Zigbee range and how to improve

I’ve currently got a USB based Zigbee adapter which i’d like to use to monitor some (yet to be purchased) door and window sensors.

One issue I have is that the computer to which the adapter is connected is in a garage and most of the sensors will be in the main house. I’m therefore concerned about range.

Is there such a thing as a zigbee repeater which can be used to extend the range?

I know a lot of the door and window sensors are battery operated so would a powered repeater be an option?

If anyone has any suggestions on how to ensure good coverage then i’d really appreciate some advice.



ZigBee devices that are hardwired or physically plugged into an outlet also act as ZigBee repeaters. These add more nodes to your ZigBee mesh network and extend its range while improving its functionality. These include smart outlets, hardwired switches, and smart plugs.

Some more info see:

1 Like

Thanks @Janneman

I actually already have a Hue Hub in the main house. It’s at the rear of the property but i’m guessing if I buy a single door or window sensor then I should be able to try it in various locations to see what the coverage is like?

In terms of distance the Hue Hub is probably less than 30ft from the computer which has the USB Zigbee adapter, so hopefully that’s close enough (there’s the house wall and the garage wall between the two devices so I need to keep that in mind).

Sorry, I just read further.

Am I reading correct that effectively the Tradfri and Hue bulbs i’ve got will effectively act as repeaters too (so long as the power to them is maintained and noone turns them off at the regular light switch)?

I don’t think you will be able to pair your Hue hub to your USB stick, however, as you have a Hue hub you most likely have a Hue light, which could be paired with your USB stick and then the bulb will act as a repeater.

In this case, your Hue hub will not be used, so you will be able to shut it down and sync all of your zigbee devices to your new zigbee network managed by the USB stick.

The Hue hub is not a repeater, it is a controller, just like the USB stick you have. You can have multiple repeaters but just one Zigbee controller in your network, so you will have to choose between the Hue hub and your USB stick as your Zigbee controller.
The Trådfri and Hue bulbs will all work as repeaters and will help you extending the range, regardless if using the Hue hub or the USB stick as a controller. (I’m assuming the Hue hub could control your Tradfri bulbs, but I’ve never tried that.)

That’s correct!

Exactly. The bulbs must be powered to be able to act as a repeater. If you power off a bulb you probably will experience some degradation to the zigbee network for the devices relying on that repeater.
Make sure you never power off the bulbs.

If keeping the bulbs always powered could be an issue, I would suggest you buy one of those Zigbee power plugs or proper Zigbee repeaters. Ikea have some cheap options.

TRÅDFRI Signalförstärkare - IKEA

Thanks @EdwardTFN.

So I can use a bulb to act as a repeater, but it wouldn’t be possible to control it via the Hue App.

It would, though, still show up in Home Assistant so I could control it either via HA or via Alex (I have Nabu Casa so most my devices are exposed back to Alexa).

If you pair the bulbs to the Hue hub you will be controlling from the Hue app, and the bulbs are still acting as a repeater to everything supported by the Hue hub (and you can still connect the Hue hub to Home Assistant).

Or pick up another USB adapter or two and flash with router firmware. I find the Sonoff ZBDongle-P makes a great router/extender. Expect the “E” would be good as well.

We are talking about two different things here…

  1. About the bulbs acting as repeaters… that will happens regardless to which controller that bulb is connected to. If you use the Hue hub as a controller, you can have everything working as it is.
    The only thing about using Hue hub as your Zigbee controller is that that hub is limited to devices from a few providers. If you only have devices supported by Hue, you are good.

  2. If you have devices that are not supported by Hue, then you can pair that device to your Zigbee network controlled by your USB stick.

  3. You can have 2 Zigbee networks working in parallel. Those networks will be sharing the same radio frequency, but unless you overload your networks, you probably won’t notice any issue.

  4. One device cannot be in two disticts Zigbee networks, so if you have your bulbs connected only to your Hue hub controlled network, those bulbs are acting as repeaters to other devices in the same Hue Zigbee network, but won’t help in the other Zigbee network controlled by your USB stick.
    If you connect your bulbs to the Zigbee network controlled by the USB stick, it will act as a repeater on that network, but not on Hue network.

For your info, I’ve retired my old Hue hub and Hue apps and I’m using only one Zigbee network controlled by a USB stick and ZHA in Home Assistant, then using Nabu Casa to get to Alexa.

One device cannot


That is right, but probably will be more work and more expensive than a cheap smart plug (IKEA have one for around €10) and with the smart plug you can also use to control some device.

Thanks for all the information.

