Zigbee stability

I know we’ve all seen and seen various discussions about zigbee being unstable due to sharing of the 2.4 spectrum on this forum. However, how true is this?
Control 4 seem to do okay. Philips seems to be pretty robust albeit it uses ZLL. My Heatmisers, though floors apart seem rock solid. According to the zigbee alliance: http://www.zigbee.org/zigbee-for-developers/applicationstandards/zigbeehomeautomation/

Other devices operate in the 2.4 GHZ band, will they cause any problems for ZigBee Home Automation products?
ZigBee is very robust and has demonstrated superb tolerance to extreme interference. The Las Vegas Convention Center is one of worst places for wireless devices, especially during the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Interference at that show often impedes many cell phones and Bluetooth headsets from operating correctly. ZigBee has always performed flawlessly in these extreme environments. For more details, please see the results of extensive coexistence research in the white papers section of the ZigBee website.

Does ZigBee Home Automation coexist with Wi-Fi?
Yes. All ZigBee standards and Wi-Fi are designed to operate effectively in the same environment. ZigBee takes full advantage of IEEE 802.15.4 proven interference avoidance techniques and features a unique channel agility mechanism. In fact, there are products in the market that have both ZigBee and Wi-Fi in them and work very effectively in buildings and homes.

So is the instability actually just a Smartthings issue and nothing to do with Zigbee? Even though according to the above I do not need to I have now moved everything else away from the channel used by my v2 hub (thanks to @Fuzzyligic @JDRoberts for the info) I’m still needing to re-seating batteries in random devices in the home and to be honest getting pretty fed up of doing it. I’ve now got more than 50 Zigbee devices and repeaters in the house and to be honest every other day one device or another is “stuck”. My zwave devices are faring much better.
Are ST looking into improving this aspect?
There are lots of things they could do to help, eg. include signal strength and quality meters in settings for every device appearing in the app.
I’ve got to the point that I feel like I am a servant to smartthings rather than the other way around!!

It can certainly be tricky to get a zigbee home automation network deployed properly due to possible Wi-Fi interference. Control four is professionally installed by technicians who have network mapping tools and devices are limited to those with official device handlers. The same is true for the mid tier offerings from Xfinity, Time Warner, etc.

Typically if you’re going to have Wi-Fi interference, you would notice it with an individual new device at the time that it was added to the network. Or, if you added new Wi-Fi equipment in the home.

It’s just really rare That an individual motion sensor, for example, would work great for several months and then suddenly fail because of interference if no new devices have been added in the home. It’s much more likely to be one of the problems mentioned in the sensor FAQ:

That said, you may have noticed that I haven’t been recommending this FAQ to most of the people reporting zigbee sensor failures over the last month or two.

That’s because those people are reporting that multiple devices are all failing at once and that this failure often follows a hub update or outage.

That’s not common for zigbee unless someone has added new Wi-Fi equipment. ( in which case you may just have to treat it like a brand-new network installation and you may end up having to move a few devices or add some more repeaters.)

But the mysterious “I haven’t changed anything and now the motion sensor is always reporting active” is something else. And most likely platform related, not protocol related.

But obviously I can’t know for sure. And different people may have problems caused by different issues.

A note about why the zigbee alliance says wifi shouldn’t be a problem

I also wanted to comment on the passage you quoted from the zigbee alliance about zigbee as a robust protocol.

As far as Zigbee and Wi-Fi interference, the zigbee standard offers methods to help reduce the impact of interference, but it’s up to each manufacturer which of those they want to implement. Smartthings, for example, does not utilize dynamic channel assignment.

In addition, as you’ve probably seen me recommend before, optimal zigbee deployment would include at least two repeaters per zone, and most control four installations will have at least that many.

SmartThings is sold to many people who want to spend as little money as possible. The kind of people who take apart a $15 lightbulb so they don’t have to buy a $40 sensor. Given that market niche, it’s probably not surprising nothing in the SmartThings materials recommends multiple repeaters per zone.

So I do think it’s fair for the zigbee alliance to say that Wi-Fi interference shouldn’t be a big deal. But that’s in a network that is designed to address that issue. Not just a few random zigbee devices attached to a single channel Coordinator.

