SmartThings Community

Zigbee Repeater

Regarding channels, the channel for the SmartThings hub is randomly set at the factory and cannot be changed after that.

The channel for the hue bridge is randomly set at the factory, but there is an option in the official hue app to change it if you’re getting interference.

Because both ZHA and ZLL devices are very low power, it’s pretty unusual for them to interfere with each other. If they do, you can just move the Phillips bridge over about three channels and you should be fine.

The usual issue is zigbee/Wi-Fi interference, or more accurately strong Wi-Fi drowning out weak Zigbee. I have a Wi-Fi booster at my house. If I plug it in on the west wall of one room all my Zigbee devices to the west of it fall off off my smartthings network. If I move it to the north wall, everything is fine again.

Perfect, that answers my questions exactly - thanks!

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GE Link bulbs do NOT repeat. I’m staring at the XCTU utility which shows me a mesh of what is transmitting to what. The GE link bulbs are only receiving. The reason I found this thread is because my furthest bulb is flakey even though one 10 feet closer if fine. I need a repeater.

I have a plan link base and sensors but do not have a smart hung hub. Can I use a smarting outlet as a repeater without having a smart hung hub?

Freudian slip maybe but that’s pretty descriptive of how these things have been recently, but it’s improving significantly and no longer as well hung as it was !

Re your question I don’t know but I guess if you can get the ST Outlet to ‘join’ your other ZigBee network it would - there is also a CentraLite version of the outlet with both an inbuit Z-Wave and ZigBee repeater.

You can also use the Lowes Iris plug model 3210-L which I think is made by the same company. Currently on sale for just under $30 on their website. It is supposed to repeat Zigbee & Z-wave. Planning to get one of these myself as I have a couple of flaky Cree bulbs at the far end of my network.

And I can state with 100% confidence that GE Link bulbs do not repeat when paired with ST. In the screenshot below from XCTU, which I just took a minute ago, I have highlighted two of the GE Link bulbs that I have paired with my ST v2 hub. You can see that they listen but do not repeat. The Cree bulbs (also highlighted), on the other hand, clearly do.

Based on my experience with their reliability of the GE Link bulbs when they’re paired with the Philips Hue hub/bridge, which is very similar to when they’re paired with ST, I’d be surprised if they repeat in that circumstance. But, I haven’t figured out how to get the xStick to pair with the Hue hub and actually analyze this, so, who knows?

Well, like I said, before I placed a GE Link bulb in a strategic location, my Tripper devices were going haywire on Wink. Once I did that, they’ve been rock solid. The only other thing I can think of is that perhaps there was interference from a neighbor’s 2.4 Ghz source and they moved or removed it around the time I deployed the Link bulb - I do know the Trippers were solid for quite some time and then suddenly started acting weird (which I did attribute to interference at the time) until I put the GE bulb in place.

Maybe I’ll kill the “repeater” bulb in my Wink environment and monitor the results. I have lots of repeater options for ST but very few with Wink, it seems.

EDIT: Also, ST itself claims the bulb is a repeater: I think the debate here has always been if it repeats ZHA or only ZLL.

How they behave when paired with the Wink hub is not all that relevant here, and you’re just confusing the issue by bringing it up, IMHO. That said, my understanding of the Zigbee protocol is that, no matter whether a device repeats or not, it will only talk to devices on the same network. If you have bulbs that are paired with the Wink hub, they’re not talking to the ones that are paired with the ST hub. And visa-versa, of course.

The fact is that the plural of anecdote is not data, and the data pretty clearly indicate that the GE Link bulbs are not repeating. I have yet to see any other data that indicate otherwise. Until I do I’m sticking to my story.

Now, if I sound a little prickly about it, I am. I have wasted tens of hours trying to chase down reliability problems with Zigbee bulbs, in large part on the basis of the (mis)information that I’ve found here and in the support site. I’m not happy about it, and I’m trying to save others from the same fate.

With regards to the support site and their statement about the GE Link bulbs, I have sent them an email pointing out the error. Good catch!

I can understand your frustration, but there is really no need to be “prickly” to the community or its members. We’re all here to learn and share our observations and experiences. Many of us run multiple meshes and know that devices only talk or repeat for their own mesh. In my case, I used my Wink Zigbee mesh as an example. Wink doesn’t have some super-special secret protocol that the GE Link would selectively repeat; it uses Zigbee the same as ST. Nor does the GE bulb selectively repeat only Zigbee signals propagated from Wink hubs. At any rate, I had some Link bulbs laying around so there was no additional cost or real effort with me trying them in that capacity.

The question more revolves around ZLL or ZHA IMO, because I don’t believe there is much doubt that the GE Link bulbs do repeat. The question has always been whether they repeat ZLL or ZHA. I think the consensus is that they repeat ZLL only, which if true, means that my observations have another root cause and I’m wrong. I’m fine with that as well as I don’t have a horse in this race and just want my HA to perform well. @JDRoberts can probably chime in here as well, as I think he is far more versed in this than us.

I readily admitted that a series of coincidences could also be responsible for the observed improvement, but I did leave one key observation out - when I did remove the bulb from the equation, performance once again severely degraded and once I added it back in, it was fine again. I do have a GE Link bulb on my ST Zigbee mesh in one of the corners of my house and it seemed to help reception for the Zigbee stuff in my garage, but I’m not prepared to call it a “cure.” I’m been planning on dropping an Iris smartplug in that area anyway so I’m not as concerned with the bulb being a ZHA repeater.

