Z-Wave and Zigbee usb dongle recommendations

I have been away from actively working on my home automation setup for awhile, and just letting things run as they are, but am trying to get back into it to fix a few things that are bothering me for some time now.
Im currently using smartthings for my zwave and zigbee devices, though most of my automation and dashboards are in home assistant and smartthings is just my device gateway. I also have an older, no longer in use wink hub, and a a very old Vera 2 gateway that hasnt been used in years now.

I started by thinking I need to update the firmware on some Red switches that Ive had since the original preorder time for them, as well as some inovelli rgb bulbs that are painstakingly slow to interact with. It looks like I cannot update the fw on my zwave devices directly though smartthings though and need a usb dongle instead. If I need to buy a zwave dongle, that will be the moment I kick smartthings to the curb and move everything over to run directly in home assistant instead.

So, I am wondering what are the recommended usb dongles for 2022. I have mostly zwave switches thoughout the house, but also run a number of zigbee bulbs and sensors. I had thought maybe a Nortek HUSBZB-1 USB Hub would be what I get to have only 1 usb device for both protocols, but I wonder if the chipsets in it are getting old and if there is newer hardware with the latest zwave chipsets in it that I should be looking at instead.

Im fine with running 2 usb devices, I just want to get something that will perform well and that I wont be looking to replace again next year. Whats the current recommendations?

2 Likes

You’re not going to OTA Zwave with SmartThings directly. You have a choice of adding the SiLabs PC Controller as a 2nd controller using a USB stick OR remove the device from ST and flash it directly using the PC Controller.

I remove my Zwave devices from ST, flash directly with the PC Controller and then put them back, despite the pain that comes along with that technique. I use the Zwave.me stick.

If you’re going over HA, then one of the HA folks will have to recommend. There is a thread in here somewhere discussing HA sticks, but it may be dated.

BTW, at least at this point, if you need to flash a Zigbee device, then you’ll have to use either HA or Hubitat.

Nortek HUSBZB-1 USB Hub

I still use this for my zwave network and it works fine, but I’d consider it obsolete for any new setup as it’s on the 500 series zwave chip. The Zooz 700 series stick is often recommended these days, but 800 devices are now becoming available as well. I’d recommend reading up on the changes in these series to understand if anything is specifically important to you. Zwave is nicely backward compatible, so running the latest isn’t usually a major concern.

For zigbee, I’d recommend something well supported by Zigbee2mqtt. The Sonoff listed there feels like it’s becoming the default.

I moved from Hubitat to Home Assistant about 6 months ago.
This is the combo I’m using attached to PI 4 (two usb sticks):

Rock solid so far. No a single issue during this period.

Thanks for the insight folks. I was wondering if the HUSBZB-1 was not ideal for new installs, and thus my question, I jsut wasnt sure what device would be the next in line now. In Canada, it looks like I could buy 2 devices cheaper than that unit anyway.
I had also looked at the SONOFF Zigbee USB Dongle Plus Gateway, but paused my purchase when I found 2 identical looking dongles for the same price, but with different chipsets, and wasnt sure which chipset was more compatible. It seems theres a EFR32MG21 as well as a TI CC2652P.
Ive been running Home Assistant with the Smartthings integration for a couple years now and hassio has come a long way and Im comfortable to switch 100% over to that system now. Also hope it takes some of the delays out of my network, Smartthings seems slower all around compared to when I first got the hub a few years ago

The “P” version is the recommended one if you plan to use zigbee2mqtt:

Note before buying that ITead slightly confusingly now sells both the “ZBDongle-E” (based on EFR32MG21) and “ZBDongle-P” (based on CC2652P). This section is about the “ZBDongle-P”, for “ZBDongle-E” see below.

The Silicon Labs SLUSB001A at about $20-25 is about the cheapest zwave USB and it’s direct from the chip manufacturer.

It seems like the EFR32ZG14 chipset is the one Silicon Labs is using in their 700 series reference device. I would imagine there will eventually be an 800 series using the EFR32ZG23 chipset.

EDIT: Ooops. I guess I lost track of the conversation and didn’t realize the topic had switched to Zigbee instead of Z-wave when talking about the EFR32MG21 and TI CC2652P chipsets.

A bit late on this but I wanted to drop in that I’ve been very happy using OpenHAB (version 2 and version 3) with Aeotec’s z-wave Z-stick Gen 5+ (the original Gen 5 stick works too).

One major benefit I experienced with these devices was the ability to backup and restore my z-wave items between sticks. Another benefit is that when you have to remove a higher security device like a lock, you can take the Z-Stick to that device since it has a rechargeable battery in it. I was able to migrate an OH2 system to OH3 on new hardware very quickly because of these two capabilities.

The software to backup the stick unfortunately only runs on Windows (nope, it doesn’t work in virtualization). That is a major fail in my book but for many people that will not be an issue.