Z-Wave, Zigbee, or Both?

Questions for the group – honestly not trying to stir things up…

  1. I have (or will soon have) about 50 each of Z-Wave and Zigbee devices installed – is it a mistake to mix like this, or is it actually better b/c load on each network is lower?

  2. In many cases, I have a ZWave and Zigbee switch side by side in the same box – is that going to cause interference issues down the road, or is it actually good since the mesh of each network will be strengthened?

  3. There is a separate garage a couple hundred feet from the house - wifi does not reach, so I haven’t bothered even trying Zigbee or Zwave (500 series). Is Z-Wave LR (800 series) my best hope for using switches there, or do I just need to break down and run a cable with a separate (but somehow linked) automation system?

  4. I’ve read varying accounts of “once you get over a certain number of devices, it doesn’t work as well” for BOTH Z-Wave and Zigbee. I am very likely to need to order more switches – any ideas on the relative limits of each [looking for real world – not the max #s that the protocol supports]? My sense from reading forums is that neither would work well for > 100 devices.

  5. Which tech is more likely to still be around in 15-20 years or so? I don’t want to have to replace all these switches again…

Thanks all in advance!

1&2: Zwave and Zigbee run on 2 completely different frequencies. Zwave at 908.42hz and Zigbee at 2.4ghz. So there is absolutely no worry about interference. It’s good to have strong networks of both, this way you won’t be limited to 1 technology when it comes to picking up new devices.

3: Zwave LR might work, might not. It’s too new for real world results less. Your best bet is always to trench a fiber cable out to your outbuildings. From there you can add a switch and a wifi access point. This will get you WiFi devices. But you could also hook up an ethernet connected zigbee coordinator and start a second zigbee network out there. Or put in a whole other hub and get zwave out there. Once you’ve got that cable run, you can do anything.

4: Depends on your coordinator. For example the zigbee cc2652 based connector can handle over 200 end devices. It’s rare people meet these limits.

5: Nobody really knows for sure. All the talk right now is around matter. Zigbee offers the closest upgrade path to matter. But it’s also still brand new and nobody knows if it will really take off. Both Zigbee and Zwave are local protocols, so as long as you’ve got the equipment it will work. It won’t be like any of these cloud based platforms that close up shop and everybody’s stuff stops working.

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I agree with everything @MRobi said, with a couple things to add/expand on. For 1, the only clarification would be of those 50 devices, how many of them are mains-powered and repeaters? If there are a lot of end devices and very few repeaters, you’re more likely to run into issues. If these are mostly switches, you should be ok.

For 5, I think the better question is can you continue to support these devices in 15-20 years? The difference here is how you manage the devices rather than the devices themselves. Zwave/Zigbee is already the ‘right’ step as both offer local control. Does the hub you choose have any risk of going away or if they do, what’s the impact to you? Does it rely on the cloud or a proprietary protocol? Or will the hardware continue to work as long as it lives (and/or can you replace the hardware)? Even if Matter takes off as the new thing, so long as the hub you use continues to support Zwave/Zigbee (and I would think some will even if we can’t know for sure, HA in my mind at least), you’ll still be supported.

Thank you both!

For #1, almost all of the devices are switches – about 5 or six of the Z-wave devices are battery-powered locks or sensors, everything else is a switch. I lost my 2 Inovelli light bulbs in the move :frowning: :cry:

For #5, I’m currently running OpenHAB on a Raspberry Pi – if that stops getting supported, I’ll probably make the move to HA. From a hardware standpoint, the real risk would be if the USB controller goes out and I can’t get a replacement… impossible to predict the future though. With Amazon throwing their lot in with ZigBee, and the whole matter thing, I do worry about Z-Wave long-term… it seems to have lost its momentum – just a personal observation which may not have any actual merit.

I’ve been curious about coordinators and have been looking at this exact model! Like OP, I have a lot of the blue switches (~60) in my home. I’ve run into issues with the Aeotec SmartThings hub in the final room of my house wherein adding the switches in that room seem to sever the connection from the SmartThings app to all of the other switches in my home (which work fine otherwise).

Am I correct that the SmartThings/Aeotec hub is basically a ZHA coordinator? And, if so, does anyone have any links to documentation about how good of a coordinator it is?

I’m fortunate in that I’m moving to Home Assistant anyways. I just finished my server build and Ubuntu+Docker install and am just steps away from making the switch. I’ve been looking at a TubesZB Zigbee to PoE Coordinator to use in conjunction with HA and Zigbee2MQTT (which I’m going to have to learn) to hopefully solve this issue (CC2652P2 Based Zigbee to PoE Coordinator 2022 – TubesZB)

  • Am I correct in thinking that this coordinator would take the place of SmartThings - at least for the purposes of integrating the Inovelli Switches into HA?
  • Does this look like a solid PoE coordinator to use?
  • Am I going overboard moving to Zigbee2MQTT here, or am I correct in thinking this would be the recommended solution given the scale of my smarthome?

