WiFi vs ZWave for Lighting or linking OpenHAB

Hi All,

With the Sonoff MINI’s we finally have a comparable product to the ZWave Fibaro and Aeotec switches for control.

I am going to embark on helping a friend setup openhab in his new renovation BUT he has 3 floors of solid concrete. Zwave doesnt play well at all over that so I was thinking of setting up a well distributed WIFI network on Ubiquti and then using Sonoff MINI’s . This would solve my reception issue as I can easily spread wifi coverage via PoE Access points.

Yes, I will have no ability to use Dimmers but he doesnt mind.

What are your thoughts on long term usage of Tasmota flashed Sonoff devices for lighting control?

Would it be perhaps easier to have 3 x small NUC like systems with OpenHAB and link them via MQTT and run ZWave?

Be keen to hear your thoughts. Reliability/Stability are key.


I’m not a Sonoff, or currently an OpenHAB user, but I have several Z-Wave devices as well as several Lifx WiFi lights for a few years now.

My experience is that mixing home automation with the household WiFi isn’t that good. For example, changing routers meant that I had to go to, and reset each light individually. Also, when the WiFi was broken, the lights stopped working, which isn’t great.

Also, the globes ‘talk’ to the company servers (some advanced features required the ‘cloud’). I am a privacy advocate and don’t think it’s anybody else’s beeswax knowing what time I turn my lights on or off. Even if the company doesn’t do anything with that information, there’s still the possibility of it getting hacked…

The Z-Wave devices, on the other hand have just kept on quietly working away - for what is coming up to 4 years now. (I’m now wishing Z-Wave globes were available back when…)

Personally, I think Z-Wave is overly complicated, and I hate the different frequencies it operates in across the world. To me, there’s little difference between it and CD region locking, making the devices anti-competitive and expensive.

On the other hand, once they’re in, they just keep working. For example, a Fibaro motor controller was last reset 1,311 days ago - it has been opening and closing some curtains continuously and reliably for that long - 3 years. That’s hard to beat.


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That is hard to beat, but it doesnt fix the issue of having a building thats not zwave friendly due to concrete etc. Extending Zwave is difficult and having two systems with two controllers isnt easy/reliable easy.
I could extend the signal using multiple extenders in open areas to connect around stairs but its messy.

There needs to be a wired zwave extender :slight_smile:
Re: Sonoff, if you flash the units with Tasmota you no longer need to worry about security/chinese spys!

I’m using some sonoff basic switches for a while now (next to HUE). The mini is a nice feature. Especially if you use the s1/s2 ports to connect the regular switch. This way you can use openhab and a regulate wall switch. No issues yet, but I’m only using the mini for 2 weeks.

I’m using Sonoff switches for approx 4 years and all of them with TASMOTA (originally Sonoff mqtt-OTA arduino) firmware.
I had few issues with 1st version of sonoff basic at the beginning - they were loosing signal, restarted and behave strangely after certain amount of time (I suspect it was some issue with interference when i put few of them next to each other).
Newer versions works quite well without any issues.
I’m using sonoff basic (have 12 of them behind ceilings and where possible inside switch box).
Most of them are with switch connected to GPIO - this way you can control it by old mechanical switch - and it works also if network is down - it just became “dumb” switch.
I have also 2 T1 (1gang and 2 gang) and few POW to meaure energy consumption with TASMOTA and they works well. Most of them are in operations more than 2 years without issue.
I added 6 sonoff mini 2 months ago where I have 3 of them in same wall box - no issue till now.

Globally I’m very happy with sonoff switches.
Can not comment about zwave as I do not have any experience with it.

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Ive got about 15 x Sonoffs without issue. BUT the potentially issue on a busy 2.4ghz wireless network may be problematic. Im assuming the MINIs operate like a Fibaro relay in that you dont need to have the network working for the manual switch to operate.

I had the WiFi globes behind Aeotec switches Z-Wave, controlled by the wall switches. It was a pain because the WiFi globes had independent on/off, brightness, colour, so, to control them from the HA server, you had to turn the on the switch (Sonoff equivalent?), then have a startup delay, then send the settings to the light.

Now, the globes are always powered. The Z-Wave switches register you toggling the light switch, and send a message to the HA controller which then turns the light on/off. Works well, except there’s a delay of about 1/2 second which keeps you hanging…

I also have the setup you are describing: the wall switch is attached to a Z-Wave switch which turns the toilet light on/off. You have direct, manual control over the light. There’s also a movement detector which tells the HA server to turn the light on - and off after 20 minutes of no movement.

Where your globe is only on/off, this is the perfect solution.

I don’t know the details of radio penetration through concrete. I would have thought the lower Z-Wave frequencies would be better, but they transmit with much less power. (Energy use is something to think about.)

Your mate will probably have WiFi on all levels of the house, so that’s a consideration too! My thought would be to have something like an Orbi satellites on two levels with wired backhaul to the main unit.

I dimly recall a mesh router which does WiFi and Zigbee??? Ah, the " Kasa Smart Home Router" does Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave, but probably not mesh… (The Deco M9 does mesh, WiFi and Zigbee, but not Z-Wave. There’s also the Smarthings…)

See Share Z-wave dongle over IP (USB over IP using ser2net / socat ) guide. Deploy an RPi with a Zwave dongle to each floor. Use ser2net to give one central OH access to those serial devices over your network. Wired would be better than wireless if that is possible.

Like this?

Also most any mains powered Z-Wave device acts as a repeater.

Hi Rich, its flakey at best

If you get a power outage, the ser2net/socat breaks and the binding fails, it then means you need to restart the binding.

Ive been using that for about a year now, whilst it works reliablity when its running any power outage causes havoc and breaks the whole system.

Yes Bruce but it needs a data jack to wire it back to the network ideally. Thats great if you can get solid signal to the unit.

Seems to be investing in some UPS would be cheaper and easier than deploying NUCs each with their own instance of OH federated together.

it receives the Z-Wave signal, amplifies it and routes data to & from any devices it can see. It is basically just another Z-Wave device. One reason I use mains powered outlets is as Z-Wave repeaters

Yes aware of the device and I have one, but it doesnt do what I’m looking for. Infact none do.

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Speaking personally, my home is concrete-built, (walls and floors) and I haven’t had issues with Z-Wave reception. The key to this, for me, is that none of mine are battery-powered, so all act as repeaters. This creates a reliable mesh-network. The more devices contained within it, the stronger it will be.

I also feel that not all manufacturers are equally reliable from a Z-Wave perspective. Personally I’ve found Fibaro and Aerotec to be solid and reliable. Have 1 light (Steinel) which is shit and crashed my Z-Wave network when I included it. Your mileage may vary of course.

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I have some cheap Chinese sensors where the manufacturer refused warranty support.

If you are in the US, I have had very good support & reasonable prices from thesmartesthouse.com & their Zooz branded devices. In fact, they have partnered with OH and are helping us keep our database updated for their devices.

Hi Gerry, do you have concrete floors and walls? How far does a signal penetrate through the concrete? be keen to know more about the construction of your home.


Metal rebar in the concrete may attenuate the signal some.

My home is concrete block-built with solid concrete floors. One example, I have a Fibaro plug - in module, located at the back of the house in the upstairs master bedroom. The Zwave controller is located downstairs near the front door. Never had an issue with that unit receiving commands from OpenHab, and it was the only Zwave unit upstairs, so no mesh network at play there.

There’s a discussion about this in the following link, which might help, https://community.smartthings.com/t/faq-create-an-all-around-z-wave-presence-in-a-4-000-sq-ft-home/33269