Are dedicated Z Wave repeaters overrated?

With so many recommendations to add zwave repeaters for a more stable network, I added 4 Aeotec repeater 7's to my hubs last year. I set everything up from scratch, pairing the repeaters first to encourage routing through them. Looking closely at my zwave details I can confirm that out of the roughly 25 zwave devices, nothing is being passed through any of the repeaters. Instead it seems like Aeotec Doorbell 6 is a popular hop, as well as the Zooz multirelay.

So more of an observation than a question, but I'd say just throwing repeaters at a system arbitrarily doesn't seem effective. And mains powered devices seem to be just as good at being repeaters.

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My experience with Aeotec 7 Repeaters is the same as yours. My other devices would not use them. I also tried some of the Aeotec 6 Repeaters. Same, Same. Even when these Repeaters connected directly to the HE, nothing would repeat through them. These devices are pretty much just expensive LED Night Lights. This has just been another in a long list of Z-Wave disappointments.

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I had the occasional device use my Aeotec repeater, but at random. For example not the devices furthest from the hub which is what I got it for, but ones that were perfectly happy routing direct to the hub. Once I removed the repeater all my devices including the furthest ones were completely reliable either hopping through each other or direct to hub. It was just an additional bit of clutter taking up a power socket. I expect there are some situations they are really needed but it seems not in a moderately large house with brick walls to get through like mine!

I've given up on trying to figure out the inner workings of z-wave. All I can tell you is that I had a spotty z-wave network before I installed dedicated Aeotec repeaters, and it's been rock solid since I did (for about a year now). That said, s z-wave switches die, or as I decide to add more, I'll likely go with Lutron Casetas just because their system is so solid. That'll make my repeaters even more important for the remaining z-wave devices, I suspect.

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Yeah my experience too.. It works better if you incorporate repeaters during your initial network build out. Have done that with several clients - started with a skeleton framework of repeaters and then added in the other stuff.

Probably could be done with switches etc as well. The issue there though is it's difficult to determine how well a non dedicated device will actually repeat - devices like the powered MS6's and their small routing table cache can bottleneck the mesh. Other devices like switches should repeat but don't seem to..

I'm with @Madcodger, Z-Wave propagation is a dang mystery...

edit: Also wanted to mention that S2 authenticated devices seem to want to connect to S2 authenticated repeaters over non S2 devices with neighbor "distance" being slightly less of a factor.. I guess I understand this behavior from a security perspective if it really is a thing. Could just be some cognitive bias going on on my part..

I’m using the Ring Gen 2s and every one of them is routing. Surprisingly they didn’t seem to be the preferred route at first, but over time seemed to have settled into their role. (Given that most of the devices that are using them seem to be battery it may be because they were the only route available during power drops though.)

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I have actually not had much luck with the aeotec repeaters.. My ring gen2s are working well though..

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I ran into this set of videos with detailed explanations of Z-wave.

Found the mesh chapters as very helpfull in understanding how Z-wave network is built.
It does not solve anything for me but it is good to know...

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Same.

On my primary C7 hub with ~100 Zwave devices, the 5 Range Extender 7s are not used at all. That said, on my secondary C7 hub with 22 Zwave devices, the 2 Range Extender 7s are used -- 4 devices on one, 4 devices on the other.

I also deployed a Range Extender 6 paired with S0 on the secondary hub -- with line of sight to my deadbolt locks -- hoping to speed up response times. Unfortunately the locks don't use it.

So I guess my take is -- they're not useless, but they're not any more special than normal mains-powered devices that natively repeat. So I think you're spot on.

My thought is when they get added to the Hub's routing table seems to have a big impact.. the earlier the more likely they will be used. This is all somewhat speculative on my part though... having read through the simpler parts of the Z-Wave documentation and based on personal experience..

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Aeotec recently published a f/w update for the RE7s (now 1.04) - looks like it's just an update to the SDK.

Since I updated, one of my 4 RE7s now has one other device routing through it - maybe just a coincidence, but at least I know they can actually route :sweat_smile:

Mine are all paired as "none" security fwiw.

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If you have enough mains-powered Z-Wave devices (which generally are also repeaters), you don't need extra repeaters.

In my very limited experience, location tends to be underappreciated. My dimmers are commonly installed 48 inches (122 cm) high, whereas outlets are commonly 12 inches (30 cm) high. Also, dimmers tend to be near doorways, which limits nearby obstructions to RF.

The only value that I have empirically observed is when the dedicated repeater is mounted as high as practical in an area that is otherwise under-served by other devices. There is no magic in just sprinkling them around.

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The ways of z-wave are profound and inscrutable. It is not for mere mortals to question.

That said, I have tons of mains-powered dimmers, and haven't needed to use repeaters. Other people have needed them. It seems to be very much YMMV. I know my first instinct is always to think other peoples' homes are just like mine, but I've realized that's very much not true. Some houses are stick-built. Some have cinder-block walls. Some have sheetrock and some have lathe and plaster. In Chicago, the walls might be real bricks, with all wires and lightswitches in little metal Faraday cages. My house is in the middle of a field, but some people are surrounded by 50 neighbors, each with their own transmitters at a variety of frequencies. This is dark magic.

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I agree with you.. I have 3 of the Ring Gen2's and they are actually being used as repeaters. The aotec ones I had were reassigned to my desk drawer a long time ago. A benefit of the Ring ones is that they also report power loss back to the hub.

I must have missed something, but can someone tell me what a Ring Gen2 repeater is? If I search on Ring Gen2 all I can find is of course the Ring doorbell, etc. Can you post a link to one?
I also have two Aeotec RE6's and only one has one device using it, the other doesn't seem to have anything using it. I am a bit hesitant to remove the RE6 since my z-wave network has been rock solid for about 3 months now.
Thanks for the help.

Note: For HE usage it does NOT require the Ring Alarm Security Kit!

Thank you very much. I didn't know that the Ring Alarm used z-wave.

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They don't advertise that fact, but the Ring Alarm side of the house is usually ZWave+

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