Interesting Zigbee ZLL behaviour

I dont know what all bulbs you have, but from my experience… I had about 20+ Cree Connected bulbs. At some point my zigbee mesh went to shit. Well bulbs went to shit. I started buying ST outlets to try to add some more well known repeaters, then added a bunch of iris brand sockets. Nothing I did seemed to help my stability with the bulbs. The Osram gardenspots were affected as well. I dont have too much else but lights and a few motion sensors so I couldnt fully tell you what all might be screwy.

So got a hue hub and paired all bulbs but like 8 to the hue removing them from st. From that day forward I’ve had great reliability. I swear there’s a bug or something once you get too many lights lol. I dont know about basic osram bulbs, but i thought that the rgb or rgbw lights dont pair with hue, i could be wrong so dont take my word for this.

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Pretty much describing my experience with osram instead of Cree. I’m really hoping this is the root cause of all my troubles. As my system has grown it has become a full time job monitoring and fixing stuck sensors. Adding repeaters made matters worse.

Good luck, but heres a 58 reply thread of my adventure. I never had issues with my sensors, but I didnt have but a couple. I still think there is a bug somewhere when you pair too many of the same type of zigbee device lol. Makes no sense but the moment I reduced my bulbs on ST to like 10 it all went peachy.

Hmmmmm, following this now. I was having a huge problem with three zigbee motion sensors and a contact sensor, all in the same room. I had 3 GE link bulbs in the room as well, all attached to the ST hub.

I replaced all of the bulbs with hue bulbs connected to the Phillips bridge. I haven’t had a problem since then with my zigbee devices in the room.

Interesting. Thank you.


Have I mentioned that I don’t like bulbs. A lot. And I’ve been fairly immune to issues?

Just observations, don’t want to start that discussion here but feel it might be relevant. How can a mesh network perform if some of its nodes are constantly going on and off? In theory it should heal, but in practice…

Also in my house it would easily quadruple the number of devices which is a stress I attempt to avoid.

If they’re not repeaters, nodes going on and off is no problem. That’s what mesh was designed for.

If they’re repeaters, yes, it can be a problem. But smart bulbs can and should be left on power all the time. ( see manufacturer instructions.) There are many options to use for smart switches that will give you a tactile physical wall switch without cutting power to the bulb.

In the UK, Popp and devolo make a very nice battery operated wall switch to use with smart bulbs and community members have devised some mounts for them that will meet most peoples aesthetic requirements. In the US, there are two available “smart switch covers” that fit over the existing wall switch and solve the power issue. There are other options as well.

The issue for this thread is something altogether different-- The fact that smart bulbs attached directly to the SmartThings hub do not appear to repeat correctly for other ZHA devices. That’s true even when they’re always left on power. :disappointed_relieved:


There are places where replacing switches instead of a bulb just isnt cost effective or sometimes possible. Break even is about 3 bulbs. Considering a GE switch is about 35 dollars or so, a Cree bulb is about 15. So doing an individual lamp that isnt on a switched outlet, a bulb makes sense. That being said, yes they are a lot more problematic than a zwave switch in my experience.

As for the ‘on/off’ for a bulb being a repeater. Remember you arent turning off the power to the bulb just to the led :wink:

And as I pasted in my other thread, yes cree bulbs are repeaters. The support person said they were, just not sure of it was ZHA or ZLL. I dont think this really matters for me or the OP. Thing is we both tried other methods of improving the mesh. In my case, reducing the amount of bulbs on the ST hub fixed all my issues. I no longer pair to ST for bulbs.

If i had to do things over, I would avoid zigbee devices like a plague. I’ve had hardly any issues with my zwave devices comparatively speaking. It just perplexes me why my heatmisers, nest and hue have no issues in my house with zero care for placement. While ST just struggles even though I give it plenty TLC and move everything away from it both channel wise and physically.
I think ST is just a heck of a lot more sensitive and very little tolerance built in for interference in the real world.

There are a lot of different ways to handle the possibility of interference. Many zigbee devices do channel hopping where they will adjust the frequency to find the least crowded channel. SmartThings does not do this.

Based on recent reports, it also looks like there may be QOS issues when zigbee bulbs are paired directly to the SmartThings hub rather than through the hue bridge. SmartThings may think the bulbs are ZHA repeaters And the bulbs may be dropping messages. Various different reports about this over the last 15 months, but several people have posted that removing all their zigbee bulbs from their direct connection to the hub solved a lot of zigbee network problems for them. That would be unfortunate if true, but at least it would explain why some people have such awful problems and other people don’t have any.

