How to troubleshoot a connection with an outbuilding

So I have a couple issues…I’m not sure the best way to troubleshoot.

  1. I have a GE/Quirky Tripper sensor on my front door that isn’t always registering with my Hub. Sometimes its open issues, sometimes it’s close issues. I have a Cree Zigbee bulb 5 feet away that should mesh back to the hub. My backdoor sensor is working fine…

  2. I installed a Linear FS20Z-1 Z-Wave on my garage opener. It is not working all the time. I would say 50% of the time it works. There is a Ecolink Z-Wave Wireless Tilt Sensor in the garage that always registers. It is not far from the hub.

    The hub is sitting on a nightstand in the window on the left, the Linear is up on the opener.

Suggestions? First steps?

First thing to do is to check the SmartThings status page. There have been known problems with devices triggering for the last week or so, so it’s been pretty hard to troubleshoot anything.

Next, based on manufacturer information most zigbee bulbs can only act as ZLL repeaters for other zigbee bulbs. Not as repeaters for ZHA devices. So I would expect the bulb to be irrelevant to mesh strength for the Quirky Tripper and vice versa.

How far is it from the Tripper to the next plugged in zigbee device (not a bulb or a battery operated device)?

Also, since it looks like this is a detached garage, start logging the failures and check the weather. Was it raining and/or freezing cold during the fail? The Quirky Tripper is only rated down to 32 degrees, not below.

I have no other Zigbee products that are plug-in. So it would be direct to the hum 30-40 feet + 2 walls.

The bulbs I have are Cree Connected

My main level is 820 sq ft.

The walls may well be the problem. There are multiple building materials that can interfere with zigbee, reducing signal strength.

First easy test would be to put a plugged in zigbee device, like a Gen 1 ST sensor, right inside the first room on the line of sight from the sensor to the hub and see if that helps.

I have found zigbee to be fairly robust when there are no line of sight issues. I have a ST Multi sensor over 100 feet from the next zigbee device outdoors. The sensor is inside of my mailbox door. Just inside the house I have a ST smart power plug near a window that faces the mailbox. Indoors I have noticed that the performance degrades exponentially when you start compounding walls. My house has a breezeway that is 14 feet wide and I was having issues communicating through the two brick walls nearest the breezeway. I ended up installing smart plugs in strategic locations to overcome the obstructions.

In my experience zwave seems to be more forgiving indoors than zigbee.

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As far as path loss…

Concrete is bad. Brick is usually bad. Metal is bad. Water (in pipes, for example) is bad. Drywall may be bad, depends on the mix. Reinforced shingles can be very bad. Any right turn can be problematic.

So coming from outdoors to indoors, it’s not at all uncommon for things to be much worse on one side of the house than the other, just depends how everything is laid out.

Also: garage containing car often has totally different pattern than empty garage.

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

Only if ST would give us tools to see signal strength and noise. All zigbee devices report their health. There supposedly is an internal support tool that can map and track health of devices.

One thought, is the old style ST motion sensors when wired to AC acted as zigbee repeaters.

I would suggest trying to acquire one of those and put it in the garage. or if possible mount outside on the corner of the garage along that walkway. This should help relay the mesh if it is a signal problem.

However, I’m working to try to uncover a bug in the ST / Cree bulb type that causes the hub to gain amnesia over the deviceId, thus requiring a power reset of the bulb to repair.

Having a hard time reproducing the condition, frankly, I’m thinking it has something to do with server reboots or resets over time.