How to start with Zigbee?

Hi, i’m new to HA and really confused by using Zigbee for several sensors and automation tasks, and hope someone could help me to understand it better.

I bought an Sonoff and Xiaomi Temp-Sensor and thought imcould easily integrate them with a cheap CC2351 stick, bad mistake…

So i think i need to learn the principles of all that stuff. I read about several solutions, hubs, routers and brands and now i really don’t know what to buy.

What is needed to habe a good, expandable wireless network for using Zigbee devices?
Of what i read, the Zigbee 3.0 standard should be,preferred to be as much compatible as possible. Which device should be used to start with it? How to extend range of the communication? I have a house with a celler (here my Raspi for HA is located) a ground and a first floor, also a roof floor for storing things. I like to add actors and sensors everywhere for measuring temperature/humidity. Control lights, radiators, window rolls and such. Nothing unusual, nothing new, i think :]

It would helpus if you tell how far you got…

Yes it is cheap, but it’s good, used one myself for 2 years until it died (using a Conbee II now, which i kind of regret, as it doesn’t support tcp2ser, and because of that i had to change from HyperV to VMware, but that is besides the point)

Back to CC2531…you need to set it up and flash it with the correct firmware, which can be a bit tricky…

When I compare Conbee II vs CC2531 performance, i can’t tell the difference, the switch went without any issues either (besides the HyperV issue, but that wasn’t really related to Zigbee)

I’m also a newbie and use HA + ConBee II + multiple zigbee devices.

The appropriately selected integrations (mostly) work very well out of the box. Eg; Onvif/MotionEye, Heiman/Siren, Aqara door and motion sensors, etc.

I’d also recommend reading a bit about the zigbee standard, and how it creates a network so your (non-battery mains powered) devices don’t talk directly to your hub (eg; RPI-4) but instead talk to each other. This creates an easily extended network from eg; sensor to sensor.


I wonder that i simply put the stick into my RP4, restarted it, install the add-on “ZHA” which directly detected the device. I bought the stick at Amazon and the offer tells “Firmware des Sticks ist die aktuelle CC2531ZNP-Prod.hex (19.06.2019)”

Next i could find my Xiaomi Aqara after activating the pairing mode

So even if the seller tells firmware is from 2019, it looks like in fact it’s more recent from what HA says:

When i got it right, this is the “default” firmware, called “Z-Stack”, which is able to handle max. 20 directly “attached” devices.

Github Repo of “Z-Stack”

Despite this page being from zigbee2mqtt, it’s advice is also relevant to zha. Supported Adapters | Zigbee2MQTT

Don’t believe vendors on Amazon.

Sorry, 3 posts in a row. See this too Zigbee network | Zigbee2MQTT

It seems that i was lucky that the firmware on my CC stick was more recent that stated in the offer. I now bound two devices without an issue, one Sonoff and one Xiaomi. I only find it hard to tell wheather or not a sensor is still able to connect an router/concentrator. I see that some devices may have a sensor for RSSI, but the both i use do not. How can i tell if they are still in good range?

My next step in using Zigbee would be to find a way to expand the range of my Zigbee wireless network. Currently one sensor could not be reached where i like to place it. What kind of devices would be best to also get this into range? I guess something in the middle of both, but maybe more “hops” are needed? I’ve read about lamps and switches acting as routers, but what should i use? My fear is to run into compatibility problems, as when i use a device from a vendor, it may only be able to forward traffic for this vendors devices and not for others? So i like to have somewhat “universal router devices” i guess.

Regardless of Zigbee application/setup recommend reading and follow these general tips → Generic best practice tips on improving Zigbee network range and general stability · zigpy/zigpy Wiki · GitHub

Same advice in ZHA integration documentation, CC2530/CC2531 do not support Zigbee 3.0 devices because they have old obsolete hardware and outdated end-of-life firmware so are no longer recommended →

Similar notes in for community firmware →

Suggest just buy the CC2652P-based ITead’s “Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus” (model “ZBDongle-P”) based on Texas Instruments CC2652P +20dBm radio MCU now sold for $19.99

Thanks for all the good and valuable advises!
Gosh, first i would have bought that Sonoff stick but then i changed my mind because i thought it might be too tied to Sonoff-products and so i choose the CC2531 one… what a bad mistake :wink:

That is OK, the sonoff is cheap, so buy it and use the CC2531 to make a router, or a DIY sensor or controller.

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Sounds good. I need to figure out how to use the CC2531 as a router, since i’ve bought two of them. Yesterday i ordered the Sonoff P dongle.

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I now managed to flash my other CC2531 USB-Dongle as a stand-alone-repeater using this firmware

I’ve bought a set including a (clone) CC-Debugger tool, an adapter-interface and the stick:

Downloaded the Flash programming software from Texas-Instruments and the drivers:

CC-Flash Programmer
TI Debugger-Tool USB-Driver

Programming was a peace of cake. Plugged the USB into a separate USB power adapter and it worked right away :slight_smile:

I then need to switch pairing of my temperature-sensor to the router, as it always tries to reconnect to the router it was paired first.