Long Range (~550ft) Zigbee Network: Brainstorming Ideas

Continuing the discussion from Long Distance Smart Gate Opener:

From my previous post, I have decided to try creating a Long Range Zigbee Network (~550 ft) using the Sonoff Zigbee Dongles for my Smart Gate and Mailbox Chime projects, which is probably going to be a project in of itself... I haven't seen a lot of topics on this and what others have done to reliably and directionally increase the range of their Zigbee network, so I thought I'd try to get some ideas from those that have tried.

There are two ways to increase the range:

  1. Increase transmit power, which can be changed up to +20 dBm, on the Sonoff dongles.
  2. Use a high dBi gain antenna

Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP in dBm) = Transmit output power (dBm) + Antenna gain (dBi) - Loss from Cable between Antenna & Device
...maximum EIRP being 36 dBm
For 2.4 Ghz band, you can go above the 36 dBm in fixed PtP link by increasing the antenna gain, but for every 3 dBi increase of antenna gain, you must reduce transmit power by 1 dBm.


I have this lofty idea of attaching a Yagi high gain WiFi (2.5 Ghz) antenna on the Sonoff dongle to direct the RF towards the gate. A high gain directional antenna would probably be better than increased TX power in my case; although a combination of both may be needed.


I was hoping someone smarter than me and has a better understanding of the relationship among TX Power, High Gain Antennas, and Distance could chime in on this idea. How much EIRP would I need to reach ~550 ft, ~350ft, and ~200ft? Taking into account obstruction like trees. I could use the Workshop as a "hopping point"; although, this wouldn't be a true PtP bridge since I'm not exactly sure how to do that with the Sonoff dongles.

Thank you in advance!

Opinion: Wrong tool for the job.

Either use Lora/YoLink, Zwave LR, or put a zigbee repeater or another hub somewhere closer to bridge the gap.

Extending Zigbee can probably be done, but there are better tools for the job.


I can do one "hop" at our Workshop, so then I would need to cover ~200ft (main house to workshop) and then ~350ft (workshop to gate)

Just looked up YoLink and Zwave LR and those actually seem to be the easiest way to go. Zwave LR has a theoretical range of 1 mile and YoLink 1/4 mile. That would be much easier than what I'm trying to do with Zigbee haha. Zooz has multiple switches and dimmers that I could use at the workshop so I’m leaning towards that. Do you know if Zwave is compatible with Zwave LR? Zooz also has a Zwave multirelay I could use but I don’t think it’s LR. Would LR be compatible with HE if I used their USB stick thing?

Also, is there a good way to test the signal strength?

LoraWAN and Zwave LR are very similar radio/signalling methodologies.

I've easily gotten a few hundred feet out of Zwave LR devices with the junk pcb antennas (I don't have any I can test further than that, I expect it could go quite a bit further).

My custom made LoraWan devices (with real antenna) go ~mile or so before I lose signal (and I could actually get a lot further if I moved my Lora gateway).

Lora devices with the crappy PCB antenna only go a few blocks, so 1/4 mile is probably about right.

Hubitat doesn't support Zwave LR yet.

The C8 hub hardware can do it, it just hasn't been added to the software side yet. They have committed to it coming in the future, but I don't know when that will be.

If you have an older hub than the C8 it may not support Zwave LR - won't know until Hubitat announces something formally.

Normal zigbee and zwave both report their signal strength when sending messages, and you can see that in the hub. You could take a device, pair it, and walk it around (making sure it sends a message) and look at the logs for signal strength info.


I already bought some of those Zwave LR dimmers, but probably won’t get to install them until the end of the year (other remodeling stuff has to happen first). Would I still be able to use these but just not take advantage of the LR or do I need to get the older models?

You can use them as non-LR devices as well. So no issue there.

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Thanks! I think I’ll try to hold out for the LR since it’ll probably be a while until we can actually move in. My husband did want me to start looking at the gate because he wants one sooner than later, but I’ll work on convincing him that it’ll just be a pain on the butt for the contractors to have a gate up there.

I’ll look into LoraWAN and YoLink too tho just in case. Thank you for the suggestions!

everything i tried was not reliable enough.. does you gate have one of those push button openers with its own radio frequency,

mine did and i bought a cheap extra disasembled it and put it in a plastic box wired to a qubino dry contact relay ZMNHND3 that hubitat can turn on off and it works fine to open/close..