Home project and distances

(Chad Leiter) #1

New to the forum and new to the home automation world. I picked up a smart things hub and some z-wave switches and sensors. I have a couple wemo light switches, but i wanted to use the Z-wave hoping to get more stability than with the wemo wifi switches. They are a bit buggy at best. My real concern is distances.

I just built a new Pole Barn Man cave and I wanted to start my fourey into home automation out there just to make it easy. I am in the finishing stages of the building, so wiring is easy. My real concern is that I was planning on having the hub out in the barn and then expanding to the house. I have Wifi and a router out in the barn and also in the house. Everything is on the same network and I can control my devices from inside the house now. I don’t know if when I am ready to go to the house, I can just start adding switches and this will allow the Z-wave network to expand. The barn is about 40’+ from the closest inside outlet. I do have an outdoor outlet also, but it is the same distance as the inside outlet or light switch.

Will I be able to continue the home automation into the house when the hub is located in the barn? If not, what is the best way to accomplish this task? I have Cat6 running out to the barn from the house, if I need a hub to increase the network.

Thanks for the time.

Multiple (two) hubs on one network?
Door Sensor out of range / Aluminium Doors
FAQ: Getting a Z-wave signal into a metal building?
Connection/Mesh problems and debugging

It’s just going to depend on the exact materials in the walls and how much rain you get.

Zwave plus extends the unobstructed range of zwave devices, but if you have a metal barn and a brick house, the signal will never get through. If it rains a lot, that’s a separate problem. If the two devices are each by a clear glass window, that helps a lot.

If you’re using the older zwave devices, 40 feet through two walls is pushing it. But it will be fine once you get signal into the first device inside the house, after that it’s just the distance between devices. The advantage of mesh: devices relay messages to each other.

Try this topic, it has more info:

Also. If you haven’t already, read the range and repeaters FAQ:

(Keith Croshaw) #3

There really needs to be a z-wave to Ethernet (cat5+) converter. Then just run the wire out there. You’re the second person who’s brought this up. Stay tuned there was an early rumer of using a Hub V1 as an extender for z-wave and zigbee in conjunction with the new Hub V2. Perhaps @April can fish out whether this is still likely or far off if ever happening.

Ps I haven’t searched for converters, maybe have a look.

(Chad Leiter) #4

Thanks for the quick reply guys. The barn is metal and the house is wood. I have outlets close to windows in each case. I love the z-wave to Ethernet idea. I also have an outside plug on both the house and the barn. This might be an option.

(Keith Croshaw) #5

Maybe install weatherproof panels on opposite walls by the outlets? And just put in a wireless repeater.


The outside plugs combined with a device by each window should be enough except when there’s really heavy rain. Rain disperses signal. That’s really my biggest concern with putting the hub in an outbuilding.

As for zwave to Ethernet…if you’re an engineer, I’m really, really interested in your idea on this. If you’re not an engineer, I’ll just tell you these don’t exist for technical reasons and leave it at that.

What people do instead (and some incorrectly call a bridge) is get two zwave hubs and Ethernet those together with one acting as the primary and the other as the secondary.

(Keith Croshaw) #7

Haha I’m the type of engineer that buys the right product and installs it correctly then makes a custom application to fit someone’s needs. Although I’d love to add IT protocol translation to my tool belt I’m sure I’d need some extra brain and people power to accomplish it.

(John Rucker) #8

I know you are focused on Z-Wave but if you can get by with ZigBee there are several repeaters that work great with SmartThings. Heck a directly joined Hue bulb is a ZigBee repeater. I have Hue bulbs on my bridge that extend my in-house ZigBee network to the chicken coop on our island that is about 750 feet away.

(Chad Leiter) #9

I wasn’t really focused on z-wave per say, but it looked like the easiest and most readily available. I haven’t done too much research on the zigbee equipment. I have purchased a bunch of z-wave stuff already. I’m brand new to this and looking for any suggestions.

I will be looking at putting some automation in my chicken coop also. I’m making an automatic door opener right now based off a car antenna and a timer.


@JohnR has a zigbee based chicken coop door controller. :smile:

ZigBee based Chicken Coop Door

Zigbee devices have noticeably smaller antennas than zwave, somewhat better battery life, and tend to operate a bit better in rain, so you’ll find many of the outdoor devices are zigbee, not zwave. But both work well with SmartThings.

On the other hand, Zwave doesn’t overlap with WiFi. So personally I tend towards Zwave inside the house, zigbee for the yard, but it just depends on the specific device needed.

If you’re looking at zigbee devices, look for the Zigbee Home Automation profile, as that’s what ST using. They’ve added some elements of Zigbee Home Automation Pro as well, although I don’t think all yet.

(Keith Croshaw) #11

Yea it really doesn’t matter. You’d have to extend both if you wanted both. They’re really the same in this problem.