FAQ: Getting a Z-wave signal into a metal building?


(James) #1

I have a detached metal shop that is approximately 10ft from my house. Line of site from the hub to the nearest device inside the shop is probably around 35ft and it’s going from a closet that houses all my tech (file server, router, modem, POE injector, home theater tuner, etc) through a wooden door, through a rock wall and finally through the side of the metal building.
I have two garage door openers (GD00Z-4 & FS20Z-1) inside the shop that work, but are very inconsistent.

I’ve installed an Aeon smart switch 6 that wasn’t being used on the outside wall toward the shop (interior of the house) then ran a zwave repair and that didn’t seem to help.
I’ve looked into a Ethernet bridge but I fear I’m not smart enough to figure out how to set it up (they look incredible confusing).

What would y’all recommend I do to get a better signal inside the metal building?


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#2

Metal outbuildings are always a challenge. Rain is also a negative factor as far as signal range.

This question has come up several times in the past, and it often comes down to specific small details about set up. (I’ve moved this into the projects category for that reason, so that you can get more complete answers to your specific situation.)

I’ll post a few links to the previous discussions, reading those might give you some ideas.

You’ll see that the answers do vary depending on the specifics involved, so you may have to do some experimenting or get very specific about how things are laid out. But these should give you an idea of the options.


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. The following thread discusses specific options depending on the architecture of the shed.

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And this one is similar to the previous one, but the set up is just enough different that there are a few different suggested solutions.


(James) #3

Thank you for the quick response JD!
I had already read a couple of those threads but they didn’t seem to have any updates or solutions so I thought I’d start a new thread (thank you for moving it to the proper category) where I could (hopefully) figure this out and give some solutions for others that may stumble on it.

Two questions:
Does Z-wave Plus repeat Z-wave signals (I thought I read somewhere they don’t but I can’t find it anywhere now)?
Do you think the biggest problem is the exterior wall of my house (sandstone, fiberglass insulation & two layers of 1/2 gypsum drywall) or the metal on the building?


#4

[quote=“cdrracing, post:3, topic:48075, full:true”]
Thank you for the quick response JD!
I had already read a couple of those threads but they didn’t seem to have any updates or solutions so I thought I’d start a new thread (thank you for moving it to the proper category) where I could (hopefully) figure this out and give some solutions for others that may stumble on it.

Two questions:
Does Z-wave Plus repeat Z-wave signals (I thought I read somewhere they don’t but I can’t find it anywhere now)?[/quote]

Yes. All zwave generations are backwards compatible, it’s part of the spec. So zwave Classic devices can repeat zwave plus and Z wave plus can repeat Z wave classic.

Do you think the biggest problem is the exterior wall of my house (sandstone, fiberglass insulation & two layers of 1/2 gypsum drywall) or the metal on the building?

Both of those are bad. Seriously bad. Sandstone is essentially the same as concrete, although it can vary depending on the specific mineral content. gypsum drywall again varies, not as bad as sandstone though. The issue here is that while metal per se is worse then sandstone, it sounds like the sandstone is thicker.

I think you’ve got to look for either air gaps or materials that the signal can pass through. Clear glass is good so I’m assuming that you have windows in the house? As long as they’re not tinted, you can put a repeater near the glass.

For the metal shed, as discussed in the other threads, if there’s a window, use that.

If not, if rubber stripping on the doors is an option, that can help a lot.

If the rubber is not an option, if you can put an electrical outlet on the outside of the shed you can probably get signal through it to the other side.

Or, as discussed in the other threads, if none of those are an option sometimes the only thing you can do is run an Internet cable and put a second hub as a second account inside the shed to handle signal to things inside the shed. That gives you the best signal but logically is a lot more complex to set up and keep track of.


(James) #5

I appreciate the reply. I have a recep on the eve of my house for a bug zapper, I had no plans of making it smart but I knew that’d be an option assuming zwave devices are backward compatible. After seeing your reply I decided to buy a GE outdoor switch and give it a shot.
I mounted the switch so that it has line of site to the metal building and got it connected to SmartThings, then I did a zwave repair. Everything inside the metal building responds extremely fast now with zero failures (and it’s raining outside).

My biggest concern was that the metal was the biggest problem and that even placing a repeater outside might not help, but like you said the sandstone and mortar is very thick.
Thank your for the help JD!