Zigbee range and how to improve

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.

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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.

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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

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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

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.
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So, my Sonoff Zigbee USB stick turned up and it looks that the firmware is quite old.

I think that I have found a video which runs me through the upgrade process. It points to this repo for the source files that I should use for flashing: Releases · Koenkk/Z-Stack-firmware (github.com)

However, the video has him pulling the files for flashing from a folder named Z-Stack_3.x.0 and I notice at the same level there is also a folder named Z-Stack_Home_1.2 and I was just curious if the Home mentioned in that folder name relates to Home Assistant?

To complicate matters further the video was made earlier this year and talks about using Zigbee2MQTT and I don’t know if this uses a different flash file. At the moment the Sonoff device is already recognised by Home Assistant and when I joined my sensor it seemed to work right out of the box. I’m therefore not sure if Zigbee2MQTT is something I need to use or if it offers any major benefits of just using the in-built Home Assistant integration.

Could someone please help me by pointing me in the direction of the right firmware file and perhaps clarify the situation with Zigbee2MQTT and any potential benefits?



Link to Tutorial: HOW TO - Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 Dongle Plus in Home Assistant (Flash, Update, Zigbeemqtt & MQTT Broker) - YouTube

Offtopic + depends if it is a CC2652P based “ZBDongle-P” or a EFR32MG21 based "ZBDongle-E so they use different firmware, but the Zigbee solution used supports the same firmware for them, see:

So, I guess having thought some more what i’m asking are two things:

  1. Is the firmware listed in the video above unique to Zigbee2MQTT or is it the same firmware irrespective of what method you use with the device?

  2. I believe the default method for Zigbee integration is via ZHA. That seems to work out of the box so i’m curious why you would choose to also add Zigbee2MQTT. What benefits does this really offer?

No. It will however unique to the CC2652P based “ZBDongle-P” adapter so make sure that you did not buy the EFR32MG21 based "ZBDongle-E adapter which looks almost identical.


Off-topic, please search existing other threads or start a new thread, hwoever, FYI both ZHA and Zigbee2MQTT will work with the firmware they ship with but will work better with newer firmware. See example → General question: ZHA or Zigbee2MQTT and why?

I use both with two separate adapters but personally prefer the idea behind ZHA because it is integrated

@Hedda Do you know of any sure fire way to identify which model I have?

Smart Home Junkie seems to suggest that the new E model has additional writing on the box. If that’s the case it would suggest mine is the -P model.

Apologies also for lumping lots of questions in here. For the next question i’ll be sure to search the forum first and only open a new thread if I can’t find any solution.

  1. The firmware is the same for ZHA or z2m, but as @Hedda notes, there are two different versions of the Sonoff stick with different FW files and flash methods. Do you have the “P” or “E” version?

  2. Preference. I generally like z2m better overall. My take on it is here: ZHA Vs Zigbee2Mqtt - #3 by jerrm


Yes look on the back of it as the “ZBDongle-E” adapter do say “Model: ZBDongle-E” on it there while the “ZBDongle-P” adapter do say “Model: ZBDongle-P”.

The “ZBDongle-P” is also about a centimetre longer than the “ZBDongle-E” model if you look at specs.

Finally you could open it up and look at the board to see if SoC chip says CC2652P or EFR32MG21.

@Peter_West Again I collected a lot of specific details on the two models in those other linked threads:



Thanks Hedda. Hopefully this will be my last post here.

My eyesight is not the best and the writing on the chip is super small, but through a use of my mobile and zooming in I think I managed to determine that mine is a Dongle-P.

The writing on the back of mine only says USB Dongle PLUS, nowhere does it explicitely say Dongle-P or Dongle-E. But this could be due to it being older stock. There is a date (which i’d presume is maybe date of manufacture) on the back near where it says USB Dongle PLUS which reads 2021-07-29.

I’ll flash it with the correct firmware and can then do some experimentation to decide if I want to just use ZHA or Zigbee2MQTT. I already have an MQTT broker running anyway so the workload in implementing Zigbee2MQTT isn’t particularly huge.

Thanks for all the help.

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You must have“ZBDongle-P” then. The “ZBDongle-P” was previously known as “Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus” before was renamed when the “ZBDongle-E” variant was released in July of 2022.

Yes it would be best to start by upgrading to a later firmware since yours is relatively old stock, see → https://community.home-assistant.io/t/iteads-sonoff-zigbee-3-0-usb-dongle-plus-model-zbdongle-p-based-on-texas-instruments-cc2652p-20dbm-radio-mcu-now-sold-for-19-99/340705

And again, also read and follow the general tips which applies to all Zigbee implementations → https://github.com/zigpy/zigpy/wiki/Generic-best-practice-tips-on-improving-Zigbee-network-range-and-general-stability

Does anybody know if ZT3L (if im not mistaken) module in BSEED smart socket supports repeater function? Chinese store support seems did not understand my question, neither I could see mention about that in their manuals.
I have purchased few or them particularly for that purpose.