Sonoff ZBDongle-E extremely poor range. Is it me or is the stick rubbish

Hello all,

I wanted to move start de move from my old 433mhz rf-link stuf to zigbee.
To test it out I bought a dirt cheap cc2531 usb stick plugged it in my pi4 in the utility closet and paired my only zigbee device that I have at the moment an ikea light bulb.
All works find the signal goes through a a couple of doors with ease.

Now that all works I would like to upgrade my game and bought the sonoff zigbee dongle 3.0 E.
The rage on that thing is terrible.
Plugging it right in the pi straight away in the utility closet does not work it all. I now used a USB extension cord so that the dongle is outside the closet with only a couple of meters between the ikea bulb and the dongle it self. This works somewhat. I don’t dare to touch the dongle because that will for sure kill the link to the bulb.

What am I doing wrong. Everywhere I read that it should be a fairly good dongle.
I used ZHA and zigbee2mqtt which doesn’t help. I used different firmware also doesn’t help.
Used different zigbee channels also no change.

Should I just ditch this dongle and buy something else and if so what would you recommend. Or is there a setting I overlook what could help me.

I got one of the newer sonoff ones (dongle p) when they first came out and haven’t looked back.

things to try…

not all USB extensions are created equal try another one
keep the unit itself well away from anything bluetooth and wifi (especially 2.4GHZ) related
what kind of materials is your house made of?

mine sits at the end of a 2m usb 3.0 extension cable up near the ceiling on the 2nd floor of our house and is connected to devices across the whole house. I can pair a device via it from any room in the house so im going through several concrete walls and a floor, about 30-40ft.

hope its of some help. someone with the same dongle is probably better placed to advise. sure someone will be along soon :slight_smile:

Actually, the ZBDongle-E is the newer model, but, I’ve had better experience with the older ZBDongle-P.

Still at a distance of only a few feet there shouldn’t be an issue with the E. First thing would be to check for zigbee/wifi channel conflicts, @hedda’s interference primer covers that and more.

If that fails get the Dongle-P or other CC2652P based stick and report back. Willing to bet it will perform better, but still could be spotty if there are interference issues.

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The fact is that all Zigbee Coordinator dongles and all Zigbee devices are more or less very sensitive and affected by all types of interference so strongly recommend reading and trying to follow all the various advice here → Zigbee networks: how to guide for avoiding interference and optimize for getting better range + coverage

You also need to understand that Zigbee depends on network mesh technology so it really relies on you adding a few Zigbee Router devices that will act as Zigbee repeaters to extend range and coverage as well as add stability to the Zigbee network if and when the Zigbee Coordinator goes down.

If possible you should not have any Zigbee End devices (battery-powered devices) connected directly to the Zigbee Coordinator, instead, they should preferably connect indirectly via known good Zigbee Router device(s) that is located closest to that Zigbee End device (battery-powered device).

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I can’t really agree with that. I have a solid router mesh, but about a third of my devices eventually migrate to my coordinator(cc2652p/z2m) naturally. Everything is rock solid.

I’ve seen threads where ZHA devs have suggested a parameter to prevent end devices connecting to an SI Labs coordinator, but it sounded more like a work around for SI Labs/EZSP shortcomings than a generally good idea.

Thanks for sharing that information.
I will try a different extension cable to see if that is the problem.
Wierd though regarding the 3.0 usb. My old CC2531 was inserted directly in the PI next to a 3.0 port that was in use. I had a small cable between the antenna and the stick but that was only 10cm.
I did not expect that different sticks would make such a difference.
If I wasn’t installing motion sensors I would stick to the CC2531.
Hopefully with your guide I am able te get some more range.