ZigBee in your smart home: you want to know this

smart home

ZigBee is a smart home protocol that can serve as the foundation for a smart home. That basis is the network with which the devices in the house can connect and communicate with each other. In this article, we take a detailed look at the protocol.

Because the Zigbee is universal as standard, many devices can use it. Communication between devices can go two ways. So it is not the case that device x only signals device y; y can do the same to x.

The advantage of ZigBee is also that you get access to an extensive mesh network. Each device is connected to two other devices that are nearby, so you always have a stable connection. Should a device fail, other devices can take over the connection. The disadvantage of ZigBee is that the range of the devices is quite short, so that there cannot be too many walls or meters between them. Ideally, the range is fifteen meters.

ZigBee is an open protocol

Another drawback of ZigBee is that not every product can communicate with each other basically. It is an open protocol, which means that manufacturers can make adjustments themselves to make the standard more suitable for their product. In practice, this can cause some confusion. For example, lamps can communicate well with each other, but the switch can throw a spanner in the works if not every lamp is supported. That is not immediately clear in advance. So you will have to do active research yourself if you want to buy something.

ZigBee also works on the 2.4 GHz band. That means that many devices can be certified for the system quickly, while you have to deal with a busy connection in the meantime. Wifi and bluetooth also work on this channel, which may cause delays or interference. In addition, the protocol is energy efficient and is therefore well suited for battery-operated devices.


ZigBee hub and controller

You do need a hub and controller to operate ZigBee devices, since your smartphone is not directly connected to the device or devices. When you think of a hub, you can think of that of Philips Hue or Ikea. It is often the case that you can hang multiple products from other manufacturers on the same hub, provided they fall into the same product category.

If you want multiple products from different categories to communicate with each other, you need a controller. This is also known as a gateway. Think, for example, of the Homey or SmartThings. Both the hub and gateway connect to the internet and all devices, making it the spider in the web of your smart home. So you can control all ZigBee devices in the house with your smartphone or via your laptop, if you have the right apps installed.


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