Building Zigbee Network

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone here for steering me away from the path of WiFi switches and towards the Zooz Z-wave switches! I think I’m okay on the Z-wave network since I plan on making all of my smart switches these. However, I need a little bit of advice planning the Zigbee network. I realized that most of my Zigbee devices are end devices (primarily sensors) except for the occasional smart plug. The only “router” I have is the HE.

Our home is 2 stories, 3900 square feet. The HE will be placed in our office about 1/3 of the way from the left at the bottom floor. Is there a generic suggestion for repeater/router per # of end devices and repeater/router per square feet?

Reading through the forums, I have gotten the following recommendations on repeaters:

  1. SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 Dongle Plus (flashed)
  2. Tuya Mini Zigbee 3.0 Signal Repeater
  3. Aeotec Range Extender

Although I really want to do the SONOFF, I think my interior designer is seriously going to eye roll even more if I have this thing sticking out 4-5” off the wall. She’s already balking at the 85” TV and Nakamichi Dragon I’ve stuck in the living room. So, literally just for aesthetic purposes, I’ll probably go with the Tuya or Aeotec.


I really like the Tuya Mini Zigbee Signal Repeaters. They are very discrete and work extremely well. Chanting some of the wall plugs to some that have 2 USB connectors integrated allows to install them with no bulky power converter.

An other option to consider would be to intermix some of the Zigbee Blue 2-1 Inovelli dimmer/switches with your Z-Wave switches. This would add some repeaters.

FYI - Inovelli is working on both Zigbee and Z-Wave mmWave Presence Detector dimmer/switches (can be pre-ordered still I think). Those will look just like regular Inovelli switches, but will have an integrated presence detector. (I have several on order… will be replacing my existing Inovelli and some of my Lutron dimmers with those.)


My similar sized home is mostly full of GE/Jasco switches though I have several Zooz, Inovelli, and Lutron. Jasco makes Zigbee versions of their switches and I have them in specific places vs zwave for mesh purposes.

BTW you mention the Aeotec range extender above, just making sure you know it is just Zwave and not zigbee. If you have Zwave switches through your home you should need repeaters. This said I personally have several Ring Gen 2 repeaters since they have a battery and can report power outages. Zooz just released one as well with a battery.

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Good idea! Those switches are twice the price of Zooz though :frowning: I probably want to strategically place them. I think that presence sensor would be great in the walk-in closet.

How many do you suggest? Here is the layout of our top floor, which is what I’ll be focusing on first. It currently has the Z-wave layout on it, but I don’t mind change maybe 2 switches to Zigbee.

I’m thinking replacing the two Zen72s with Inovelli + Add-on switch. That would roughly equal the same price. For the 2nd one, I’m thinking of waiting for the presence sensor switch IF the main switch is the one next to the living room (wardrobes blocking the other one). If not, then change the Zen77 in the bedroom.

How many do you have (or you think you need) on one floor?

I think Aeotec has Zigbee ones too: Aeotec Range Extender Zi - Zigbee Network Extender - Improves Range and Stability of Zigbee Network

I’ll probably go with Tuya. They’re like $6 a piece on Aliexpress haha

Most every wall switch in my home is “smart”. I have many 3 and 4 way switches but from a smart switch count: around 27 mains powered Zigbee switches and outlets and around 35 mains powered Zwave switches and outlets.

The third reality Zigbee outlets are reasonable too. IKEA has a Zigbee repeater too.



I have used several of these - they're really good. And very discreet. I use flashed Sonoff dongles in the garage and outside the house.


How many do you suggest for 2000 square feet? I know it also depends how many end devices you have, but I haven’t quite planned out where I’ll be placing sensors and what I want to automate exactly just yet.

I would likely put one of the Zigbee Blue Switches near the entrance where there are two switches next to each other. It’s pretty central and will allow you to use the LED on it to notify you of key things, like alarm being on, door unlocked, etc.

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I had a ratio of 3-4 end-devices (battery powered sensors) per repeater. So I had 8 of these TuYa repeaters in a relatively small house.

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Awesome! That gives me a better idea. Did you just get them from Aliexpress? They’re like $6 a piece there haha.

Oh good idea! Thanks. I’ll do that. And also just get a couple of those Tuya’s. Are the ones from AliExpress okay to use? They’re like $6 a piece from there.

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Yup. They were about $12 a piece when purchased them 2-3 years ago.

Edit: I'm not seeing them at $6, but I would buy more than 8 at that price. Just to confirm we are referring to the same product, this is the repeater that I had in mind.

