ZHA dependencies (zigpy-deconz to 0.22.0)

For a discussion about external migration using zigpy-cli as a stand-alone tool see:

Hello, wondering if there is a more recent update to Conbee III support? I’m on HA 2023.12.4 (latest as of this post) on HAOS 11.2 running on a HA Yellow hardware platform.

Using the “Zigbee Home Automation” integration I am able to see and select the Conbee III stick and the integration entry shows up as expected. Shows a PAN ID, extended ID, channel, coordinator IEEE, etc.

I tried pairing an Aqara Mini Switch as the first device just to see if it worked and wasn’t able to get them connected. I have not yet gone into the logging details to find out why, I thought I’d start here and ask before I troubleshoot something that might not be fully working yet.

Also I am not migrating anything, this is a brand new hardware install and that was the first device I’m trying to pair.

Thanks!

It should work if using the ZHA integration in the latest Home Assistant, (or at the very least be able to pair/join Zigbee devices if you have a proper setup in a good environment), so first make sure that you have already followed all these tips before troubleshooting any deeper → Zigbee networks: how to guide for avoiding interference and optimize for getting better range + coverage

It should then be to just use best practices (which assume you done above) → https://www.home-assistant.io/integrations/zha/#best-practices-to-avoid-pairingconnection-difficulties

Thank you, I have it working now.

I did notice a firmware upgrade for the Conbee III and proceeded with that before setting up any devices. See this link for more.

I also had to pair a few plug-in repeaters before I was able to successfully pair the Aqara buttons with ease (per a number of other threads). So if anyone happens upon this thread, at least in my case Conbee III is working just fine with the “Zigbee Home Automation” integration.

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FYI, the ZHA integration components in the upcoming Home Assistant 2024.1 will contain a couple ConBee/RaspBee specific fixes (from latest zigpy-deconz library), see → Bump ZHA dependencies by puddly · Pull Request #106756 · home-assistant/core · GitHub

Just to clearify, all Zigbee radios and are very susceptible to interference from strong or close sources of EMF (electromagnetic fields) + have relatively poor range and building material penetration (i.e. bad non-line-of-sight propagation), so you should follow the advice in that guide and take some basic actions to avoid EMF interference by connecting the Zigbee Coordinator USB adapter via a long USB extension cable (preferably one with good shielding) as well as connecting it to a USB 2.0 port or a USB 2.0 hub (and not a USB 3.0 port/hub) + make sure that you have added a few good mains-powered Zigbee Router devices (to extend range and coverage) before trying to connect any Zigbee End Devices (i.e. non-routers like for example battery-operated Zigbee devices). Again, do read and follow this → Zigbee networks: how to guide for avoiding interference and optimize for getting better range + coverage

Hello !

Quick question : since this Conbee III features a custom solution which supports ZGP (ZigBee Green Power), does it mean that such devices (MOES kinetic switches for example) can now work with HA, through the Conbee stick ?

Thanks for your answers !

Not yet but it will once ZGP code support is added to zigpy and ZHA, see → ZHA integration support for ZGP (Zigbee Green Power) devices via zigpy?

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Comparing the Conbee 3 to Skyconnect; does the Conbee 3 have a better radio? I’m still struggling to keep all battery devices connecting. I’m still trying out some things… (yes yes, I have a 2meter USB 2.0 extension cable and tried various channels). With my Conbee 2 I never had any problems with losing devices.

Be sure that you have also enough Zigbee Router devices. I highly recommend read and follow → Zigbee networks: how to guide for avoiding interference and optimize for getting better range + coverage

That is, it is not enough to make sure that the Zigbee Coordinator is avoiding electromagnetic field (EMF/EMI/RMI). You also need to add many mains-powered devices that act as Zigbee Routers (which are most but not all mains-powered devices), or for best possible experience add a few dedicated Zigbee Router devices.

Not sure if the use the same chip part number (model) but they both use radio chips from the same radio chip series (Silabs EFR32MG21) so the difference is the application firmware. Home Assistant SkyConnect uses the standard Silicon Labs EmberZNet application firmware with EZSP (EmberZNet Serial Protocol) interface. ConBee III uses its own deconz application firmware (which has its own deconz serial protocol interface).

What might be different otherwise is the circuit board design and components uses (including the antenna design and whether or not to have additional electromagnetic shielding cover protecting the extra sensitive components for the antenna). Note that the Home Assistant SkyConnect board does not have any electromagnetic shielding cover and uses a PCB antenna design so it is extremely sensitive, (on top of the fact that all Zigbee radios are very sensitive to EMF because they are low-power and low-bandwidth radios).

Yes I got more hardwired devices then battery powered devices. Most things are hue GU10’s and hue E27’s (got a few more different hue models). Even got two hue smart plugs .

Worth checking your Zigbee network map visualization as your Philips Hue devices are maybe not acting as Zigbee Router devices for all other non-Hue Zigbee devices

They are. I am adding devices to specific bulbs/spots and they work fine for a few days.

Since I went directly to ConBee III from a ConBee II, my knowledge of SkyConnect is limited. My choice was somewhat directed by the fact that I have +70 ZigBee devices and didn’t want to rebuild everything related these (in automations, Lovelace etc.).
The reason for me to consider replacing my ConBee II was an experience lately that the USB would ‘zone out’; it reported perfectly in the logs, however, no communication between the ZigBee devices. Upgrading to ConBee III was simple; backup config, insert new ConBee and restore config. Only hiccup was that it failed to communucate with the network after upgrading. A quick restore of the config and everything was back.
The thing I have noted is that the device seems snappier when starting up and my battery powered (FoH) devices now seem to have a better reach than before. Whether that is to be attributed to the hardware or a new ZigBee stack (maybe allowing routing of Foh) I do not know. So far ConBee III has met my expecations.

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Maybe but probably not, more likley it is the better reception of the newer adapter, however most important is still to add more Zigbee Router devices and avoid interference, see → Zigbee networks: how to guide for avoiding interference and optimize for getting better range + coverage

I actually went ahead and bought a Conbee 3 and I can say yes, it solved my Skyconnect problems. it’s been rock solid for 3 weeks so far and no device has been dropped. I only have some ZHA pairing problems when pairing using a device instead of directly through the stick. But hopefully the ZHA guys or Conbee 3 with new firmware will solve these problems.