Range extenders, how do they work?

I was curious about something. I will have two hubs for zwave I'm my home. One is a hubitat and the other is a ring alarm hub.

How does it work with range extenders, do they only extend the zwave network they are included in, or are they like cell phone repeaters and amplify all signals of a zwave type?

Man, it would be great if I could share repeaters between hubs but I'm dubious that it works that way.

Does anyone know?

A Z-Wave repeater will repeat only for the network to which it is paired. So as you suspected, this means you won't be able to share them between hubs.

It should be noted that you also don't need dedicated "range extenders" for this purpose, as most mains- or USB-powered Z-Wave devices (like switches, dimmers, outlets/plugs, garage door openers, and others) will repeat. You may prefer a dedicated repeater for other reasons (some can be screwed into the center screw of a duplex outlet, preventing unsuspecting family members from easily removing it if they don't know what it is; some have flexible power options like USB that might let you place them in a more convenient location; and some would say that they even do a better job, perhaps because they aren't stuck inside a wall like a switch or dimmer and you again have more control over placement).

Also, not that you asked, but all of this is also true for Zigbee if you're curious. :slight_smile:


I would add with Z-Wave the maximum number of "hops" is 4 while with zigbee you can have a lot more depending upon the profile. Z-wave communicates at a lower frequency so can likely travel farther.

Well, depends on how you define "hop" :slight_smile:

Based on what I've read in the spec (and I could be wrong, but it seemed pretty clear), the max number of intermediate repeaters is 4. So is that 4 "hops" or 5?

This is the max allowed as I read the spec:
hub -> r1 -> r2 -> r3 -> r4 -> device

I call that 5 hops. But I am likely in the minority there, as "4 hops" has been ingrained in everyones vocabulary. I should just let it go I guess lol.

That said, I'm not sure I've ever even seen a route w/4 repeaters before. 3 I've seen, but not 4.

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I've always taken it to mean exclusive of the hub, starting at first repeater so 4 but intermediate works too.

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Yeah, that makes sense too!

In the end it is largely unimportant as it almost never comes into play, but it is semi-interesting as a discussion point.

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Range extenders always seemed a bit pointless. Unless I misunderstand something, they are basically just the same repeater function built into other hardwired devices. You could just install another Z-Wave switch, dimmer, plug, or other repeating device and you would get the same effect. So if your range isn't enough, just buy another device and install it. Am I missing something?

No, that's about it.

I will say devices like the Ring Alarm Extender V2 that have built in batteries, and are considerably cheaper than most switch/dimmer/outlets, are interesting as repeaters. Then at least your routing infrastructure stays up if you trip a single circuit (which happens in my house during lightning storms sometimes).

But other than that, just putting in another switch/dimmer/outlet is probably more useful.

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Yeah, that is what I meant with my comment above. (I have sen a particular user on the ST forum be very vocal about the fact that these are not, strictly speaking, needed. He isn't wrong...)

But there may still be other reasons people prefer them, and I'm thinking of getting that Ring Gen2 extender sometime for the reasons JasonJoel mentioned plus the fact that it can report when on battery vs. mains--I'm thinking of using that to tie into my primitive "power outage detection" thing I have going on now (my UPS sending a message to my server, which I also eventually want to send something to Hubitat and flip a virtual device or something so I know).

It works GREAT for that! In fact, that is what I use to trigger graceful hub and server shutdowns now.

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