You can always blame wifi

But then again, it could just be local Wi-Fi interference. I’ve mentioned before that I have two provable instances of Wi-Fi interference at my house. In one case I have a Wi-Fi booster. If I put it on one wall in a room, it kills connection to all the SmartThings zigbee devices that are west of it. If I move it 90° to a different wall in the same room, everything runs fine.

And in another case, on weekdays around 330 my SmartThings arrival sensor goes bananas and keeps losing contact to the hub. In that case I suspect that one of my neighbors has boosted Wi-Fi and a kid who gets home from school around that time.

Does success require limiting approved devices?

It’s always true that in the US in a home automation set up zigbee is somewhat more fragile indoors than Zwave. There are a lot of ways to address that, with channel hopping being the most common, and obviously Phillips Hue is very successful even for people with very little technical background. And there are a lot of security systems which use zigbee devices with no issues after installation. But both of these recommend using a specific set of pre-approved devices.

It may be that the versatility of SmartThings and allowing for pretty much any ZHA device to be attached to the hub just opens up too many points of vulnerability. That would be sad if true, but at this point I would believe it. :disappointed_relieved:

@johnr @Sticks18 @erocm1231


I just have to chime in here and say I have zero Z-Wave devices (all ZigBee even with several direct connect hue bulbs) and my network is rock solid!! It self-heals and has never been more reliable than it has the last couple of months. SmartThings has made great strides to make the cloud stable and my network reflects it. Now to be fair I have an engineered ZigBee network it didn’t just happen. I have placed ZigBee repeaters inside and outside my house to create the network. The Hue bulbs are not relied on to route traffic but they don’t interfere with it either. We also live out in the country so interference from my neighbors is not an issue. Our WiFi routers and hubs are able to frequency hop around the SmartThings’ locked in frequency so that hasn’t been an issue.

ZigBee has a very clear future and is here for the long-hall. I can’t can say the same about Z-Wave.


Are your zigbee repeater devices transmitting at higher power than your Hue bulbs?

It occurred to me that, at least in the US, we ought to be able to select repeater devices and lay a backbone in such a way that the zigbee bulbs wouldn’t be likely candidates for route selection.

In the UK the zigbee range is extremely poor. My observation is that something in adjacent rooms struggle to reach each other. I’ve no experience of the boosted version you guys have in the US. Maybe that fares better?

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Yep my main ZigBee repeaters are the 63mW versions of the xBee Pro. That is what I use in the CoopBoss and since the chicken coop is about 400’ away from the house it covers the whole south side of our yard and all the hue bulbs we have in our landscaping connect to it. I have a couple more xBee Pros in other locations around the house.

I believe in Europe and Great Britain they are limited to the 6.3mW version. In theory that just means more repeaters. But as I think about it I may not have problems with my bulbs because my routers are putting out 10 times the power they are and they don’t really have a chance to interfere with anything. Who knows?? Just know ZigBee works great for me!!


10 times the power!? OMG, had no idea there was such a difference.

@johnr 's setup is unusual, and not typical of home automation installations. He lives in a rural area and doesn’t have to worry about interference with neighbors. He is using “pro” zigbee devices designed for long-range use with range of about a mile. They are typically used for outdoor applications, including small drones, but also automatic gate controls, agricultural irrigation system controls, and outdoor sensors.

I would think only a few other SmartThings customers would be using those as repeaters. :sunglasses:

Zigbee takes signal strength into account when choosing message routes. So if the zigbee bulbs connected directly to the hub are problematic repeaters, The problem could be avoided if there are other repeating devices nearby with stronger signals, as then it would be rare for a bulb to be chosen as a message carrier even though it was identified to the network as a repeating device.

In John’s case, I think that’s definitely coming into play. For people using more conventional home automation devices in the US, I still think it will be possible to select repeating devices that would be a higher signal strength than the bulbs.

That might also explain why some customers are reporting problems with lost zigbee messages and others are not. It might not be the end devices that matter, but rather which repeaters make up the network backbone. In order to get The network to not use a directly connected bulb as a ZHA repeater, there needs to be another repeating device of a stronger signal nearby.


