What Is Zigbee And How Does It Work?

Whether you’re looking to reduce your monthly energy bills or improve your quality of life, home automation systems offer many tangible benefits.

If you choose to install smart lighting, security sensors, or door locks, the different types of appliances you connect to your smart home hub must be able to communicate with one another.

With protocols like Zigbee, it becomes possible for all the smart devices in your home to work together. In this article, we will delve into what Zigbee is and how it works.

What Is Zigbee?

Zigbee is a type of wireless technology that’s designed specifically to make it easy for your smart devices to communicate with each other. It’s mainly used with home automation systems that connect devices like smart door locks, smart hubs, and smart thermostats among others.

When Zigbee is operational, your smart devices will be able to exchange important pieces of information without using up much power. Smart devices transmit tiny amounts of data almost constantly, which is why a protocol like Zigbee must be in place and it uses less energy than other forms of wireless technology.

But keep in mind that a smart home hub still needs to be the intermediary between your smart home devices and your router.

How Does Zigbee Work?

When you install a Zigbee device, you must have a compatible smart home hub. The hub then works to create the Zigbee network, which ensures that all of your smart devices are connected to the home network.

Zigbee networks come with a peer-to-peer connection, which means that your smart devices don’t need to be in close range to a router or other piece of network hardware to connect.

Let’s say that you put your Zigbee hub in the main bedroom. If you have a larger home that consists of smart lights on the other side of the property, the device won’t necessarily be in the range of the hub.

However, you won’t need to install an additional hub. Instead, the lighting system only needs to be within range of another smart device that can extend to the smart home hub. Zigbee creates a mesh network that makes every smart home device act as a router.

The primary features of Zigbee include:

  • Stochastic Addressing – This is a type of mechanism that’s used to address conflict resolution when devices communicate with one another.
  • Link Management – Every node must maintain a certain level of quality when it comes to linking with other nodes.
  • Frequency Agility – When a node receives any amount of interference, it will automatically report to the channel manager, which will then choose another channel.
  • Asymmetric Link – All nodes have different sensitivities and methods of transmitting power.
  • Power Management – Coordinators and routers use main power, while end devices run on batteries.

Why Is Zigbee Essential For A Smart Home?

Zigbee is highly important for many smart homes because of its superior connectivity. It’s more reliable than other protocols while being more convenient than traditional Wi-Fi connections.

Without Zigbee, your smart home devices would be unable to communicate with one another, which would negate one of the main benefits of converting your house into a smart home.

READ MORE: Zigbee Compatible Sensors For Your Smart Home Setup

Zigbee Specifications

The Zigbee technology is comprised of several specifications, which are built directly on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard.

  • Zigbee PRO – This specification accommodates reliable networks that facilitate device-to-device communication.
  • Zigbee RF4CE – The RF4CE specification is ideal for devices that don’t require full mesh networking functionality.
  • Zigbee IP – This type of specification is suitable for IPv6-based mesh networks and is designed to effortlessly control low-cost and low-power devices.

Types of Zigbee Devices

There are three primary types of Zigbee devices, which are detailed below.

  • Zigbee Coordinator Device – The coordinator device communicates with routers to connect all smart devices.
  • Zigbee Router – You’ll find that the router passes data between all devices.
  • Zigbee End Device – The end device is the one that’s controlled.

Zigbee Network Topology

There are three aspects of the Zigbee network topology that you should be aware of, which include the following:

  • Star Topology – This form of topology is comprised of several end devices and a communicator. The end devices only communicate with the coordinator.
  • Mesh Topology – Mesh topology comes with just one coordinator alongside several end devices and routers.
  • Tree Topology – With tree topology, your network will have a central node that contains a single coordinator, numerous end devices, and a few routers.

Benefits of Zigbee on Home Automation

The main advantages of installing Zigbee in your home are:

  • Reduced power consumption
  • Easy implementation
  • Powerful mesh network topology
  • Designed with reliability in mind
  • Cost-effective technology makes it better than most alternatives

Some Limitations of Zigbee

Like all protocols, there are a few issues with Zigbee, which include the following:

  • The relatively limited range might be an issue in larger buildings
  • Security features aren’t as extensive as other protocols
  • Doesn’t support high-speed data transfer

Zigbee vs. Other Wireless Technologies

Before you start using the Zigbee protocol at home, you might want to know how it stacks up against other wireless technologies.

Is Zigbee Better than Z-Wave and Wi-Fi?

Two of the more commonly used alternatives to Zigbee include Z-Wave and Wi-Fi. While Z-Wave and Zigbee are both wireless technologies, they are different. For example, Zigbee runs at high frequencies of 2.4 GHz. In comparison, Z-Wave operates at 900 MHz, which makes interference more likely. Zigbee can also support more devices. The main issue with Zigbee is that it uses more power than Z-Wave.

When looking specifically at Wi-Fi, Zigbee uses considerably less electricity. Zigbee devices can connect with all devices in the mesh network, which means that a single connection node failing doesn’t cause the entire system to fail.

Are Zigbee Devices Compatible with Other Smart Home Ecosystems?

Zigbee devices have high compatibility with other smart home ecosystems which include Amazon and Apple. However, you’ll likely need an app to pair the Zigbee devices with the smart home hub.

Which Smart Home Devices Have Zigbee?

Zigbee maintains high compatibility because of the Zigbee Alliance, which is the organization that aims to streamline wireless product integration. They focus on making standards for secure, low-power, and reliable wireless communication. With this alliance, Zigbee devices from separate manufacturers can work together. Zigbee-certified products include everything related to smart homes, including many Aqara devices.

Zigbee is a powerful protocol that makes it easy for your smart home devices to remain connected. If you’re still designing your smart home system, you should first obtain a protocol like Zigbee that your smart appliances can effortlessly connect to.

Aqara is a reliable provider of smart home devices that can help you find the best and most convenient solutions for your home. Go to the “Where to Buy” page to check out Aqara products near you.

Scroll to Top

Please select your country/regions


North America

Select another country or region to get content and online shopping options that apply to your location


Shop Holiday Deals: Enjoy 30% off selected items on Amazon now! Learn More