Home automation has come a long way, with many devices now supporting wireless protocols like Zigbee for easy integration. However, one challenge has been the walled gardens created by different vendors – with proprietary bridges, hubs, and ecosystems locking you in.
This is where Zigbee2mqtt comes in – an open-source software project that bridges Zigbee devices directly to MQTT. It eliminates vendor lock-in allowing you to easily control, automate, and integrate your Zigbee devices over MQTT.
In this guide, I will dive into what exactly Zigbee2mqtt is, how it works, why it’s useful, and how to get set up with it.
Table of Contents
What is Zigbee2MQTT?
Zigbee2mqtt is an open-source software project that allows you to use inexpensive Zigbee devices with any home automation system without the vendor’s bridge or gateway. It bridges events and allows you to control your Zigbee devices via MQTT.
In simple words, it acts as a translator between Zigbee devices and a MQTT broker. It supports all major brands using the Zigbee protocol, including Philips Hue, IKEA TRADFRI, Xiaomi Aqara, and many more.
How Zigbee2MQTT Works
Zigbee2mqtt requires a Zigbee gateway like CC2652 to be plugged into your system. This gateway connects to your Zigbee mesh network wirelessly. The Zigbee2mqtt software runs locally and connects to the CC2652 stick using serial over USB.
It translates Zigbee messages received from the mesh network into MQTT messages. These MQTT messages are then published to an MQTT broker like Mosquitto which can be accessed by other home automation platforms. Commands can be sent to Zigbee devices by publishing MQTT messages to control topics.
This allows your Zigbee devices to integrate with any software that supports MQTT like Home Assistant without the need for proprietary hubs or bridges.
Advantages of using Zigbee2MQTT
Here are some of the key advantages of using Zigbee2MQTT:
- Works with a wide range of inexpensive Zigbee devices from different manufacturers. You don’t need to stick with a single brand’s ecosystem.
- Provides local control of devices without relying on vendor’s cloud services. Your device data stays private.
- Allows integrating Zigbee devices directly with home automation platforms like Home Assistant using MQTT. Removes dependency on proprietary bridges/hubs.
- More reliable Zigbee network handling compared to bridges provided by vendors. Automatically manages network health and repairs.
- Allows advanced features like binding devices directly, building scenes, and automations across vendors.
- Active open-source community provides quick support, bug fixes, and new feature additions.
- Easy to get started using the friendly UI, ample documentation, and active community forums.
- Highly customizable to suit your specific needs – encryption, advanced Zigbee config, custom MQTT topics, etc.
- Regular updates and maintenance ensure support for new devices and standards.
So in summary, Zigbee2MQTT provides flexibility, reliability, privacy, and interoperability compared to locked-down single-vendor bridges. The open-source nature ensures transparency and continuous improvements as well.
Difference between Zigbee and MQTT
Zigbee and MQTT are two different technologies that serve different purposes:
- Zigbee is a protocol for low-power local mesh networks typically used for IoT and smart home devices like lights, sensors, etc. It defines how Zigbee-compatible devices communicate with each other directly over a wireless mesh network.
- MQTT is a publish-subscribe-based messaging protocol commonly used in IoT and M2M communication. It allows remote devices to publish data to topics that can be subscribed to by other clients.
The key differences are:
- Zigbee operates on a local mesh network, while MQTT uses TCP/IP and can work over WANs like the internet.
- Zigbee deals with low-level device-to-device communication, and MQTT focuses on data transmission between remote clients and brokers.
- Zigbee has security and networking specifications included, and MQTT relies on underlying network security like TLS.
- MQTT uses a topic/subscription model allowing 1 to many propagation of data. Zigbee has no inherent publish-subscribe model.
Zigbee handles local device networking while MQTT enables remote client communication. Zigbee2MQTT bridges these two technologies allowing Zigbee devices to transmit data to remote systems over MQTT.
Setting up Zigbee2MQTT
To use Zigbee2mqtt, you will need:
- A Zigbee USB coordinator dongle with the CC2652 chip
- A computer or Raspberry Pi to run the Zigbee2mqtt software
- Zigbee-compatible devices like smart bulbs, sensors, switches, etc.
Best Zigbee2MQTT Coordinators
Zigbee2MQTT supports any coordinator that is based on the Texas Instruments CC2652/CC1352 chip.
The CC2652 is the most popular and affordable Zigbee stick for this project. It provides a good range and supports all the necessary features.
In my personal experience, the Conbee II has performed the best for me in Zigbee2MQTT but I would also highly recommend the SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus ZBDongle-P as it can easily be flashed to support Thread and run custom firmware to turn it into a Zigbee router to extend your network.
- A machine running Linux, Windows or MacOS
- Docker or Node.js installed to run Zigbee2mqtt
- MQTT broker (e.g. Mosquitto) for integration
Docker provides the simplest setup, while Node.js allows more customization if needed. The MQTT broker is required for publishing data to other platforms.
If you use Home Assistant then using the Zigbee2MQTT and MQTT broker addons will be the easiest way to get started.
- Get a CC2652 USB stick. Flash it with custom firmware for Zigbee2mqtt compatibility.
- Install Docker and Docker Compose on your machine.
- Create a docker-compose.yml file for Zigbee2mqtt and MQTT broker.
- Connect CC2652 stick and start containers using docker-compose up.
