Z-wave vs Zigbee devices

Sorry if this has been discussed.

When I first started on my journey with ST and HAM, it seemed as though Zigbee was the way to go with sensors. Lately, it looks as though Z-wave has taken a lead.

My hub won’t learn any zigbee sensors lately (I was in the process of migrating from my V1 to V2 hub). All my z-wave devices are functioning perfectly. Therefore, I’m migrating to z-wave and flushing my investment in zigbee devices down the drain (10 ST motion sensors, Centralite thermostat…)

Am I on the right track? Interested in hearing about other community member experiences.

You can easily sell those here or on eBay.

ZigBee works better in some households and Z-Wave others, since the high frequency RF travels and penetrates differently than low frequency, and different types of interference etc.

Z-Wave still has a device count limitation, I think, and the requirement of periodic manual initiation of network repair, etc. Pluses… meet Minuses.


Is it possible that your zigbee network does not have enough repeaters to function well, but Z-wave does? I am guessing adding a few zigbee-based smart plugs may resolve your issues.The IRIS smart plug is a zigbee device that is supported with community-developed device types, and has both zigbee and z-wave repeaters built in.

You are correct. It’s 250 if I remember right. It’s not a limit with ST, but Zwave.

Sounds like something isn’t right. Are you pairing (resetting) your zigbee devices next or close to the hub and they still won’t join? Also, use repeaters around your home.

I’ve actually just replaced ALL my zwave sensors with zigbee, and I couldn’t be happier. I have a whole bunch of stuff ready to hit eBay.

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Since you are moving them to a new hub, maybe you have to exclude or remove them before being able to get them to join again?

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Thanks for the replies.

It very well could be a problem with my Hub… its gotten worse since I engaged support on issues with motion sensors getting stuck in “motion”. The sporadic “support” seems to have led to my V2 Hub not being able to learn new zigbee devices (motion sensors, open/close sensors, multisensors, plugs to act as zigbee repeaters). Therefore I can’t improve my zigbee mesh in the house. Legacy devices were removed from my V1 Hub, and reset in the process of adding to my V2.

At the same time, I can add z-wave devices with no problem. Garage door openers, z-wave repeaters, motion sensors… all join my V2 Hub without a hitch. And network devices are fine also Arlo, Hue Hub…

The other night I powered on my V1 Hub, and the zigbee devices could be added with no problems… I can then move these to the farthest reaches of my house with no issues. So it doesn’t seem to be a crowded 2.4Ghz frequency issue… though there it is crowded with all the different devices running in the house. I may have to try that again and watch the Event List as I add devices (Z-wave and Zigbee) as a comparison to what events happen on the V2 Hub. The V1 Hub was rock-solid… which is why I chose to stick with ST and migrate to the V2 Hub.

I guess my next step is to re-engage support for troubleshooting… While I trust support, its unsettling that they can get into the device and alter the behavior of my Hub if thats the case.

In general, Z-wave seems to be winning in the protocol adoption… GE and Leviton come to mind. Really can’t get much bigger in my opinion in home electrical devices. My preference would be more wide spread adoption of Wi-Fi devices, but that doesn’t seem likely.

  • WiFi devices don’t “self-mesh” and also use a lot more power (so are useless for battery power sensors).
  • Many household’s WiFi networks are flaky and/or have limited WiFi “slots” available. Home WiFi is meant to support a dozen or two devices … not hundreds.
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True, true. I’ve spent a lot of time and money getting my network to support my 67 wifi devices.


In regards to protocol adoption, I assume you’re aware that “Thread” will likely be replacing both z-wave and zigbee as the protocol of choice over the next few years. It seems to have support of a bunch of manufacturers, has strong security, etc. See:


If I were to have to chose between Z-Wave, ZigBee, or WiFi for my smart home devices, it would be Z-Wave (Plus). There are a metric crap ton more Z-Wave devices than ZigBee, and they seem to be cheaper to boot. I think the WiFi devices are geared towards users who don’t want a central hub. As was stated WiFi uses a lot more power and therefor kills batteries quick, so forget about using battery operated sensors (most door, window, water, smoke, motion, temp. etc sensors are battery operated).

I mostly have Z-Wave devices (I prefer Z-Wave Plus when I can get that variety of the item for it’s better range and longer battery life), but I do have some ZigBee devices (ST Multi Sensors, ST Presence Sensor, and Iris Smart Plugs used as ZigBee repeaters). Z-Wave Plus is supposed to go further than ZigBee, but that hasn’t been the case for me. I can’t get Z-Wave Plus to go 75’ outside, yet the ZigBee devices went 150’ outside. Also ZigBee shares the crowded 2.4Ghz spectrum so may be more susceptible to interference.

But since ST supports all 3 why limit yourself to just one technology?

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Wi-fi can be tricky and not as PNP as Zigbee, but if you understand AP placement and channel allocation it can be bullet proof. As for the “wireless” aspect of the devices, the power requirements is the biggest hurdle.

So I started a chat session with Elliot from ST Support. He removed all my Zigbee devices (with my permission) and started the process to reform my Zigbee mesh. It seems to have helped… I can add zigbee devices and they seem to be responding correctly.

While I’m appreciative of the outcome, its still a bit concerning that I needed intervention from support to fix the issue. And it involved removal of all my Zigbee devices… which is fine at the moment because none are critical and there were only a handful. The thermostat and spruce controller probably the biggest inconvenience since they aren’t close to the Hub.

So besides, my issues… What major manufacturer is going to back the Zigbee protocol? Will the day come that I can walk into Home Depot or Ace Hardware and readily purchase a Zigbee HA device? The “Thread” protocol is new to me… I’ll have to read up on it. So should we all stop investing in devices and wait HA until “matures”?

I can’t speak to the peculiarities of the SmartThings platform for either protocol (and they exist for both), but the following from the community – created wiki should be of interest:


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That’s good information. Personally, my experiences have historically been better with Zigbee. For instance, my recent exercise of replacing sensors with Z-wave gave me the opportunity to compare and contrast. The ST motion sensor have much less delay in reporting triggers than the Aeon Multsensor6 (Gen5)… its just a second or fraction… but it seems noticeable.

As for Smartthings stance, it could be implied that they support / prefer Zigbee through their device types. Another clue is the column headings in the Device List. :slight_smile:

Regardless… its nice to have my ZIgbee devices back. Its also nice to be able to walk into Lowes / Home Depot to pick up Z-wave devices… BTW from the device list, GE seems to have both ZigBee and Z-Wave devices. I’ve never seen Zigbee protocol devices at the hardware store.

I truly hope a tool comes to market to assist the homeowner troubleshoot Zigbee. Sniffing packets isn’t fun, but could come in handy to check if packets are hitting the Hub or blackholed into some bad Zigbee repeater.

@JDRoberts - Maybe a few tips for troubleshooting or repairing Z-wave or Zigbee would be nice articles to start. A quick diagram/ animation on a good, better and best repeater placement in a common 2-3 level home might be a good addition also. Just suggestions :slight_smile: Again, great site with good information!