Large Zigbee Network Experiences

Building out a very large Zigbee install that should end with close to 400 devices. (Yes I know I can split it, but since we are not in the house yet, I am seeing what is possible)

Current status is approaching 170 devices (all powered/routers) of mostly Inovelli Blue Switches and Hue Lights. It feels like the network is just starting to get unstable. Lots of groups with some groups around 20 devices and bound to switches. Using a SONOFF ZBDongle-E USB with the latest firmware. EZSP v12 with 7.3.2.0 on the coordinator. Also latest version of Z2M in a docker container.

My gut tells me that the coordinator is just staring to run out of memory to maintain the route tables for network traffic.

Plan to migrate everything over to the latest ConBee III this weekend. It supposedly can talk directly to 200 devices and support 512 devices in the network. It seems to have a good chunk of memory for keeping the route tables, so curious is see how far I can push it.

Would love anyone else’s experiences with large networks and I will update as the Conbee III rollout goes on.

1 Like

Just out of curiosity, I am assuming you are running Home Assistant? Which zigbee library are you using? ZHA, Deconz, or Z2M?

No to Home Assistant. Z2M in a docker container on an Intel NUC. I use Node-Red for most of my automations and add lots of things to Apple Homekit via NRCHKB. Most of the automations are run via EMQX for my MQTT broker. Siri voice control and happy family on the ease of use is worth the work. I also use a lot of Shelly devices for pool/blinds/LED strips/etc… via MQTT control.

Lights are Inovelli switches, mostly in Smart Bulb mode and I bind them to the Zigbee Groups for the bulbs. Also do some binding for 2/3/4/5 switches and use the LED animations for feedback. Lots done, but lots more to work on.

Cannot wait for the mmWave switches to add into this system and work on automations to do lots of things using presence.

1 Like

First update on the Conbee III change over. I have my devices and groups in separate YAML files for Z2M. So I wondered what would happen if I just brought over the devices.yaml file and used it in the new Z2M install for Conbee III. To much delight, when I remove a device from one network, and it joins the other network. The friendly name is automatically applied. So nice to save me a ton of time.

First 20 devices already joined and just testing all Z2M features. Also using channel 26 for this install and so far everything is happy.

2 Likes

Chris,
Most impressive.

I’m watching this thread and your experience closely. My mesh isn’t as big as yours, but if I ever get a firmware update and my Juno Connect downlights working correctly I’ll be at 225 devices. Currently at 110, all powered/routing, 54 Inovelli Blue’s, Sonoff ZBDongle-P Coordinator, running HA (ZHA).

I had tried the Sonoff ZBDongle-E when it was just released, but ran into some instability so went back to the slightly older version.

It looks like the Conbee III and the SONOFF ZBDongle-E USB are both using/based on the Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 chip. It will be interesting to see what differences you find.

-Jonathan

Second Conbee III update. Changed the adapter_delay advanced setting in Z2M to 200 and I am up to 80 devices on this network. The lowest LQI I have is 170. The SONOFF network has LQIs in the 70s. It might be the channel 26 usage, but I am very happy with the overall quality of the mesh so far. Had a bunch of Inovelli switches not on 2.15 yet, so have lots of OTA work to do on the newly joined switches. That takes some time and is slowing down the overall progress. There are 120ish devices still on the SONOFF network that I have not yet moved. Should make it to 200+ by this weekend as I continue to build it out.

Couple of hiccups of my own making, not related to the adapters. I run authenticated controls for MQTT/Node-Red/Z2M etc… and forgot to modify all the permissions in MQTT to allow everything to talk on the new topics related to this install. So a few things felt like they were broken, but it was permission issues. Kind of a facepalm moment. LOL.

On adapters, it appeared from the network map that the SONOFF would handle about 40 devices direct communication. The Conbee III is currently talking to all the devices at over 70. Discussions suggest the ability to talk to 200 direct, which would make a huge difference for my large network and narrowing down hops. Guess we will see!

1 Like

Make sure you flash to the latest 7+ firmware for the ZBDongle-E. It was way better for me with the latest firmware update. You have to take the screws out and hold the boot button as you plug it in to flash. Not hard, but one of the things you need to do to flash it.

1 Like

Third Update - Approaching 100 devices and some lessons learned.

Hue bulbs do not like to switch networks sometimes and can cause a mess of traffic that you might think is Zigbee device issues. So here are some steps I like to do to make sure they join and are happy.

  1. Remove from Existing Network
  2. Physical power off the device and leave off for 30 minutes
  3. Connect to the Hue App and make sure it is updated and then do a factory reset
  4. Physical power off the device and leave off for 30 minutes
  5. Turn on joining on a single device close to the Hue bulbs
  6. Power on the Hue bulbs and let them join
  7. Join them to a Zigbee group as a test to make sure they are working as desired - they seem to know want to join if they are having issues or will cause crazy traffic
  8. Maintain sanity :slight_smile:

More to come over the next days and weeks.

1 Like

Fourth Update - NOT Using Conbee III Now

Updated my Conbee III to the latest firmware and watched the network just go to crap. Devices would not join, report status etc… so was looking for another way. Noticed an update for the SONOFF USB-E and updated that to 7.4.0.0.

Just finished for today and I have 176 devices on a single mesh that is performing better than I could expect. I have a second SONOFF if I decide to split the network, but the latest firmware is working amazingly today.

Will see how many more I get tomorrow, but lots to go. Also did not need to do any extra things on waiting for Hue bulbs. Just deleted them from the Conbee network and left the SONOFF in join mode the entire time.

1 Like

I’ve gone through almost every permutation but always appreciate additonal data points. If you want the best you are going to get, 150 devices per network, zigbee2mqtt and go with TubeZB with z stack firmware on 20221226.

Found a few bad devices causing bad traffic. I removed power from those devices. I removed them from the network. Now up to 221 devices in the network and it is working fabulously without issue. Everything is still a powered router in the network, so have not gotten to battery powered devices yet.

I will update final configurations when done.

1 Like

What devices were causing issues?

A few more of the bad batch Inovelli switches that seemed to get missed.

Up to 233 devices and the network is performing perfectly. Going to be a week or so before we get more devices on the network, but it is amazing to see how well this is performing. All devices are still powered and routers. I have groups and bindings as well and everything works great.

3 Likes

Appreciate the updates. Curious to see how things go. I think the EFR32MG21 in the sonoff-e is considered experimenal in zigbee2mqtt but seems to be working well for you so far.

Latest update is now 257 devices and still going strong. More devices likely to come online tomorrow late.

2 Likes

Slowing down on getting new devices as construction continues, but hoping to start outside lighting soon with some more Hue outside lights. At 266 devices currently, and still solid. Did note that when adding new devices it is best to not add more than one at a time. I think the devices have so many options to talk to that they are fully connected and need to figure out new mesh routes when a device is added. There are another 40 or so lights for inside to go and then 40-50 lights outside. Hopefully getting over 350 devices soon in one Zigbee network.

2 Likes

I was under the impression the Sonoff had a device limit of 200?

32 direct children, no max on devices
depending on platform. Not sure where the 200 device limit started coming into the conversation.

Ahhh my bad, when I go up higher it’s a different guy running the dongle p, I see now you’re using the dongle e.