Z wave maximum distance and extenders HELP!

So i have about 24 z wave light switches (all ac powered) and today while installing the 24 switch i ran into distance issue.
Now i do know that the more you have the bigger your mesh network becomes but also know that if not mistaken the maximum hops a switch can do is 4, is this correct ?
if 4 hops is the maximum then what are our choices of extending further out.
currently my ST hub is in the garage and everything installed is going forward from that direction, i have some in the kitchen living room bedrooms and so on.
Today i was installing a light switch for my pool lights and i guess that was too far or too many hops. the switch was going into an outdoor metal weather box and it would not connect once i would screw in the light switch, i figured it was distance since it would connect and work when wired but not screwed into the box. I went out and grabbed a plastic box and its working now.
Sorry for going on this long but i guess my question is , if i start to put more and more z wave plugs and switches in the back yard how can i make sure they can all reach the hub.
thank you

I suspect the metal box is to blame - makes a great Faraday cage! Stick with the plastic box…

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Although it sounds very much like the metal bo xis the culprit here, it’s worth noting that one of the advantages of z-wave plus is extra distance - what I don’t know is whether if you add a z-wave plus switch into an existing z-wave mesh it extends the range for the “hop” it covers and/or whether it is more powerful and would be better able to function in a difficult setting such you describe here.

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The following should be of interest (this is a clickable link):

As far as Z wave plus, the range is increased for each individual Z wave plus device, so a hop that includes a Z wave plus device can reach farther, even if the next device is Z wave classic. :sunglasses: