Using HE in a large house


#1

I'm currently building a new house which will be extensively automated using HE. An issue I have started thinking about is what do I do if the HE hub doesn't have the range to cover the whole house.
Do I get a second HE hub and place it in the other corner of the house and somehow link them together, or not?
Or should I instead be looking at Zigbee repeaters etc?
What do I do to get coverage in the stand-alone garage (which will have both wired Ethernet and WiFi coverage in it)?


#2

Yes, you can link more than 2 hubs.

You can too.

For zigbee you can use Xbee repeaters, or another hub with ethernet.

Good luck.


#3

Will the hubs then work in a "master/slave" mode so that all the configuration is done on the master hub and the master hub knows about all devices that connect to the other linked hub(s)?


#4

Yes, that is the common way to do it. There are more ways but probably you are just congesting your network.


#5

They do not work in Master/Slave mode unless you build that architecture yourself. There is no default function for running 2 hubs in one setup.
Unless you are talking about adding 100's of devices, repeaters should be plenty to get everything back to the primary hub, if the primary is located centrally in the house and your house doesn't have brick interior walls or something crazy like that. There are people with very large homes that only have one hub.


#6

Never mind brick interior walls. My place is a 17th Century Farmhouse, and some of the interior walls are 3 feet thick!

It's bad enough that I've had to deploy EIGHT Ubiquiti UAP's just to get wireless everywhere, and two femto-cells for Mobile reception. And to answer the OP's question... I've managed to get things where I need them by a combination of three separate hue hubs for lighting control (partly distance, partly number of devices), and then z-wave and zigbee devices that function as repeaters. Two hubs at the moment sound like two devices that need patching, watching for crashes, regular rebooting, etc.

-- Jules


#7

I have a medium-large sized house and am using 2 hubs - one for my upstairs and one for my main floor/basement. I have had very few issues since moving to this configuration and am happy so far.

I use hub link & link to hub to communicate between the 2 hubs but I generally keep rules for each hub on each hub as opposed to a single master controller. Also try and keep the communications between hubs to a minimum only doing a few things like leak sensors etc.

If you go this route make sure you have network runs to the areas where the hubs will "live" ideally centrally located for each space. The idea is to reduce # of hops between devices if possible. If cabling is an issue you can also look into powerline adapters OR check your existing phone cabling it may be cat 5.


#8

I'm running a single hub in a large 4000 sf 2-story with an attached garage (all stud walls). I'm up to 35 zigbee & 2 zwave devices. I located the hub near the center of the 2nd floor but favored the side with the garage & utility room which would eventually have a lot of devices but would be at the fringe of layout physically. Then I started building out the mesh paying close attention to route line-of-sight around large appliances and hvac equipment & metal ductwork that might block the signal. I put two plug-in outlets in places not really needed for any other reason than to strengthen the mesh. It's working great.


#9

Same here. 4000 sqft house, 1 production hub (and 1 development hub w/o zigbee/zwave).

I see no real reason (in my install / house construction) to have more than one hub if you have good wired devices to act as repeaters.

Looking at zigbee signal strength, it is fine (I don't have an xbee to look at the mesh). Looking at Zwave mesh / connections in zensys it is fine.


#10

2500 sqft house. My hub is in the basement in the corner where my other electronics are. All of my devices are reporting in fine. I think the furthest is either the top floor bedroom window sensor or the garage door tilt sensors. But I have repeaters in place that keep the mesh going. I really didn't need many either. Just need them strategically placed.


#11

Don't need many at all... Typically. Concrete walls / 3 ft thick farmhouse walls excluded :smile:.

In fact, zwave can only support 4 hops - so if it actually takes more than 4 to reach the hub it won't work at all. So typically just a few wired devices is all it takes to make the zwave mesh hum.

With zigbee's somewhat reduced range versus zwave you may need a few more of those repeaters - all depends on signal and wall geometry/construction. But I usually find that just a handful strategically placed is all it takes in most installs - I currently have 4 Ikea Tradfri outlets (placed ~50% of the way between my centrally located hub and the farthest device possible in each direction), and even my Xiaomi devices work fine in any part of my house.