I think i’d rather keep the Hue setup purely for lighting and then use the Aeotec stick to create a seperate network. It will predominantly be for things like door, window and motion sensors.

The kitchen is at the rear of our home and has a tonne of sockets around it - so for me the best option is probably to pick up a zigbee controlled smart plug. The Ikea one would probably do the job but they’re not the most discrete so instead I might grab a couple of the Innr Zigbee smart plugs instead. They’re a bit more pricey but much more discrete.

With a couple of those I can hopefully pair them to the Aeotec stick and get an idea as to what the coverage is like.

Is it possible to pair IKEA Tradfri bulbs to a ZWave device like the Aeotec stick? I tried tonight by bring the adapter into the home and pressing the button. Once i’d done that I powered the bulb on and off the required number of times to get it into pairing mode but nothing seemed to happen with the stick. Not sure if I did something wrong or if it’s just not possible with that type of device.

Definitely not! :smiley:

IKEA Trådfri is based on Zigbee, which is not the same as Z-Wave. They operate in different frequencies, between other differences.

:man_facepalming: Yeah, I just realised I was mixing my protocols.

Thanks for the comparison. I’ll have a read before I decide on which way I want to go.

Having taken a look it looks like Zigbee would be the better way to go.

However, as i’d like a range of devices including various sensors i’m presuming it would make more sense to invest in a seperate Zigbee hub which supports a wider range of devices. Once i’ve got that established then it should be possible to install the necessary sensors. If range is an issue then I need to install suitable wired devices to act as repeaters.

I’ve gone ahead and ordered the following so I can get started on testing things out:

  • SONOFF Universal Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus Gateway with Antenna
  • Aqara Door and Window Sensor

As the sensor is battery based i’m presuming I can test it around the various locations in the home to see if the state is still detected. I’ll most likely work from the closest room to the place where my Server is and then slowly try different positions further away as this should allow me to determin if I need repeater devices and if so where.

1 Like

Another $5-$10 than a plug if you have a spare USB charger for power, otherwise $10-$15 . The Sonoff stick will be a more robust router in most instances. Stronger signal, better antenna.

If buying primarily as a router - I’d get the stick.

If a plug is needed anyway, get the plug first and see how it goes.

1 Like

This is exactly what I did to map out my coverage and it worked great . Monitored the phone app as I walked around with the door/window sensor. It is a little tricky as you need three hands. Hold the phone, hold the sensor base, move the magnet. Lol

1 Like

Highly recommend that you read and follow this guide → https://github.com/zigpy/zigpy/wiki/Generic-best-practice-tips-on-improving-Zigbee-network-range-and-general-stability

Update: Check out this more extentive community guide instead → Zigbee networks: how to guide for avoiding interference and optimize for getting better range + coverage

Other than updating Zigbee Coordinator firmware + connecting the Zigbee Coordinator USB adapter via a long USB extension cable to USB 2.0 port/hub (and not a USB 3.0 port/hub), the most importantly is that you should add mains-powered “Zigbee Router” devices closer to the Zigbee Coordinator to extend the range and coverage before trying to add battery-powered devices further away from the Zigbee Coordinator, as that is a common mistake that can lead to a bad experience.

Zigbee uses mesh networking topology, which means that most mains-powered devices are a “Zigbee Router” that can act as signal repeater and range extended by transmitting data over long distances by passing data messages through the Zigbee network mesh of intermediate devices to reach more distant Zigbee devices. Thus to have a healthy Zigbee network you need many Zigbee Router devices relativly close to each other in order to achieve good coverage and range.

Simply start by adding mains-powered Zigbee devices (i.e. “Zigbee Router” devices) and/or decrease the distance between Zigbee Router devices in Zigbee network mesh to get better range and coverage:

  • Zigbee uses mesh networking and depends on having many “Zigbee Router” devices to extend range and coverage:
  • Recommendation is to add additional mains-powered Zigbee devices known to be good Zigbee Router devices.
  • Add more Zigbee Router devices and reduce their distances to extend network mesh coverage and range.
  • Note that not all mains-powered devices have firmware that make it act as a Zigbee Router device.
  • Some brands/models of Zigbee Router devices are know to only work well with same brand of devices.
  • Buy a few known good dedicated Zigbee Router product (like example the “IKEA Tradfri Signal Repeater”).
  • Search community forums for more “Zigbee signal repeater” or “Zigbee range extender” Zigbee Router tips.
  • Buy a few additional new Zigbee USB adapters to use after re-flashing them with Zigbee Router firmware.
  • Reflash/reuse modern Zigbee USB adapters to act as Zigbee Router by updating to other Zigbee firmware.
1 Like