Connecting zigbee devices to remote building

I have Home Assistant running on Pi with a Conbee II stick that connects various devices around the house. We have an office above our detached garage which is too far away for the Conbee stick to connect too. The office has wifi and ethernet connections. I would like to be able to connect some zigbee bulbs and wireless switches in the office but can’t figure out a way to connect them. I have tried a zigbee hub connected to wifi and the Tuya integration but the switch buttons don’t show up in HA. Is there any way to use a second Conbee stick in the office and connect it somehow to the Pi in the house. Thanks for any help.

What’s the distance?

I place an on-off switch recently to control a fan which is currently closest to a “garage”.
I was able to cross just 25 meters with a bit more than a wall in between. I didn’t make the final install yet as I am planning to mount an outside zigbee light (also acting as a router) which I hope improves the connexion as well.

It’s too far to connect anything back to the pi. I think the house insulation blocks a lot of signal. I’ve tried everything I can think of but nothing has worked.

How far is too far? Did you try putting a pair of mains-powered devices, one in the house but closest to the garage, and another in the garage but closest to the house?

The whole point of Zigbee is that the devices will create their own mesh. I have some out in my barn. But that’s only about 50 feet (15 meters) from the house. If yours is a lot farther, than ignore this and consider it a clarification for future users who stumble across this.

When you use Zigbee routers, the zigbee routers “extend” the range.
You need a good connection from your pi to a ZB router, to … to another ZB in your garage.

Generally any device that must be constantly powered is also a router and you can use those to extend your coverage.

Ensure that you can control the first router from your UI, then the second one, … until you get to your garage.

My house is old with some thick walls - I have the ZB coordinator on one end of the house and added two “routers” to get the temperature measurements on the other end as well as ensure the control of some devices that are not always on. That works fine.

You can find this in the ZHA Visualisation. The rectangle is the coordinator. You can see that several devices do not connect directly to the coordinator - they go through the routers (elipses, the circles are not routers - they are all battery powered in my case):

One device is without a connection - it’s not working well but it is within network range (it has a few bugs).

Ok… Thanks for the help. Looks like I need to use a plugged in zigbee device to act as a sort of bridge between the Conbee and the garage.

Exactly. Half the battle with Zigbee is getting the jargon right. Most (but not all!) mains-powered devices also act as routers. Battery powered devices are just end devices in all cases I’ve ever heard of.

I’ve found the best solution is to buy some Zigbee “smart plug” type devices which plug into an outlet. You can plug them in somewhere between a spot where you get a good signal, and a spot where you don’t. You may or may not find a light or appliance nearby that you’d like to control from HA. They’ll still act as routers even if nothing is plugged in to them.

Zigbee smart light bulbs are not as good for this use. For one thing, I’ve read about compatibility issues and updates impacting functionality. For another, if they’re in a light fixture which is turned off, they won’t do any good. And I think some can’t act as routers anyway.

Just to confirm: I jumped about 25 meters today. A Tuya on/off switch gave me about 2 meters more (possibly counts as 3) on that distance than Sonoff ZB-MINI.
Without SonOff I arrived about 1 meter outside the “workshop” and I had to keep it high up (my workshop is “downhill”, with Tuya I got about 1 meter inside (mainly glass doors) 1 meter lower and more reliable.

Its parent is the exterior light that I mounted today - LQI 44

Tip! Buy a few CC2652P USB adapters with external antenna and flash Zigbee Router firmware. Ex:

One of the best and cheapest commercial Zigbee Router is otherwise “IKEA Trådfri Signal Repeater”:

Also, check out this other related long discussion about tips on extending Zigbee range and coverage:

PS: An alternative workaround is to just setup a Raspberry Pi with Zigbee2MQTT in that remote area.

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Thanks for a very helpful post. One minor point: The Tradfri smart plug is $3 cheaper, and it acts as a router. It doesn’t have a USB port, which may or may not make it worth the difference. Another thing about IKEA is that their shipping costs can double the price, especially if you’re only buying one. If I had an IKEA store nearby, I’d probably use a lot more of their gear.

Yes but their “IKEA Trådfri Wireless Control Outlet” (Zigbee smart plug) is very well known to have a much shorter range than their “IKEA Trådfri Signal Repeater” so it is not recommended to be purcgased as long-range Zigbee Router! …but their plug is a great bargin if want loads of them within short range.

That is, well known in the community that IKEA smart plug is considerably worse as a range extender.

Conclusion; buy “IKEA Trådfri Signal Repeater” instead of “IKEA Trådfri Wireless Control Outlet” if the goal is to just buy a finished product to extend the range without having to add loads of units in a row.

Well, don’t know anything about that as live in Sweden so have an IKEA store just around the corner :wink:

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