#12

I've got just a hair over 400 devices total. I originally started out with a single hub, then split off onto 2, and now I have three, with the 3rd one acting as a concentrator and ingress point for all cloud devices. My entire system covers about 4k square feet as well plus a detached garage.

Hub 1 (2nd Floor) has both Zigbee & Z-Wave meshes and is responsible for most end devices on the 2nd floor and attic. This hub connects roughly 40% of the Zigbee plugs regardless of location. I also have 4 Schlage locks connected to this Z-Wave mesh along with most Z-Wave switches.

Hub 2 (Basement) has both Zigbee & Z-Wave meshes and is responsible for most end devices in the basement and 1st floor. This hub connects roughly 60% of the Zigbee plugs regardless of location. I also have 3 more Schlage locks connected to this Z-Wave mesh along with two Aeon Home Energy Meters.

Hub 3 (Coordinator) has no radio sticks. It does have cloud devices, such as Hub Link/Send Hub Events from SmartThings. I've also got Ecobee, Alexa, AlexaTTS, Life360 and other running on it. It's also going to be the primary UI hub, with most dashboards being hosted on it.

I have the Hue bridge and all Hue bulbs connected to all three hubs so those automations can be localized to a particular Hubitat Hub. The goal was to have each hub function as independently as possible, spreading out the load across all 3. Running dual meshes has one huge advantage in that automations can run in parallel on each hub, so I'm able to control a ton of devices concurrently with no delay.

It's not an easy setup to build and it has some inherent limitations. The biggest one is that linked devices are virtualized on the local hub, and those devices do not support all attributes (i.e. battery levels).

Since you are new to Hubitat, I highly recommend starting with one hub to start and growing if needed.


#13

4800 sqft, 3 story house here. To give an idea of the kind of range I'm getting. (I'm 100% z-wave, no zigbee)

  • HE hub is placed in the center of the 1st floor
  • Z-wave devices all throughout the 1st floor. No issues. Strong network.
  • Currently I only have one smart device on the 2nd floor, and it's at the far end of the house, over the garage. I couldn't join it to the hub from right there (because the z-wave network isn't strong enough on the 2nd floor yet), but I was able to join it from close in, move it further out, do a repair, move it to the final place, and then do a final repair. That taught it to talk to the nodes on the 1st floor that were out at that end of the house. Works great now.
  • Some devices on the 3rd floor, almost directly above where the HE hub is, but 2 stories up. They connected easily and respond reliably.

Based on my experience so far, I have no doubt that as I expand the network throughout the 2nd and 3rd floors, the single HE hub will still be able to coordinate it.


#14

I have 2 hubs. One for the South side of the house and another for the North side. They work great together.


#15

6800 sqft here, old 3 story house with thick internal brick walls, and just one Hubitat hub is working fine. I have 7 Zigbee power socket as repeaters. I have one power socket as close to my stand-alone garage as possible, and that reaches far enough to connect to the garage lock and sensors. I plan to get a few more repeaters in the future, as I add devices.


#16

So with my setup I've always had quirky issues - sometimes slow or delayed responses etc. I have a mixture of z-wave, zwave + and zigbee devices. I was the probably cause of most of it as I gained (am still gaining) experience.

My thoughts with 2 hub peering (rather than master/slave) was to increase stability by:

  • reducing # of devices per hub.
  • reducing hops and latency of the devices themselves.
  • protect hub operation by having more than one hub. An issue with one hub does not impact the other for the most part.
  • isolate older ST devices (main floor) from newer ones on the 2nd floor.

I think it's working but cannot really back that up other than anecdotally. I have a few zigbee repeaters (peanut plugs) for my garage from the main hub and one in the attic for the 2nd floor hub but thats about it. All my switches are Zooz so they repeat as well.

If one hub works than that's great! As you've seen you can always add more as needed.