ZigBee repeater for a cold environment (down to -30F)

I have a long driveway, and live in a reasonably cold climate where some winter nights will be 0 F, sometimes as low as -20 or -30 in really extreme cases. I’d like to use a SmartThings presence sensor to tell when a kid gets off the school bus. To do this, I need something that pushes the ZigBee network out past the end of my driveway.

Anybody have a recommendation for a repeating ZigBee device that could tolerate such temperatures? Getting power to it is no problem, and I can always put a weatherproof cover over it to protect from the elements. It looks like the obvious choice, the ST plug, is only rated down to 32 degrees. If anybody has had luck with these at much lower temperatures, I’d be interested in hearing that as well.

If you can shelter it appropriately, I would consider an Osram Lightify lightbulb. These lightbulbs do repeat for zigbee devices. And they do generate some heat themselves which can be helpful. As well as being a practical device in many cases.


The extreme temperatures are obviously going to be a problem if you can’t shelter it, though.


Strange thing, I actually have two of the Osrams installed for that reason, but they don’t appear to be repeating. Or if they are, their range appears to be significantly less than the ST plug. I am still very much a mesh networking newbie, are there any circumstance you’re aware of where they would not repeat?

An alternative to extending the Zigbee network could be to get something like the Dakota alert driveway sensor which claims to have a 1/2 mile range. I’m not sure about the extreme cold, but it does fine in a Maryland winter. The receiver has relay outputs that you can easily tie into SmartThings with a z-wave/zigbee device that accepts inputs (like one of these cheap contact sensors http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=10795). I’ve been using one of these on my long driveway for the last two years and it works great. http://amzn.to/1QuQHDV

It may depend on the exact lot number. Are you in the US or the UK? Originally the UK bulbs were not ZHA repeaters, but the US ones were. Later they did some firmware updates and reportedly they can all now repeat ZHA if they are connected directly to the SmartThings hub and have the most recent firmware updates. But you can’t do the firmware update unless you also have the Osram gateway.

The range might indeed be less, the bulbs do use very little power. You could just walk around with the present sensor and see if getting close to the bulb picks anything up.

The Dakota is a really nice device but doesn’t identify one person versus another. If I understand the original request, he only wants to trigger if the specific child comes down the driveway.

Oops. Maybe I should actually read what he said. I somehow missed the part about using presence sensors. :confused: Thanks for pointing that out JD.

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Another option might be to use a kumo wireless tag instead of the SmartThings arrival sensor. The range on these is a much longer. You can do an integration just with IFTTT, or @swanny has done a really good direct integration with SmartThings.

This has the advantage that you could put the base station for the wireless tag as close as possible to the driveway because you really only be using it for this sensor. It just has to be able to reach your Wi-Fi signal.

The tag themselves are fairly cheap, around 30 or $35, but you do have to also buy the base station which is about $60. So that might not be worth it.

The other issue is that while the Kumo tags themselves are quite nice devices, the customer service from that company is terrible. So it’s really hard, for example, to get a return authorization. But there are a lot of community members using the tags and they do yplike them.

Anyway, I wouldn’t ordinarily bring that up but with the weather situation you’re dealing with it’s always good to have alternatives. The other thing that concerns me is that rain or snow themselves will reduce signal and that can be a problem with the kind of driveway detection you’re talking about. It’s not just the cold matters.

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Interesting. I love my OSRAM bulbs and they solve the issue for my contact sensor in the mailbox. Do you have outlets or switches nearby you can change? Zigbee by itself has a good range.

That is helpful context, thanks.

I’m in the US. The firmware update thing had crossed my mind, although I’m not sure of any way to even check the version, other than getting an actual Osram Gateway. I suspect that’ll be the route I have to go.

And actually, the more I think about it, the ability to apply firmware updates on non-SmartThings stuff would probably be a generally good thing. $30 for the gateway isn’t bad, particularly if I end up going with Osram for other lights.

Thanks all, and particularly JD, great advice. I’ll give it a shot and report back.

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I’m back with some test results in hand. I’m going to take a position that as of the latest firmware available on November 20, 2015, the Osram LEDs aren’t repeating (at least when managed by a SmartThings v2 hub).

I received the Lightify Gateway today, reset the lights, and paired them with with the Gateway. There was a firmware update for the bulbs, which I applied. I then reset them again, and paired back with SmartThings.

I then spaced them out so that one would be in range of my hub, and the other out just out of range of the hub. However, they were still reasonably close to each other. I unplugged anything else that could be a repeater, and power cycled both bulbs to be sure.

I verified that the nearer bulb worked fine, furthest bulb was uncontrollable. I then plugged in my SmartPlug near the closer bulb, and the further bulb was now controllable.

So either the closer Osram Lightify LEDs is not repeating, or the signal was too weak to be useful. But whichever is the case, I don’t think these are a good candidate for extending the mesh, at least at this time.

Now, with all that said, I really love these bulbs. They’re just going to go in a different place than I’d originally planned!

Thanks again for the pointers everyone.


Interesting. Weird, but interesting. Thanks for letting us know!

If you have time, you might get in touch with Osram support since they are the ones who said it’s a repeater in the first place. And since you’ve got a placement example where it isn’t even repeating to a second Osram bulb. It could just be a bad device, it happens.