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I spent a bit of money and a lot of time trying to debug my setup here as outlined in my main thread. Never got around to buying a usb stick to actually map the network but was close. I bought 4 smart outlets, 1 ST 3 iris, to try to improve the network here. Not going the ‘pro’ route but at least everything ST suggests to do to improve your mesh. I dont have a huge house, 2200 sq/ft but hell really its only like 1700 is where I live in and have devices, well even less than that because its 3 bedroom and I live alone. So you could say probably like 900sq/ft of used space. I littered the house with those ‘repeaters’. To the point I breadcrumb’d them from the hub around the corner to the kitchen. Each outlet is like maybe 15’ apart and line of sight from each other, and thus back to the hub. That has to be the best case for setting up repeaters, that did nothing to help my issues.

My first issue a year ago was my outside garage smart lights. Well I figured out that my neighbors smart meter for our power company is zigbee and about 10ft from my garage so yea that was not going to go well as we all know. So I pulled those and went to my first zwave switch. At that point my zigbee setup was great. But only a few devices. Started buying more and thats when things started breaking. I started experimenting with repeaters at that point. Months went buy with nothing but trouble.

Got an offer from a user here for a dirt cheap hue hub and since then its been golden. I’m not an automation engineer, but I am a life long IT person, linux sysadmin and networks for 15 years now. So I’m not exactly the typical user, probably typical forum user :). But I did my homework. Things like doing a wifi survey here. So knowing that all the competing wifi around here is in the channel one or 6 areas and zigbee lives higher up than that, I dont have much of an issue with wifi interference. I have the super strong netgear nighthawk r7000 and hell it sits beside my hub. Ive proven that even me moving my st hub to the middle of the living room far away from the router, did nothing to improve my bulbs reliability. The few motion sensors I had at that time didnt have any noticable issues, same with the smart outlets.

The tipping point was when I removed all the bulbs from ST down to less than 12 bulbs. I think I’m at like 10 now. The rest are on my hue hub. Since then its been very stable. I’m not sure the cree bulbs ever used the smart outlets as repeaters since zha vs zll. One thing that I think needs to be called out in the documentation is that difference in zigbee bulbs vrs different zigbee devices. The repeater document is pretty good, but lead me down the road of spending like 250 dollars trying to improve what I thought was an interference issue, that in my mind is a definite bug

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Holy crap! You just solved the only mesh problem I’m having! I have a back porch light of the side of the garage. I had a link bulb out there connected to ST… Never would work. I changed it to a hue bulb and still no better. I had pretty much written it off.

On the sections floor at that end of the house is my master bath. I had a ton of trouble with my zigbee devices in there. Then I put in three hue bulbs and everything is great.

Except for that one bulb.
Related aren’t even helping it.

I completely forgot about my electric meter being a smart meter. So, it’s going to be changed to a zwave switch.

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LOL omg dude… yea I fought with 2 Cree connected’s and my Osram gardenspots for weeks. One day I was getting out of my car talking to my dad on the phone. So started walking around just not wanting to go inside yet. I kinda started strolling over to the neighbors house. When I barely saw the zigbee logo on the meter. I was like, holy shit. 15ft max between how our houses sit, and line of sight.

Went to Lowes and got a zwave switch. 0 issues since. Hell my Osram’s started working just fine as well. So I think it somehow chained over to them even tho they were at my front door like 50ft away.

My meter doesn’t show a zigbee logo so I dont know if mine is or not. I know dude doesnt get out to read it so it has to be something. All these houses were built around the same time, 2007ish so Id suspect they all got similar meters.

My bitch is that a smart switch is 35 dollars, and a bulb is just 14. So I cant justify every switch. Then add to the fact that I have ‘fancy’ switch covers in the toggle style. So I am limited to one switch type or I have to replace every switch cover in the house. I did the math, thats like 500 in switch plate covers to go to decora style paddle switches and such. I got this house with the pretty covers, so kinda dont want to replace them all. Tried selling them local at like half price. Hell they are still sold at Lowes so its not like you cant get more if needed.

Good luck @bamarayne hope going to zwave fixes ALL your issues :wink:

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I have at last reached a point of some stability in my zigbee network. Unfortunately I embarked on the transition of moving away directly connected osram bulbs at the same time as the last hub update. It is therefore inconclusive whether the last hub update which contained some zigbee update or my changes have yielded the positive effect I’ve seen on my network.
I’m betting on my move of the bulbs into hue at the moment. Thanks @KevinH for the tip. This is the first 48 hours that I’ve not had to reset a stuck ST sensor in months! (Yes, my stability was that bad!!)

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That’s a great question to ask Philips how they do it. I have more than 30 bulbs connected to their hub and at least half don’t have power during the day and near 90% don’t have power overnight, yet I didn’t lose any bulbs or had any problems in well over a year.