Can't get Sylvania Zigbee lightbulbs or Ewelink Zigbee Plugs to work > 50 feet away from ST hub

If I am next to the hub, it works great, very reliable. I’ve got several lightbulbs and plugs working.

I have a polebarn where the ST hub is located. Everything works fine in the 40 x 60 pole barn.

I have lots of Zwave devices, and I can get all the Zwave devices working fine from the house, which is not connected to the barn, but is perhaps 50 feet away. The house is then another 50 feet long, so the farthest Zwave device is 90-110 feet away from the hub. I have probably 50-ish devices connected to my hub. As far as I know, about 40 of those 50 are Zwave.

I wanted to have some control over lightbulbs so I purchased Sylvania multi-color bulbs. I looked around and only found WiFi and Zigbee bulbs.

I read that if I go WiFi, I need to new “hub” to control the lightbubs because ST doesn’t interface directly into WiFi lightbulbs, is that true?

So I looked for Zwave bulbs, but couldn’t find any, they all seemed to be out-of-stock and from my reading, it seems not very popular and discontinued if my reading is accurate.

So I went with the Zigbee bulbs because I wanted tight integration into ST.

I bought some Ewelink power plugs not because I needed them so much, but because I wanted to have more Zigbee repeaters around.

I can get the Ewelink plugs to work if they are next to the router, but I can’t control them when I get to the house.

I’ve turned off the ST Hub as I was told to do to “reset” the Zigbee network. I’ve had it off for 90 minutes, and then turned it back on. No difference.

What does anyone recommend?

50 feet is probably too far away. The usual rule of thumb for the kind of home automation Zigbee devices that smartthings works with is about 40 feet per “hop.“ Sometimes you can get farther, but it may not be reliable. So I think you’re just a bit too far away.

Zwave has a longer range per hop, maybe 75 feet for zwave plus. So it’s not surprising if that worked better.

As far as whether you would need an additional bridge/Gateway/hub for Wi-Fi bulbs, it just depends on the specific brand/model. Some do require an extra bridge in order to be able to integrate with smartthings, some don’t. In any case, almost all of the Wi-Fi bulbs have a “cloud to cloud“ integration with smartthings where they use the Internet to talk to their own cloud which then talks to the smartthings cloud. For example, a Meross makes Wi-Fi bulbs that have a smartthings integration and do not require any additional hub/bridge. In fact, you can use them without having a smartthings hub, just with a smartthings account. But it is a cloud to cloud integration.

I don’t know of any Wi-Fi bulbs which talk directly to a smartthings hub, that’s just not how they usually do their integrations. Zigbee and Zwave bulbs can potentially talk directly to a smartthings hub, again it depends on the specific model.

If there’s any place in between the barn and the main house where you could put another Zigbee repeating device, either a plug-in pocket socket or just another lightbulb, that would probably be enough. But otherwise you may need to switch to a different protocol, probably WiFi.

Or another alternative would be to put a separate smartthings hub in the barn and treat it as a separate location.

If you start with post 11 in the following FAQ (this link will take you directly to that post) it will explain most of what you need to know about range.

A Guide to Wireless Range & Repeaters - #11 by JDRoberts

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There is also a “how to“ article in the community – created wiki on how to automate an outbuilding which has tips for this kind of situation, but in your case I think it’s just a matter of range. Still you might find it interesting:

I am chiming in only to state that I hate Wi-Fi bulbs

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I have noticed that devices in my detached metal garage just seem to have range issues, especially if mounted near corners so I am operating under the assumption that the metal walls affect the range and transmittability of some things.

Zwaves are working great, zigbee and Arlo not much.

I don’t have any, please give the pros and cons of WiFi bulbs. Why do you not like them? What is good about them? What kinds of bulbs do you recommend if not WiFi?

Probably most things actually. If you happen to have mains powered Zwave devices closer to that garage, it could make a difference, especially if you don’t have any Zigbee mains powered devices nearby to help the Zigbee mesh.

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My barn is made of wood. I’ll measure the distance, but I bet I have a repeater (ewelink plug) powered on within 15 feet of the ST hub. It of course works fine.

The plug is on the outside of the barn, and plugged into an outside outlet with a plastic cover.

