ZigBee relay in electrical distribution cabinet

I have an electrical distribution cabinet one like this that is connected to different parts of a farm with outdoor lights and barns etc. I was wondering if there is some kind of ZigBee relay or something like this that can have an external antenna. So I can use it for the outdoor lights, the lights use a mounted timer.

There is no problem with DIY external antenna if there is no existing product.

Hi, welcome to the forum!

What will be the distance between the closest point in your mesh to that cabinet.
Be aware that zigbee doesn’t have a long reach.

It is around 20m (google maps measure). The cabinet is on the outside a “barn” with concrete walls. Whera I once tried to use a SONOFF ZBMINIL2 I could connect it but it would lose connection after a couple of hours. I know ZigBee isn’t the best at longer ranges. I could set up a regular in-wall relay or an outlet on the outside of the house, then it probably would work better. But my biggest concern is that the cabinet is metal. I have a wifi smart meter, and without an antenna, it does not work.

20m in open air should work but if the cabinet is made from steel it is a Faraday cage which affects any wireless signal.

Yes it is a steel cabinet, I can make holes or use existing holes for antenna wire. Do you know any Zigbee relay that can use external antenna, or is it only a DIY way?

Both the Aqara T1 and T2 relays come with an external antenna pre-attached. I’m not sure whether it’s long enough to suit your needs, but it’s better than nothing.

I’ve come across Tuya zigbee relays with external antennas in the past, but annoyingly I can’t seem to find them for you right now. To complicate matters, most default pictures don’t show the antenna so you have to open the product page to find out.

Inside the T2 it looked like it had a IPX plug so I could change the antenna, but I think the temp range is a bit of a problem I live in Sweden where it has been recording low temps well under -10C night time.

I’d only change the antenna as a last resort - those things are calibrated to match the frequency and there’s a dark art to getting the length just right without having the opposite effect of a reduced range.

Regarding the temperature, I wouldn’t worry too much. Your electrical cabinet will generate some heat and that might be enough to keep the relay within range.
Honestly, your bigger struggle would have been to find a relay that tolerates temps below -10, rather than finding one with an external antenna.

I hadn’t looked into the temp ranges of any relay but I could not find anything under -10.

I think the antenna cable is too short. Can’t you use a “regular” wifi antenna? I have an IPX to SMA cable. It could be worse in a normal install. But if the cabinet acts like a Faraday cage it is probably better with an unoptimized antenna outside, than the original antenna inside the cabinet.

You could try but there’s no guarantee it’ll work.

I’d just extend the mains wires, make sure everything is well insulated, and stick that thing to the side of the cabinet with double sided tape (maybe on a piece of wood for safety).
That way you’ll definitely have enough reach to the outside of the cabinet.