SmartThings Community

Hub v2 coverage in the house

(Ravi Bhatia) #1

I have bought the following recently, still waiting for the order. Will the hub connect with all these components in the house. Is the hub strong enough to cover a house of 3 levels & 3,000 sq ft? I read in the forums that adding electrical (hardwired) components to the entire setup will enhance the coverage. The hub will be placed on the main level and I have wi-fi access points on all 3 levels. The only hardwired components I have added is the GE zigbee switch. Will that be enough to cover (& connect) all the items listed below? This is what I have ordered:

GE In-Wall Smart Switch (ZigBee) x 13
GE In-Wall Paddle Switch (Add-On) x 2
Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor x 5
Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor x 19
Samsung SmartThings Hub x 1

Thanks in advance for the help :slight_smile:

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Location of network equipment whole home coverage. need reco's for wiring and finishes
#2

It depends very much on local architecture. Essentially anything that would reduce a Wi-Fi signal will also reduce bothbzwave and Zigbee signals from the SmartThings hub.

So you can start by just walking around the house with your phone on Wi-Fi and see if you have dead spots or low bar areas. This will identify architectural issues like brick, tinted double glazed glass, large metal objects, certain kinds of insulation, certain kinds of wallpaper, cement, etc.

If you do find dead zones, then just as with Wi-Fi, you need to Do something to get the signal through those areas. You can’t boost signal for Zigbee and Z wave the way you can for Wi-Fi, but you can pass the message along to a strategically placed device to then relay it. This is often how we will get around corners if there’s a problem with water pipes in the wall or something like that.

The signal does travel in 360°. So it goes up and down not just across the room.

Typical range in a US home is 40 feet clear line of sight for one device, and around 250 feet in each direction total

In most US homes we assume will get clear signal, with a clear line of sight (no walls or refrigerators in the way) of about 40 feet per device. Zwave plus devices get somewhat more than that.

Zwave is limited to a total of four “hops” between sender and receiver, so you have to be able to get from the hub to any one Zwave device in the home in four Hops.

So if you place your hub centrally, and you are using Z wave plus, you will probably be able to reach a device 200 to 300 feet away in each direction in a typical US Home. However, some homes will do much better than that, I’ve even seen up to 400 feet. It just varies a lot.

On the other hand, if your home is primarily built of cement, including cement floors and ceilings, you may have difficulty getting the signal out of a single room. In most homes in Asia of cement construction, for example, it is typical to put one zwave controller per floor because you just can’t get signal up-and-down, and you usually have to use Zwave lightbulbs at the entryway to get the signal around the corner.

Think about Hub placement first

If you put your hub in the garage, you’re already picking a room that probably has the most obstacles in your whole house in terms of signal, particularly once cars are parked in it.

Similarly, if you put your hub in the basement, you’re going to have a harder time getting a signal to the second floor then if you put your hub in the living room and let the signal go up to the second floor and down to the basement.

So start by placing the hub centrally in the home, and then Think about other placement.

Although Zigbee devices have a somewhat shorter individual range than zwave, they can take more hops, so in practice you get the same amount of total coverage or even a little better with Zigbee. (Although Z wave plus is a big improvement over classic zwave)

Positioning repeaters

Zigbee can repeat only for Zigbee and Z wave can repeat only for Zwave so just keep that in mind. You’re really running two different networks under the same account. A Z wave light switch at the top of the stairs on the second floor will not help reach your Zigbee sensors on the 2nd or 3rd floor bedroom windows.

The good news is that most devices that are Mains-powered are repeaters, with the exception of emergency sensors like fire alarms. So it’s not just the wired wall switches that are repeaters. The plug-in pocket sockets are as well. Even a few light bulb models, which can give you more options for places like stairwells.

Using more than one hub

Your house is definitely going to be a challenge. It may work just fine, though, it depends on the local architecture and the specific devices you choose.

You can have two hubs in the same home by defining each one as a separate location. Some people with very large homes with a lot of brick define each floor as a location. It works fine technically, but it does mean you have to manage two sets of schedules and rules.

Your house as described in post 1

Sorry there’s no specific answer to your question, just some guidelines. There are just so many local variables.

