Recommended Z-Wave and ZigBee sticks & "repeaters"?

Hello everyone!

Right off the bat: I am new to Home Assistant. I want to learn it, but haven’t done a single bit with it before.

I currently have six smart home hubs, four ZigBee, two Z-Wave, in use and would like to:

  • Consolidate them
  • Untangle myself from the Cloud

This came to be from a combination of poor choices in life, missing knowledge of these things and cost.

The only Z-Wave devices I have are 10 radiator control valves (Danfoss units) and one thermostat (because I am the only one in the house that sometimes prefers the physical control). The Z-Wave Hubs are the most infuriating because they are slow as a star fish and one of them constantly loses the connection to the valves, even the one that is like a meter away from it with line of sight.
Everything else is either ZigBee (primarily lights and a few smart outlets) or is on my WiFi (or wired LAN when possible).

To get rid of the mess of hubs I have put Home Assistant in a Docker Container on my Synology NAS (because it is the only machine I have that I have dedicated to 24/7 operation) and am now at the point where I need to order the module(s) that lets HA talk to the devices without any hubs in between.

Which sticks are recommended to achieve that? If one stick can do Z-Wave AND Zigbee, I would definitely prefer that, but I can also live with two (on a USB hub). If they have external antennas that’s a plus.

In terms of devices that can act as repeaters, which ones are the simplest for both wireless standards? They don’t need to be able to do anything else, I just need a good way to get the signal through the brick and concrete. I know anything that is directly wall powered can do it, but in some spots where anything with the job of repeater is likely to live I don’t need any smart stuff.

I apologize for being such a noob on this, but I’m sick and tired of the mess of hubs and different apps and am only now getting to find a more centralized solution.

Thanks a lot!

UPDATE 1, on coordinators/sticks: I have now bought the HA Skyconnect for ZigBee and the Aeotec Z-Stick 7 for Z-Wave. The Zooz 800 isn’t readily available, but I also don’t plan to add any more or fancy Z-Wave devices than absolutely necessary.
I only use it because changing the radiator valves now would be very pricey.
The cheapest ZigBee valves I could find are around 30€ a pop and switching to DECT valves, for which I have HA compatible base stations with no cloud integration, would be worse.

UPDATE 2, on repeaters: For ZigBee I’ll just get the Ikea smart outlets because they are the cheapest and I don’t intend to switch ANYTHING with them, I just need them to get the ZigBee signal further than like a meter from the closet where the HA host will live.
For Z-Wave I will try to track down a cheap smart outlet because for Z-Wave I don’t have the luxury of a directly mains-powered device anywhere in the house.

I am now desperately waiting for the sticks, the notifications from the Z-Wave Hubs are getting more annoying by the message.

I thank everyone that has sent suggestions and tips!

Welcome! And I think you’ll find that HA is an excellent choice for this kind of consolidation and simplification. I use the Zooz 800 (ZST39 LR) controller stick for my Z-wave and am quite happy with it.

Important to understand is that the Z-wave “network” is stored in the stick/controller itself, so when you switch from your existing hubs to a stick you’ll need to rebuild the Z-wave network from scratch, or try to transfer data over, which isn’t simple. Since you have so few devices, starting fresh on the new stick would probably be easiest.

Another key concept about mesh networks like Z-wave and Zigbee is to “build out from the hub”. In other words, start by first adding the powered device (or repeater) closest to the stick, then add the items further away. This will help the communication between the devices be as efficient as possible.

Hope this helps, and enjoy the ride!

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I can’t comment much on the Z-wave, but for Zigbee I would say why not go for the SkyConnect? It works and it also supports HA. Then again, I have a Sonoff (like this one Sonoff Zigbee USB Dongle Plus - ) , which is based on the same chip and it also does the job fine.
You shouldn’t need repeaters if you mostly have lights and outlets, since those devices are usually routers (“repeaters” in Zigbee language) apart from their other function. If one of the devices is far away from other devices though, it can be useful. In that case, just get more lamps and outlets because typically the bulbs are cheaper than dedicated routers. If you really don’t want more lamps or outlets, e.g. Ikea makes a device that is purely a repeater. Also do some searching because maybe someone has found a way to reprogram one of your hubs as a repeater.
Having multiple Zigbee hubs is actually worse than having one, since you can’t profit from the meshing of the network, you are just creating multiple networks and only some channels are optimal for avoiding wifi interference (look that up!). So you are heading in the right direction I think.

No you won’t. Just about every option available for this is sub-optimal and will cause issues.

Because you are running in virtual usb pass through is usually the biggest issue. You will be looking for network based coordinator sticks or a solution that can run on a remote pi or something similar.

That said there’s solid recommendations for each. And I sure people are about to pile on with suggestions there. But… Network based coordinator sticks /solutions and two separate sticks.

Oh wow, thanks everyone for the suggestions!

I’m gonna look into getting the Skyconnect for ZigBee, since it seems rather affordable. I’m not sure if I can be bothered to reflash one of the existing hubs because it’s a miracle if I get home before 6PM :confused:

The Zooz 800 doesn’t seem to be available from the usual places in Germany and I kind of don’t want to pay as much for shipping as I do for the item itself. If I find a trustworthy shop I might consider it.
I’ve seen the Aeotec Z-Stick, is it any good? Seems to have better availability here.

Smart outlets as repeaters are something I have considered, but the Z-Wave ones can get pricey from what I can tell. Then again, best case scenario I need like one at most.

Having to redo the entire Z-Wave/ZigBee networks is something I can fully accept if I finally get a reliable connection to my radiator valves.

Gonna get the Skyconnect ordered now, let’s hope with Christmas around the corner it won’t take too long.

Its fine just with ZWave it’s geography dependent make sure you pick a stick that can operate in Germany

Gonna look out for that, I’ve dodged a bullet once with the German FCC equivalent when I played with a cell repeater, don’t want a repeat of that

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I went the Home Assistant Yellow approach, so using the GPIO version of the Zooz 800 series controller (ZAC93 LR versus the ZST39 LR). My understanding is that the performance of the ZST39 LR is pretty much identical to the ZAC93 LR, however you have the advantage of using a USB extension to place it closer to your first z-wave device. The LR feature doesn’t appear to be supported in HA yet, so you’ll have the 150’ range from each device, but I believe that is expected soon.
The best ZigBee USB suggestion is HA’s own SkyConnect. Home Assistant SkyConnect - Home Assistant This product supports ZigBee but also supports Matter/Thread with a firmware upgrade. That upgradability and support in HA provides the long term flexibility in my opinion. Again, you can use a USB extension to get it closer to your first ZigBee device.

ZigBee, be sure to add your mains powered devices first in order to take advantage of the router features. No neutral wire or contact battery devices should be added last.

I have never ever EVER seen full stated range form any ZWave or Zigbee device. (even ZWave plus) Plan on cutting this number in half or more. (people, walls, buildings, wires are all real things that love to block signals)

I personally use 30’ for planning between powered repeating nodes (~10m). Yes you can see my mesh from space like Clark Griswold’s Christmas lights but I also rarely have communication issues.

I also rarely use dedicated repeaters - why not get function (extra switch, outlet) when most powered devices are routerw/repeaters for thier respective network types.

Yes, I agree, just wanted to mention that the LR (1 mile) range of 800 series LR Z-Wave devices is not yet realized in the software. As @NathanCu indicates, expect that pre LR range to be half or more depending on your construction and materials.

I have the Zooz 700 stick and it works well. ZWave 800-series chipsets are still pretty new and not widely implemented yet, but 700-series chipsets have been out for a few years and should be readily available. Unless you have a specific use case requiring the 800-series, most homes would do perfectly fine with the 700-series.