- Accept zigbee2mqtt pairing requests on your devices.
- (Optional) Integrate MQTT data with Home Assistant or other platforms.
Follow my Zigbee2MQTT guide for Home Assistant for detailed instructions on how to install and configure Zigbee2MQTT.
Out of the box, Zigbee2mqtt publishes data to MQTT in a Home Assistant friendly format. This allows easy integration with Home Assistant for automations and control.
Other common integrations include:
- Node-RED: For visual programming and automation flows.
- Grafana: Build custom dashboards and graphs.
- InfluxDB: Time series database for sensor data.
The docker-compose file provides a basic setup. But Zigbee2mqtt has tons of options for advanced users:
- Network encryption keys for security
- Device-specific options and overrides
- Advanced Zigbee options for experimenters
- Publishing MQTT data to custom topics
- Integrated Home Assistant discovery
Check the documentation for details on all the available options.
Once running, Zigbee2mqtt will automatically discover and connect with nearby supported Zigbee devices. You can view and control the paired devices from the Zigbee2mqtt frontend.
Clicking on a device allows changing settings like friendly names, icons, etc. You can also find useful info like the model, Zigbee endpoints, etc.
Zigbee2mqtt publishes data from all paired devices to MQTT topics. For example, motion sensor events, temperature readings, button clicks, etc.
This data can be used for automation and visualization. You can watch the MQTT traffic directly using a tool like MQTT Explorer.
You can configure Zigbee2mqtt to add devices into custom groups. For example, to group all motion sensors or lights on a particular floor.
Groups allow controlling multiple devices together, e.g. turning off all lights on the top floor. This is more convenient than managing each device individually.
The default port used by Zigbee2MQTT is 8080. This allows accessing the frontend web UI by going to http://[ip]:8080 in your browser.
Some key points about the Zigbee2MQTT port:
- The port can be changed by setting the PORT environment variable in the docker run command or docker-compose file. For example:
environment: - PORT=8085
- If you change the port, make sure to update any integrations or links using the old port.
- Port 8080 is common for home automation services as it is an alternative HTTP port that is normally not used by other applications.
- The port only allows accessing the frontend/UI. The underlying MQTT broker runs on the default port 1883 and is accessed internally by Zigbee2MQTT.
- You may need to open or forward the chosen port on your router for external access if required.
- If running on a service like Zigbee2MQTT Hass.io add-on, the port will be managed by the addon configuration.
So in summary, 8080 is the standard port but can be customized if needed. Just make sure to update integrations, port forwarding, etc. to match any changes. The MQTT broker itself always runs on the fixed port 1883.
frontend: true to your configuration.yaml file will enable the Zigbee2MQTT frontend from where you can see the attached devices.
Additional options and settings include:
- Create and manage device groups
- View your Zigbee network map
- Manage OTA firmware updates
- View detail logs
A key benefit of Zigbee2mqtt is enabling automation across different vendors and devices. There are two main approaches:
- Use Home Assistant automations by integrating Zigbee2mqtt as MQTT. React to MQTT messages from sensors.
- Create rules directly in Zigbee2mqtt using plugins like Node-RED. This allows automation without Home Assistant.
Automations can be designed to suit your specific needs. Some examples include:
- Turn on hall lights at sunset
- Flash front porch lights when a door opens
- Notify on smoke alarm activation
Tips for troubleshooting Zigbee2MQTT
Here are some tips if you are running into issues with your Zigbee2mqtt setup:
- Check logs from the Zigbee2mqtt frontend or using
docker logs. Look for warnings or errors.
- Try resetting the network cache if devices are not pairing using the reset button the CC2652.
- Ensure the CC2652 stick is fully compatible and flashed with the latest firmware.
- Delete old Zigbee2mqtt data and do a clean re-pairing of all devices.
- Post questions on the Zigbee2mqtt forum or GitHub discussions for help.
- As a last resort, backup your configuration and do a fresh re-install of Zigbee2mqtt.
Zigbee2mqtt provides a locally controlled Zigbee to MQTT bridge for smart home automation. It simplifies integrating a wide range of Zigbee devices across different vendors with systems like Home Assistant. With cheap CC2652 hardware, easy setup via Docker, and tons of customizations, it’s a great way to build your smart home automation system.
What hardware do I need to run Zigbee2MQTT?
You need a Zigbee USB dongle like the CC2652, a computer to run the software, and Zigbee-compatible devices. The CC2652 is inexpensive and works well.
How do I integrate Zigbee2mqtt with Home Assistant?
Zigbee2mqtt publishes data to MQTT topics that are automatically discovered by Home Assistant. So just installing the Mosquitto add-on and Zigbee2mqtt is enough, no other integration is needed.
Is Zigbee2mqtt better than proprietary hubs?
Yes, Zigbee2mqtt is more flexible and reliable compared to locked-down proprietary hubs from vendors. It gives you local control allowing easy integration with different systems.
What can you do with Zigbee2mqtt automations?
You can create complex trigger-action automations like flashing lights on motion detection, sending notifications on smoke alarm triggers, temperature-based control, and much more.
What troubleshooting tips should I follow with Zigbee2MQTT?
Start with checking logs for errors, re-pair devices after resetting the network cache, ensure CC2652 is fully compatible, delete old data, and do a clean re-install if needed. Seeking help from the community is also useful.