Thanks in advance!

You’ll need a ST guy to help you with the coordinator in there. I moved away from ST many years ago and never looked back. I can comment on your HA plan though.

I’ve got the TubesZB non-poe cc2652p coordinator (the round one) and it’s rock solid. I also have the Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 usb stick. I have a bit of an issue with that one where after a power failure I have to unplug it, replug it and then reboot the system otherwise z2m won’t start. This may be due to the fact I’m running layers of containers with passthrough. Haven’t bothered troubleshooting it because we don’t get daily/weekly/monthly power failures.

If I were buying a new coordinator today I’d be looking at those new TubesZB MGM21 coordinators. They’ll be upgradable to thread/matter in the future which will be a big bonus when you move those 60 or so blue switches over to matter.

Side note… why Ubuntu + Docker for your HA setup?

Can’t recommend HAOS on a VM enough. It’s so so much smoother and easier to maintain.

Thank you!

RE: Containized vs. HAOS - Mostly because I ended up with a 22U rack and a Dell R720 w 2x 8-core 2.9Ghz CPUs and 192gb RAM instead of a Pi4. The Pi4s are running $260+ where I am right now and for the same $ I was able to get a real 2U server with an iDrac. Decided to play around with hosting perpetual, private survival game worlds for my friends as well (eg 7dtd, Conan, Ark, stuff like that). I have Plex up too but I would have just done HAOS if that were the only consideration since there’s even an add on for that.

I do plan to automate the package updates fwiw.

Your server sounds almost identical to mine except it’s a Dell instead of a Supermicro. I still don’t see why Ubuntu + Docker.

I use proxmox as a base os for mine. HAOS in a VM. I then have an LXC container strictly for media services. Emby/Plex/Jellyfin, *ARRS, Sab, Transmission, etc. etc. etc. Another LXC for NVR type applications. An LXC to run a server for my dad. Nextcloud VM. A Bitcoin Node VM. Windows VM. Ubuntu VM. macOS VM. I’m sure I’m missing stuff too.

But my point is… Running Ubuntu/Docker on that hardware you’re really missing out on it’s full potential. You can still run Ubuntu/Docker on it, but you can do that alongside of basically everything else.

@Artfle and @MRobi what racks do you have? I love the height of my 22U rack but it’s not deep enough (600mm) for that equipment.

I’ve got a 27u with an adjustable depth out to 32". Got it on amazon by a machinery company quite a few years ago. I’ve got a couple 4u servers in it, a shelf with an array of NUCs. Then the normal stuff like power bars. UPS’s and a whole bunch of network gear. I’ve got a 4u blanking panel in there too because I don’t know what to fill it with lol


My 22U fits the Dell like a glove in the official Dell rails but you do have to take the cord management off.

I bought from Sysracks and happy with it. They have a 32” and 39” depth. I have the 32” depth. The 39” would allow you to use the cord management piece too.

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Honestly, it’s probably just as much an ignorance thing on my part as anything. I’m self-teaching all these skills really (don’t work in IT; was a serious hobbyist back in the 90s as a kid but only returning to it now). Linux felt more accessible given what I knew already. I’m not super familiar with Virtual machines in practice either; just in theory. I have been meaning to play with Proxmox but I found some good training wheel support for HA in a Container from a YouTuber named Home Automation Guy that’s been helpful getting me back on my feet with some of the specifics.

Eventually I might make the switch. I’ve got everything backed on on a separate NAS in that 22U as well so I’m not too terribly fussed about rebuilding the os if I decide HAOS would be better some day when my skills improve and I figure out what it really takes to stand up those perpetual game servers.

It actually takes significantly less skills to run HAOS than it does to run HA containerized. Setting up as a VM there’s a 1-line script that does the whole setup. HAOS supports all the addons and manages the containers for them. It’s also able to recognize them all as local addons and they’re all accessible from directly within HA. With HA Containerized it’s on you to setup, manage and update the containers for any addons you want to run. You may need to expose additional services as well if you want to access them externally. If the goal is to learn, that may not all be a bad thing really.

Mentioning NAS, I knew I forgot something. I also run a TrueNAS VM on my proxmox server and pass-through control for the 48 drives. It really does do everything LOL

Yeah we can help if you want, just let us know!

I run a 720 on a 42U rack with Unraid. It’s super super simple to create a linux VM with HAOS loaded.