Best Zigbee solution for my case

Hi!
After a year of using my Openhab installation on the top floor of my house I am now slowly starting to expand to the bottom floor as well. And I will finally be adding a lot more actual automation (as opposed to just control) as well. I will be using Ikea Tradfri lights, remotes and motion sensors for this, because they are cheap and I very much like that you can turn on/off lights with the remotes even if the openhab server fails. I am currently using the Tradfri hub to control the lights in a few rooms (finally got rid of my Philips Hue hub two weeks ago when I finally managed to get a third party zigbee controller to work with it).

But… I am now thinking about adding motion sensors into play as well. And from what I see you can’t get the actual motion sensor data from the Ikea gateway - is this still true?

Does using a third party zigbee usb stick enable you to do that? What about the remotes? Does the direct communication remote-light still work in that case?

What is the best and most cost effective Zigbee USB stick these days? I see a lot of people are using Deconz hardware. Is that a good choice? (I am from Europe). Or is it better to use a stick supported by the Zigbee binding directly?

If you are considering buying a controller & hardware, why not consider Z-Wave?

  • Better cross-vendor compatibility
  • Avoids the crowded RF space used by Zigbee
  • No need to “hack” to have local-only control.
1 Like

I second the ZWave devices. They are a lot more reliable. However, they are a lot more expensive. In my case, all the light switches are ZWave, but motion sensors remain to be Xiaomi.

I use the CC2531 USB sniffer with a number of Xiaomi motion sensors and CC2531 routers. Look at https://www.zigbee2mqtt.io/. Most of the time it works well. But once in a while, a few sensors lose connection with the coordinator and I have to re-pair again. I suspect signal interference. Let’s just say that if cost is not a concern, I would use all ZWave devices to lower the maintenance work.

I do already have Z-wave devices around the house (actually just window blinds), and I already have Zigbee devices around as well. Then I have others on 433MHz RF and I have others on wifi, …

I want to go with the Ikea solution because it is cheap (10€ for a motion sensor compared to around 25€+ for Z-wave). And I really like the fact that there is always an option of non-smart control - which depends on your particular solution when it comes to Z-wave.

In reality I will just be automating my downstairs hallway and the garage next. So I need two control outlets (already have one), a LED bulb (which I already have), three motion sensors and about 5 switches.

When I will be automating the rest of the bottom floor of the house I will probably go with z-wave (at that point I will be renovating most of downstairs anyways, so it will be easier to integrate new stuff).

Where are you located? I find some good priced items for US & Canada… Z-Wave devices are region-specific.

I am in Canada. When I searched before, ZWave motion sensors tend to be in the 40$ range. You can get Xiaomi motion sensors at less than $20 (slow shipping); I think it’s slightly more expensive now. Ikea Tradfri motion sensor is $20 + tax. The Xiaomi motion sensor looks nicer than the Ikea’s.

Zooz (getzooz.com) and their retailer thesmartesthouse.com are partnering with us to improve support for their products. They also sell on amazon.ca.

They have a sensor (battery or usb powered) right now for under $20 US. I have one of them.

Back to the topic at hand :smiley:
That sensor is obviously not suitable for Europe and even it if was… still almost double the price of one from Ikea.

So I really do want to go the Zigbee route for this part of the automation. Is using something like a CC2531 with the Zigbee binding a good idea, or is something like Deconz a better option? And of course the rest of the questions in my first post.

This may work, but since the author of zigbee2mqtt also provides a special firmware I would suggest zigbee2mqtt.

Zigbee2mqtt is made for the CC2531.

I will consider it. But to be honest I am not a big fan of it. I don’t particularly like MQTT and installing something like this requires another level of administration (or if I install it on a separate Raspberry Pi, a separate piece of hardware that I have to worry about).

FYI, I’m also running everything with Zigbee. I’m using both the zigbee binding and the zigbee2mqtt. Both works flawlessly. But I might have some useful hints for you

  • I use bulbs, switches etc. from different manufacturers. Therefore OH is a great solution, no hub required
  • Why do I use two solutions? I would have preffered to just use the zigbee binding, as the range of the controller itself is better. However if you use it in a mesh, it doenst really matter anymore (note: you need main powered devices for that)
  • The reason why I flashesd a cc2531 with zigbee2mqtt is that I also use the Ikea remotes coming with the lights - they are zigbee, but they are sending their signals within the group layer, which atm only zigbee2mqtt can use. Also the INNR lightstrip runs flawlessly on zigbee2mqtt, but not in the zigbee binding
  • zigbee2mqtt and mqtt is really easy to do. Maybe setting up the broker takes a few minutes but then there is no difference in setting up items etc. like you used to (note: I’m doing everything file based)
  • Thatswhy I use both solutions. Of course it’s not ideal as I have two seperate mesh networks, but I havn’t experienced any backdraw yet. Maybe at some point one solutions covers all my zigbee products (zigbee2mqtt is in my view closer to that)

For me zigbee works good, nothing to complain about. However I never comapred it to Zwave as I started with Zigbee out of the box. Moreover in Europe Zigbee is used way more from manufacturers in my experience and the controllers (cc2531 dongle is 5 USD and the telegesis dongle can be bought from ebay from 5 USD as well) are pretty cheap :slight_smile:

Awesome. Thanks for your input.
So judging from what you’ve just said here the remotes will still communicate directly with the lights if I use the official zigbee binding. Which is actually what I want, so that’s awesome. Do you by any chance know what happens with the motion sensors? That’s one thing where I want more control from Openhab and I don’t want them communicating directly with the lights.

