To Zigbee or not to Zigbee. Is that a question?

Other than Hue lights paired to a Hue hub and a couple of Hue dimmer buttons directly paired to HE, my devices are all Zwave. In some ways, I haven't really been tempted to add Zigbee devices, since I haven't been as exposed to them as ST and Iris users have. Some folks on here swear by them, others at them but I get intrigued by mentions of "low priced" sensors. I have several outbuildings that I would like to add sensors to (contact and motion) and I would like to add some leak sensors as well.
I don't know whether I would get into a mess trying to create a new mesh build out just to add a half dozen new sensors. Is the lower price worth the attempt and where are the lower cost devices?

I'm one of those Zigbee "fanatics". Out of all my devices, only 8 are Z-Wave.

If you are attempting to do Zigbee over a distance, I'd make sure you have plenty of repeaters OR go the multiple hubs route with WiFi. Z-Wave does have better range, but I've never had good results with it in terms of true stability.

How far are the outbuildings you are thinking about hooking up?

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When I started with HE, I bought zwave. Then reading deeper here and seeing all the wailing & gnashing of teeth regarding zwave device maintenance, I switched to zigbee. Another factor was Amazon's choice of zigbee for the Echo Pro. I have only 2 zwave devices now.

That said, going for distant out-buildings (or my mailbox) is problematic. I couldn't get a zigbee signal more than 20 feet from the house. Zwave did 40-ish. So, like you, I'm thinking about how to best extend the mesh outside.

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The furthest outbuilding is about 75 feet from the hub. My home has steel siding which effectively puts me inside a Faraday cage. It took work to get Zwave out to the outbuildings, but my Zwave devices have been absolutely stable for several years. As a test, I took one of the Hue button dimmers (as a button controller) out as far as the outbuilding, and it seems able to control anything I have connected to HE.

My Zwave mesh outdoors is rock solid. I guess I am just curious as to whether I get value from adding inexpensive zigbee devices over just continuing with Zwave. Is Zigbee the dark side??

Honestly, if your Z-Wave mesh is that reliable, then I wouldn't mess with it. Get more Z-Wave stuff. Zigbee isn't really for range applications so much as it is stability. I have to have 2 (sometimes 3 depending on weather conditions) repeaters just to get 75' from my hub.

You could go the multiple hubs route if you can run WiFi or Ethernet to the outbuildings (it's not necessarily hard to do really) and if you have multiple buildings, this might be the best route to go. That way you have another hub that is dedicated to just those buildings and relaying back to your main hub in your house.

Once you go Zigbee... ahhhh nevermind. :wink:

For me, it's a "what works best for you". It sounds like you have Z-Wave nailed, so, experiment with Zigbee and if it doesn't work out, then you can always return whatever you buy. In my house, Zigbee has always been rock solid compared to Z-Wave.

This is a "grass is greener" issue of sorts. When I'm looking for some zigbee devices (water valves), the availability and price seem to be in favor of zwave.

As corerootedxb posted above, I'd stay with zwave in your case.


I think I started with Zwave because I saw more devices and device types in the wild. I suppose had I used ST or Iris, I would have been in the Zigbee camp or at least more familiar. I think I would have a tough time adding dumb repeaters between the house and the outbuildings just to build a good mesh. Leak detectors indoors would be a different story I suppose.

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When I first started out I heard that Z-Wave was a more open standard and that I might be locked in if I went with Zigbee. As a result, my early devices were mostly Z-Wave. Later I learned the lock-in threat was really not true. I have a mix right now and they both seem to work well. I suppose I could reduce the number of smart outlets I have if I just stuck with one protocol - that's a downside to supporting both, I suppose.

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So how difficult is it to keep your two meshes perking along? You mention smart outlets, does that significantly change your device spend?

In general I prefer z-wave plus. Mainly because the protocol and driver structure is very well defined, and I can write a driver for any z-wave device if I need to if there isn't one already.

I can't do that with zigbee as the structure is all over the place, thus requiring quite a bit of sniffing and piecing together.

Now, if you aren't ever going to need to write drivers, then that isn't a consideration.

Other random thoughts:

  1. Zigbee is faster than zwave in almost any scenario. Now, faster doesn't always matter if the slowest one is 'fast enough'... I do prefer zigbee on motion detectors, in general.
  2. Battery life depends on the implementation, so no huge advantage either way there.
  3. Zigbee can have interference issues if there is a lot of 2.4GHz wifi in the area. Especially annoying in apartment complexes. Also annoying if neighbors have multiple wifi hubs and are using every damn 2.4ghz channel with transmit power on max... Every neighbor all using every channel = a lot of traffic and interference.
  4. Range on zwave plus is better in pretty much every scenario versus zigbee. Just like 'faster' though, more range isn't always that important if you have a lot of devices to repeat.
  5. Zigbee can have more nodes on a mesh
  6. Zigbee can hop/repeat through more nodes than z-waves 4 hop limit.
  7. Zigbee is a worldwide(-ish) standard, so no regional device frequency issues like z-wave

At the risk of putting the jinx on myself, I have had no mesh problems with either technology. I choose the Zigbee channels of least interference and I have a few smart plugs of both varieties - I think I have four Z-Wave smart plugs and two Zigbee but two of the Z-Wave smart plugs are not in place to be repeaters (they are for holiday lights) - so really two and two.

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So if we are all in agreement here, I will order a new bunch of Zwave devices for the outbuildings. It really helped to see things written down here. Many thanks all.


At one point, my neighbor's grandson had 5 routers going because he was going to "maximize the internet speed that the man gave them"... True story. When it got so bad that their frequencies were starting to bleed over into my yard, I got his grandmother's permission to both educate him AND rip the additional 4 routers out.


The controller software for my WiFi access points shows all the WiFi devices it sees and I am always amazed at the number it reports. I am in the suburbs and no muti dwelling units nearby. It shows 115 unique SSID, 109 2,4 and seven 5GHz.

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That's insane! I live in a kind of dense area and there are only 40 around me. Do you have someone's grandson trying to get "all the internet speeds" nearby? LOL

That reminds me. Someone here posted this. It's in my cart.

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I just sorted the list and while there were now 119, about 20 of them have less than 2% signal strength. I could probably get connected to 50 of them and be OK with the connection.

Barf. Lol

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I clicked Buy Now for you. I hope that is what you wanted.