We're in the step of making design decision for a wireless mesh network of individual sensors which is going to be low cost.

At first research I decided to use MQTT for application layer and global ZigBee protocol stack for other layers beside an AVR MCU for our sensors.

But if using a ZigBee compatible CC2530 transceiver costs about 12-14$ then it's not cost-effective!

And also there's one more difficulty, and it's about the ZigBee hub!

So what's your suggestions?

Can we do this small-to-medium scale mesh with simple ESP8266 and other network layer protocols?

If you're not married to Zigbee's flavor of 802.15.4, you should take a look at Helium's end-to-end wireless capabilities. (I work for them - naturally.) Our module uses the same PHY but pushes most of the MAC trickiness into the cloud. And there is no meshing (which tends to drain batteries faster and complicate security). Instead it's a star-of-stars topology that has some massive range gains over ZigBee. Additionally the Helium Gateway can handle 1000s of sensors (which will save you money when deploying).

Helium also runs a free MQTT Broker for you. And the Helium Module can be wired up to the ESP8266 pretty easily. Hope that helps.

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    Welcome aboard, Mark. A good first answer (+1), and kudos for revealing your association with the answer. – Mawg Oct 22 '17 at 7:55

I would suggest painless mesh or easy mesh.

Their Github pages (on the links) say specifically that they are for esp8266 and thus they are very cost effective.

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    Before i dive into their code, do you use them yourself ? did they support routing capability (which should be present in a mesh infrastructure) ? – IMAN4K Oct 21 '17 at 19:20
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    I know as little as you. I do know they are for esp8266, but not much more. I stumbled upon them when answering other question, no personal experience. – mico Oct 21 '17 at 19:33

Not sure what your range is, but short range you can use ANT Blaze as well. It's great for continuous data rates. ANT radios I think consume ~20mA at max power. I think module cost is in your price range as well, and if you wanted to go so far, you could build your application into the radio as it has space to run an application alongside the radio.

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