The next closest plug is on an outside plug on the house. I just went and measured it, and is 60’ across the lawn. No obstructions, nothing. But I can’t get it to connect. VERY frustrating.

Thanks for the reference, I actually studied your post from 2016 which is why I just purchased 4 Zigbee outlets to try and bulk up my Zigbee mesh network.

I originally had a hub in the house and one in the barn, until I found out (painfully) that I can’t have automations run across locations… OUCH! That really shot a hole in my plans. I wanted to go to one place to control all the devices, the outside lights, the cameras, etc. So, I removed the older hub from the house, using the new hub I installed in the barn, and placed the hub in the barn as close to an outside wall near the house as I could.

Deleting all the old devices, playing with the Zwave exclude utility, screwing around with GE Zwave light switches… let’s just say I don’t want to do THAT again!

I have a lamppost between the barn and the cabin. I’m going to play with that today. That might work, I’ll have to see I guess.

I purchased both an Arlo device (for Zwave) and a Digi device (for Zigbee) last night so I can map out my two networks. I’m retired now, but I used to design wired token-ring & ethernet networks (and then wireless networks.) I even at one point could use a protocol analyzer and read an Ethernet packet, but I soon hired people to work for me to do that, so I lost much of the deep technical jargon.

The point behind that minor brag, was to say, I understand wireless networks and I’m happy to set up repeaters, extenders, wireless bridges, etc. I just need to figure out how to measure wireless Zigbee and Zwave signals to see if I have a chance of reaching the house with Zigbee.

As I stated earlier, my Zwave devices work great. Oh… I have several 2.4Ghz wireless access points around as well, and I understand Zigbee shares the same wireless spectrum. I know that can be a problem too.

Perhaps I abandon Zigbee and try for Zwave lightbulbs? Or do I move to the WiFi solution you suggested? Which lightbulb solution do you use?

Thanks for monitoring these forums. I see a lot of your posts and it is great you give so freely of your time and expertise.

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This is a solid how-to article.

Do you have experience with the Hue devices? They seem a little pricier than the Sylvania bulbs I’ve purchased, but if they work and I have control, then it would certainly be worth it.

Thanks for the kind words. I’m retired now due to disability and happy to help out where I can. :sunglasses:

As far as WiFi devices, I personally find Meross well-engineered with good safety certifications and great prices. So that’s mostly what I use. They are available in both the US and UK.

Regarding multiple locations, at one point Webcore could access them but I don’t know if that’s still true: if you ask in that section of the forum someone should know.

IKEA Tradfri bulbs and pocket sockets are good inexpensive Zigbee repeaters with SmartThings (they will say they need their gateway, but you would be using a SmartThings hub instead).

On mapping the network, ST gives us very minimal tools, but I believe you can see RSSI in the IDE at

One small point:

Arlo devices aren’t zwave. What device did you get?

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I use the hue bridge with hue brand devices and have been very happy with them. They are definitely more expensive, but they seem to be better engineered.

They form their own mini zigbee network with that bridge, so one option is to put a bridge in the outbuilding since the bridge itself uses Wi-Fi and then that bridge can communicate with its local zigbee bulbs. This is often a good solution for solving range problems if you are OK with the cost of the hue devices.

Some of the other less expensive brands also work with the hue bridge, so you get the same solution with those. IKEA tradfri and Innr Are popular budget choices in this configuration. I don’t think your Sylvania bulbs will work with a hue bridge, though, I believe they use an older zigbee protocol. But check and see, I’m not sure about the most recent models.

I put all of my critical use cases on Apple homekit because it is much more stable and reliable than smartthings, so I like the fact that the hue bridge can work with both at the same time, But only for some and devices. Its own brand of bulbs work fine, but Innr does not get exposed to homekit, for example.

Wow! I just looked up the Apple Homekit! You clearly think it must be far more reliable as the prices I saw quoted at at least 50% higher, and in some cases 200% than other devices that appear to provide much of the same function.

Of course, I generally agree with the phrase “You get what you pay for” and it seems you’ve been doing this home automation thing for quite a while, so I will defer to your expertise.

However, this is a hobby for me and I’m having fun. Truth be told, I don’t even mind troubleshooting some of the issues as I get smarter about things every time I dig deeper.

