Upgrading from z-wave to thread... current best advice?

Hi all-

I have a mostly z-wave setup now, but some of the switches are starting to exhibit weird symptoms of ‘broken-ness’ and I’m thinking it might be time to start on a replacement campaign. It seems that Thread is the new Zigbee, which is the new Z-Wave, and so I am considering switching my openhab setup over to that.

What brands do people recommend for Thread light switches and motion sensors? And what USB stick for Thread bridging to the openhab rpi running the show?

Thread is based on Zigbee, but Z-Wave is a completely separate protocol.

None. Matter and Thread are not supported by openHAB at this time.

I’ve been looking forward to Matter/Thread for 2+ years, but it’s nowhere near viable at this point in time. Amazon/Apple/Google have built Thread radios into Echo/HomeKit/Nest hubs to serve as border routers, but there are very few Matter/Thread devices actually for sale right now.

Hopefully this will change before 2024, but at the rate things are going I doubt it. Even then, someone’s going to have to figure out how it will integrate with openHAB.

If you need replacement devices now, I don’t think there’s a good reason to wait for Thread. Z-Wave and Zigbee will both continue working into the foreseeable future, but there’s no telling when Thread will arrive. A few months ago I was much more optimistic than I am right now.

What does this mean, exactly? Are the switches failing mechanically, or they not communicating with your Z-Wave controller? Perhaps there’s a simple solution to fix your existing equipment.

Yah, I’m aware of that. I meant in being the ‘new hotness’

I have heard from somewhere that, possibly, many Zigbee devices will be able to be firmware updated to Thread. And that Z-wave, on the other hand, is never going to be part of the Matter Home Automation standard.

I have several HS-100+ Z-wave wall switches, and now three of them are periodically getting into a situation where they start to click on/of at a few second interval. I think they’re going bad, and reset themselves when they try to draw current. One is running a high incandescent load, and was the first to start acting weird, but if I don’t use it (leave it off) it stays quiet. But the other two are running low LED loads and get more regular use. I have a few other HS-100+ switches that so far seem fine.

Nanoleaf has updated Zigbee radios to Thread in some of their devices, but it’s hard to say how many others will. There are also a lot of Zigbee devices that don’t follow the specifications (Aqara is a good example), and those will probably remain as they are.

I wouldn’t recommend buying a Zigbee device on the theory that it’ll get upgraded to Thread, but that’s more of a general thing for me. I don’t think it’s wise to buy anything based on promises of future features/development. Too easy to get burned by a manufacturer changing its mind.

The thing about Matter/Thread is that it’s pretty much doing what openHAB does: making it possible for equipment from various manufacturers to talk to each other. You and I got fed up with the lack of integration years ago and found a solution. Matter is trying to do the same for the average consumer. We’ll benefit when it becomes easier to add Matter/Thread devices than Z-Wave/Zigbee/WiFi devices, but that’s about it. I still think it’s important, but less for myself than the home-automation industry as a whole.

Do you mean a Homeseer HS-WS100+? I can’t find anything in the database for HS-100+.

If so, have a look at these threads. They sound similar, and the solution was a firmware upgrade.

HS-WS100+ Still intermittent on-off after new firmware - Solved!

HS-WS100 failures

Err if your hardware is broken, you should not replace anything-Z-Wave by anything-Thread or anything-Matter even less so when it’s unclear if they really are broken.

Long story short, Matter (including the software part in openHAB) isn’t there yet so that would become a playground on the edge of technology development. If that’s what you’re looking for ok go for it but all-else it’s wiser to wait another year or so and today get a 1:1 replacement instead or at least a proven alternative to work in OH such as a Shelly device.

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Sorry, they are Dragon Tech WS-100+ switches, I believe. I think they might actually be rebranded Homeseer ones?

Hmm… I will take a look. IIRC, last time I looked into doing firmware upgrades, it was VERY difficult, as openhab does not support it. Has that changed?

Hmm, I read those threads, and it sounds like people determined it was NOT fixable by a firmware upgrade, but was actually a hardware design problem, e.g. bad capacitor or similar? Also, someone opened up their Homeseer switch and the board inside said Dragon Tech, so they are the same. Anyway, sounds. like they are garbage hardware that dies after a few years of use, especially if they lose power. while the load is ‘on’. I made it farther than many since I think I rarely turn on these switches.

Anyway, thanks all for the advice on Thread. It seems that although some Zigbee devices will upgrade to Thread, there is little guarantee that manufacturers will be motivated to do so when they could sell you a whole new piece of hardware instead. I’ll probably find some more reliable looking ZWave switches and replace these failing ones.

Ah, okay. I only read as far as people saying that the firmware seemed to help.

I think it’s probably less about upselling an existing customer, and more about not putting effort into something that’s already working well enough. Honestly, I get it. As consumers, we want companies to support every product back to the beginning of time, but they have limited time and resources to throw around. It’s hard to find a balance between “make new products that generate revenue” and “avoid pissing off customers by abandoning old products”.

Whatever the case, I think it makes sense to dump the Dragon Tech switches based on those Homeseer threads. Good luck!

Sorry to hijack this thread but I am in a similar situation, I own quite a few HUE bulbs and I wanted since quite a while to move away from Philips hub and use OpenHab only with the ZigBee binding.

Now, assuming I do the switch will I be able as of now to also control Nanoleaf bulbs with the same setup? They are way cheaper than Philips and adding them would also be a bit more future proof as Philips bulbs most likely won’t move away from ZigBee (they support Matter via bridge only).

