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Zigbee2MQTT with Conbee 2 – Not a Happy Marriage!

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Remember this video where I explained the differences between deCONZ, Zigbee2MQTT, and ZHA in Home Assistant? Well, I migrated from deCONZ to Zigbee2MQTT using my Conbee 2 stick and I’m not happy at all! Let me tell you why in this video!

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I bought a Conbee 2 stick a few years ago. At the time, I had linked this in Home Assistant using the “deCONZ” add-on that you can download from the add-on store. This worked very well. My lamps responded quickly and all devices I have are supported by them. See this video on how to install deCONZ. The only thing I couldn’t do so easily was to update the firmware of my devices. I then decided to make a comparison between ZHA, Zigbee2MQTT, and deCONZ in this video. If you want to know the pros and cons of these three systems, you should definitely watch that video!

After doing that research, I decided to take the plunge and switch to Zigbee2MQTT altogether.

I wish I had never done that…

If you want to switch from one system to another, you have to do quite a bit. Since I didn’t have a second stick at my disposal at the time and I was very satisfied with my Conbee 2 stick, I wanted to transfer everything in one go. It is not possible to run both deCONZ, Zigbee2MQTT, and ZHA via the same stick.

Okay, these were the steps I had to take to transfer everything:

  1. I had to re-pair all my Zigbee devices in Zigbee2MQTT.
  2. Then I had to give all those devices the exact same entity_ids they had in deCONZ.
  3. Then I had to go through all my dashboards to see if the devices and their entities were still displayed properly. Well, I also had to make some changes here and there.
  4. And then I also had to go through all my automations, scripts and scenes to see if they still worked.

In the end, it took me about two weeks to get everything back to the way it was before I switched from the CONZ to Zigbee2MQTT.

So I was happy! Right? Well no, then the drama started…

What struck me most was that my lamps reacted a lot slower. Especially the lamps that I had put in light groups in Home Assistant reacted unreliably.

For your info, my production environment is a Home Assistant Blue that should just have more than enough capacity for my house.

Sometimes some lights wouldn’t turn on or off when I tried to switch a light group. Sometimes lamps would not respond when motion was detected by a motion sensor or when I pressed a button. The latter only happened occasionally, but lamps in a Home Assistant Light Group were a real drama.
Well, then I decided to put those lamps in a Zigbee2MQTT group. I preferred not to do that, but it seemed the only solution at that time. When I started using Zigbee2MQTT groups, my lamps responded better when I controlled such a group, but sometimes there were still lamps that did not respond well.
The most annoying thing, for me, was that I now had to create groups in Zigbee2MQTT and adjust all my automations, scripts, and dashboards again. Finally, I found a smarter way by populating my Home Assistant groups with groups from Zigbee2MQTT. Then I would at least no longer have to adjust my dashboards, automations, and scripts. But then again, now I had groups from Zigbee2MQTT in groups in Home Assistant.

That felt kinda, ehhh, meh.

But I didn’t really want to go back to my old install now. And now I was able to update the firmware of my devices over the air, so I liked that part…

Until I shot this video from last week about scenes in Home Assistant. Man, I’ve been fighting a lot with scenes in Home Assistant in combination with my Conbee 2 stick and Zigbee2MQTT. Really, at about 50 percent of the time, my lights were unresponsive, slow, or displaying the wrong colors. It was a complete disaster if I wanted to control single lamps that were part of a group. When I controlled the Light Groups from Zigbee2MQTT instead, things got better, but every now and then some lamps still didn’t work. No, Zigbee2MQTT together with the Conbee 2 stick does not appear to be a happy marriage. So I wanted to get rid of it! And fast!

Installing the Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-E

This time I had several sticks at my disposal and I thought it would be a good idea to try out the latest Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-E. (https://sonoff.tech/product/diy-smart-switch/sonoff-zigbee-3-0-usb-dongle-plus-e/) Now I already had Zigbee2MQTT running on my production environment, so I couldn’t try that new stick with Zigbee2MQTT on my production environment. So I decided to test that stick with ZHA first.

When I connected the new Sonoff stick to my Home Assistant server, I was able to install it with ZHA without any problem. That was done according to the same procedure as I show in this video here. Pairing a few lamps, Aqara motion sensors, and an Ikea Tradfri remote went without any problems. But now came the test! I made some scenes with single lamps to see if they would work properly. So I didn’t use groups as the ultimate test! And guess what happened…

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The response of my lamps in ZHA

The lamps responded super fast and correctly every time! Occasionally there was a lamp that reacted a little slower than the other lamps, but in the end, the lamp did respond in the right way. What a relief! Everything responded the way I wanted it to. In the end, I replaced the individual lamps with the groups I made in Home Assistant.

Testing Zigbee2MQTT with the Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-E

Anyway, that’s still not a good comparison, of course, because I was testing with ZHA right now. To make sure that the problem lies in the combination of the Conbee 2 stick and deCONZ, I also had to do a test with Zigbee2MQTT and the new Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-E.
So I decided to put Zigbee2MQTT on my test environment and connect the new Sonoff stick to it. Of course, that was not as easy as installing ZHA. It turned out that for this new stick I had to do some extra things to get it working in Zigbee2MQTT. In next week’s video I’ll show you how to get the new Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-E working perfectly in Home Assistant, so if you haven’t subscribed to my channel yet, please do, so you won’t miss that video!

When I had this stick running on Home Assistant, I linked the same lamps to my test environment and created new scenes that called these lamps via Zigbee2MQTT. And guess what….. (drum roll)

The lamps responded quickly and even without using Zigbee2MQTT’s light groups they responded correctly.

Buy the NEW Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-E with a 15% discount here. Use code JUNKIE15 at checkout to get a discount!

My Conclusion

My conclusion is that the Conbee 2 stick is not reliable enough for Zigbee2MQTT. At least, not for me. Fortunately, the new Sonoff stick does not cost that much. I have put a link in the description of this video where you can buy it. I get a small affiliate fee for it if you buy it through that link, without it costing you extra money. This way you support me a little for creating this video.

And now some tips if you’d like to migrate from deCONZ to Zigbee2MQTT or from ZHA to Zigbee2MQTT or vice versa.

My first tip is: If you have a Conbee 2 stick, stick with deCONZ. This stick works best with deCONZ. Period!

My second tip is: Buy a second stick so you can run both systems side by side and migrate step by step. That will save you a lot of hassle with the rest of your family. 😉

Tip 3: If you already have groups in Home Assistant, register your Zigbee2MQTT groups in the Home Assistant groups so that you don’t have to adjust your dashboards, automations, and scripts.

I hope this video helped you and I want to thank everyone who has supported me in making these videos and tutorials so far. I could never have done this without you. Thank you! If you also want to support me, see how you can do that in the description of this video. With that, you make it possible that I can continue to make these videos for you.

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I will see you soon!

Bye bye!

Buy the NEW Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-E with a 15% discount here. Use code JUNKIE15 at checkout to get a discount!


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