FAQ: Are Smart Bulbs Repeaters? (Updated 2019: the new answer is yes, but may be inconsistent)

Awesome FAQ @JDRoberts. I was thinking only the other day if ZigBee devices on a hue hub and those on an ST hub are able to mesh together - question answered. Thanks!

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Can you elaborate? Once I configure a mains-powered device that should be capable of repeating, I need to take some additional steps beyond just adding the device to get it to repeat?

It will start repeating right away, you don’t have to do anything for that. The issue is does it know which neighbors it should be repeating for? And do those neighbors know about it?

There are two possible situations.

A) you plugged the device in to the place where it will remain. Then you paired it. At the time of pairing, it took note of all the devices that were close to it. So the repeater’s neighbor tables are all up-to-date.

(Each device on the mesh network keeps A list of the neighbors closest to it.)

The problem is that those neighbors don’t necessarily know that the new repeater even exists. So it’s a good idea to get them to update their neighbor tables. That’s why you need to do either a network heal for zigbee or A zwave repair for Z wave. Then everybody’s neighbor tables will be up-to-date and messages will be passed around in an efficient manner.

Or B) you plug the new Device in close to the hub. You paired it. You then unplugged it and walked it over to some other place in your house and plugged it in there.

Now we have two problems. The new repeater has no idea who its real neighbors are. And the neighbors have no idea that it exists.

The solution is exactly the same as for A) – just get everybody to bring their neighbor tables up to date. So you do a network heal for zigbee, or a zwave repair for zwave.

Basically anytime you’re adding new mesh devices to your network, whether they’re repeaters or not, once you have paired everybody and put them in their final locations, you should get all the neighbor tables updated.

It’s easy. See the range FAQ:

I can no longer update the first post in this thread, but wanted to add another brand note:


These bulbs will not act as repeaters. So they won’t lose messages from your other ZHA devices, but they aren’t repeaters either. Oddly this may make them the best choice for some people looking for zigbee bulbs connected directly to the smartthings hub, but who don’t need them to be repeaters, because at least they won’t mess up your network. :sunglasses:

Otherwise, bulbs connected through the hue bridge are likely to be the most efficient and offer the most features.

Thank you @JDRoberts for this information. I think I can confirm the Ikea lights are also repeaters. When on, two buttons I have in the same area work. If off at the switch, the buttons are dead. So I’m thinking they’ve connected to the bulbs rather than the hub? Before I connected them they worked fine. Any way around this as my other half always hits the switch :frowning:

The following might give you some ideas (this is a clickable link)

If you mean is there a way to keep your other devices from using the IKEA bulbs as repeaters, the only way is to take the bulbs off power, take the hub off power and take out any batteries in it, leave everything else on power, and leave it that way for at least 15 minutes.

This would cause your other zigbee devices, including the buttons, to go into panic mode because they can’t find the hub.

After 15 minutes, put the hub back on power but leave the IKEA bulbs off power.

Now all the zigbee devices Will start rebuilding their neighbor tables, but they won’t use the IKEA bulbs as a parent because those are off power and signal strength is part of the equation when the other devices are selecting a parent.

If it was me, I would keep the IKEA bulbs off power until the next day because it could take a while for all the neighbor tables to get rebuilt. But a lot of people would only wait one hour. It’s up to you.

This method should work to keep other devices from choosing the bulbs as repeaters, which means if someone turns the switch off to the bulbs it won’t affect the other devices, but it’s a pain in the neck, and you will have to do it again anytime you add a new zigbee device or you move a zigbee device to a different location in the home or your hub has been off power for at least 15 minutes.

BTW… back to your current situation (pun intended)… Most smart bulbs are intended to always be on power. The obvious reason is because that way they can hear the next command from the network. But the not so obvious reason is that when you turn the switch off and then turn it back on there is a big rush of current (called inrush current).

That’s not a major problem if it only happens a couple of times a year like when there’s an emergency power outage. But if you are using a switch to regularly turn current off and on to the bulbs several times a week, you can over time damage the radios inside the bulbs, making expensive bulbs that much more expensive. It’s not a safety issue, it just means that a bulb that is supposed to last 15,000 hours might only last 10,000. :disappointed_relieved:

That’s why it’s better to use one of the methods in the FAQ I linked to above to make sure that people are not using the switch with smart bulbs. FWIW…

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Thanks again kind Sir. I was thinking just that RE the turn off for 15 minutes etc as I’d followed a previous thread where you gave this advice. And I purposely turned on all lights prior to powering the hub back up. So this is where it started, not only the buttons connecting, I’ve since realised all window contacts haven’t done the same. Not ideal when certain people in the household go against my advice (now considering wiring directly and blanking the switches lol).

