Zigbee 3.0 Outdoor Battery Power Consumption and Line of Sight Experiments

Before I go head-on with my 5v/12v Zigbee 3.0 Repeater outdoor experiments, I thought I would open this topic for any insight, or previous experimentation on the subject.

Initially, I will be conducting experiments on power consumption (solar battery) and optimal line of sight distance, as they relate to a Zigbee 3.0 mesh and end devices.

In addition to the above, I will be interested in experience or insight with regard to connecting external antenna to the Zigbee modules.

Hopefully I will have some data within the coming weeks.

Again, any insight would be much appreciated.

Zigbee devices can achieve very long range when using more power, but they are not licensed to use that amount of power under the profiles that most home automation devices are designed with.

In the past there have been people who have used external antennas but generally for zigbee pro devices.

However, you may have to get an operating license for some of these devices depending on your jurisdiction.

Beyond that, because the Zigbee devices normally used with smartthings are very low power, range always depends very much on local conditions. Wi-Fi interference from nearby networks, the amount of humidity, architectural features, the amount and type of landscaping, etc. experiments done at any one location are not likely to say much about operations at another location outside of the normal published parameters.

So I’m sure you’ll find some interesting data as far as your own property, but it may not say much about how the same devices would work someplace else. :thinking:

1 Like

I’m pretty secluded, JD, but will consider any possible collateral impacts.

That is a great point about WiFi interfernce, which I haven’t really considered. Especially considering I am also building out a partially solar WiFi mesh network.

I suppose I had the hopes of combining both in some fashion, although I suppose I could keep the Wifi mesh on 5GHz, which presents some problems of it’s own.

Mostly in the spirit of experimentation with the Zigbee mesh, but I’m pretty sure it will be fun.

1 Like

I have 10 of the zigbee bosch PIR motion sensors outside. Several are 100’ feet away from the house and stay connected.


That’s good to know, I have one of those collecting dust, presently. I’ll use it as my end device for my initial distance tests in an open field.

Ultimately I’m looking to circumvent some dense forest, via several line of sight points along a private road. Total distance of 900ft, approximately, where LOS is concerned.

James - for your research - here’s the single best resource I know about Wifi/Zigbee coexistence.


And when the two collide, Zigbee ALWAYS loses. You can make them work together - but it takes a LOT of micromanagement of channels on both networks. (Which isn’t always possible / convenient)


I certainly appreciate that.

I’m relatively confident that I could use the WiFi for the same purposes (will just need way more power), I’ll have the Zigbee mesh running before the WiFi mesh is up. So, I’ll know to expect some degradation when it goes live, if not total collapse.

1 Like

my first thought would be to see if you could hack some plain repeaters to use lower voltage and power them with decent powerpacks, or even a tractor/motorcycle battery.

For the WiFi you mean?

Yeah, that’s essentially what I was thinking. I’m planing to convert 12v lithium packs to 24v for POE injection into outdoor access points. The lithium packs are scalable if I need more watt hours.

Both the Zigbee and Wifi mesh will use the same solar setup, only the panel watts and number of battery packs will be different. I’ve not settled on what those specs will be yet.

here’s one piece of the setup:

has settings for lead acid, lithium ion and lithium iron phosphate batteries. Also has a handy USB power source. The typical black and blue charge controllers that look like this don’t have the lithium chemistry charge settings.

I’ll just add that if someone wanted to get a quick start on something like this, I would use the 20-25 dollar lawn tractor 12v lead acid batteries, along with the more available lead acid solar chargers, typically in the black case with blue face label.

I’m thinking that with the Zigbee repeater setup, 5 watt solar panels will be sufficient. For the WiFi, I’m leaning toward 30 watt panels.

My reasoning for the 12v lithium packs, which are 18650 lithium ion based, is that I want to minimize my weatherproof box requirements. Although the lithium ion packs will require some additional thermal management to prevent charging in below freezing weather.

The info in there is definitely helpful, Nathan.

I did some previous shuffling of WiFi channels in attempts to stabilize my inside WiFi, as it was getting stepped on by the Point to Point 2.4Ghz Bridge that feeds internet to my home. Doing that did in fact help to stabilize my inside Zigbee network, as I recall.