From what I have read in the specs and various documentation online, the routing happens at the network layer. ZHA and ZLL profiles would be the next layer up: the application layer. If it routes, I believe it would route regardless of the profile. My money is on them (GE Links) not routing/repeating anything.

When it comes to repeaters, Zigbee lightbulbs make me crazy. :scream:

  1. It’s very clear that ZLL bulbs repeat for others ZLL bulbs on the same network. You can test this with any hue bridge. It’s obvious that the bulbs repeat for each other.

  2. SmartThings support has long had a published article that says that the GE link bulbs will act as repeaters when connected directly to the SmartThings hub. SmartThings engineering staff have confirmed that for me. But for over a year, some community members have been saying they don’t see them acting as repeaters.

I personally put 6 GE lightbulbs on one link hub (not the wink hub, the link hub, The little white square that plugs directly into the wall like a wall wart) and there was no question that the bulbs were repeating for each other. Range throughout the house depended on bulb placement, and when the hub was on the far side, removing a bulb in the center would lose communications with bulbs further past it.

  1. Osram Lightify bulbs use the ZLL for their European models and ZHA for their US models. At one point, you could ask Osram support and they would do a firmware update to enable a profile change, but they seemed to stop doing that sometime last fall. That primarily matters if you wanted to connect devices to a Hue bridge. But it also means it’s really hard to know exactly what profiles any individual Osram device is using when somebody posts to the forum. We have members who swear the American bulbs will act as ZHA repeaters, and other members who swear they don’t.

  2. multiple reports on multiple forums that Cree bulbs do not handle groupcasting well. That affects their ability to act as repeaters in some circumstances.

  3. @JohnR posted a map of his zigbee network late last year showing Hue bulbs acting as ZHA repeaters when connected directly to the smartthings hub. Since then, he has posted updates saying that they sometimes work, but are not always reliable in passing along messages except for other Hue bulbs. He speculated that there might be a timing issue where the bulbs were slower than other devices and consequently messages were being dropped. Since Phillips only certifies the bulbs for the ZLL use, their support won’t even discuss them being used as ZHA repeaters.

  4. yes, there is a new zigbee 3.0 profile due out soon (it’s already quite late), but it’s a Frankenstein monster stitched together from all the other existing profiles. It’s intended to provide backwards capability with any zigbee profile, but it is not going to change the behavior of any existing device. It’s really hard to predict what it’s going to do to repeating. Or what it’s going to do to the ZLL profile since that’s the only profile that doesn’t require a coordinator. But it’s not going to instantly make all existing zigbee devices able to talk to each other. It’s just going to try to clean up things going forward while not losing backwards compatibility. Early reports are that a lot of things are going to continue to be siloed, there will just be a 3.0 Coordinator that can talk to each silo.

All of which means – – what? I don’t Know, and I’m not sure anyone else does either. It’s clear that the ZLL bulb manufacturers didn’t care that much about what would happen if their devices were used with the ZHA profile. They got basic on off and dim, and they just didn’t worry much about repeating. Especially repeating for non-bulb ZHA devices.

So all I can say now is that the ZLL bulbs do repeat for other ZLL bulbs on the same network. That’s obvious in most cases.

What happens when you put a ZLL bulb on a ZHA network just seems to vary a lot. Some people continue to report that it works just fine as a ZHA repeater. Other people say it doesn’t work at all. Still other people say it works sometimes but misses some messages.

Like I said, drives me crazy.

At this point, it seems likely that a zigbee bulb paired directly to the smartthings hub May help strengthen your zigbee mesh, but you shouldn’t rely on it as the only ZHA repeater in a zone as it may miss some messages.

@Sticks18 , @Tyler , @tpmanley , @jody.albritton


Thanks JD! That report on Osram bulbs possibly being ZHA repeaters is interesting and you’re right - zigbee bulbs are driving me insane!

Are you saying that’s true regardless of the vendor, @JDRoberts? So, Hue/GE/Cree all repeat if they’re paired with the Hue hub/bridge? How can that be tested? I’d love to see it for myself.

With respect to the GE Link and OSRAM bulbs acting as repeaters when connected to the ST hub, I have ample evidence - both anecdotal based on the reliability of the devices and on the basis of the data provided by XCTU - that they do not. The Cree bulbs do, though I can’t comment on how well they support all of the functionality (groupcasting, for example) in the specs.

Since the Hue bridge forms its own mini network, it’s easy to test as long as you have at least one bulb that is out of one hop range of the bridge.

Then all you have to do is cut power to bulbs in between the bridge and the faraway bulb.

If the Faraway bulb is controllable when other bulbs are on power, and not controllable when they are not on power, they are acting as repeaters. :sunglasses: :bulb:

I have a motion sensor with a USB plug how do I know if it is a repeater?

Do I pair it like a Iris zigbee repeater?

Is this the first generation SmartThings brand motion sensor?

I don’t know whether that acts as a repeater when it’s on USB power or not. Most devices with the battery option don’t, but you never know.

@tyler might know.

The SmartSense Motion Sensor can be powered by either two AA batteries or micro-USB. When powered by micro-USB, the SmartSense Motion Sensor also acts as a range extender for your ZigBee network. The SmartSense Motion Sensor is intended for indoor use only.

I am just unsure if I have the first gen version. It has a USB but when I connect it how would I know if it has a repeater in it?

Only first gen have USB connector. Therefore it will be a repeater when plugged in.


Thanks. Will it show in the ST app like the Iris Smart Plug?