Normally you can’t pair a device to two “Masters”. However this was discussed in some posts (Don’t know if this forum or on zigbee2mqtt or somewhere else) that you can pair it first with the bulbs and then with dongle - but better look for the afore mentioned post via google and test it yourself.
However your OH instance should be running flawlessly 24/7 otherwise home automation doesn’t make too much sense. Therefore I see no need for this backup, never experienced why I should have this option.

This leads also leads me to the statement: let every action be controlled by OH :slight_smile: you of course need to write the rules, but for basic tasks that’s pretty simple. To your question: if you run the motion sensor via OH, you can do whatever you want. The Tradfri motion sensor is on the list of supported devices both on the zigbee binding and zigbee2mqtt :wink:

use the zigbee binding or zigbee2mqtt as the master and connect everything to it. Then you can control, automate everything and via the mesh network the connections are pretty strong. Moreover the implementation effort is not that high

Awesome. Exactly what I wanted to hear.

I always prefer to have a backup for something as simple as turning on a light. While my Openhab installation is stable when running normally, I had a few issues during upgrades (that went a bit wrong) and it crashed once due to a buggy binding. So for those cases I want to avoid people in the house shouting at me that they can’t turn on a light :rofl: .

as I said, better check that. I think I read when dealing with the Ikea remote thing, but this is just out of my head from from 8 months ago or so :wink:

I did. You were right. You can connect the light to the dongle first, then remote to the dongle and then pair the remote to the bulb.

I’m not so sure that’s correct - ZigBee has pretty good cross vendor compatibility, and a much better defined interface than ZWave. I think what you are getting mixed up with is that there are some devices out there (eg Xiaomi) that are not ZigBee, but they use parts of the ZigBee protocol, and this gives people the impression that ZigBee has poor compatability.

I’ve come across plenty of issues with ZWave devices over the years, and one thing that really bugs me recently about ZWave is all the changes they’ve made to command classes which really cause problems (the big one is all the variants of the association command classes).

ZigBee does tend to be a lot more stable in this respect that ZWave. It’s also open (note that ZWave are going back to the bad old days and closing off parts of the protocol which will make it increasingly difficult for openHAB to support, and impossible to certify the current binding - not that that matters to most people, but it does have legal connotations and I’m personally keen not to be sued :wink: ).

Maybe, but the 868/915 MHz band is also pretty over populated and unregulated. I know Hilton use ZigBee in their hotels where they have a ZigBee network in every room, and Wifi etc throughout their hotels, and it all works fine, so in general there shouldn’t be too many practical issues here.

What does that mean? ZWave, and ZigBee, and most other devices, generally work in a similar way, so I’m not sure what the hack is?

I’m not sure this is a fair comparison :wink: Are you using any ZigBee devices (remember, Xiaomi are NOT ZigBee certified and do not respect all elements of the protocol).

Generally speaking, I would say that ZigBee is just as reliable as ZWave. It’s used a LOT more in industrial applications, it has much better security and robustness than ZWave. It’s also (generally) a lot cheaper (although Hue bulbs may buck that trend :wink: ).

Personally I would avoid the CC2531 as Texas Instruments (the manufacturer) is not planning to perform further software updates, and it does have bugs in the current firmware.

My recommendation is to use one of the Ember chipsets. This has much better support, and is used by a LOT more people than the 2531.

There is still some work to do on the ZigBee binding, but my expectation is that it should integrate better than using MQTT, but then I’ve not used zigbee2mqtt, so I’m not in a position to qualify that statement and plenty of people are using it successfully I believe. Probably both options have advantages and disadvantages…

2 Likes

Awesome. Thanks for this. I ordered one of the sticks with the Ember chipset. Will see how it goes.

  • Bows to the great master*

I thought there were 2 main variants separate for home automation & lighting. Vendors such as Hue added their own proprietary pieces to lock you into their cloud system while still being certified. i have not yet seen that happen with Z-Wave,

You do not have things like microwave ovens trashing access though. Where I work we provide 2.4 GHz wireless but do not support it to the degree of 5 GHz due to interference issues.

Vendor lock-in to cloud services seems to be the norm today and I thought vendors tried to lock you into their Zigbee variant. That s why there is Hue emulation, for instance,

They both use exactly the same protocol and all new devices are required to work with both. Or, to put it another way, ZigBee 3.0 unifies all previous profiles - ZB3.0 was released a few years back now and it’s not possible to certify devices for the old profiles.

Note that the profile doesn’t mean that it’s not compatible since the underlying protocol and commands are exactly the same for all profiles (it always has been) but some profiles (eg ZLL - lighting) have extra features such as touchlink to simplify creating and joining a network.

Really? I’m not aware of that being the case. I don’t think any of the Hue bulbs I’ve seen have any manufacturer specific extensions.

Note that ZWave manufacturers also do this, so it’s not an issue with ZigBee or ZWave - it’s an issue with manufacturers.

It certainly does happen - Danfoss do it with their valves, Fibaro do it with most of their devices, and I’m sure there are plenty of other devices using the manufacturer specific cluster.

True, but this should not cause a problem in general. If it did, then wifi, dect, and lots of other systems would not work during dinner time as they all use the same ISM band.

But as per your initial comment, how does that affect ZigBee and not ZWave?

It’s in no way related to the protocols - it’s related to the interface box. If you use either the ZWave or ZigBee binding, then this is absolutely not an issue for either of them.

I’ve got a lot of Hue devices, and other ZigBee devices. I’ve never had an issue, and have never used the Hue emulator. This point is completely irrelevant when you are talking about the protocol and device level - it’s only an issue if a box locks you in to their cloud system, and that can happen for ZigBee, or ZWave, or any other system.