What's a cheap zigbee repeater?

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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JD, do you consider bulbs (A19, BR30, Recessed, Lighstrips, etc.) as “plugged in”? Did I misinterpret your statement as inclusive of those? If I did, I may have caused myself a lot of grief, and time wasted troubleshooting, as a result.

Bulbs are tricky because there are two different zigbee profiles used for them: zigbee home automation profile (ZHA) which is the one used by smartthings, and the zigbee light link profile (ZLL) which is the one used by the Phillips hue bridge. And this can get confusing across regions: for example, LIGHTIFY bulbs are ZLL in Europe, but ZHA in the US.


issues with individual brands

The US Osram lightify bulbs when connected directly to the SmartThings hub and on power will reportedly act as repeaters for other ZHA devices on that smartthings network, But there have been a few reports from community members who said it didn’t work while others said it did.

Hue bulbs connected directly to the SmartThings hub without a Hue bridge definitely will act as ZHA repeaters (the bulbs shift to the ZHA profile when connected in this way), and a number of members are using them–but they have proven to be less reliable than other device classes. The $15 Hue white is a very inexpensive zigbee repeater, but it may only be reliable for other bulbs. And Remember that the bulb must be on power in order to repeat. It doesn’t have to look like it’s on, but it does have to be receiving current.

Also, officially SmartThings recommends only using bridge-connected Hue bulbs because the Hue bulbs cannot be reset on their own. So once you connect them directly to the SmartThings hub, you cannot move them back again to a Hue bridge unless you buy an additional device to do the reset (usually the Lutron connected bulb remote, $30 at Home Depot. You reset one bulb at a time, so you only need one of the Lutron devices even if you want to reset multiple bulbs. )

Cree bulbs can be used as ZHA repeaters, but they appear to be missing a couple of Zigbee clusters, so they aren’t always reliable repeaters for other ZHA devices. Some people use them and they work great, some find that some messages get lost.

GE link bulbs are unreliable. They tend to drop off the network every so often. This is a firmware problem that GE has acknowledged, and is the reason why these bulbs are not on the official SmartThings compatibility list. People still use them as lights because they are very inexpensive, although the late 2015 price reduction on the Hue whites puts them in the same range. But the GE links really cannot be recommended for use as repeaters because their unreliability puts the other devices depending on them to repeat at risk.

So with bulbs there isn’t quite the same standard as there is for other mains powered devices, and there are two different bulb protocols, and of course the bulb must be on power if you want it to repeat, so really for those you have to check by each model. Some may work, but some will not, and some seem to be unreliable.

when you add a new repeater to your network

Finally, and this applies to any repeater, not just bulbs, when you add a new repeater the other devices on the network will not be aware of it until you do a zigbee heal. It’s easy to do: remove the batteries from the hub and take it off power for at least 15 minutes. Leave all the other devices on power, including bulbs. Then put the hub back on power. At that point, all the devices on the network should rebuild their own neighbor tables. This can take a while to complete, so you might not see improvements until the next day. But it should ensure that any device that is within range of a bulb that can repeat for it will use it in the future.

Sorry, I know that’s a long answer, but bulbs are complicated.


Thanks, JD.

I just got an xStick and XCTU Saturday, and after installing and running a scan yesterday it seems to indicate that they don’t. I have a bunch of the OSRAM recessed units and it appears, even though they’re “R” devices, they only connect to the coordinator and the Zigbee outlets (which definitely are acting as Routers).

I don’t have the screencaptures here at work, and I want to do a bit more analysis of the old/new (after adding several more Zigbee outlets) scan results, but I’m pretty sure they’re not repeating. I’ll definitely post something up, with pictures, once I’ve had a chance to do that.

Osram drives me crazy. Some members say they do repeat, some members say they don’t, we know they have both ZHA and ZLL models. And multiple firmware versions, which you will only be able to update if you have the lightify Gateway.

@Sticks18 might know under what conditions the Osram Lightify bulbs repeat.

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