Building a Robust Zwave Mesh

When you are building your zwave mesh is it ok to use old zwave repeaters to help build it out or should you restrict the mesh, to fewer devices and as much as possible to zwave plus repeaters?

Similarly should you worry about hops or leverage all the possible repeaters you have, even if they may be overlapping/close to each other?

You may be interested in reading this part of the documentation if you haven't already seen it:

To directly answer your question, I suspect you'll get varying opinions. Personally, I don't put any repeaters on my mesh anymore that aren't at least Z-Wave Plus. This is because they have better range, potentially greater bandwidth, and support more features (like "through-the-mesh"/network-wide inclusion/pairing and a reduction or elimination of the need to run Z-Wave Repair when moving or changing devices). I also prefer repeaters that support beaming because they work better with "sleepy" devices like locks and battery-powered motor devices, but even "classic" Z-Wave repeaters can support that. If I had to choose which was more important to me, I'd almost pick the latter ... but I personally chose to do both. :slight_smile: (I don't have as strong of a preference on whether my repeaters are 500-series/Plus or 700-series/Plus v2, though I don't see any reason not to prefer the latter if you can get those. There just aren't a lot at the moment, at least in the US.)

I wouldn't worry about having "too many" repeaters. Z-Wave is limited to 4 hops between the hub and the device and should optimize this on its own (but again with classic devices, a repair may be necessary after moving it to your desired location). I would definitely avoid having so few repeaters that only one is within reasonable range of a specific device (since we can't see RF, you never know what weird things might happen--maybe that sensor is within range but only works when a nearby door is open more than halfway). But if you have a solid mesh of Plus devices and were considering adding the "classic" devices "just in case," I could definitely understand wanting to try things out without them first.

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Really helpful. I have read the doc. On smartthings I had the network set up with “just” the right number of repeaters and in “just” the right place. Most of them were Aeon Labs Appliance Switches which look to be zwave but not plus.

HE antennas seem to be ever so slightly weaker OR since I am moving the switches they are in a slightly less optimal place and creating pain. I’m realizing now that my prior method did rely on me guessing how a radio wave radiates and was often inaccurate as you note due to the environment. My “just right” placement led to a very brittle/flaky network (that I knew really well though) and dependent on no changes or at least ones I knew about and then adjustment.

My thinking is to get out of that thinking and replace the switches that are outside with zwave plus ones and move the older ones inside so the mesh has more overlap/redundancy. I could buy smaller form repeaters to place around the house but my upbringing has me hating to throw something away that generally works but I also realize older devices don’t always help.

Same--I sold most of my classic powered devices on eBay a year or two ago. Still a bit of demand for them, though they aren't worth very much.

When you're switching from one hub to another, it can be tricky since you're destroying the first mesh as you create the second, and the second might be weak until you get all your repeaters added. I'm not sure that bringing the "classic" repeaters closer to the center of your mesh would help, as they'd then likely be more attractive routes for many of your devices (which you may not want). I might first see if a repair helps your "classic" outside notes get a rood route through your existing repeaters. But that's just my guess. I have no RF vision and not enough expertise in its peculiarities to tell you if what seems like a reasonable guess to me has a chance of being accurate. :slight_smile:

I don’t know why I have been asking people which repeater works best when the obvious question is what RF vision glasses work best.


“HE antennas seem to be ever so slightly weaker”

When I moved from ST to Hubitat two years ago, I discovered that HE’s Z-Wave radio was weaker than ST. I had to add several z-wave repeaters. One suggestion I was given was to add a z-wave repeater repeater NEAR the hub. I added a repeater in the same room as my hub, about 10 feet away, and that really improved my mesh.


@didymus whoa that is super helpful. I was actually thinking that my repeaters by the hub were part of the problem! The one I have now is near the floor and a number of things are running through it. I was going to swap it for a zigbee thinking it was interfering with going direct to the hub. Will rethink that and get it closer and higher off the ground.

@didymus I switched the zwave switch I had on the floor below the hub that things were routing through (and getting a low kbps number), to a zwave plus device and moved that up and next to the hub. Things are now starting to route through that and getting the same kbs rating as those that are going direct (40kbps). Thanks

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@Panda That's a good move to get the zwave repeater up off the floor. My hub is about 6' off the ground, and my repeater is in the same room, 7' high and about 10' away from the hub. Most every radio seems have to better range when it's higher up off the ground.

Yeah I just never expected it to be used. I just thought given the choice, things would go direct to the hub which was up higher and less hops.

Try using a repeater plug instead of a repeater switch? The latter is directional to the front only. The former is omnidirectional.

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