Hi! I made some tutorials on how to set up Zigbee in Home Assistant. But still, some people got problems during the installation. So I thought it would be a good idea to make a video showing the most common issues you may encounter when setting up Zigbee in Home Assistant. Let’s get into this!
Get your Zigbee Dongle:
- Sonoff Zigbee Dongle-E: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon NL / AliExpress
- Sonoff Zigbee Dongle-P: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon NL / AliExpress
- Conbee 2 Stick: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon NL
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I’ve created multiple videos that explain how to set up Zigbee using ZHA or Zigbee2MQTT in Home Assistant. If you want to know the differences between Zigbee2MQTT and ZHA, you can check this video where I show an in-depth comparison between these two, including deCONZ.
First of all, you’ll need to buy a Zigbee dongle for this. The most popular Zigbee dongles at this moment are:
- SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-P
- SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-E
- The SkyConnect
- The Conbee stick
In addition to these sticks, there are many more dongles on the market.
The Sonoff ZBdongle-E and the SkyConnect can be flashed so that they support Matter as well. The only downside is that these two dongles are still experimental in Zigbee2MQTT. They work without any issues in ZHA though. I’ve been testing the Sonoff ZBDongle-E for a long time in Zigbee2MQTT now and I must say that it’s pretty stable at my side now. But, be aware. If you want to use the SkyConnect or the Sonoff ZBDongle-E, you might run into Zigbee issues depending on the device that you want to connect.
Setting up Zigbee in Home Assistant is easiest using ZHA. If you want to use how you can set up ZHA, then please watch this video where I explain how to set it up. Setting up ZHA is straightforward and shouldn’t give you a lot of issues.
Setting up Zigbee2MQTT in Home Assistant is a little bit more advanced, but if you follow this tutorial, you shouldn’t have any issues. This tutorial explains how to set up the Sonoff ZBDongle-E, but works exactly the same for the SkyConnect.
I cannot connect to any of the Zigbee dongles in Home Assistant
One of the most heard Zigbee issues is that people cannot connect to their Zigbee dongle at all. Or that it sometimes connects and sometimes it doesn’t. This can have various reasons. The most important thing is that you need to connect your Zigbee Dongle using a USB Extension cable. USB 3.0 ports are known to cause significant noise and radio interference to 2.4Ghz wireless devices. Because of that, they interfere with Zigbee and Thread devices. If you do not use a USB extension cable, it might work, but you can expect issues with pairing, device dropouts, timeouts, and unreachable devices.
I don’t see the dongle in the hardware overview in Home Assistant.
Okay, so now you’ve connected your Dongle using a USB extension cable. But, when you go to Settings -> System -> Hardware, you still do not see the dongle in the hardware list. This can happen if you run Home Assistant on a Virtual Machine. When you set up a virtual machine like Virtualbox under Windows, the USB ports are not exposed to the virtual machine by default. And because of that, the Zigbee Dongle is not visible in Home Assistant. So, you need to expose the USB port to the virtual machine.
My test environment runs on Virtual Box in Windows. Exposing a USB port to a Virtual machine works basically the same for any other system. Within Virtual Box, you can go to Settings and select the USB option. Then click the plus sign and add the USB port your Zigbee Dongle is connected to. Then you might have to restart your Virtual Machine. If everything went well, you will see the Zigbee Dongle in the hardware list of Home Assistant.
Using ZHA and Zigbee2MQTT simultaneously.
Another issue that some people experience is that when they install Zigbee2MQTT, the Zigbee Dongle is not recognized by Zigbee2MQTT because of they have ZHA activated as well. When you plug in a Zigbee stick in your Home Assistant server, this stick might be recognized immediately by Home Assistant in the Integrations overview. It’s totally understandable that you immediately click on Configure to configure the stick. At that moment, the stick will be configured for ZHA. One stick can only be configured for ZHA or Zigbee2MQTT. You cannot configure the exact same stick simultaneously for ZHA and Zigbee2MQTT. So, if you want to use Zigbee2MQTT instead of ZHA, you need to disable or delete the stick in ZHA.
But wait, what if you want to use ZHA and Zigbee2MQTT simultaneously? Well, you can do that, but then you need two sticks that run on different channels. You can connect one stick to ZHA and the other stick to Zigbee2MQTT. Make sure that both applications run on different channels to make this work. And be aware that you are setting up two different Zigbee mesh networks in your house. So, you need to have enough router devices for both networks. I will explain more about this in a minute.
Zigbee2MQTT doesn’t connect to my Sonoff ZBDongle-E or SkyConnect.
