Zigbee is a wireless communication protocol used by smart home devices.
Zigbee is still a new technology, so knowing how much coverage you need in your home can be confusing.
How many ZigBee hubs do you really need to easily monitor and control your smart home devices?
You only need one Zigbee hub. Most wired Zigbee devices can work as signal repeaters, extending your signal range. However, if you have a very large home or a lot of smart devices, you might benefit from getting a second Zigbee hub.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the factors determining how many Zigbee hubs you need.
I’ll also cover the pros and cons of Zigbee hubs. Stay tuned!
How to know if you need another Zigbee hub
There are a few factors you should consider in order to know if you need more than one Zigbee hub:
- Size of your home.
- Total devices you own.
- Obstructions it has.
Let’s look at each one in more detail.
#1: Number of devices you want to connect
Smart home hubs, Zigbee hubs included, have a limit on the number of devices they can support.
Connecting too many smart home devices to a smart hub like Zigbee can lead to:
- Notifications not being received.
Zigbee hubs have a limit of 32 directly-connected devices. This means you can’t exceed 32 direct connections on one Zigbee smart hub.
If you have more than 32 smart devices directly connected to the same network, you’ll need another Zigbee hub.
However, you can extend the connectivity of your Zigbee hub by installing routing devices such as smart plugs.
Each routing device can support an additional 6 to 8 smart home devices.
#2: The size of your home
Zigbee hubs have a limit to their connectivity range, so the size of the area you want to cover will play a big role in determining how many hubs you need.
Zigbee hubs have a range of between 32.81 ft and 328.08 ft (10 m and 100 m) through unobstructed air.
If your house spans more than 100 meters, you might benefit from getting an extra hub.
However, 100 meters is more than enough for the vast majority of people. Even large houses don’t come close to that distance.
Still, even if you live in a large estate or want your Zigbee hub to reach a nearby building, you have other options besides buying a new hub.
You can also extend your connection using routing devices, just as you would for expanding the number of smart devices you can connect.
Since Zigbee is a mesh network, a Zigbee hub can communicate with devices outside its range by passing data through intermediary devices.
If you take this approach, you could expand your network to up to 984.25 ft (300 m) — and all with a single hub!
As you might have noticed, the range limit of a Zigbee hub is estimated for open air.
However, chances are that the Zigbee hub inside your home will have to go through several walls.
Zigbee hubs use radio frequency signals to connect and communicate with home devices.
Signals in the radio frequency spectrum can be distorted when they have to pass through walls and other obstructions.
You might need an extra Zigbee hub if your home has many walls or if they’re made from especially dense material.
If your house has more than one floor, the rule of thumb is to have one Zigbee hub per floor.
Pros and Cons of a Zigbee Hub
Apart from Zigbee, other smart home hubs include Insteon and Z-Wave.
However, the connection protocol used by Zigbee poses several advantages.
- Energy efficiency. Zigbee uses less energy in transmitting and receiving signals, which means it won’t use too much power. This feature makes Zigbee hub suitable for battery-powered devices like smart locks and sensors.
- It doesn’t need an internet connection. The hub will not compete with other devices on the WiFi network for your precious bandwidth. It won’t affect the efficiency of your smart home devices.
- It uses mesh network topology. Zigbee hubs form a mesh network. Each device can act as both transmitter and receiver in such a network. This means that the network will continue working even if one node fails.
- It supports many nodes. Zigbee supports up to 65,536 nodes in a single network—much more than what other smart home hubs can support.
- Flexible network structure. Zigbee has a flexible network structure. This means you can easily add or remove devices from the network without affecting efficiency.
- Short range. Zigbee can connect to a maximum range of 100 meters (328.08 feet) in the open air. This range limits the distance of devices you can connect.
- Low data speed. Zigbee hubs have a maximum data rate of 250 kbps. This data rate is low compared to other smart hubs.
- It’s not compatible with all devices. Zigbee only works with devices that come with this technology. You can’t connect a Zigbee device to a non-Zigbee hub unless you use bridging software.
- It’s unsecured. Zigbee is not as secure like the WiFi-based hubs, which are secured through encryption. It’s easier to hack Zigbee devices.
- No end devices. Zigbee doesn’t have end devices. As a result, you can’t directly connect a Zigbee device to the internet.
- It’s high maintenance. As mentioned earlier, Zigbee uses Mesh network topology. This network is complex and requires frequent maintenance.
- It’s expensive. Zigbee hubs are more expensive than other smart home hubs. Their high cost is attributed to their flexible mesh network and the ability to connect many devices without interference.
Zigbee hubs are an excellent option for managing smart home devices because they use a personal area network (PAN).
This network connects devices within a small area without causing signal interruptions.
Although Zigbee hubs typically have more coverage than other IoT options, you may still need to get an extra one if your home is large or has many floors or walls.