Any solution running with open hab with one or more USB dongles would work for me as soon as there are no additional bridges to have.

I am not sure how Thread and ZigBee might work together, antennas like Sonoff supports both but I guess the SW stack is different.

Nanoleaf Essentials bulbs seem to communicate via Bluetooth and via Thread. The only Nanoleaf bulb supported by Zigbee2MQTT is the discontinued Ivy (Nanoleaf NL08-0800 control via MQTT | Zigbee2MQTT). My interpretation: Nanoleaf Essentials bulbs (BT/Thread based) cannot be used with non-multiprotocol Zigbee coordinators and are not supported by the openHAB Zigbee binding.

There is an openHAB Nanoleaf binding, but it only supports Wifi devices.

Thanks! That what I thought. Is there anyone working on a multiprotocol layer that can then be used as binding as far as you know?

The best I can come up with is: Incorporating Matter - IMHO this is not going to happen anytime soon …

In a nutshell, Zigbee can be upgraded to Thread in some cases, but not every manufacturer is interested in doing so. Since Matter also works over WiFi, Philips has taken the approach of upgrading their bridges. I think this makes sense, as it’s much simpler for people who already have lots of HUE devices installed, and far less likely to cause upgrade issues.

Keep in mind that Matter isn’t really intended for folks like us. The goal of Matter is to simplify connectivity so that more devices can talk to each other, but we’ve already done that with our openHAB servers. In my non-developer opinion, the best approach would be for openHAB to function as a Matter-over-WiFi device–like the Philips HUE bridge–to gain access to those devices. But like @Ap15e says:

I was looking forward to Matter, but it’s taking too long so I’ve jumped into Zigbee using Zigbee2MQTT.

Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about this unless your Philips gear is causing trouble. If everything works well, it doesn’t really matter that it requires one extra piece of hardware (aside from a very small energy cost). The benefit of openHAB is that you aren’t limited to a single vendor/technology.

@anon71759204 I think that incorporating matter would be similar to what Philips does and as @rpwong says it might allow a better integration with Alexa or Google.

But I do not care much about matter, point is that new devices like nanoleaf bulbs are now Thread devices and I cannot buy them because there is no way to connect to Thread from OpenHab as I do with ZigBee for bulbs

OpenHab as a hub shold allow me to integrate both so I think Thread support should come eventually, am I wrong?

If a device has Thread, the entire point is for it to be accessible to a Matter network.

A key difference with Thread is that there isn’t a single controller that “owns” the device, as there is with Zigbee and Z-Wave. You can use any border router with a Thread radio to set up a new Matter/Thread device, and then that device will be controllable by any other border router in your Matter network. There’s no single point of failure.

The possibility exists for openHAB to connect to a Matter network using either Thread (via a dongle) or WiFi. One or both of these things will likely happen, but there’s no telling when. And as poorly as the Matter launch has gone, there’s no reason to expect it any time soon.

Is there a reason that you’re particularly focused on Nanoleaf? There are many other options for Zigbee lightbulbs if you use Zigbee2mqtt. Many of them probably also work with the Zigbee binding.

Thanks this is something I didn’t get, I thought the 2 things were interoperable but different and independent. I agree launch wasn’t one of the best but I guess more and more users will get some of those devices eventually and will want to get them integrated.

To be honest no, I have the feeling that ZigBee is kind of old now that Thread is out so didn’t want to invest on it but I am probably wrong.

That said since I plan to move to a new building and I will use KNX for basic functionality, I saw knxiot is now embracing Thread and some vendor is building KNX IoT gateway with Thread Border router support, this will make things easier as I will be able do do everything on ETS and then catch ETS events from OpenHab.

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My ideal outcome is that everything works in the Matter network, and openHAB just plugs in to provide sophisticated rules and information such as weather and astro events. But I also think the benefit is going to be more for people getting started than for existing enthusiasts, since we already have collections of gear that we aren’t going to throw out in favour of Matter.

If and when openHAB can connect to a Matter network, I’ll start looking in that direction for new devices. Until then, I have the flexibility to choose the best device for my purposes and budget, whether it’s Z-Wave, Zigbee, or WiFi.

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Looking at costs associated with obtaining Thread specs & rights to use it in implementer context (15000 USD in first year, 7000 or so in following years) it would require a proper crowd founding involving wider community as I cant see (for now) a single legal entity which would be up for paying such cost and associated efforts needed to implement that thing. While openthread is nice, it requires bridging to native libs which is still fairly complicated in java landscape.


I would be happy to sponsor a crowdfunding like that, I think having OpenHab act as a central bridge exposing different device types via Matter would be awesome.

A KNX user willing to expose KNX to Matter will need to spend around 500 euros for a bridge (I know some development on that area is happening), so assuming he is running OpenHab already supporting a small crowdfunding could be an option.

On the integration rather then embedding into openhab wouldn’t be an option to create an openthread service and expose API to talk to it? Maybe a bit more complex to setup but easier maybe to implement.

I agree, but this doesn’t require openHAB to have direct access to Thread. It just has to be able to connect to the Matter mesh and communicate with a border router (such as the KNX bridge) that has Thread.

The value of openHAB in this scenario would be:

  1. Relaying commands/updates through the border router (KNX bridge, Nest Hub, etc.) to Thread devices
  2. Enabling the border router to see and control non-Matter (e.g. Z-Wave) devices hosted by openHAB

It sounds like some progress has been made on WiFi integration. If you’re interested in contributing, this would be a fantastic way to get involved.