Reliable affordable Zigbee routers (UK based)

Hi I am new to HA and Zigbee, I am using a Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus as coordinator and I have 2 Sonnoff Temperature and Humidity sensors to test things out.

I have tried both ZHA and Zigbee2MQTT with these devices and I am having a lot of problems with keeping the sensors online. With ZHA I cannot pair the sensors unless they are right next to the coordinator, its a little better with Zigbee2MQTT but the devices often do not complete the interview process. When I move the sensors to the places I want them they lose connections often for many hours and sometimes they drop off completely.

I live in a reasonably large house, my testing has taken place no more than about 5-10 meters from the coordinator so I think I need to look at strengthening the zigbee network by adding devices to for a mesh.

I have been looking for options for mains powered devices that act as Zigbee routers but other than Lightbulbs (which I don’t want or need) and plugs that go in existing sockets I cant find anything.

Can anyone recommend some affordable reliable zigbee router devices that I can use to form a decent zigbee mesh. I am based in the UK so after devices available here.


I would try to get the issues resolved with just the coordinator first.

  1. Make sure the Sonoff stick is flashed with the latest firmware,
  2. and is on an extension cable.
  3. If it is the v2 (“E”) version of the dongle make sure z2m is at 1.28. Even with 1.28 z2m’s ezsp support should probably be considered beta.
  4. Check for wifi vs zigbee channel conflicts. ZHA’s default of zigbee channel 15 is not bad, but z2m’s default of zigbee 11 is bad if you have anything on wifi 1.
  5. Review @hedda’s zigbee tips at Generic best practice tips on improving Zigbee network range and general stability · zigpy/zigpy Wiki · GitHub
  6. I’ve been very happy with Sonoff ZBDongle-P and like the plugs (S31/S40 Lite in the US), but the battery powered sensors (I bought one of each available at the time) quickly went into the trash. I didn’t think them worthy of taking up drawer space.
  7. Try other sensors - see #6.

As for routers, I have four Sonoff ZBDongle-P sticks flashed with router firmware. Both my ZHA and z2m nets have been rock solid. I have nothing against the ZBDongle-E, I’d expect it makes a fine router as well, but built things out before it was available.


If you look for reliability, probably going to this direction of flashing an usb zigbee controller to work as a repeater is the best option, although I’ve never tried so I cannot say how good and how much work it would be.
Those Ikea repeaters are quite cheap and do the work, but you need those powered by USB (it comes with a power supply, but you can use with other available USB power source).

But those are repeaters only, with no other functionality, and are not the most beautiful piece to have it around, so I would spend a little bit more and look for a smart power plug zigbee.

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Thanks jerrm, I have sone the first 2 and already I have a much better network, my 2 test sensors connected straight away when I put the dongle on a 3m USB cable and put it high up in the room, I am not sure which version I flashed but O followed a YouTube video and the hex file was dated 20220219 (19 Feb 2022). I have manged to get the sensor working but in the place I want them to live I get link quality of 68 and 84 according to the Z2M map. I want to place some sensor further away from the coordinator so I am pretty sure I will still need some other devices to act as routers.

I will now work through your other point but wanted to say thanks.

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That’s the latest release FW, so you’re good there.

With regard to lqi, you may see posts about a good lqi being in the 200 or higher range. Those posts are NOT referring to the Sonoff Dongle-P.

The lqi is not standardized between chipsets. My highest lqi’s are upper 130s into the 140s. This seems normal based on other reports. Vast majority of my devices are probably 45 - 90 range, but have stable devices into the teens.

Other than the IKEA TRÅDFRI Signal Repeater (which works out-of-the-box though suggest updating OTA firmware on it anyway) I recommend flashing ITead’s Sonoff branded “ZBDongle-E” and/or “ZBDongle-P” with respective Zigbee Router firmware and then using them in a standard USB-charger for power:

Comparing “ZBDongle-P” vs. “ZBDongle-E” vs. barebone EFR32MG21 dongle

image verses image versus image

Feature/Model ZBDongle-P ZBDongle-E 9888010100045
Radio SoC/MCU chip Texas Instruments CC2652P Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 Silicon Labs EFR32MG21
Zigbee Stack (Serial Interface Protocol API/CLI) Z-Stack v3 (ZNP 3) EmberZNet (EZSP v8) EmberZNet (EZSP v8)
Optional Zigbee Router firmware Yes (9dBm firmware available from Koenkk) Yes (20dBm firmware available from ITead) Yes (20dBm firmware available from ITead)
USB to UART/Serial Converter Chip CP2102 or CP2102N CH9102F CH340
USB EEPROM Product Description ID SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus V2 None (no USB chip EEPROM)
Home Assistant USB Auto Disovery Yes Not yet Not possible
Flow Control None by default (Hardware flow control optional with alternative firmware and flipped dip-switch) Software flow control Software flow control
RF Transmit Output Power 9dBm (firmware hardcoded), Max: 20dBm 20dBm (default) 20dBm (default)
Antenna External (rotatable and tiltable) External (rotatable and tiltable) Onboard circuit board antenna
Enclosure/case Aluminum all-metal shell casing Aluminum all-metal shell casing None
Length 63mm 52mm ?
Packaging Retail-box with manual Retail-box with manual Anti-static bag only
Home Assistant ZHA Supported Supported Supported
Zigbee2MQTT Supported Experimental support as still in development by zigbee-herdsman dev, see Experimental support as still in development by zigbee-herdsman dev, see
IoBroker Supported Experimental support as still in development by zigbee-herdsman dev, see Experimental support as still in development by zigbee-herdsman dev, see
OpenHAB ZigBee Binding Not yet, see request and discussion Supported Supported
Domoticz Zigbee Plugin Supported Supported Supported
Jeedom Zigbee Plugin Supported Supported Supported
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Apparently ”Aeotec Range Extender Zi” is another one but no idea of its performance or chip/firmware used