All of that said, however, I’m not convinced any of that would help with the problems that people have been reporting recently where multiple devices that used to work suddenly stopped working. To me that looks like a cloud issue, not a zigbee issue.

Yes it’s pretty random around the house. Some would work for months with no issue then suddenly stick. My enthusiasm is waning just a little each and every time I have to reset a device.

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I feel your pain. Now imagine my situation, where due to limited hand function I have to pay someone else to do each of those device resets. I realized last November that I was spending about $50 a week in helper time just on SmartThings network maintenance. :scream:

That’s when I had to reevaluate my set up. But there are certainly other people who don’t mind the tinkering, or even kind of enjoy it, and find the overall system well worth their time and energy. So everyone has to make that decision for themselves.

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It’s SmartThings, not Zigbee. Zigbee is very stable and when properly set up very robust. I have a test bench with 5 different zigbee meshes and hundreds of devices spread throughout the house. The only system to have issues on a regular basis is SmartThings. The issues are cloud / platform / hub related and nothing to do with the underlying zigbee architecture.

Just my empirical test data, your mileage may vary. Ironically, my hub v1 mesh is far more stable than my hub v2s are.

I have never run into as many issues with the other platforms I test and use. SmartThings zigbee devices simply are not reliable or consistent and they fail to give us the proper tools and information to figure out why.

SmartThings is also the only system that has ever triggered false device events where the device never actually sent the command, but the platform thinks it did. This has caused several false alarms with motion and contact sensors. This is something in my 6+ years of using zigbee mesh networks, I have never seen on any other platform.

I have 5 SmartThings installs that I monitor in 4 separate locations and all have exhibited similar behavior for zigbee, whereas other solutions I have running side by side have never had these issues, or that can’t be traced specifically to a defective device.

Zigbee is a solid and robust network protocol and when properly implemented and supported, should be near rock solid in performance.

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There are still some risks to interference. If you put your wifi router right next to ST Hub there will be bleed over in the 2.4ghz range (signal to noise ratio). Most likely it will just decrease usable range.

I agree overall zigbee is a protocol, and for a month or so I had similar problems, needing to reset batteries daily. Over the last month, I don’t recall doing any battery resets. I am at 25+ zigbee devices right now. I think ST has improved the reliability of zigbee recently. I actually purchased some zigbee repeaters to beef up the network, and have not installed them yet, since it has seemed to gotten better. Should probably still do it.

I actually got a little worried and checked most my devices and all reported temp’s in the last hour. :slight_smile:

I may regret saying this. I will probably cause my own system to go haywire. I have 19 devices on my v2 hub. 10 of those devices are Cree Zigbee bulbs spread from one end of the house to the other. I also operate not one but two 2.4 ghz and one 5 ghz wi-if networks in my home.

So far I have had no issues with lights coming on with commanded. The only problem i have had is that occasionally one of them may not report its current state without refreshing.

Ill echo what most have said already. Its not zigbee totally. I will say its there implementation of it, and most likely the device handlers. The thread I have on Cree bulbs is a perfect example of it I believe. Cree Connected Bulb Reliability Why would adding more devices to a mesh cause it to be less reliable? I’ve now spent almost $150 on smart outlets just to try to push the zigbee around better with 0 improvement. Only way it got better, deleting devices. Having 25 or more bulbs of the same time it just was totally unreliable. Delete bulbs down to like 10 or 12 and I’m golden. more so, put the other bulbs or the important bulbs over on a Hue hub…0 issues.

We are the fringe users. The average user was reported to have less than 15 devices I believe. There’s people with more than 25 devices in one room. So ultimately we are not their target audience it seems. I had hoped that this product would fill that gap of openness and usability. I am a linux admin by trade, so I know how bad open source stuff can be. So I had hoped that the little bit of polish they put on these open standards would be awesome. So far I am really getting depressed with the whole system.

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@KevinH @a4refillpad Please open a ticket with support (support@smartthings.com)

This is the best way to get data into our support engineers.

Ticket was opened on 5/2/2016. Not seeing the ticket number if there is even one…

Between then and now the usual was “try removing and re-adding one of the problem bulbs” more times than I’d like to hear. That or “reboot the hub”.