When you are setting up Zigbee2MQTT for the Sonoff ZBDongle-E or SkyConnect and you use older tutorials to set it up, you might be facing Zigbee issues that Zigbee2MQTT will not connect to one of these two dongles. This is because these dongles use a Silicon Labs chip and you need to add some extra code to the configuration of Zigbee2MQTT. I explain how to set up the Sonoff ZBDongle-E or SkyConnect successfully in this video. If you already followed some older tutorials, then just add the line “adapter: ezsp” in the configuration of Zigbee2MQTT. After that, it will probably start working.
Zigbee2MQTT doesn’t connect to my Sonoff ZBDongle-P
If you use the Sonoff ZBDongle-P and followed this tutorial to set it up in Zigbee2MQTT, you can skip adding the line adapter: ezsp in the configuration. This way, this “older”, but stable dongle-P will start working with Zigbee2MQTT.
Zigbee2MQTT doesn’t connect to my Conbee stick
And if you want to use this same tutorial to set up the Conbee stick in Zigbee2MQTT, you can replace the line adapter: ezsp with adapter: deconz. This way the Conbee stick will work with Zigbee2MQTT.
Zigbee issues: Devices are visible in Zigbee2MQTT, but not in Home Assistant.
Some people mentioned that they do see their Zigbee devices in Zigbee2MQTT, but they do not see the devices appear in Home Assistant. In most cases, this means that you didn’t set up the connection to an MQTT broker like Mosquitto. So, either you didn’t install Mosquitto at all, or you didn’t enter the credentials for Mosquitto in your Zigbee2MQTT configuration. Mosquitto should be able to make use of Home Assistant users. So, you should only have to create a user in Home Assistant for MQTT use, such as “mqtt-user” with a password of your choice. You can do that by going to Settings > People and clicking the Users tab. There you can add a new Home Assistant user.
After that, you can go to Settings->Add-ons->Zigbee2MQTT and click on the Configuration Tab. In the MQTT field, you can enter the MQTT server name and credentials. The default server name is mqtt://core-mosquitto:1883 and the username and password are the username and password that you’ve just created in Home Assistant. When you’ve set this up correctly, you should see the devices in Home Assistant as well. Again, this video explains how to install the Mosquitto MQTT-broker in Home Assistant.
Zigbee issues: My battery-powered Zigbee devices lose connection.
The next issue that people sometimes come across is that their battery-powered Zigbee devices lose connection. The first thing that you should check is if the battery of those devices is still charged, but that’s probably not the cause of your issue.
One thing that you need to know about Zigbee networks is that a Zigbee network is a mesh network. This means that devices connect to each other and this allows the network to extend over a large range. To be able to do this, the Zigbee network should contain enough routing devices. Routing devices are devices that operate on the mains like lightbulbs and smart switches. Battery-powered devices are not routing devices and cannot forward the Zigbee signal to other devices. So, if you only have battery-powered devices in your house, or if you do not have a lot of devices that are powered by mains, your battery-powered Zigbee devices will lose connection and you will experience Zigbee issues.
Make sure you install enough router devices in your house like lightbulbs and Smart Switches. You can also flash one or two Zigbee dongles with routing software so that they function as a routing device and place them in different rooms in your house.
Zigbee issues: If I pair my battery-powered Zigbee device successfully near my dongle, it doesn’t work in the final location.
Devices in your Zigbee network should be able to connect to the closest routing device and most of the time they will do this over time. Some of them need some time to find the closest routing device. But, some of them only stick to the routing device that they have been paired to initially. So, let’s say you pair a battery-powered motion sensor to your Zigbee dongle in the office and then walk over to the bathroom to install that motion sensor. This motion sensor might not be able to connect to the Zigbee Dongle because the distance is too far away.
Even if the lightbulbs in your bathroom are connected to the Zigbee network, it might be that your motion sensor will not use the lightbulb to connect to the Zigbee network. I’ve had this issue with Aqara Motion Sensors and Ikea Remotes. In some cases, the motion sensor might connect using the lightbulb as a routing device, but it’s way better to pair your device initially close to the final installation spot in your house. This way, the new devices will connect to your Zigbee network using the nearest routing device and distance will not be an issue.
Conclusion on how to solve your Zigbee Issues
The Zigbee issues that I’ve talked about in this video are I’m my opinion the most common issues that you can come across when you set up your Zigbee network. There might be more issues and I am curious if you know more of them and what your solution was to fix it.
Videos get outdated after a while, but I will keep the blog post that belongs to this video updated if I find more Zigbee issues that can easily be solved. I hope I saved you tons of hours to set up your Zigbee network with this tutorial.
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