Matter and Zigbee?

Hi!

I am in the progress of switching my existing infrastructure to HA (x86 server), at the moment they are controlled via Apple Homekit and several HomePods Gen2.
I have two classes of devices at the moment which are problematic to move them completely to HA:

  • Philips Hue Zigbee lights
  • Eve Energy Smart Plugs with Matter

I want to move both device classes completely to HA so no Homekit or Homepod is needed any more. I was looking into the Home Assistant SkyConnect stick for my server. Will I be able to control both the Zigbee lights and the Matter SmartPlugs completely with HA then? I could also change the Smart Plugs to models with Zigbee, if that’s an easier approach.

Thanks for you guidance!

The multi-protocol firmware has not been fully developed by Silabs yet, so HA has that as experimental and only partially functional. The current rec is to have separate dongles for matter thread and zigbee. It can be 2 SkyConnects or something else for zigbee (or thread). Lots of options, see below with the people who understand it better…

Home Assistant SkyConnect.

and

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Keep your Skyconnect for Zigbee, and buy a nrf52840 for Thread (they only cost €12)

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Matter doesn’t need a dongle, it’s a software protocol for control, that uses either WiFi or Thread for underlying connectivity.

You can still use HomePods to provide Thread connectivity to HA without using HomeKit. Unless you are planning to get rid of them, or find their coverage is bad, they are still perfectly good standards-based Thread Border Routers.

That said, if really want HomePods out of the loop you should check to see if your WiFi router has Thread — many of them do. And if you are still using your ISP router, considering upgrading that instead, to deliver both Thread and vastly superior WiFi.

There’s also the esp32 option, which has the advantage of being an embedded OS and can be strategically located in the house. The boards are under 20 usd on Aliexpress, with an RJ45 add-on for a few dollars more.

There is really very little reason to install your own OTBR software instance anymore. It’s another package you have to maintain, another source of problems to troubleshoot, another potential attack surface on your server, and limits where you can place the server for good coverage.

What I’m not liking about the HomePods is that they rely on WiFi and have no Ethernet ports. For example I prefer to switch my WiFi network off at sleep time and would have no connection then.
I think I’ll just exchange the plugs to Zigbee as there is no real advantage of using Matter at the moment and wait for a dual stack.

What would you run on the esp32 option then? I’ve found only barebones on Aliexpress.

I am currently using my skyconnect in multpan mode without issues unless the multipan addon is not running on restart of the HA virtualbox instance or full restart of the host nuc.

Currently I have setup an automation to use a dedicated switch bot to power off, wait 2s then power on the usb port I have it connected to on my hub then after a few seconds make sure that the addon is running via the call service function for it and after another 10s notify me that the instance has finished restarting.

I will update in the future should I encounter any major issues with this setup.

Update: As of this edit I have gone ahead and removed the multipan function of the skyconnect as it was constantly starting to have issues with initialization of ZHA, I will need to invest in a dedicated Thread antenna for devices that use that network to connect, i.e the GL-S200 Thread Border Router which also has a BLE function

I was able to successfully just use reconfigure the current radio setting once it was flashed back to normal function and just power cycle a few devices then use the reconfigure option for them to have them function again without rebuilding the entire setup from scratch.

You have to compile and flash the firmware yourself. It is not difficult, just follow the instructions. I did 2 myself.

Which model did you buy exactly? Does it support PoE?

As far as I know, there is only one model development board, but you can add an Ethernet daughter board. And I have the Ethernet boards , but they don’t do POE

Check out the GL-S20 for PoE support and pre-flashed. border router built on top of the ESP32.