Z-Wave - How to reach an out-building?

I am seeking advice about how to extend my Z-Wave mesh to an outbuilding. I have tried various approaches but so far without success.

  • My outbuilding is about 10 metres (only) from the house
  • The outbuilding contains one Fibaro FGK101 to monitor a deep freeze
  • The house is built mainly of brick, but has a zinc clad back extension
  • The back french doors are triple glazed, with energy (metal) film coating
  • I tried adding extra ZWave devices at various places as boosters (see below)

The extra devices that I have tried as boosters are as follows…

  1. Aeotec smart plug ZW096 (two different units)
  2. Fibaro FGS223 switch
  3. Aeotec ZW117 range extender
  4. Aeotec DSD137 range extender

I have tried placing all of these extra devices in all possible combinations in various places a) at the back of the house (behind the brick wall), b) at the back of the house behind the french door, and c) inside the outbuilding. But so far I have not found a combination that works reliably.

The closest that I got so far to success is using the Aeotec DSD137 range extender (on its own). It does connect to the FGK101 monitor, but not reliably. I tried the DSD137 in the house and the ZW117 in the outbuilding but that doesn’t improve anything.

So I think I need something with a bit more “oomph” to get through. => Any suggestions?

Alternatively, I do have wi-fi in the outbuilding, (no problem for that to get through), so perhaps there is some solution where I could piggy back on the wifi to get the ZWave signal through?

This seems like a good job for Share Z-wave dongle over IP (USB over IP using ser2net / socat ) guide, though I think there has been some work to get OH to support this sort of thing natively but I’m not where where we are in the process.

Alternatively, you could set up MQTT 2.5 Event Bus and have an instance of OH running in the outbuilding that reports to your main OH over MQTT. It’s a long tutorial but it’s not all that difficult to set up for something like this if you are already familiar with MQTT.

In both cases you will need a separate Zwave controller in the outbuilding.

I don’t know of any way to boost the signal or extend an antenna to get through the walls and you’ve already tried everything else I would have tried.

I had a somewhat similar issue with Zigbee, and eventually ‘fixed’ it by putting the ‘repeater’ in the loft as that is in no way EMC tight, and only two materials to get through until reaching the troublesome device.

EDIT: And ultimately, I put all my ‘hubs’ (rPi + USB dongles) up in the loft and haven’t had any connection/interference issues since.

I think @wborn also had something built in to the serial binding more directly.

I think you’re getting this mixed up. The serial binding is not linked at all to the ZWave binding. I think what you are referring to is the serial transport that is used by the ZWave binding (and many others), and this provides features to use RFC2217 directly.

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Many thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately my roof has its brick gable facing that way so sadly your solution wouldn’t work in my case.

Be careful with cantennas. In many (most) areas they would be illegatl because the unlicensed radios are limited by Effective Radio Power (ERP). the cantenna gain raises ERP.

Yes, I am an FCC certified RF engineer.

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Many thanks for your two suggestions. Both are interesting, but it starting to look like overkill just to import one single Thing. Considering the cost of buying an extra Pi and ZWave dongle, plus what I already sunk so far in the five ZWave boosters, – it would seem to be cheaper to occasionally write off a load of food if the freezer were to fail :wink:

You can get IP relay/input type stuff.
WIFi rarer.
Much of it is for wired ethernet, could be used with a cheap secondhand WAP with RJ45 port.
Communicate over WiFi with whatever the module supports - HTTP, UDP, Modbus-TCP etc.

EDIT - a Sonoff WiFi type gizmo will give you power monitoring of freezer plus temperature sensing.

Sounds like you need to move house… :grinning:

Or live in the garage?? :rofl: :rofl: :tired_face: :confounded:

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Ah-Ha :grin:

Yup. But it ain’t gonna happen. :slight_smile:

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I got a single Z-Wave device, and even at the closest point I could realistically put a Z-Wave dongle, it still wouldn’t work properly.

I have ended up with a number of plugs in strategic points around the house to try to make a couple of paths between the Z-Wave dongle in my server cabinet, and the Z-Wave device at the opposite end of the house. I too have to go through lots of brick walls. In my case, the most direct path wasn’t the best, I actually go a few metres off to one side for the first hop.

If you can do us a drawing, then maybe we could try to make some suggestions of routes you’ve not tried yet?

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Turns out you can’t use SONOFF POW (with power consumption monitoring) with temperature sensors because safety reasons.

You could use Sonoff THIO for temperature only (over WiFi). Temp probe is on a remote wire you can drop into your freezer.

Shelly H&T similar but no remote sensor out of the box.

There are purpose built freezer alarms like SensorPush but look overpriced to me, considering you can use openHAB to provide the alarm actions.

All assuming I have guessed what you actually want, as opposed to how to achieve it. :smiley:

What is your gateway/hub Z-Wave device? A Z-Wave USB dongle?

I have an Aeotec dongle attached to a Raspberry Pi.

The mesh comprises 10…12 powered devices, 7…8 battery devices, (and 2 so called range extenders, that don’t…j

Hi Andrew,
I have almost the same setup and issue:

  • Freezer in a Separate Garage with a Fibaro FGFS 101 for monitoring
  • Double Brick and Concrete House

I tried a bunch of extenders, mucked around with placement etc. I found most of the extenders were rubbish in this situation (eg ZW117)… but the standout was the Aeotec ZW098 Light Bulb. This thing looks like it has a fully exposed 1/4 Antenna and unlike power pack extenders you tend to locate them in more open areas. These and the best z-wave repeaters I’ve got - they really punch through brick walls! Next best is the older Aeotec ZW075 Power Pack, better than the newer models and all the small extenders (but it is a bit larger).

The other thing I did was moded my Z-Wave stick for better reception.

More info on all of this at :slight_smile:Guide: Aeotec Z-Wave Stick - Adding an External Antenna


In addition to @jmone comments, a quick thing that might be worth trying is connecting your Z-Wave stick to your Pi through a USB extender cable. Again, my example is Zigbee so frequencies are different, but physically moving the actual dongle away from the Pi really helped with reception!

At one point I had OH2 + my ZWave controller running on a Intel Compute Stick stuck to the upper part of a window in my Laundry facing my Garage… to try to get a more reliable connection. Apart from failing the WAF it is just not a suitable compromise. Now I have OH2 and my ZWave controller running off my Windows Server and it all works as it should, fast, reliable and rock solid.

That said, if there was a WiFi equivalent of a the Fibaro FGPB101 (2 wire compatible in wall dimmer) and the Aeotec ZW100 Multisensor 6 I’d have not gone down the Z-Wave route at all.