Out of all the emails back and forth, only once did it sound like anything was being done outside of the tier 1 support scripts. He said he was passing it to the “zigbee engineer” but, “I will pass this up to the engineers but the sample size of one will likely not generate too much traction on the backend considering their workload at the moment.”

Then one glimmer of hope with one email “So far the only thing that you have in common with this other case is the quantity of Cree bulbs connected to the Hub. I do not have the resources to reproduce this environment.”. Which still has me shaking my head of ‘do not have the resources to reproduce’. Not saying ST is rolling in the money, but cant someone buy a QA guy 20 cree bulbs, really 20 of any particular bulb that is ON THE SUPPORTED LIST, and see what happens.

I may have been at fault here @jody.albritton for not continuing to follow up with the support thread past 5-27-2016. But at that point I was mostly fedup with ‘remove and readd bulbs’ or ‘reboot the hub’ that I just didnt feel like I was getting the support I needed. The thread linked above is where I documented this ordeal for all to see. As at this point support did not solve any issue and just seem to keep reading a script. Having passed support a wealth of information and troubleshooting I had done already, it was worse than my company’s off shore tier 1 support of 'lets reboot your computer, clear your browser cache, and maybe then you can launch outlook… Just isnt very helpfull…

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There’s a link for checking your open support tickets, but I’m not sure it works for all accounts. You can find it in the community created wiki in the support article:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=SmartThings_Support

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Sorry, but what is this going to achieve? Clearly my problems are not unique and I’ll probably blow a gasket if I get asked to remove and re-add items into the system. It’s not as if I’ve not been doing it already.
Why is it that there are no signal strength and quality meters in the app for all devices talking to the hub? Why is it there’s no way for me to see which devices are connected to which repeaters in the mesh?
In a system which seems to be so darn sensitive to interference you’d have thought we include these basic functions in here.

Im with Wayne here… Even after linking support to a thread I started and explained all the steps taken… we still get “can you delete and readd the bulb” or “reboot the hub for 15mins”.

I would guess that a good portion of the people in this forum have some form of IT experience of some sort. And many of us spent our days in tier 1 helpdesk… So we all understand the ‘reboot the pc please’ line. But the issue is when support never clues into that they are talking to someone with some technical experience. When I was answering helpdesk calls you figure out quick how much someone knows by the way they talk. And then you taylor your support to their experience. I had a woman that never knew there was a clock on the task bar… or one that when you asked what their IP was could easily find it.

Combine that with the seemingly false tales of ‘sending this to engineering’… I know I was let down by support.

Hey, I’m one of the Engineers that those tickets get escalated to (and am on support rotation this week). Generally issues that are caused by Cloud instability are fairly simple to track down as we have pretty verbose logging around smartapp & device type executions.

As you can probably imagine - we have a ton of interference in the Minneapolis office. Where I sit, the only way I can join a Zigbee device is by putting my hub and device into a Faraday Box. The main thing to remember here is that the device isn’t able to communicate with the hub. Log wise, we wouldn’t see an event come in to the hub, the cloud or a device type execution occur.

Please do reach out to support (or comment on the ticket when you notice an unresponsive light again) - I am tracking a known Zigbee issue but that is related to joining on a v1 hub. Having devices randomly stop responding is not a frequent occurrence and is something we would want to dig into further. If we can track down an issue, it’ll get prioritized by our overlords but I’m sure we can do better than asking you to restart your hub or rejoin your bulb again.

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Right I have emailed support with another device which is stuck. First time this motion sensor has died in at least 3 months. Let’s see what comes back apart from resetting the device!

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Interestingly enough I intentionally left the ST motion device in its stuck state since I reported the issue and 37 hours later it unstuck itself.
Very odd.

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I am just seeing issues with my ge bulbs today non are responding to the commands then like magic they do again, except one that is stuck? I had one motion sensor not working to today all these devices have been fine for months!

How far are you hubs from the WiFi router?

Most likely there was interference that caused it to drop and it kept trying to reconnect until it successfully did.

Please we need to stop giving smartthings excuses related to zigbee devices. My stuck devices are random and this particular one was solid for months. The more I add the more likely I’m hitting issues. As @vlad has requested he will look into now I’ve raised a ticket.