Hardware question for border router

Hi everyone,

I have HAOS with a Skyconnect for some zigbee devices. I want to start using Matter devices, but I have no thread border routers. I do use Google Home, but I prefer everything work directly through HA as much as possible, and I don’t have a Hub gen2 yet anyways.

What hardware should I use as a thread border router for HA? Should I just get a second skyconnect? Are there other USB dongles that work better?


I bought one of these, as you can put them anywhere in your network. And I put it in the same network as my Google Nest Hubs. The hubs are just used as a border router though, they are not able to make use of the Matter messages.

Thanks, So this is a standalone solution. Are there solutions that work more directly with HA? I’m thinking of the skyconnect, but I admit I don’t know enough about Matter and Thread to know for sure if what I am asking makes sense.

I do not know what you mean with standalone. The only difference between a skyconnect and this is that the skyconnect is usb, and this is wifi so you can place it nearer to Matter/thread devices. They both need Home Assistant as a controller.

You can put one on every floor in your home as a good base for the mesh.If you wish you can also buy an ethernet hat for it. That is not possible with SkyConnect, because you are bound to usb.

But the same is true if you use the Nest Hub as a border router. It too needs a controller, and that can be Home Assistant. The only problem I can think of with the Nest Hub, is that if it cannot reach Google it might go in a state where it stops working as a border router, even though it does not use Google cloud for Thread.

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The GL-iNet GL-S20 border router appears to be the ESP32 board pre-flashed, and with a PoE hat, if you want a ready-to-go / less-DIY solution. Since it is based on OpenThread Border Router (OTBR) software, just like HAOS+SkyConnect uses, it should readily integrate with HA.

Personally I use HomePod minis as Thread Border Routers, because I already had them, but a lot of nicer WiFi routers now have Thread built-in, making DIY border routers less necessary. And — again, personally — I agree with @Edwin_D that it makes less sense to use a USB dongle because it limits where you can put them.

HA is designed to work “directly” with Thread as an open standard, so there aren’t really any more or less “direct” solutions. It helps to think of Thread more like a low-power version of WiFi, and less like an IP version of Zigbee. While you can build your own WiFi router out of a USB dongle, it’s not any more direct or even appropriate solution for most people. The main advantages of using SkyConnect for Thread are that it’s officially supported by HA, and it’s fully open source — so if those values are important to you, you might ignore the down sides of being restricted where you can put it and being required to use HAOS, plus the added overhead/complexity of managing additional server software.

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