So I’ve some thinking to do here. When I had the Ikea bulbs connected to Hue they dropped off twice. They actually seems more stable connected to ST. But now a dilemma, I have two Hue Dimmers which work very nice connected to Hue, but connected to ST makes it harder to use them properly as Dimmers. I’m going to purchase the Ikea hub so I can update their firmware, and also quite like the fact they are working well as repeaters. So I think I’ll reset the Hue Dimmers, get them connected to ST and work on a piston to use the Dimmers more like when they’re connected to Hue. This may (I use that word loosely) persuade my other half to stop using the manual switches, and only use when in an emergency.

Thanks for the great advice again.

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PS. The reason for doing it in the first place was due to 5 Osram lights dropping. I wasn’t keen on delinking each and the powerdown cured that. I’m in the middle of doing it again and will ensure the Ikea bulbs are on last after triggering all others.

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See also the following thread which discuss a specific bulb brands and their behavior as repeaters:

Update for 2019:

Osram/Sylvania bulbs continue to have some problems as repeaters. Hue bulbs are fine acting as repeaters for each other when connected to a hue bridge, but have the same problems as the Sylvania when connected directly to the smartthings hub.

The Cree bulbs don’t have the problems repeating, but beginning in the fall of 2018 there’s some crazy issue with a firmware update which can cause them just to come randomly on and off. Much discussion in the forums on this.

On the other hand, lots of good reports on the IKEA Tradfri bulbs once they are updated to the firmware released In mid 2018. They appear to be reliable not only for the typical zigbee device, but even for the Xioami sensors which have trouble staying connected with many other repeaters.


Thanks much for the update! I was just thinking of taking one of my hue bulbs “off bridge” to connect to SmartThings directly as a potential repeater. Won’t bother for now, I have other solutions.

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What about the Ikea FLOALT LED panels ? Do they act as repeaters as well, just like the IKEA TRADFRI bulbs?

Recently picked up a bunch of Ecosmart zigbee tunable white bulbs with the remotes at Home Depot. Several of my zigbee end devices (both ZHA and ZLL) picked these up as repeaters and they’ve been working great this way for over a week. Not surprising considering these are zigbee 3.0 certified I suppose. The <$5 price on these is a steal, especially considering they come with a remote. They also get very very dim at the lower settings unlike a lot of my other smart bulbs.

I haven’t been able to force any of my Xiaomi/Aqara zigbee sensors to use these as repeaters yet, so I’m not yet sure if they’ll play nice with them like the Ikea Tradfri devices or not.


Any update on these Ecosmart bulbs? Just added these and some Sengled BR30s to my network and lost a few Xiaomi sensors.

I assume the Sengled are not repeaters like every other Sengled A19 bulb I have, so I was curious I was curious what other people have seen with Xiaomi and Ecosmart bulbs.

To my knowledge the Sengled bulbs are not. I had issues until I added a couple more Centralite plugs to help my mesh. I have 21 Sengled bulbs currently.

Not even the Sengled plug is a repeater.

No update. I have a bunch of Xiaomi/Aqara devices near some of the Ecosmart bulbs, but none of them have attempted to use the bulbs as repeaters so I haven’t been able to test compatibility. Sad to hear that they likely don’t work as repeaters for Xiaomi/Aqara, but not particularly surprised.

Did you check the “next hop” field in the IDE to confirm that the Xiaomi sensors were repeating through the bulbs?

On a related note, I installed a couple of the Gledopto mini zigbee LED controllers before the holidays, and I have a couple of Aqara water sensors and Xiaomi motion sensors repeating through them. I’ve noticed some of the Aqara motion sensors keep showing up as disconnected in the new app and the IDE, but show connected in the classic app and they still send motion events and check-in events properly. Otherwise they’re all working fine with the Gledopto as a repeater. Not sure if this is a device /DTH issue, repeater issue, or cloud issue.

Correct, they are not repeaters, just end devices:


Just FYI, been running several more days with the Ecosmart bulbs in the mix and my Xiaomi window/door, temp/humidity and vibration sensors have been fine. My motion sensors have been a bit iffy, but I think that’s due to increasing the network up to 70+ devices and I have some weak paths in place.

Several more days with Ecosmart bulbs – All working fine with Xiaomi devices. Previous issue with motion sensors was actually do to them routing through Hue bulbs. Replaced all Hue bulbs with Ecosmart bulbs and everything has been rock solid.

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Presumably you had the Hue bulbs directly paired to your ST hub rather than via the Hue hub?