General Zigbee compatability question and reccomendations for RGB bulbs

I’ve recently received my HA Green and excited to start on my first automations. Due to the amount of devices I want to add, I’ve already decided I want to go with Zigbee wherever I can to keep that traffic off of my Wifi and to take advantage of the mesh capabilities. I’m pretty well decided on going with Sky Connect and Zigbee/ZHA simply as this seems it would be the easiest to setup and support, although I’m open to other suggestions if is a strong reason to go with one of the other options in the documentation.

My first question is about compatibility - how am I to confirm any device can work with my chosen setup? Can I assume any “Zigbee” labelled device should be able to be controlled/monitored with the combination above? So many of these devices (specific examples: Sengled bulbs, Aqara temperature sensors) specifically list they require their hubs, but if I’m understanding correctly it’s more that they need “a” Zigbee hub, not necessarily theirs?

Secondary to my general compatibility question, I am looking for recommendations for bulbs for my first planned automation. This is a lighting project, adding RGB bulbs to illuminated fence posts around the perimeter of the property (16 total). The plan is to have these fully automated through HA, and will be powered continuously. Due to the amount I’m somewhat price sensitive, but I’d like them to be Zigbee repeaters as well due to the distance the farthest ones from the house are. I also think this would be setting up an excellent mesh network for any future Zigbee additions since it will literally run the perimeter of the property.

I’m having a hard time finding certain information, especially whether bulbs are a repeater or not. From some forum posts here, it appears the IKEA Tradfri bulbs are, but I was having a hard time confirming that from their product pages. Given the amount I need, if cheaper non-repeater bulbs are available I feel like it could potentially be worth using them even if it means adding repeater or two to the edge of the house or even outside and giving up on my perimeter-mesh.

As a followup question does using Matter and Thread make sense for this lighting project? From what I’ve read so far I don’t think there would be much gain but would significantly limit bulb options and likely cost much more?

Thank you!

Sengled bulb are known NOT to be repeaters, IKEA bulbs are repeaters.

Thread is feasible, but at this point in time the options are limited and expensive.


I have almost 100 WiFi devices here and haven’t seen any issues.

Zigbee has a remarkably short range. I found through experimentation that I need a router in every room to make a reliable mesh network.

All Zigbee devices need a hub of some kind, but most of us use an inexpensive dongle like the Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus with Zigbee2MQTT on Home Assistant. You don’t need “their” expensive hub.

Absolutely not. Many manufacturers - maybe even most of them - do not follow the Zigbee standard exactly. Search on this forum first and also on GitHub. If you’re trying out a new device/bulb only buy one to start with so that you can test it. There’s a helpful website here - though it seems to be made up out of contributions from users, so you still need to be cautious.

Generally, with ZHA the emphasis is on supporting the standard, although the developers do provide a lot of custom device handlers for specific products. Zigbee2MQTT is a bit more forgiving, but I agree, more complicated.

Beware of linear thinking. Although you might assume that a string of bulbs would pass commands from one to the next, a network like that is unlikely to be stable. Density matters. Each router needs to be able to connect to a lot of others as it will want to re-evaluate and change its connections continually.

You need to start in the middle and work out.

Most powered devices (except for Sengled bulbs and some wall switches) are routers, but not all routers are equal. A network consisting entirely of bulbs is more likely to be unstable. Inside a house you would probably want to have a “repeater” router in each room (that is, a router that doesn’t do anything else) to act as the backbone of your network. Round the outside of your house you’re going to need a “repeater” or ten - maybe more if it’s a big house. Even then the perimeter fence would need to be only 10-15 feet away.

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The idea is most of the time these will just fade on and off with sunset/sunrise and probably off during the sleeping hours at a normal incandescent bulb color/temperature. But I thought it would be cool to set different color patterns around the various holidays etc for an effortless decoration once setup.

Interesting, I hadn’t researched the exact range and was likely overestimating what I thought it could be.

This is a very good point as well. They would need to pretty consistently find the correct “chain” around the fence for them all to be in range.

Given all of these points, I think I will go with wifi bulbs. Open to any good recommendations for them as well, on a quick look it looks there are much more and cheaper options for wifi bulbs. Wifi is currently a 2 unit mesh system which likely covers the area needed already, but can be easily expanded to have an additional unit near the center of the property with nearly line of sight to each bulb.

That’s kind of what I was thinking, looks like it will be important to research each device carefully.

Thanks all for the info!

My reason for asking is that you indicated that the project was somewhat price sensitive and smart bulbs is far from the best price point. You can dim cheap incandescent bulbs with a Z-wave switch or some WiFi switches (though I have no dimmable WiFi switches here, only Zwave. I also have no Zigbee wall-switches).

For holiday patterns, WLED and RGB LED strings is a good option. That’s what we do around Xmas. I can point you to WLED controllers for around $2 each.

Ah, I see. Due to the way the fence posts are built (square brick columns, with glass block to let light out) they are already setup with fixtures for bulbs. I could probably modify them internally to work with LED strips, but I’m OK with spending a bit more to make it plug and play with the existing fixtures.

I ordered a Tasmota RGB bulb from Cloud Free and have it functional already via MQTT. Super slick and easy to setup.

Will definitely keep those things in mind for future projects where strips may work better, WLED looks like an awesome project!