Door Sensor out of range / Aluminium Doors

You could try this just with anything you’ve got lying around that will move it 1/2" or more off the surface off the door and frame.

I personally have not, but I understand the physics behind it… Anything non conductive should help.


I’ve not tried the actual plastic case the sensor came with. I might try that and report back.

I’ve just tried fixing some large plastic backing to the sensors (an inch thick) and trying the sensors but it doesn’t work.

I don’t think changing the backing to a non conductive material is going to work in my case as when the doors are closed and I’m holding the sensors in my hand opening/closing manually it still doesn’t work. The windows/aluminium frames are blocking it.

If the aluminum is already magnetized it may take a few days to weeks to de-magnetize. Also metal and RF (zwave/zigbee) don’t play nice anyway.

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Thanks for the link. Interesting… but frustrating having to wait for an unspecified period of time before the metal is de-magnetised.

Would this also explain why the sensor doesn’t work when I’m inside the building with the doors closed and trying to open/close manually? Is a magnetic field getting in the way of that?

Physics matters: aluminum doesn’t magnetize. So that’s not it. ( you can test this easily enough. Take a kitchen magnet and see if it will stick to the door frame. If it doesn’t, the material is not magnetic and cannot interfere with the sensor in the way described in the gate topic.)

Aluminum can still however block signal.

Zigbee repeaters do not boost the signal, they just pass it along. So if you’re putting the mains powered device inside the same out building, it’s not likely going to help. You won’t be able to get the signal to it either. Repeaters are used to extend the distance. But they can’t increase the signal’s ability to move through a blocking material.

Try the following topic (this is a clickable link). It discusses most of the issues you run into with outbuildings.

And this one discusses some additional options. Your idea of rubber seals can work very well. They tend not to block signal but they do block cold air. Mostly you’re just trying to find a way to create a path for the signal from one additional options.

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Thanks for your brilliant response. Having read everything it seems getting another hub inside the building and wiring that up would be best.

Question, would a hub work via an Ethernet extender via the power/mains circuit like a Edimax Powerline adapter? I can’t really run a proper cable.

There are two rooms to my outbuilding, the closest to the house is a utility room with mains plugs. There is a breezeblock and plastered wall inbetween this and the room with a large aluminium doors and windows. I have actually managed to get the ST Power Plug outlet to work in this room hoping the signal would be able to penetrate the breezeblock and use a repeater but that doesn’t seem to work either.

Finally, I do have an outside light right next to the door that I wish to put the multisensor. You’ve mentioned that a repeater doesn’t boost signal but just carries it… But if I got a Zigbee bulb for this light do you think with it being so close to the window it has a hope of working?

Update… To solve this I purchased a second hub installed inside the building and set up as a separate location. Then I used a Powerline adaptor to Ethernet from the building to my hub inside the house. It code an extra £130 but worth it for all the hassle of figuring out another way!

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When it’s important to have control inside the outbuilding, I do like putting another hub there, if only because of weather issues. Otherwise you run the risk of a set up that works well until it rains or snows. Defining the second location avoids all of that. :sunglasses:

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you can get it on one hub…
no one asked what kind of sensors… if st ones they are probably zigbee.

get zwave sensors and install a switch or booster inside the door.
and another inside the house on the wall nearest the outbuilding…

I got a temp sensors working in an ancient freeze that was solid metal and would not work without the booster above it.

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Interesting. I guess that could have worked but in the UK the sensors you can get are limited (without waiting ages for a U.S. one to be delivered!)

As a side note, do US z-wave or Zigbee devices work on a different frequency to the UK? Can I buy something from the U.S. and have it work here?

The short answer is no.

The long answer is in the international FAQ:

The smartthings hub itself is sold in one of two Zwave frequencies. The UK one will work only with devices on the UK zwave frequency. The US one will work only with devices on the US Zwave frequency.

The zigbee sensors and other SmartThings-branded devices sold for the US hub use “boosted Zigbee” which is illegal in the UK. So again you need to get the UK version.

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First of all, your freezer has no rubber seal around the door? (Physics matters.)

Second, while it’s true that Zwave plus has a longer range than Zigbee, Zwave is more commonly scattered by rain. Most outdoor installations use Zigbee for this reason.

Submitted with respect.

Well I also have a wave door sensor in my metal mailbox. Over 140 feet and it works fine as soon as I out a zwave switch in the closest inside wall to the mailbox. No rubber in mailbox. If he has power in the outbuildings he should be able to out a wired outlet or booster at both ends and it should most likely. My zigbee range even with a booster outside is not near as good. But your have to get UK channel wave devices as you mention.

I’m guessing you have only worked with a typical home, not outbuildings on a farm or industrial site?

Most residential homes leak air like crazy. That’s not a bad thing. It prevents toxic substances from building up inside the home. You do pay more for energy, but not a lot more. A typical home outlet or light switch is not airtight in any way. That can leave a lot of room for signal to get through.

In contrast, sheds and other outbuildings other than barns typically have a different kind of construction. Often molded or one piece. And very frequently largely airtight. They don’t have the same kind of layered wall construction. And very often use materials like plaster or glazing that seals up even more pathways.

Additionally, while there’s no rubber seal on the metal mailbox, I’d be very surprised if it’s airtight. And the wall thickness is probably less than a half inch, maybe quite a bit less. Physics matters. The material, the thickness, the density, and the distance all affect signal transmission.

Consequently, until you’ve worked in some of these environments, I would not make assumptions that what you’ve learned from networks in a typical single family home will apply.

Absolutely share your own experiences. Just understand that different environments have different challenges. And signal to outbuildings is an entire category of network engineering. :wink:

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he said it was an outbuilding… unless I missed it I don’t see anything about a farm or industrial… in addition I have outbuildings as well… As I said zwave signal travels better than zibee… regarless of building. In addition if he has power in the building he could put a switch there to boost signal…

Zwave does not “travel better” than Zigbee.

Zwave plus travels further than Zigbee through clear air line of sight.

Zigbee has better signal penetration through some materials, including rain.

Submitted with respect.

ok… but that hasn’t been my experience… zigbee at least presence sensors doesn’t reach to end of driveway… but that could be because the presence sensors suck…

The presence sensors are unboosted Zigbee. They do likely have the shortest range of any devices in a SmartThings installation.