I’m actually looking forward to getting the Zwave (Arlo) and Zigbee (Digi) USB sticks to be able to map out my network. I may find things work quite differently than I think!

I might look into a Hue bridge for the reasons you mention. I’ve got a fiber-optic cable dropped between the barn and house, so WiFi is no problem. The Hue bridge would function much as a Zigbee remote hub for me, while still keeping everything for the most part under the ST umbrella.

Thanks for the quick response. I hope Samsung sends you freebies to keep you active on their site. They benefit from a strong support community and you are doing more than your fair share!

That used to be true, but not anymore. There are now a several budget brands that make HomeKit compatible Devices. Meross is a very good example, but xaomi sensors, for example, Are another budget brand that is more reliable on HomeKit than they are on smartthings. Ecobee, Lutron, and Philips Hue cost exactly the same whether you were going to use them with Homekit or smartthings.

So there is now a wide range of value and quite a few devices that work with both platforms. Choice is good. :sunglasses:

Check Meross product descriptions carefully, they sell a lot of multi packs. For example, you’ll see a price of $39 for the smart plug: but that’s for a pack of four! :wink:

BTW, Ikea Tradfri also work with homekit, but only if you are using their gateway so, like the xaomi sensors, you can’t use them with both smartthings and HomeKit at the same time, It’s one or the other. But Meross , Phillips hue. ecobee, Lutron, and others can be used with both simultaneously, which is my preference. :sunglasses:

I have both a zwave and a zigbee repeater outlet located at the shortest distance of unobstructed air to the garage from the house but the zigbee just wouldnt stay connected. Haven’t had a single issue with the zwave though - sort of strange but if it works than I’m happy! I know when the kids forget to close the garage doors, that’s a win!

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Also interested in the Arlo for Z wave product you mention. I have an extensive Arlo system set up and am always watching out for their new products.

Have you double checked the ewelink plug to make sure it isn’t a Wi-Fi plug, I’ve got burned a couple times by nefarious Amazon descriptions that will cause a wifi plug to show high on a search for zigbee plug. That could be a reason it’s not connecting.

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Arlo doesn’t make any zwave products, so I’m not sure where that confusion is coming from. I use text to speech dictation software, and it’s possible that the system misunderstood me in some post, it can happen.

I didnt mean to respond on your response JD, I was attempting to respond to OP and must’ve grabbed the wrong reply button, lol.

I couldn’t find anything on the webs other than a lose correlation that sells Arlos, so was curious about what product he has his hands on.

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Yes, I was curious about that as well. I checked the official zwave alliance website, which normally lists products at least six months before they come on the market, once they complete the certification process, and there are no Arlo products there.

The OP may have just misremembered a conversation from a different thread about Ring (not Arlo), which does have a line of Zwave products for its security system. These are using the newest zwave generation, Series 700 with S2 security, and many of the Z wave products will work with a smartthings/Aeotec hub. They might have enough range for the distance the OP is trying to cover, but I don’t know if they meet the use case in other ways. And not all nonzwave ring products work with smartthings, so you have to check model by model.

As far as a store that sells zwave products also selling some Arlo products, that’s very common for cameras and video doorbells. Z wave and Zigbee just don’t have the bandwidth for video. Cameras are typically Wi-Fi or hardwired, although some that are part of a security system may also have another communication protocol. But that’s typically in one of the security system proprietary protocols, again, not zwave. So home automation stores do often have a section for cameras which is using other protocols. :sunglasses:

I purchased two Meross WiFi RGBW bulbs. I installed it very easily via the Meross app on my Android phone. I went to go add it to the ST App and selected Meross as the Meross FAQ suggested, but I didn’t see the bulbs. When I selected Meross, the only available devices were switches and plugs. I don’t see where I can connect the WiFi Meross bulbs into ST so I can include them in some automations.

P.S. I finally got the Zigbee bulbs working by adding a Zigbee bulb to a lamp post 1/2 between my barn and the house. Then I got a number of Zigbee plugs and bulbs working in the house (the hub is in the barn.)

P.S.S. The WiFi bulb is superfast in reacting within the Meross app. The Zigbee devices are far slower to turn on, off, change colors, etc.

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