or: Keeping your Zigbee Mesh Happy
If you use Zigbee devices, your Zigbee mesh is the backbone of your home automations. This mesh network is the way Zigbee devices communicate with each other and with the Hubitat Elevation hub. Zigbee devices build this communication mesh automatically, but it is not instantaneous. You must give your Zigbee mesh time to establish itself before automating your Zigbee devices. Automating devices too quickly can lead to frustration due to dropped devices and other issues down the road. It may take several days for your Zigbee mesh to automatically find the optimal routing; however, if you power down your hub for 20 minutes, you can expedite the process of re-building the wireless mesh.
To maintain a successful communication, all Zigbee devices must be accessible. Adding devices near the Hubitat Elevation hub, then moving them to their final location may lead to dropped device and other issues down the road. Therefore, it is recommended to always pair your devices in their final, intended location. Although the hub can support up to 32 directly connected devices, one or more Zigbee repeating devices will help strengthen the ability of your devices to maintain communication with the hub. Your environment, the distance to the furthest device, obstructions and device performance will determine the number of repeating devices required. Most Zigbee devices that are powered by mains voltage or plugged into an outlet can repeat Zigbee signals. Battery powered Zigbee devices do not repeat signals. They are known as "end devices," whereas Zigbee repeating devices are "routers."
Follow these procedures when discovering your Zigbee devices to establish a strong Zigbee network. Please be patient, as it is key to success.
Hubitat Elevation can support up to 32 end devices (devices connected directly to the hub without the help of a repeating device). Beyond 32 battery powered or non-repeating end devices, you must add mains powered repeating devices. A Zigbee repeating device is one that is plugged into an outlet or powered by mains voltages. Battery powered Zigbee devices do not repeat signals. End devices only communicate with a parent device, which could be the hub or it could be a repeater. Zigbee repeating devices (Routers) communicate with both the hub and End devices. Your environment, distance to the furthest device from the hub, and the range of the Zigbee repeating devices will determine the correct number of repeating devices required. Unlike Z-Wave, there is no limit to the number of Zigbee devices that can be added to your network, as long as there are an adequate number of repeating devices and they are properly distanced from each other.
A Zigbee repeater or router, is a messenger that relays information, until the messages between end devices and the hub have reached one another.
Zigbee repeaters may be any device that will always be powered by mains voltages (but be cautious with Zigbee bulbs that may repeat; see Tips for designing your Zigbee mesh). A Zigbee outlet is an example of a repeater acting as a relay point for devices that are too far from the hub to reliably send and receive signals. Zigbee and Z-Wave are two different wireless protocols, therefore a mains powered Zigbee device can only function as a repeater for other Zigbee devices, and Z-Wave devices only act as repeaters for other Z-Wave devices.
Devices too far from the hub or obstructions will result in dropped connections from weak Zigbee signals.
When a repeater is placed between the device and your Hubitat Elevation hub, the device communicates with the repeater and the repeater communicates with your hub, significantly improving performance and reliability.
Repeaters can communicate with other repeaters, to form a strong and resilient Zigbee mesh network.
Non-repeating battery-powered devices must always have a parent to talk to, either Hubitat Elevation or a repeating device. When the device first joins the network, it will choose a parent that provides the strongest Zigbee signal. Once a device chooses its parent, it will hold on until it absolutely cannot communicate with it, even if a different parent with a stronger signal is introduced into the network. Only when the device can no longer effectively communicate with its original parent device will it then select a new parent. However, if the device can still occasionally communicate with the hub, it will not select a new parent repeater.
For Zigbee devices, communication must worsen before it will automatically heal. Devices must completely lose communication with their parent before they will seek a new one. To put this process in motion, you simply shut down the hub for 20 minutes. When Hubitat Elevation boots, routers and the end devices will re-establish an optimal path for communication with one another. Allow up to 24 hours for this process complete.
Although a Zigbee mesh will automatically establish the optimal path for devices to communicate with your hub over time, there are some design recommendations you should follow to optimize the network and achieve the best possible results.
NOTE: Devices on one Zigbee network do not repeat for devices on another Zigbee network.