You didn’t give model numbers for all your light switches, but if the two add on switches are Z wave, they concern me a bit as they appear to be the only the Zwave devices that you have. They aren’t going to repeat for the Zigbee sensors, and they may have trouble getting a signal themselves.

Otherwise, you have a lot of zigbee switches, which is excellent. They will repeat for each other and for the Zigbee sensors. (Battery-operated devices do not repeat.) So it’s just going to depend on individual placement, but the number of Zigbee devices looks good.

The additional challenge for zigbee is if you are using boosted Wi-Fi you can drown out the Zigbee signal, requiring repeaters to be placed closer together. This is where individual placement makes a huge difference. If a light switch is just past the entry to a room on a wall in the hallway, it may be better at relaying signal around the corner then a switch that is on an interior wall of the same room. So sometimes you just have to put things in place and see what works.

More information

You can read more about range and repeaters in the following (this is a clickable link):


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#3

Did they do a revised antenna diagram for V2?

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#4

Somebody did a teardown, the Zigbee and zwave swapped places
IIRC

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(Ash (www.smart-dots.com) / Ashutosh Jaiswal) #5

You can use this app called as “WiFi SweetSpots” and walk around in your home. First stand right next to your AP and see what throughput you get there. Then start walking and relative to your peak throughput you will quickly get a good idea of where your weak spots are. This will help in finding those dead spots, if you plan to use the same location to place your ST hub as the WiFi router. Ideally, you may not want to do that , but in lot of cases that is almost unavoidable…like in my case… I was having some issues talking to my door lock and so I assessed my WiFi Signal to identify where my weak spots are. When I stood near my front door , the throughput I got was 0.1 Mbps to 0. That confirmed that it was a serious dead spot. Then I walked around that area to find a location where I was able to get good WiFi coverage. It was my dining room…the best thing to use as a zwave repeater there was a switch that supported beaming…and I did. After 2-3 Z-Wave repairs, my lock started working every single time.

I also placed a WiFi repeater in the same location to get good WiFi coverage to my TV in the living room… My ROKU now streams smoothly as well.

The WiFi repeater I used was --> http://www.amazon.com/TP-LINK-Wi-Fi-Range-Extender-TL-WA850RE/dp/B00E98O7GC/ref=sr_1_2?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1446084082&sr=1-2&keywords=TP+Link

Hope this helps!

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(Tim Gray) #6

I strongly suggest getting at least 6 of the smartthings outlets to act as repeaters in your home. I have a 1600 sq foot home and I needed 4 of them carefully placed to make the zigbee network to be reliable. The hub has a very very short range of coverage. Honestly with as massive as a house you have, would get at least 3 of them per floor and plug them in outlets that space everything out evenly as possible to give you the best chance at reliability. You really can’t have enough zigbee repeaters, and sadly most zigbee devices do not act as repeaters. most of the light-bulbs out there will not repeat except for their brand, and anything battery operated will not repeat at all. that leaves light switches and wall plugs and even those you need to be careful as to what you select so that they are generic repeaters. Nothing on the packaging will tell you if they do this, sadly device makers think that information is a trade secret.

Also remember, Wifi will badly disrupt zigbee so you have to add even more repeaters in areas where wifi is strong in your home. and lord help you if you are like me and have a sonos addiction. 12 zones of sonos plays havoc with zigbee.

If I did this all over again I would never buy Zigbee anything. Zwave only as they are 40X more reliable due to being in a far less congested frequency band.

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(Brad Langhorst) #7

I did some informal range testing yesterday. My house is 2 stories and about 2800 sq ft, with an attached 3 car garage that is another 600 sq ft. The exterior is mostly brick with some cedar siding and I have an enclosed room which used to be a screen-in porch that has brick on 3 of the 4 walls. My test setup was as follows:

  1. SmartThings v2 hub, placed in my office (northeast corner of the house, second floor).
  2. Iris Contact Sensor
  3. iPad running the SmartThings app.

I walked around with my iPad and the contact sensor and open/closed it to see how well it worked. I haven’t completed the entire house yet, but my testing seemed to show that the hub could maintain contact with the sensor throughout the entire first floor. When I went out into the garage, it was a little less reliable - at least in my informal testing, the half of the garage closest to the house seemed to have pretty decent connectivity but once you cross that line, it got dicey - sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. For giggles, I put the sensor inside of my freezer in the garage, which is up against the interior wall. It completely lost contact with the hub, but that was no surprise to me as I knew I’d need some sort of extended to even attempt that.

