Most popular protocols in 2021 (a user's perspective)

I agree. I just need the most reliable solution for remote customer locations.

Back in the "old days" when WiFi 3 (aka 802.11g) was the predominant protocol, Most devices operated on the 2.4 GHz band, even though WiFi 3 included the 5 GHz band. Because of the limited bandwidth, traffic was not that great, so interference was not that great.

With the advent of WiFi 4 (802.11n), WiFi 5 (802.11ac) and WiFi6 (802.11 AX), bandwidth has gone up, but higher bandwidth devices are often using the 5 GHz band. Most of my devices are either hard wired or use 5 GHz. I do have a few devices that only work on 2.4 GHz, but those are relegated to WiFi channel 1. My Zigbee devices are on Channel 20 which is between WiFI channels 8-9, so the interference is minimal.

When you have WiFi extenders (I do as well), you will be operating on multiple WiFi channels, so choosing the proper Zigbee channel is critical. See:

For those who live in multi-family dwellings with everyone having their own routers, however, interference can be a huge problem. You cannot control the channels your neighbors are using. Hopefully, most of their devices will use 5gHz.


Great information on Wifi and Zigbee.

Can I ask how you enforce this rule with Hubitat.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Hubitat's zwave routing information is simply the zwave routing for a specific instance in time. It does not mean the routing will be the same the next minute, hour, day, etc... How do you ensure that if you pair a zwave device and the routing shows up as direct to HE, it stays that way?


Add an antenna. It's shown that most things will then go straight to the hub. That said, z-wave mostly stays static. Once it finds a good route "normally" it stay that way. If you have a device that is constantly changing routes it's because it can't find a good one and likely you need a repeater near by. Note: Even though most mains powered devices are repeaters, signal can be impeded by things like metal outlet boxes, galvanized pipe, wiring in walls, lathe and plaster (even worse when mesh is used in the process) etc etc.


Unfortunately Z-wave creates route memory which can be fixed by a "Repair Z-wave". This is happening in the Z-wave chip and not the router itself.

I love the antenna idea and I can see that it works great but my customers would not like that so I will have to just stick to Zigbee for now.

This is very good info for us newbies. Network setup best practices is an area I'm trying to get stronger in, so thank you folks!

What I'm hearing is avoid WiFi if possible, use Zwave sparingly, Zigbee for most applications, and Lutron if it "has to work". Does that about sum things up?

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I think it's really more of a use decision when it comes to switch protocol. I use exclusively ZWave and I don't have any issues. Zwave has scene controllers, integrated motion sensors, disable local and or remote control, smart bulb (disable load switching), and generally more options available. I also use zwave for contact sensors.

For ZigBee I went with outlets to build out my ZigBee mesh. I use battery powered motion and humidity sensors for the bathrooms and laundry room, and motion sensors around entryways and in my office. ZigBee motion sensors trigger faster than zwave. I also use ZigBee for my locks and color bulbs (non repeating).

Wifi is very hit or miss depending on the implementation. Also, some wifi devices have some cloud dependency. Even if the cloud was perfect your home wifi/internet probably isn't.

If you're able to choose between wifi or wired, go with wired to rule out potential issues and general stability/lower latency.

In general there isn't one device or manufacturer that does everything great, but there are some great devices. Particularly the ones listed in the polls that are going on now. There were some early firmware issues that are mostly resolved but left a bad taste in their mouths for zwave. Additionally, most of the problems you'll run into will be when you start deploying devices. Once everything settles in generally it's only new features that cause issues. Things that do come up the staff have been quick to address.

And regardless of what you choose, there are many forum members willing and ready to help when you have problems.


That is one person’s perspective. My lighting switches/dimmers/remotes are all Lutron, outlets, thermostat, and some sensors are z-wave, the bulk of sensors are zigbee, and rgbw bulbs are WiFi (local - LIFX). No issues whatsoever.


Only cloud based wifi devices. Things like Lifx and Shelly which are supported natively in HE are incredibly fast and stable and most importantly, 100% local.


If you do use Z-wave, make sure the devices are in range of the Hubitat hub. Otherwise, make sure you have sufficient repeaters located in appropriate places to provide a robust mesh.

Although I prefer Zigbee, it seems some Z-wave devices are better suited to specific applications. For example, most well-designed water shut off valve actuators are Z-wave. There are few, if any, Zigbee actuators. There is one on Amazon that says it is Zigbee capable, but two reviewers indicate it is WiFi only. I would not want to use a WiFi cloud-based actuator for this application as it would fail to function should the Internet go off-line.

The only way to ever sum up threads like this is that each individual has a varying experience, based on local factors that differ among all of us.

“Your mileage may vary” is how I’d sum it up :slight_smile:.


It is probably the most reliable of the 'protocols' however more capable devices tend to use it and hence often provide an adjunct cloud service. If a local API is also available as well this isn't too much of a concern.

WiFi devices are often not suited to battery operation.

With a larger number of devices > say 30, a good quality AP is needed.

Network diagnosis on WiFi devices is often much easier and no real bandwidth issues.

WiFi is my first choice (after wired) but you need to consider how the device is integrated into HE API wise and if that suits you. My whole system is MQTT (IP) centric

Whichever protocol you use if you have a lot of devices put some effort into the infrastructure

Quality AP's for Wifi
(Understandably a lot of people have no choice here with the WifI router provided by their ISP,
adding another quality AP is the option)

Good uncongested channel choice in all protocols and no overlapping with other networks you may have.

Abundant repeaters and considerate network creation for Z-Wave or Zigbee.

Avoid switching power off to repeaters e.g. light bulbs


Good advice

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That is an excellent summary.

There is a big difference with Local WIFI and it is more reliable. If you do put a lot of switches on your WIFI see how many connections your router allows and make sure you do not exceed it.

The idea is help people who have not yet purchased their equipment from making the mistakes that most of us have already made.

If a post saves a few people from making the same mistake, is a post well worth making. That's the power of the community!


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