So, this won’t be completely foreign to me.

On a side note, my original wireless bridge was 900MHz, and it played havoc on the Z-wave devices.


If you would share your whole idea what you are trying to achieve people could give you some better advice.

I don’t really understand what you mean by 5v/12v Zigbee 3.0 Repeater, do you mean a USB CC2531 flashed with a repeater firmware (or similar)? Yes, those even have detachable antennas as well. But you have to keep in mind that a repeater has to be powered all the time to work. Out of the box solution runs from AC power continuously.

Ahh, yep. My lack of specifics certainly isn’t helping anything.

I suppose my intentions were to make a post with more detail, but for now, here’s some important ones:

The 5v/12v refers to the power options of my initial experiment device, which is the eWelink Zigbee 2-channel relay, which has router capability.

zigbeerelay (3)

It can be powered from 7-32v and 5v via the USB input.

I’m wondering if the Zigbee and RF portion of this device share the same little antenna coil on the board.

Ultimately, I will probably use Zigbee 3.0 mini RGB-CCT controllers, which there are power options for those same voltages.

I’ll post images of the pcb and module/IC when I get a few of those, but here is a link to the devices I’m looking at:

5-24V Zigbee 3.0 DW/CCT/RGB/RGBWW/RGBCCT LED Light Strip Wireless Remote Controller For Tuya Alexa Smartthings

The practical use of these repeater switches/led controllers will be whatever you can imagine a switch or led controller would useful for along a narrow road with a few blind curves… warnings, general illumination etc…

obviously I’m focusing on inexpensive devices and integrating them into solar power solutions.

The router/mesh function of these DC devices are relatively new, and power consumption is reported to be < 1 watt, but I can scale to whatever the requirements will be.

I’m sorry, I don’t understand this statement. Zigbee devices are RF devices. RF Just means “radio frequency“: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, zwave, Lutron Caseta are all RF devices, along with others using 433 MHz, 344 MHz, etc. about the only thing that isn’t RF in home automation are wired sensors without radios and some IR (infrared) devices. And hardwired auxiliary light switches like the GE models.

If By RF you meant the 433 MHz control fob you mentioned in the other thread, then that’s highly unlikely. The length of an antenna is normally determined by the frequency it will transmit. Using an antenna of the wrong length will result in a degraded signal.

In the MHCOZY 4 relay tear downs i’ve seen, the coil antenna is the 433 MHz one, and the Zigbee antenna is attached to the zigbee radio and runs on the flipside of the board. This is a pretty common design, even the smartthings hub separates the antennas in this manner.

1 Like

I appreciate that answer. I suppose was using marketing descriptions.

But, that makes perfect sense. So, turn the board over to have a look…

now, that’s how these discussions prove valuable

1 Like

If there’s an FCC license number on the device, you can use that to look up the licensing materials, including photos. All antennas should be identified there. :sunglasses:

Also note when looking things up that eWeLink is an app, not a device manufacturer. Many different manufacturers use that app. So you may need to find the hardware manufacturer brand as well, such as Mcozy, Eachen, Sonoff, etc. sometimes the hardware brand will be just a re-brand of another manufacturer’s device, again the FCC filing will tell you. But again, eWeLink is not a hardware brand. They are an app platform used by many different hardware brands. :thinking:

1 Like

Don’t think looking for an FCC number wasn’t the first thing that popped into my head, after your previous post. Although, it did take that to jar my memory of that discussion.

I honestly didn’t know that about eWellink… but, again, makes sense.

Here are some pics of the relay, front and back:

Some info on the board front:
SM-015 V1.0 (maybe 5M-015 V1.0)

Some info on the board back:

Here’s a hub tear down. Note the difference between what a Zigbee and Bluetooth antenna look like and the coil antenna for Zwave. This is typical.

1 Like

Nice, JD!

I think I’m going to have to get my light board and digital microscope out…

Eh, probably not, but my eyes feel like it today.

I have a feeling I’m going to have more questions later, but thanks for this.

These might also help:


Don’t forget the velocity, a lot of people do.

1 Like