Are all Zigbee Devices Repeaters?

Purpose of this thread

Wondering why there is a generic question being asked and the purpose of this thread? We want to be able to answer basic questions for people who are doing research into the smart home market. Rather than finding some random blog that is likely written with an ulterior motive (or by AI), these answers will have real, human responses and the information will be kept up to date by our community.

We’d love to have your input and if you find any grammatical errors, errors in general or just simply want to contribute, feel free to comment below!

TLDR: No, not all Zigbee devices are repeaters. The most common examples of repeaters are mains powered devices (wired directly to an electrical circuit) which have constant power flowing to them and therefore are less likely to fall off the network (unlike a battery powered device which needs to conserve energy and “sleeps” to conserve energy).

Below I will go into more detail in a more, “blog-like” post.

Are All Zigbee Devices Repeaters?

Introduction to Zigbee Devices

First, let’s start with understanding a little bit about Zigbee. Zigbee is a wireless communication protocol that was designed to be low-cost, low-power, and easy to use. It is widely used in home automation, industrial control, and other applications that require wireless communication. Zigbee uses a mesh network topology, which means that each device in the network can communicate with its neighbors, allowing the network to be extended over a large area.

Understanding the Zigbee Mesh Network

Now that you have an overview of what Zigbee is, let’s talk a little bit more about how it works from a network standpoint. Zigbee uses a mesh network topology, which means that each device in the network can communicate with its neighbors. When a message is sent from one device to another, it can be relayed through other devices in the network until it reaches its destination. This allows the network to be extended over a large area.

The mesh network topology also provides redundancy, which means that if one device fails or is removed from the network, the remaining devices can still communicate with each other. In other words, one device may be connected to multiple neighbors to route back to the hub for communication.

What is a Zigbee Repeater?

Ok, now that you have an understanding of a mesh network, let’s talk about how the backbone of the network is formed and built upon – Zigbee repeaters. A Zigbee repeater is a device that extends the range of a Zigbee network by relaying messages between devices. There is no relevant limit to how many Zigbee devices can be on a network1,2, the only limitation is that each device can only communicate directly with devices that are within its range. By using a repeater, a device can communicate with devices that are outside of its range, allowing the network to be extended over a larger area.


  1. How many devices possible to pair? - #2 by m0wlheld - Zigbee - Home Assistant Community
  2. networking - Maximum number of ZigBee devices - Stack Overflow

Are all Zigbee Devices Repeaters?

No, not all Zigbee devices are repeaters. While many Zigbee devices can act as repeaters, there are also devices that cannot. For example, a Zigbee sensor that is designed to detect motion cannot act as a repeater, as it does not have the hardware or software to relay messages between devices. However, many Zigbee devices, such as smart plugs, switches, and light bulbs, have the hardware and software to act as repeaters.

Said simpler, Zigbee repeaters are hardwired into a power-source so that they can constantly remain powered and send information to and receive information from the hub/gateway (ie: SmartThings, Hubitat, Home Assistant, Amazon Echo) whereas battery powered devices have to conserve energy so they do not constantly communicate with the hub/gateway or its neighbors. Because battery powered devices do not constantly communicate in order to preserve power, they would be terrible repeaters as the regular communication would rapidly drain their batteries.

Zigbee Device Types and Their Functions

There are three different types of Zigbee devices: End Devices, Routers, and Coordinators.

  1. Zigbee End Device: An end device is the simplest type of Zigbee device that can only communicate with a coordinator or a router. End devices do not participate in network routing and they do not relay messages for other devices. End devices consume the least power and are often battery-powered. They are ideal for devices that do not require constant connectivity to the network, such as sensors.

  2. Zigbee Router: A router is a Zigbee device that can communicate with other devices and participate in network routing. Routers are responsible for relaying messages from other devices and extending the network coverage. They can also act as end devices, but they consume more power than end devices. Routers are ideal for devices that require constant connectivity and need to communicate with other devices on the network. All routers are also considered repeaters since they are relied on for routing paths (ie: they relay/repeat the signal through the route to other Zigbee devices).

  3. Zigbee Coordinator: A coordinator is the most important device in a Zigbee network. It is responsible for forming and maintaining the network, assigning network addresses to devices, and managing the network security. A Zigbee network can have only one coordinator, and it must be the first device to be connected to the network. The coordinator can communicate with all other devices in the network, including end devices and routers.

In summary, Zigbee end devices are the simplest and consume the least power, routers can participate in network routing and extend the network coverage, and coordinators are responsible for forming and managing the Zigbee network.

Looking for Zigbee Repeaters?

Again, most hardwired devices (switches, bulbs, and plugs) will be repeaters, so keep that in mind if shopping around.

If you’re interested in Inovelli Zigbee Repeaters, here are a few you can choose from (feel free to click the picture):

Zigbee 2-1 Smart Switch (On/Off or Dimmer)

Zigbee Smart Fan Switch (Exhaust or Ceiling)

Zigbee Human Presence Sensing Smart Switch (mmWave)

See any mistakes or want to contribute to this article? Feel free to comment below! We want to keep this article the most up to date and accurate as possible.


Great post; thank you! One important typo (I think it’s a typo, anyway) that I’d like to flag:

Also, it’s not entirely clear from the article if repeaters and routers are the same thing. If they are, it should perhaps be stated somewhere.

1 Like

Awesome, good catch! Just updated it :slight_smile:

Good call-out, I added a blurb in the, “Zigbee Router” section that states that they are. Thanks!

1 Like