Welcome to the zigbee buying guide, because Zigbee is hot!! It has a low battery consumption, a mesh network with a great range to connect many of the wireless devices in your home. Yes, all those things do also apply to the Z-wave protocol, but because producers don’t need to buy expensive licences the Zigbee products are usually much cheaper. And more brands have adopted the Zigbee protocol for their products. Everyone starting with home automation, eventually have to choose for a single protocol for their devices, so they don’t end up with multiple gateways. So it is important to choose a protocol that is so popular, well maintained and has supported products which are widely available. We wrote some articles on Zigbee2mqtt, but on this zigbee buying guide, we show several options to help to get you started with Zigbee.
What is Zigbee?
ZigBee is an open standard protocol for wireless connections between devices at short distances. It is used for the transmission of sensor data and process monitoring & control. Examples are the health of a patient or the monitoring of indoor safety with the help of sensors. A ZigBee connection is very robust, but the bandwidth and the transmission speed are limited compared to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Zigbee is designed for home automation applications. For example to remotely control dimmers and on/off switches of the lighting in a home or building with minimal means.
If you want to know more about the Zigbee protocol, the Wikipedia page and the official Zigbee site are great places to start.
Zigbee buying guide
To get started with Zigbee you need to have a gateway, but which options are available?
We defined them in three categories:
- Plug and Play solutions, like Philips Hue, ikea Tradfri and Xiaomi (Expensive, cheaper, cheapest).
- Almost Plug and Play solutions.
- Totally Do It Yourself (DIY): building your own Zigbee2MQTT gateway.
Every company and brand does the same, protecting their ecosystem! Supporting only their own devices, although the understanding of open systems is more and more accepted it will always be so. With hue it’s possible to add cheaper Ikea bulbs but you cannot add Xiaomi sensors to it. Every brand has his own strength: A good app, affordable sensors, fast development, good quality lights. But not one company is succeeding to combe them.
Although Xiaomi is coming close, for exemple lots of different devices, a good app and a very good price, the only downside is the internet calls to China.
And our goal is still one app to control it all. Domoticz or Home Assistant instead of different apps on your cell phone. One software system, but also less hardware (like several bridges or gateways). On this page we show several options to use Zigbee in your house. All options are compatible with Domoticz and Home-Assistant.
Plug and Play Solutions:
We call it plug and play, but what we mean is a gateway with software that is usable out of the box. With lights or sensors from the same brand.
There are several options in this category, and the most popular and one of the first is: Philips Hue. Ikea is more affordable with his Tradfri system which is a younger platform. A name that became really popular quite fast is Xiaomi. Xiaomi has the cheapest gateway but by far the most complete ecosystem. Lights, sensors, switches but also home appliances like robot vacuums, ip cameras. All usable from one app: Mi home.
Almost Plug and Play Solutions:
Zigate and Deconz are two gateways that try to fill the gap between ‘Plug and Play’ and ‘Do It Yourself’. Both having a USB connecting and aiming to support a great variety of brands and devices.
A French guy started his adventure on Kickstarter. He was charmed about the quality and price of Xiaomi products and started developing his own gateway. A ZHAZ and ZZL compatible ZigBee gateway to support multiple brands.
The price is fair, the product looks good but the site and much info is only available in French. The Zigate is available in two versions: a USB Zigbee stick that you have to plug into your Home Automation system (in most cases a Raspberry Pi). The other version is a standalone Wifi version.
Zigate is compatible with both Domoticz and Home Assistant.
The deconz stick is a ZigBee gateway stick from the company Dresden Elektronik. Almost the same principles as the Zigate, an open-source multi-support gateway. Version 1 became quite popular and now there is a newer version: http://phoscon.de/de/conbee2
On their website they link to various home automation projects and they all have a plugin / addon / component or other ways to integrate the Deconz stick.
The stick costs about 40 Euro and are available in a few different countries.
I think the documentation about how to install and integrate is one of the key features!
DIY Zigbee gateway: Zigbee2mqtt
We wrote a lot about Zigbee2MQTT. Why? because it’s cheap, easy to setup and fun! However it’s ‘Do It Yourself’. The documentation and possibilities are so clear and well documented, that it’s easy to start with, even if you are not a techie. And when you’re done and using it, it gives you a good understanding of how it works.
Like Zigate and Deconz the communities isoke, goal is to be open-source, No cloud (china calls) needed. But the Zigbee2MQTT approach is the cheapest and it is the most rewarding experience.
Our articles about zigbee2mqtt:
Affordable Xiaomi Zigbee devices
Simplelink CC2652 2.4G Zigbee2MQTT stick
zzh! CC2652R Zigbee 3 USB stick, The best gateway for zigbee2mqtt
Wireless Zigbee CC1352P Sniffer Bare Board
Wireless Zigbee CC2652R Sniffer Bare Board
Xiaomi Aqara B1 Smart Electric Curtains Motor
Xiaomi Aqara LED Light Bulb ZNLDP12LM
Xiaomi Aqara 2 Channels Wireless Relay Two-way Control Module LLKZMK11LM
Xiaomi Aqara Wireless Smart Switch Upgrade Version
Xiaomi AQara G2 1080P Intelligent Network Camera (Gateway Edition)
CC2530+CC2591 as zigbee router
Wireless Zigbee CC2531 Sniffer Bare Board
Xiaomi Aqara Vibration Motion Sensor
Xiaomi Aqara Wireless Switch (Single Button)
Xiaomi Aqara Smart Wireless Switch
Xiaomi Aqara Smart Water Sensor
Xiaomi Aqara Temperature Humidity Sensor
Xiaomi Aqara Window Door Sensor
Xiaomi Mijia Honeywell Gas Leak Detector
Xiaomi Mijia Honeywell Smoke Detector
Xiaomi Aqara Double Key Wired Wall Switch