Also - the instructions are in Chinese. If you need pairing instructions in English, the folks at zigbee2mqtt have made that available here.


The cheaper ones don't come in until November. I'll get the ones you linked to me. They appear as $8.50. Thank you! I'll just buy a bunch like you said and small USB charging blocks.

Regarding the general general topic of numbers of routers/sq ft-- from what I've seen in my own network (about 80 Zigbee devices spread throughout approx 2000 sq ft, with several outdoors as far as 80' from the hub) the most hosted by a single router seems to be about 6. But as they say, YMMV; and the square footage of the entire mesh shouldn't be relevant; the factors that matter are:

  • Range-- involving distance from parent router to child device (distance between routers is another range issue entirely)-- keeping in mind that in a stable mesh a child device is hosted by only one parent until it gets orphaned/rejoined to another due to some disruptive issue.

  • End device capactiy of the specfic router

I've wondered why this parameter (number of child slots supported by a specific router) seems hard to nail down. I don't think I've ever seen it quoted as a 'spec' parameter; it would make sense then that it would be related to allocation of resources IN THE SPECIFIC MESH TOPOLOGY ('depth of the mesh' for routing purposes).

Just for kicks I decided to see what insights/hallucinations ChatGPT would provide when asked "what determines the number of child devices that a Zigbee router will support?"

the nuggets that stood out (and seemed credible) were these:

"Zigbee Protocol Version: Different versions of the Zigbee protocol may specify different numbers of child slots that a router should support. As the Zigbee specification evolves, improvements in efficiency and scalability may lead to changes in the number of child slots.

Network Configuration: The specific network configuration and topology impact the allocation of child slots. Routers in a Zigbee network can allocate child slots based on factors such as the depth of the routing tree, the number of neighboring devices, and the overall network layout. Routers closer to the network's edge may have fewer child slots available.

It's important to note that the number of child slots is not a fixed or user-configurable parameter but is determined by the Zigbee stack's internal management and the network's dynamics. Zigbee routers dynamically allocate child slots based on the network's needs and the router's capabilities. Network planning and design should consider the factors mentioned above to ensure that the Zigbee network can accommodate the required number of child devices while maintaining optimal performance."


Is it a lot like APs for WiFi then? Obviously, you can’t create a “wired AP” for Zigbee, so are there any concerns of the HE and my repeaters/devices being on different floors? I’ll have some downstairs eventually but doing the upstairs atm. I’m wondering how that affects how that affects the devices upstairs.

But that makes sense that’s it’s really more driven by the number of end devices and how far they are from a router.

Agree 100% on the lack of ID beauty w/the dongles. No one is gonna call them good looking except an engineer maybe. :slight_smile: But...if you can find discreet places for the SonOff dongles (e.g., behind furniture), they are MONSTER repeaters. Take a look at the two SonOff dongles in the Zigbee map below - the two blue dots (SonOff Dongle1 and SonOff Dongle 3) w/all the connected devices:

So if you have spots where you can place the dongles discreetly you will get your money's worth. I have a lot of Zigbee repeaters (Iris, Centralite, and a couple Sengled) and the SonOff outshine them all. Unlike others, even before I got the SonOff the Tuya never seemed to do as much for me as others report.


Whoa! Is that 2 dongles for 40 devices?! I may order like 2 of them for the entire house. I’m trying to think about where they could be hidden. The only spot I can think of are behind the buffet table and entertainment center. The one by the entertainment center has an AP close to it though so I’m not sure if that will cause interference with the 2.4Ghz WiFi. And the one behind the buffet table isn’t at a centralized location.

Did you ever find USB charger blocks that have the USB slot off to the side so that the dongle isn’t stick away from the wall, but rather along the wall if that makes sense? I was having a hard time finding one. I think Samsung chargers were the only ones I could find on Amazon. I was hoping there were smaller ones.

I've used an adjustable plug like below so that mine can align sideways w/the wall and not stick out from the wall too much. The antenna is adjustable/rotates so you can position it pointing up/down.


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The orientation and design of a specific antenna would affect how effective it is in extending the mesh to upper/lower floors (or establishing a connection to an end device). Probably just as significant is the attenuation caused by building materials (or reflective objects) in the path.

Rather than try to account for these affects in detail (especially the radiation patterns) I think most would consult a a 'best practices' guide like the one published by Control4. Not sure I'd get hung up on the maximum nodes thy recommend (I'm way past that with my measly C-3 and it works great) but the section on attenuation caused by materials and objects-- and its affect on expected range vs theoretical-- is interesting.


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