Difference between a Z-wave device and a real Repeater?

I see many posts about people recommending to add one or more repeaters.

I thought any Z-Wave Plus device can also act as a repeater. So what's the point of buying a dedicated repeater when you can just add another Z-Wave device?

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There isn't any

When people say add a repeater, they usually mean at any repeating device. Not necessarily a dedicated repeater.


To expand on what @JasonJoel said, another reason you might get a dedicated repeater (a device that is literally just a repeater and nothing else) is to expand routing options when your mesh is weak, but you don't need a specific device. I have a single repeater that I bought when I was expanding my mesh because, at the time, I was not getting good coverage in my garage. Since then, I've added a few more zwave light switches and plugs and it's not really needed.

I keep it plugged into the plug in the small cabinet above the microwave/stove that the microwave plugs into because I figure if I have it, I might as well use it. But not many devices route through it anymore. A year ago, about 8 - 10 devices routed through it. Now it alternates between 0 - 2 devices. A repeater can just plug into an outlet and be moved around to fit your mesh. So can a zwave plug, but those are usually bulkier and more expensive.

Well, the Ring Alarm Extender v2 has internal battery backup and can generate a “switch to battery” power fail event so you can shut your hub down cleanly in the event of a power fail.

I also use one in our garage on the circuit with the freezer so that I get notified if the GFI trips.


Here's a mistake I made. I have a distant lamp dimmer that was going through 2 hops. So I added a Z-Wave Plus wall receptacle/outlet (that will never be used in programs) half way between the hub and the lamp to act as a repeater.

After 24 hours I checked the device. it's not being used as a repeater at all, as the lamp is still using its original devices with 2 hops. I don't know if HE needs more time to rebuild the mesh, but I guess I don't understand the decisions that the mesh takes.

No one really understands this, but in general it may take weeks to see a shift in routes unless the device is really struggling with the current ones. Sometimes doing a repair on the device will let it find new neighbors and will speed up the process.


I purchased an " Aeotec Range Extender 7 " (ARE7) because I had a lot of devices repeating through a non Plus device. I wanted to speed up those device connections.

So I put the ARE7 in the location of the non-Plus device and removed the non-Plus device. Did a z-Wave repair (I know this is bad form).
Nothing ever paired with the ARE7. All the devices found another route.
I tried a number of other experiments with similar results.

My Conclusion:
The mesh will not connect to a repeater only device (at least not the ARE7) unless it is the only option available.
I've read about experiences others have had with repeater only devices. Their stories support the above conclusion (the best I can tell by the posts)

Not my experience at all. About a third of my devices route through ring extenders, and I have 110 Z-Wave repeating devices so there's plenty of other options.

That said, zwave routing is interesting. And once it find a route that works it sticks to it even if you put more devices nearby. Sometimes a repair will change it, sometimes it won't.


Those Aeotec Repeaters don't seem to work very well in my experience. There are firmware updates available though..

Adding repeaters after the fact seems to be the most problematic... the routes on the hub and devices seem to resist change even if a better route comes available. :man_shrugging:

Dark Magic :mage:


With the Aeotec Repeater (don't know what firmware it had) "replacing"*** the bottleneck part one would think at least some of the devices that had been passing through that location would have connected to the Aerotec.

*** by replacing I mean removing a light dimmer module, leaving the light unconnected, and placing the Aeotec Repeater in that same location.
Perhaps its just the Aeotec, perhaps if the firmware were different... I don't know. However in my Aeotec search folks reported having them in their mesh with nothing connecting to them. There was one report where the Aeotec repeater helped with a device in the garage.

I will say devices seemed to like my Honeywell T6 Pro Z-Wave thermostats :slight_smile:

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This has been my experience as well. Finally removed them as they were not really doing anything. I still like the Ring Extenders though and to @672southmain 's point the Ring Extender is useful for power outage detection - provided the hub is on a UPS as well.

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As it should be :slight_smile: And I know yours are.

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Does a reboot or the 30 second shutdown of HE help the mesh rethink routes?

Not really.. it only helps clear the radio busy stuff when pairing goes awry assuming no ghosts. Repairing theoretically adjusts the routes although that only sort of works in my experience. Sometimes the mesh will figure things out over time - but that can be a few days to a week or so.

From the Silabs documentation:

5.3.2 Route resolution strategy

...a explore-supporting controller always uses the following strategy:

  1. Try last working route
  2. Try a number of routes calculated from the routing table
  3. Issue an explorer search request

In other words, at least as I read it, the controller will always use the last working route even if it's a crappy one. Which explains why sticking a repeater in the middle of an established network (as I have done) doesn't really do a whole lot, at least not right away.

Source: https://www.silabs.com/documents/public/user-guides/INS10244-Z-Wave-Node-Type-Overview-Network-Installation-Guide.pdf


Really don't know if this is supported in the Silabs chip, but a "Rebuild all routes from scratch" option would be nice.

I've set up my Z-Wave stuff about a month ago, and I'm still adding a device here or there. Hate to see those new devices use inferior routes.


I wondered and have been meaning to ask. Is there anyway to force "3" in that list? I wondered if you have, as I do, a Z Wave stick running PC Controller; whether it's possible to send some command to an individual device that's hanging on to a crap route. There seems to be a lot of additional functionality in PC Controller and I wondered whether there are any shortcuts to sort things out.

There is a way to mess with routes but I have been reluctant and not knowledgeable enough in the subject to give it a go..

My understanding about #3 is it is a very expensive operation so should not be done lightly. Also I'm not sure you can get the best device to route through this way..

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What I've done a few times is simply unplug the repeating device that is in the route you are trying to change. Let the mesh do its thing and re-energize the disabled device.


Just for the benefit of others reading this in the future, I've actually had great results using the Aeotec repeaters.

I had devices that just couldn't or wouldn't work with the hub, despite having repeating devices (plug-in modules, switches) available to act as repeaters, spaced between the devices in question and the hub. I then added two repeaters (each about 1/3 of the way between the hub and the problem device area) and the problems resolved within a day. I've now used this approach in two buildings with great success.

I've no idea why this works for me while others have had no success, but for a future reader of this thread I'd argue that "Your Mileage May Vary" is a phrase to keep in mind for all things related to Z-wave. User experiences and what does and doesn't work varies widely between users, sometimes for reasons no one really fully understands.