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At this moment I observed that the least expensive ZigBee devices are the ones sold by Xiaomi, but I don't want to use their own hub because I am pretty sure that Chinese language will be all over the place. Instead I am considering buying devices and connect them to a hub with better software like SmartThings or even OpenHAB.

I am referring to basic Xiaomi sensors: on/off switches, motion sensors, temperature ones.

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Xiaomi sensors can be paired with SmartThings, according to this blog:

  1. Log in to the SmartThings IDE
  2. Create a new device handler using the sources provided on GitHub
  3. Click 'My Location', then 'Events'
  4. On the app, go to 'My Home' > 'Things' > 'Add a Thing'
  5. Push the button on each sensor for ~5 seconds to enable pairing mode
  6. Look for an entry named 'Catchall' in the events. Select the 19th-22nd digit of the hexadecimal string, as shown here
  7. Add a device, using the digits you found as the Zigbee Id and Device Network Id, as shown here.
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There isn't any official support, but a user in the SmartThings Community forum has created some device types that should work with the motion sensor and on/off switch here:

I have created a simple device type for the Xiaomi Smart Button that can be found various places for around $10. Other users have stated that this device loses connectivity to the hub after a while, but I have only had the device in hand for a couple hours so I'll report back what I find.

The device should work with SmartApps that work with button devices like the Aeon minimote. It registers as button 1 pressed, and button 1 held if you hold it down for 4 seconds (configurable in preferences, but a lower number may affect reliability of the device properly distinguishing the two).

One user reports that the temperature sensor works without any handler:

You can pair door, motion and button with ST with a couple tries. For button and temp, follow my other thread on how to pair those.

But all except temp sensor requires custom device handler.

Therefore, as far as I can tell, you just need the custom handler for the on/off switch and motion sensor as provided in the thread I linked - otherwise, you can pair them as normal.

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3

Here is one project that can expose a lot of ZigBee devices to a generic MQTT server. Then you can use them with any of the home automation hubs that you want.

My personal experience with it is great - the required hardware is about 20$ from aliexpress and it works on anything, even ARM based machines in a container.

pros

  • it's open source so you can tinker with it if you so desire
  • the community is active and new devices are added quickly so even if you have something obscure you can get support easily
  • it's not tied to any one company so you do not have to worry for your hub becoming useless if they decide to discontinue it or go out of business

cons

  • it requires some technical knowledge to set it up initially, but the docker can greatly decrease the overhead
  • the current USB for the hub is not very good looking, so you have to hide it until a better ones become available.
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