Z-wave, Zigbee and Wi-Fi--Oh My!

Since it doesn't seem manufacturers have multi-protocol repeaters, how do you setup for multiple meshes?

I am thinking perhaps make my light switches Z-Wave and my receptacles ZigBee? Since my family wants "normal" aethetics, how else do you keep track of which in-wall device is a repeater for which? With limited electrical boxes in the walls, how else do you enable dual mesh (besides keeping them in two height planes)?

Wi-Fi is more obvious (although I am with HE and loathe the Wi-Fi/Cloud stuff....Nest outage, Amazon outage, multiple HA clouds now busted for weak security on their servers, etc...). What kind of experience have people had using Wi-Fi for device setup--then turning off that Wi-Fi?

What do you mean? Turning wifi off for what? If you turn off wifi on a wifi device, you can't control it.

The two protocols are on different frequencies. Height plans really have nothing to do with it.

Depends on how big your house is. I know I have WAY more repeaters than I need but that's just how it worked out because of the devices I purchased. You would have to list more of the specifics about your space and even the building materials of your house to know how you would maintain a mesh network.

The only multi-protocol repeater I'm aware of was the now-discontinued Iris v2 (I think) outlet, which was primarily Zigbee (for the outlet) but also had a (sometimes-difficult-to-pair) Z-Wave repeater inside. You might be able to find them used now, but I've also heard of some problems with older firmware revisions. Probably not an easy option anymore.

As for knowing which devices are which, I guess I've been doing this long enough that I usually know what protocol my devices, including repeaters, use, off the top of my head now (I tend to have multiples of each), but sometimes it's easy because some manufacturers only make one kind of product. For example, anything from Inovelli, Zooz, or Aeon/Aeotec is undoubtedly Z-Wave. There are a few more Zigbee manufacturers (anything Centralite made for themselves or an OEM, including many Iris devices, for example; most generations of most SmartThings devices; Ikea Tråfri and Sengled outlets, etc.). Some manufacturers make/brand both--e.g., GE has both Z-Wave and Zigbee switches (and formerly outlets), but I'd say their Z-Wave ones are more popular. If this is too much to commit to memory, I'd suggest keeping a paper or PDF copy of the manuals. You'll likely need to consult them at some point in the future to figure out how to reset or re-pair the device if/when needed, so they're good to have in some form.

But back to the mesh: given the circumstances, you have two choices: either build out both meshes, or stick to one protocol. (This is overly simplifying things a bit: Z-Wave networks with everything in range of the hub won't technically need repeaters, though if you have locks it's a good idea regardless; small-ish Zigbee networks with everything in range of the hub also don't technically need repeaters...but it's probably a good idea to with either in any case.) There are lots of in-wall options for Z-Wave, as you've discovered. There seem to be far fewer for Zigbee (the GE switch is the only one I'm aware of now; I can't find any Zigbee in-wall receptacle at the moment but know GE used to have one). There are a variety of "wall wart"-style smart outlets for each protocol. If you can hide them somewhere where no one is likely to unplug them--or can find one you don't think is ugly--they're a good option. :slight_smile: Personally, that's what most of my repeaters for both protocols are.

For something a little more versatile, there are some USB-powered options. This might let you hide them in better locations, and the Zigbee options at least tend to be a bit smaller here. The Dome and Aeon repeaters are repeater-only devices (no smart outlet) but can plugged in directly to an outlet (and screwed in to make removal harder) or powered via USB (so you might be able to hide them somewhere else). The Ikea Trådfri USB repeater is pretty small and, of course, USB-powered so perhaps equally easy to hide. You can also DIY it and make an Xbee 3 (or S2C) chip into a repeater with some effort (there's another thread on that here), or seek out the homemade "environment sensor" device a member on this forum also makes from time to time.

I'm not sure what kinds of devices you're talking about here.

My thought was that once the Decora faceplates go on, most paddle switches and outlets don't show a manufacturer's name, nor any other details. So which is which? (Yes have to keep a floorplan and notes...)

I know there is nothing special about what height things are mounted at (other than the general guidance about radio wave propagations, obstructions, etc....I have four FCC licenses.) But seems easy to remember if I put one protocol repeater in switch boxes, and the other in outlet boxes. There are fewer switch locations per room (usually only one or two), whereas electrical code requires many more outlets (usually every wall, and multiples every few feet). Since Z-Wave has a longer range, seems we might have fewer of this protocol's repeaters, so stick them in the fewer switch boxes....and stuff the ZigBee repeaters every few feet as may be required, in the more plentiful outlet boxes...

How big a house do you have? Are you going to be adding 100 devices tomorrow? I just know which of my devices are z-wave and which are zigbee. Unless you're going to be moving into a house that is pre-wired by someone else or you're going to be adding a whole lot of different devices all at the same time, remembering which are which protocol won't be your problem.

