Garage connectivity issues


I’m just getting started. I want to monitor the open/close state of my two garage doors. I have a SmartThings hub, two Ecolink tilt sensors, and one Aeotec range extender.

I can pair the sensors, but when I put them near the doors they lose connectivity. I believe the range extender is working but I can’t seem to find a good place for it (outside the garage and the sensors still won’t connect, inside the garage and I think it can’t connect to the hub).

The hub is in a closet under the stairs next to wifi router. The garage doors are about 30 feet from the hub, one floor down. There is some concrete in between.

There are two PG&E smart meters in the garage. There is an old alarm system with wireless sensors (not sure exactly what… I think it’s a Simon XT control panel. I’m going to get rid of this system).

Not sure what I can do or what’s causing the problem (concrete, interference, something else)? Can I solve it with more equipment or different placement?


I had an awful time with connectivity within my garage when I tried to install a z-wave outlet. The minute I installed it into the receptacle box I could no longer control it. I plugged the Aeotec range extender into an outlet inside my foyer (right next to the garage) which is no more that 20 ’ from my hub (10’ from the garage outlet but there is one heck of an interfering wall in between) . Problem solved. Later I replace that foyer outlet into which the extender was plugged with a similar z-wave outlet I installed inside the garage. Both z-wave outlets are repeaters and no need for Aeotec range extender. So basically I ended up with a repeater in my foyer and in my garage.

Recently I installed Ecolink tilt sensor as well as a LFM-20. No issues what so ever.

Thanks cdikland. I think I tried all possible repeater placements. One option would be to try a second repeater - which would almost give line of sight snaking around the hall and down the stairs. Two-hop repeater should be fine right?

I’m still open to any other advice about equipment, interference, etc

Try moving the hub away from the router. Sometimes just changing orientation can help, but I would try to eliminate some layers of material between hub and repeater or sensors.

Crap - just saw you have TWO smart meters in garage AND wireless burglar alarm. Depending on the meter (cellular connection?) they may be swamping your Zwave. Try zigbee contact sensors like PEQ or SmartSense. Check your smart meter models to see what they are emitting. New wireless alarm systems are unlikely to interfere but if it’s an old wireless system then it could be 902Mhz - strong possibility

Consider an outlet instead. It provides the same repeater functionality AND a controllable plug as well :smile:

Garages can be very tricky because of concrete, and also lots of metal in the garage, including cars. :wink:

Z wave can handle up to four Hops so using extenders on each side of the wall should be fine.

Did you pair them closer to the hub and then move them? Z-Wave uses static routing, so you should have the sensors in their final locations when you add them. Also, if the repeater wasn’t on the network when they were added they won’t know to use them.

Is this subsequently corrected by doing a z-wave network repair? Or, is the structure of the routing fixed?

These sensors are sleepy devices, so the hub can’t communicate with them during the network repair process. If they support explorer routing they still should manage to get their events back to the hub, but it won’t be as efficient as re-including them after adding the repeater.

The hub will communicate with them if they’re awake during the repair, but that’s a matter of luck.

This is exactly why many field engineers repeat the zwave repair 3 times, with the idea of hopefully catching the sleepy devices.

The last time I completely tore down my system and rebuilt it (not fun with 135 devices), this was exactly my reasoning and purpose. The first thing I included into the z-wave subsystem were all of my repeaters, strategically placed in the house. Then everything else followed.

OK wow this is great info. I didn’t know it used static routing. Although I did wonder about it.

You don’t see this mentioned very often? People say things like “I bought a repeater and plugged it in, voila! problem solved”

I have ordered another repeater. When it arrives I’ll try again, and be careful to tactically re-include everything as you guys describe.

Most of the time doing a zwave repair after adding a new repeating device will be enough. (I used to work as a network engineer.)

It’s always theoretically best, of course, to rebuild the whole network every time you add a new device, meaning uninstall and reinstall everything that might be affected, but in practice it’s not usually necessary. That’s what the zwave repair and replace utilities are for–to allow for adding a new device without having to uninstall everything else.

Also note that if people were talking about zigbee repeaters, that’s a different process, the network will automatically heal after a power off, which zwave does not. (Zwave will route around, but not choose new parents.)

After much frustration, I finally found a solution. I bought a NYCE NCZ-3014-HA ZigBee tilt sensor, and it just worked out of the box. It seems quite reliable. I didn’t have to move the base station nor use a repeater. Very happy!

As for the Z-Wave, it was really driving me crazy. I disabled the old wireless security system. I bought another Aeotec repeater, as well as an Aeon Labs DSC06106-ZWUS switch. I tried every combination of one, two or three repeaters in a variety of outlets inside and outside the garage. I excluded, reincluded, repaired over and over. I was so close, I could easily get about half the garage covered, but as soon as I got near the doors the range went down to 3 feet and became very flaky.

My assumption is that ZigBee doesn’t have better range or penetration than Z-Wave, correct? Hence it was probably interference of some kind causing the problem?

Thanks again to everybody who replied to my questions.

Zigbee does have slightly better range then classic Zwave. This is one of the things Zwave plus is intended to address.

Zigbee is also somewhat better at transmitting through water, including rain, then Z wave. So if you have water pipes in the walls that can be a factor.

As far as local interference, zigbee and Zwave are broadcasting at different frequencies and so have different interference sources.

So could have been any or all of those factors. I’m glad you got something working!

An update: the new tilt sensors worked perfectly for about 2 weeks, then became unreliable, I would say about 50% of events got through which is worthless for open/close alerts.

After shopping around, I bought a SmartThings Outlet to act as a repeater. The good news is that it has fully restored connectivity - I plugged it in near the door, paired it, turned off the hub to re-parent the sensors, and everything came back and it’s been 100% ever since. The bad news is that the outlet is quite pricey ($53 on Amazon), and I didn’t see too many other options out there?