What's a cheap zigbee repeater?

I want to add a door sensor on my shed outback but my hub is at the front of the house and it does not work out there. I found this http://thesmartesthouse.com/collections/on-sale/products/schlage-rp200-z-wave-dimmer-module
but it’s zwave. Is there anything like this but zigbee? I guess I should also ask the question making sure you can extend zigbee like that too :smile:


Pretty much any Zigbee device which plugs in can be used as a repeater. The first generation smart things motion detector which plugged into USB power is popular for this but you can use anything the plug then.

There are also “appliance modules” which are plug-in receptacles that act as repeaters and although these cost a little more, they may be usable as the device as well, so you get double use from them. These are mostly what I use.

In early 2015, we thought that zigbee bulbs if connected directly to the smartthings hub would be able to use as ZHA repeaters, but many community members have reported that they just seem to be unreliable and this was later verified by smartthings engineering staff. They were part of the time, but some messages seem to get lost. So at this time, I couldn’t recommend a zigbee bulb attached to the hub as a repeater.

(Note that the Phillips hue lightbulbs, even though they are Zigbee, do not act as repeaters for anything except other lightbulbs on the same Hue bridge if they are connected to the Hue bridge.)

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Always a wealth of information, thanks!
I forgot I had bought a PEQ appliance module from the Best Buy sale.
I just plugged it in and paired it in the back of the house.
My door sensor worked at the shed.
What’s weird is I unplugged the module and tried the shed again and still worked. Maybe I was just having an issue the other day. I am leaving the appliance module unplugged for the time being to test.
Stupid question, but does having the windows and doors open help the signal? Everything is open now but was all closed up the other day when I tried.

Absolutely, a closed glass window will still cut signal strength about 15%. Maybe a little more. Rain or fog will also decrease signal strength.

The following is a good quick visual summary of how signal strength is affected by various building materials:


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Cool, thanks! So I guess it wasn’t a stupid question :smile:
I’ll leave the appliance module plugged in then.


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@JDRoberts Hey JD, the simplest and stupidest question will come from me… :wink: Does the zigbee devices have always be on to act as a repeater or plugged in is enough? Have couple of ST Smart Outlets and not sure if they have to be always on?

Just plugged in is enough. If you can turn it on from SmartThings, it’s accepting commands, right? So it can also pass along commands to other devices.

Battery operated devices aren’t usually repeaters because it would drain the battery too fast.

And a few plugged in devices, usually smoke alarms, aren’t repeaters because the manufacturer wants to make sure it doesn’t delay its own primary task.

But in general if it’s plugged in and can receive an “on” command, it can also pass along messages to others.

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These are ST smart outlets and plugged in. So, I am turning them off. I thought they have to be on always. I had them on with nothing plugged to it. I thought it has to be always on. Thanks! How stupid can I be…


BTW, GE links bulb don’t repeat. I’m staring at the XCTU utility right now and the GE bulbs are only receiving. This is a problem because a bulb in the far corner of my garage only connects every hour or two for a few minutes.

The $15 Hue White bulb connected directly to SmartThings (not to a Hue bridge) maybe the cheapest reliable Zigbee repeater in 2016.

This method is not officially recommended by SmartThings, because you may not be able to reset a Hue bulb after it is connected directly to SmartThings unless you buy another device to do so. However, a number of community members are using Hue bulbs for this, and it’s worth considering if you just need an inexpensive zigbee repeater.

@JohnR may be able to say more about this. :sunglasses:

Edited to update that as of mid 2016, it appears that these bulbs are not reliable repeaters, regardless of brand. They work some of the time, but other messages are lost. Unfortunate, because they are so cheap.

You have said it all my friend. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with the Hue White bulbs.

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Is this the bulb you guys are talking about: http://www.amazon.com/Philips-455311-White-Extension-Bulb/dp/B014H2OZ1Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457409715&sr=8-1&keywords=Hue+White+bulb

I’m looking for a zigbee repeater to use in my garage so my ST arrival sensor will work and don’t want to spend $50 on the ST zigbee outlet…

it say “extension bulb” so I just want to make sure I can connect directly to ST without needing the Hue Bridge…


Another question here - I tried to connect this Hue bulb to ST directly without the Hue Bridge and it’s just connecting as “Thing” with an unknown status. Is there something I need to do to get ST to recognize it as the Hue bulb, or at least a Zigbee device?


You need to use a different device handler. @Sticks18 is a grandmaster at zigbee lighting with SmartThings and Can probably recommend the best one. :sunglasses:

Yeah I went into the IDE and changed the device type to “hue lux bulb” since it’s not a color one. It connects fine and I see it in my list now, but now it won’t turn off. When I hit the “off” button in the app it flips briefly to “turning off” and then back to “on.”

I don’t have it set up in any smart apps right now. The switch in the wall is a standard 1 way switch.


Try zigbee dimmer or GE Link bulb device handlers. Hue Lux Bulb is for bulbs connected through the Hue Bridge.

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I found this one and used it successfully: Philips Hue Lux Device?, but after I added this, it’s not helping with the zigbee signal. My arrival sensor in my car in the garage was going in and out of being “away” a TON this morning and repeatedly opening and closing my garage. Really annoying.

Did you do a Zigbee heal to rebuild the address tables after you put the bulb in place? Unplug the hub (and take out the batteries if it had them) and leave it off power for at least 15 minutes. That should put all of the zigbee devices into “panic mode” and then when the hub comes back online they will rebuild their neighbor tables. This process can take a little while to complete, but you should see improvement by the next day.

Hey @JDRoberts - thanks for your continued help. When you say “unplug the hub” are you referencing the ST hub or the Hue Bridge? I don’t have a Hue Bridge, and from my understanding, the Hue bulbs will only repeat the Zigbee signal for other devices connected to the Hue Bridge, not connected directly to ST, like I have mine.

If you are talking about doing the heal for the ST network, I will certainly try that to see if it will get the Hue bulb to repeat the zigbee signal so the Arrival sensor doesn’t keep losing touch.

Hue is a bridge, not a hub. :wink:

So yes, I meant the SmartThings hub.

Anytime you move a device to a new physical position, or add a new device to the network altogether, you need to rebuild the address tables for the individual devices so everyone knows who their true neighbors are.

The device won’t use a new repeater if it’s not in its neighbor table, and it won’t be added to its neighbor table until you do the network heal. Which for zigbee means Taking the hub off power for at least 15 minutes, and then when it comes back on power all the devices will automatically rebuild their neighbor tables.

it can take a little while for this process to complete, but you should definitely see results after a few hours.

Hue Bulbs

A Hue bulb connected to the Hue bridge is using the ZLL profile and will only Repeat for other bulbs connected to that same bridge. They basically form their own mini net network.

But when you connect a Hue Bulb directly to the smartthings hub without using the Hue bridge it has to switch to the ZHA profile because SmartThings doesn’t support the ZLL profile. And at that point the bulb becomes a ZHA repeater for other devices on the SmartThings zigbee network.

If you map your Zigbee network using a third-party device you can see this. Many community members have done it. However, it appears that these bulbs are unreliable ZHA repeaters based on reported community experiences.

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