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Background

I have a bunch of Sengled Zigbee bulbs that I use in plug-in lamps, with a Samsung SmartThings hub controlling them.

The ones that are in the same room as the hub work 99% of the time, but the ones that are further away frequently display as "offline" in the SmartThings app. The only way I can get them to work again is to manually re-add them to the app. After doing this, they inevitably go offline again at some point. One of my lamps has three bulbs in it, and sometimes some of its bulbs will work, but others wont.

Per the Sengled website, Sengled's Zigbee bulbs do not function as Zigbee repeaters.

Question

Is there anything I can do to make these bulbs more reliable?

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  • It sounds very strange that these bulbs don't act as extenders, isn't that the whole point of zigbee and mesh technology? I will look in to this a bit further and avoid Sengled for now.
    – Orbit
    Feb 3, 2022 at 12:39
  • @Orbit sengled does not repeat because they believe that smart bulbs can be turned off/on with normal switches. If they were part of the mesh, they would frequently destroy the mesh if they were turned off. Therefore, they do not repeat. Mar 1, 2022 at 0:46

2 Answers 2

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You probably need a zigbee repeater. Since the bulbs far away might be at the tips of your mesh, you will need a repeater close to your hub so that it can repeat a strong signal from your hub to the far away bulb. To do this, the hardest part is getting the repeater. One of the cheapest & easiest repeaters to use is the IKEA Tradfri plug or bulb (they have a device called a repeater, but I dont recommend it since just getting a device is cheaper. If you dont have access to an ikea, you can get an inner smart plug, or a sylvania lightbulb. Note, these are not the only options, just some reliable ones.

If you are curious, sengled does not repeat because they believe that smart bulbs can be turned off/on with normal switches. If they were part of the mesh, they would frequently destroy the mesh if they were turned off. Therefore, they do not repeat.

Summary: you need a repeater to extend your mesh. You can go for a smart plug (that can be used or can go dormant) or a smart bulb that DOES repeat (you can replace one of your nearby sengled bulbs with a repeating bulb and then use the sengled bulb wherever you want.

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I run Home Assistant, and one of the key things they emphasize there is that the ZigBee receiver should NOT be plugged directly into the computer hosting HA. It should, instead, be plugged into a USB extension cable and placed away from the computer.

This is true for general ZigBee hubs and I'm sure it holds true for your SmartThings hub, as well. I've got my hub sitting on the top of an 8' tall cabinet (we have tall ceilings) and once I learned how to get the bulbs configured, I haven't had any issues with my Sengled bulbs dropping off the network. (I have different bulbs, but they are from Sengled.)

Another thing emphasized in the HA setup instructions is that the hub should not be plugged into a USB 3.0 (or newer) port, but should be on 2.0 only. Despite the backwards compatibility, it seems that there is some issue in the driver stacks (this advice applies to HA hosted on Windows, Mac, or Linux) that can cause ZigBee to have issues.


Since you mention that range is an issue, a quick internet search for "smartthings range extender" turned up this thread on the SmartThings support page. It's got links to Samsung docs on how to add hubs as range extenders to improve reception at distant locations. I'm sure that there are other pages available that will give you a description of how to do it. It does appear, though, that there are different options based on what version of the ST hub you currently have, so be sure to pay attention to that.

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  • Thanks for your response. It sounds like Home Assistant is pretty different to the SmartThings hub. The SmartThings hub does not involve a computer. I think range is still an issue though regardless of where I place the hub, as for the wifi in my house, I need multiple extenders to ensure there is enough coverage, but I don't have any Zigbee extenders.
    – dwally89
    Jan 28, 2022 at 17:20
  • @dwally89 check the updated answer.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 28, 2022 at 17:32
  • Also, take the tour for the "proper" way to say thanks. ;)
    – FreeMan
    Jan 28, 2022 at 17:32
  • Just a thought, @dwally89, if the hub is placed near a computer it may be getting interference, even though it's not actually connected to the computer.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 28, 2022 at 18:05
  • Wow, @anonymous, those are smart bulbs! They know that they're connecting to a SmartThings hub so they know to reject possible interference caused by the hub being placed near a PC, but when they're connected to a HA-hosted hub, they can't? </sarcasm> Just because I learned these things about electronics and interference based on a HA setup, doesn't mean that the interference automatically goes away in a ST only setup. Also, if you read the complete answer, you'd have noticed that below the line, I indicated that a ST range extender may help the OP.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 1, 2022 at 12:51

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