Don’t miss out on this (good point), there are bunch of Ethernet-wired Zigbee-coordinators on the market, which will help you place the Device anywhere but near from your Synology NAS etc, and maybe closer to your zigbee-childs, Lots of people here experience problems because their zigbee controller is close to bunch of other 2.4GHz Devices ( or other interfering Device )

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There are not any modern combo radios anymore for Zigbee and Z-Wave (those that are available are old and not as good as having dedicated radios for each protocol).

Personally, I can recommend ITead’s Sonoff ZBDongle-P as a Zigbee 3.0 Coordinator which works great with either Home Assistant’s built-in ZHA (Zigbee Home Automation) integration or third-party Zigbee2MQTT (Z2M), and the Aeotec Z-Stick 7 as a Z-Wave 700 Series Controller that works great with great either Home Assistant’s built-in Z-Wave integration or a stand-alone Z-Wave JS installation, (though you might consider getting the newer Zooz ZST39 Stick Z-Wave 800 Series Controller instead for a brand new installation). If you really want a centralized all-in-one solution then suggest installing the built-in ZHA integration and Z-Wave integration using the default configurations/settings with those USB radio adapters connected via USB extension cables.

Zigbee is extremely sensitive to EMF/EMI/RMI interference and infamously known to get jammed by computers and devices/peripherals with USB 3.x so important to connect via a USB 2.0 port (or via a USB 2.0 hub if have none) and also to get the Zigbee Coordinator away from such sources of interference by using a long USB extension cable (tip is to get a USB to RJ45 conversion adapter kit as those will convert any shielded Ethernet cable into a very long USB extension cable).

Also very important to add several “known good” mains-powered Zigbee and Z-Wave devices that act as Zigbee Router devices and Z-Wave repeaters (range extenders), especially for Zigbee which have shorter range and poor penetration of building materials like walls. There are no combo repeaters for Zigbee and Z-Wave, but since most mains-powered Zigbee and Z-Wave devices act as routers/repeaters/extenders you usually just have to add a bunch of power-plugs of each protocol, however for a great set-up I personally advice adding a few dedicated routers/repeaters/extenders of each, especially for Zigbee (and always if you do not have a bunch of other mains-powered Zigbee and Z-Wave devices like example power-plugs that act as routers/repeaters/extenders).

I highly that you read and try to follow all the tips here → Zigbee networks: how to guide for avoiding interference and optimize for getting better range + coverage

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Out of curiosity - what are those hubs? Could you elaborate?

There is no good zigbee + z-wave combo stick these days. I would go with what Hedda recommended (be sure to look into how exactly you do USB Passthrough with Synology docker environment), or (if zigbee) what boheme61 recommended Ethernet-based coordinators.

While I would not want to argue against network based coordinators, I would want to say that I am having excellent experiences with USB passthrough in my system. In fact, the ethernet in my network is far less reliable than my zigbee stick. (this is a separate problem that I won’t discuss here since it is not related to HA :grin: ), besides, I know the solution and I’m working on it )

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The Z-Wave Hubs are both Devolo Home Control units with the funky ability to get their network connection either through an ethernet port OR over power line communication. Makes sense if you know that Devolo’s main line of products is PLC adapters.
While in theory it’s a great solution, in practice the hubs are struggling to keep the PLC connection to one another on the same circuit. Also, the cloud connection is slower than my great-grandmother, I can adjust the target temperature, think about if I should start counting the seconds, then start counting to ten, and THEN the valves finally adjust.

One of the ZigBee Hubs is an Ikea Trädfri Gateway. Quite happy with that one actually, but I want the cloud connection gone. If I need to connect from somewhere else I have a VPN into the network.

The other three are random Tuya-based hubs, those I just want gone due to Tuya, read no good things about it.

That there’s no good combo sticks has been mentioned already. Not too sad about that, the setup may have just been a bit cleaner with one.
I have bought the Aeotec Z-Stick 7 and the HA Skyconnect now. From what I’ve read, I do have the option of building a combined network based coordinator down the line with a Raspberry Pi, which would be great when I eventually get a second NAS as a backup.

This thread is solved, my initial questions have been answered.
The main post has been edited.