As a network engineer, thinking we setup a temporary Wi-Fi network to setup the devices, complete with Internet access from those devices. But then if we take away the Internet access on that Wi-Fi, then we don't have bulbs, mics, defunct Halo+ sensors, etc trying to "phone home." If we leave the local Wi-Fi up, HE should still be able to communicate with the devices directly (if the OEMs provide for integrations that don't go through a cloud API).

Seems like a lot of the simple/cheap devices are likely dependent upon cloud for everything. But those with a local hub, maybe after initial Internet-based config, they can run local like HE?

Do most Wi-Fi HA devices only require Internet access for setup....or are they forever calling home to actually work?

Your zigbee and z-wave devices won't have wifi so wifi has nothing to do with it. And your wifi devices will need wifi access or you won't be able to control them. They only communicate over wifi.

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3000+ sq. ft. , plus garage structure, plus outdoor over about a quarter acre.

Over how many floors? And are you in the US, standard plaster and drywall walls?

Basement, 2 floors, attic, "stick-built" US residential with brick facades

Okay, so you're talking about 40 feet by 40 feet right? That means that even if your device was at one end of the house and the hub was at the extreme other, it would still only be approximately 60 feet away from the hub.
Personally, I would worry less about which device type I was going to put where at this point and just look for devices you like. The rest will sort itself out. You seem to have the general concept that you need repeaters down so I am confident that you'll have enough. And as far as remembering....trust me, you'll remember. It's just something that comes second nature. Like your dog's name. do you have to write it down to remember it? No, of course not.

They will almost certainly be Z-Wave, unless you get that one switch by GE that isn't. See, you've already got the protocol of almost all of the switches you have yet to buy memorized. :slight_smile:

But for real, it's easier than you think (plus that comment is still mostly true). You can look up the device in Hubitat if you forget, and I've already mentioned that you'll want to keep manuals handy (at some point in the future, you will decide to change a little-documented parameter, re-set them, move them to a different hub, or do something else that will require you to look up how), and that will also tell you the protocol. But mostly, I think you'll tend to remember the manufacturer and what kinds of products they tend to make, if not the exact details of the product itself (I can reset an Iris v2 Zigbee motion sensor in my sleep).

I use Leviton (Z-Wave) outlets and an occasional dimmer switch to keep the Zwave mesh stong. These are great because they support Z-Wave beaming which is needed for Z-wave locks.

To keep the ZigBee mesh strong I rely on wall wart outlet plugs. I've relegated about half my bulbs to a Hue hub to keep them from fouling up the ZigBee mesh.

So I guess I'm saying what others are saying is you pick the devices you like it sorts itself. I've only added four items strictly to improve my meshes; one Z-wave and three ZigBee, out of 80+ devices.

The only cloud based item you can't avoid is voice control, one of the smart speaker ecosystems will be required for that.

Don't you experience a delay in reaction time for those bulbs who are connected to you Philips hue hub compared to the ones who are connected directly to the HE hub?

I've used bulbs both ways and don't notice any noticeable delay myself. In fact, Hue makes use of (I can only assume) Zigbee scene clusters behind the (no pun intended) scenes, which no native (or third-party that I'm aware of) app/driver in Hubitat currently does, so turning on and off scenes tends to actually be faster and more reliable. On my friend's hub, attempting to turn off the entire house of Sengleds at one time fares poorly with all bulbs addressed individually. Putting them in groups, enabling group messaging, and addressing them that way helps but still isn't always 100%. Hue, on the other hand, has never not done anything I've told it to. The native Hubitat integration doesn't have support for Hue/Hue Bridge scenes, so you're stuck using Hubitat's Groups and Scenes app if you want something like that, but honestly it's about the same either way then--the LAN (Hue Bridge) integration obviously prevents Zigbee group messaging, but with Hubitat's scenes (for directly-paired bulbs), it's not using Zigbee scene clusters and is just "faking it" by setting all bulbs to the desired settings. Either is likely to produce a bit of "popcorn effect."

I also used to encounter a bug where directly-paired color bulbs didn't always go to the desired color or color temperature unless the scene was activated twice (going over the LAN to Hue never gave me that problem); I'm not sure if that's fixed, but I don't think it was my bulbs because it happened with multiple brands, though mostly Hue bulbs I experimented with pairing to a dedicated Hubitat hub to test this setup.

All things considered, I'd say a Hue Bridge integrated to Hubitat over the LAN is likely to provide a better experience that directly-paired bulbs. The reasons above are only part of that, but a delay doesn't factor much into my decision either way--a LAN connection is still pretty fast. I might change my mind if Hubitat implements support for Zigbee scenes natively (or if a third-party creates something that works as well as the Hue Bridge does in this area).

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Thank you for that very nice and verbose answer. I was actually in doubt about the way I should go. I was on Openhab, Home assistant and Homey before and they all have an unacceptable delay if you use the hue bridge in between. But the Hubitat may be the exception here. I will give it a try because it will also mean that my xiaomi devices will not use the bulbs as repeaters. Thanks again.

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