A couple of notes I’d like to mention:

  1. I also have a Wink Zigbee network and it IS extended via a GE Link bulb one the southeast side of the house (2nd floor) and a GE Link bulb on the southwest side of the house (1st floor). I wonder how many issues this might be causing me, if any.
  2. There is some dependence on the connected device as well. The Iris sensor seemed to be pretty robust. I tried to mount a Quirky Tripper to the door leading to the garage, on the garage-facing side, and connectivity with SmartThings was VERY erratic. The Iris sensor should have no problems in that area even without the extender.

So, I’ll do more testing and decide where I want to drop my ST repeater(s). I really need to cover the entire garage so I need to figure out a good Zigbee device to use as a repeater. I may just drop another GE Link bulb in a socket somewhere and use that.

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#8

GE LINKS have their own problems

The issue with the GE links is that they themselves drop off the network occasionally. This is a known firmware problem and is the reason why these bulbs have not been added to the official “works with SmartThings” list according to SmartThings staff.

So if you are depending on a GE link bulb as a repeater, and it goes out, you lose everything past it.

I like the look and the feel of the GE link bulbs, as well as the price, but at this point I think I would go with the Osram bulb as a repeater instead.

Search the forums for much discussion on the issue.

How Zigbee profiles affect repeaters

Regarding the question of which Zigbee devices are repeaters, any zigbee mains-powered device except for a smoke alarm will repeat. There’s nothing secret about it, it’s part of the standard. So plug-ins and wired devices.

The issue is what will they repeat, and that will only be something that matches their own profile.

In most cases that’s not an issue either, because most networks only support one profile at a time. So generally, if the Zigbee device is mains-powered and can be added to your SmartThings network, it would repeat for other Zigbee devices on the network.

The profile should be listed on the box and in the device description, it’s just that most consumers don’t realize that it is a profile description. “Zigbee pro” is one description" “zigbee green energy” is another profile description. “Zigbee home automation” is yet another.

The Zigbee alliance realizes this is a problem, and the next generation, zigbee 3.0, is going to combine almost all the profiles into one.

For now, just look for “zigbee home automation 1.2” mains-powered device which is not an emergency sensor, and it should be a repeater.

Light bulbs as the exception

It’s only lightbulbs that are weird because the same bulb can typically run one of two profiles: ZLL or ZHA. And most, like the Osram Lightify, can join either A ZLL network (like the one run by the Phillips hue bridge) or a ZHA network (like the one run by the smartthings zigbee Coordinator). Then they repeat the messages associated with the Coordinator they are attached to.

Zwave beaming: the “secret” repeating issue

The repeating feature most often left off of the product description is a Z wave specific optional feature. No Zigbee device ever has it, but Zigbee devices don’t need it. It is used to improve the battery life on zwave door locks.

Zigbee already has better battery life then Z wave, the whole protocol just handles energy use better. It’s one of the reasons you’ll see so many more sensor choices that are Zigbee. For a small battery-operated device, Zigbee has advantages.

Both protocols have pros and cons. Some people like one, some people like the other, some like to mix based on the requirements for a specific device.

But the Wi-Fi interference issue is a definite plus for zwave, no question. :sunglasses:

I don’t know why zwave device manufacturers don’t tend to list “beaming” in the product descriptions. It’s a pain in the neck to have to go look up the official conformance statements every time.

We do have a page in the community-created Wiki that lists some specific models that are Z wave plus and beaming if you just want a quick search.

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Repeaters

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(Brad Langhorst) #9

In over a year of use, I’ve never had a GE Link bulb drop off the network. I’ll look into the Osram bulb as well.

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(Ravi Bhatia) #10

Thanks everyone for the comments.

From what I hear and understand, I will need a combination of Zig-Bee & Z-wave hardwired components to be able to control everything effectively. I had ordered 13 of GE Zig-Bee switches, I am changing the order to have 8 x GE Z-wave & 5 x GE Zig-Bee switches. These will be (strategically) placed all over the house to maximize coverage. I will be adding some door locks in the future and the Z-wave switches should help.

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