Solutions

While there are a variety of problems to watch out for with wireless communications, there are relatively few solutions so we’ll start with those.

Router / Repeaters – Adding a router/repeater is the most common solution to communication problems. Device may be too far from existing router/repeaters and controller. Or existing router/repeaters may have already reached their maximum number of children and refuse to route any more devices.

Spacing – If mounting device on metal surface, adding a small amount of space between device and metal can significantly improve range. For example use 1/8” thick double sided foam tape between device and metal surface.

Installation

Taking the time to test before install and set up warning events can be worth the effort.

Join to network – Join the device and test its ability to report events (for example button press on doorbell) before moving to install location.

Move to install location – Device may need a minute to find a new routing path when it is moved from where it was joined to where it will be installed.

Test device – If possible, test the device’s ability to report events from farther away than it is planned to be installed. That will help confirm that it’s not at the edge of its range and susceptible to intermittent problems where you install it.

Set up warnings – Go to programming section and use events for battery and communication quality to email yourself when problems occur. See Event – Communication Quality in Control4 Composer section (below) for more information.

Batteries

Wireless communication is the main cause of battery use in our devices. When devices have trouble communicating they can have extra communication which can reduce battery life. It is important to have good ZigBee signal strength between device and controller or router to make sure batteries will last for rated amount of time. Certain scenarios can reduce battery life.

Out of range – Device should be left from the network (13 tap) if it is going to be unable to communicate with controller. ZigBee devices periodically check in to their network. If the network can’t be found then the device may use extra power while looking for the network.

Edge of range – If device is at edge of range a variety of issues can cause extra power use.

Changing routers – when at edge of range, small changes for example opening or closing a door can cause device to waste power while it changes routing paths.

Failed messages – When message transmission fails, devices may resend the message. These resends can be hard to notice so our drivers have catches for them and trigger events so you can email yourself when problems occur. See Control4 Composer (below) for more information.

Attenuating Materials

There are a variety of objects that can reduce the strength and subsequently the range of devices using ZigBee wireless communication.

Walls – Particularly if they are thick or if the signal has to go diagonally through them.

Glass – Certain types of glass can reflect ZigBee signals for example low-E metalized glass.

Metal – If mounting device on metal surface, adding a small amount of space between device and metal can significantly improve range. For example use 1/8” thick double sided foam tape between device and metal surface.

Control4 Composer

All our drivers for devices that use ZigBee communication have features to help catch communication problems that can reduce battery life.

Routing Tree – To see your network’s routing tree in Control4 Composer go to Tools – Network Tools – ZigBee Network – Routing Tree.

Detective Suite – To see a graph of your network’s communication health in Control4 Composer go to Tools – Detective Suite – ZigBee.

Property – Debug Mode – Set property ‘Debug Mode’ to ‘Print’ to display data from the device in the Lua tab. It changes to ‘Off’ after 4 hours to conserve resources. If communication problems are caught by the driver they will be displayed here. There are a variety of messages to watch out for, all of which can be symptoms of device needing to be closer to a router or controller because the current setup is causing extra drain of batteries.

Debug – No messages – If a report is triggered in a device (for example button press on doorbell) and nothing shows up in the Lua window, the controller may not be receiving the report from the device.

Debug – Duplicate messages – If the driver sees duplicate messages from a device it will give debug message that duplicate was ignored.

Debug – Reboot / Online – If device is having trouble communicating, sometimes because routing paths are changing it may send identity packets which can cause the controller to report that device is rebooting or coming online.

Property – Communication Status – This property is changed from ‘Normal’ to ‘Warning’ to ‘Error’ when too many duplicate messages are received by controller in a short time. When there have been no duplicate messages for a while it is changed back to ‘Normal’.

Property – Reset Communication Status – Set this property to reset to reset property – ‘Communication Status’ and 1 fire locks on events ‘Communication Quality – Warning’ and ‘Communication Quality – Error’. This reset also happens automatically if there have been no duplicate messages for 24 hours.

Event – Communication Quality – Warning – See below

Event – Communication Quality – Error – These ‘warning’ and ‘error’ events are fired once each when property – ‘Communication Status’ changes from ‘Normal’ to ‘Warning’ and ‘Error’ respectively. They will not be fired again until communication status changes back to normal and locks are reset which happens when 24 hours have passed without the driver detecting any communication problems. See ‘Property – Reset Communication Status’ to manually trigger this reset.

Summary

Regardless of the problem, a good first step is moving the device closer to the controller and then testing it. Checking the debug log can provide some insight and if you email the log to tech support it will make it easier for them to help you. Resetting power and leaving / re-joining the device to the network can help clean up minor problems. The most common fix is adding a router/repeater between the problematic device and the nearest router/repeater or controller.