Home Assistant SkyConnect

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The Home Assistant SkyConnect is the easiest way to add Zigbee support to your Home Assistant instance!

Home Assistant SkyConnect is a USB adapter which adds Zigbee connectivity and Thread*- the mesh networking protocol that will power Matter, the new standard for smart home devices.

Compatible with the Raspberry Pi and other Home Assistant-supported Linux devices such as the Home Assistant Green, the Home Assistant Sky Connect will allow you to easily set up and use Zigbee sensors and devices with your Home Assistant install, allowing even more automation and integration options for your home.

The adapter uses the same Silicon Labs chip used in the Home Assistant Yellow device (Silabs EFR32MG21). A USB extension cable is included in the package to avoid interference caused by USB 3.0 ports.

*The Home Assistant SkyConnect will not support Thread/Matter on launch however will be updated via HomeAssistant once Matter has been released.

Why include a USB cable?

USB 3.0 ports (the ones with blue on the inside) are known to cause significant noise and radio interference to any 2.4Ghz wireless device. This includes Zigbee and Thread.

If you do not use the extension cable, it may not work at all, and if it does, it could be flakey at best with intermittent problems (issues with pairing, device dropouts, unreachable devices, timeout errors etc). For this reason, an extension cable is included to ensure the best possible performance.

What is Thread?

From threadgroup.org...Thread is a wireless networking technology, built from the ground up to be based on the familiar Internet Protocol and the proven IEEE 802.15.4 radio technology.

It was designed to specifically accommodate the needs of IoT devices by addressing all of the following requirements: low power footprint, low latency, ability to work with any and multiple application layers, reliable and robust network with a self-healing mesh eliminating single point of failures (the more devices on the network, the stronger the network is) easy to set up and without the need for a dedicated hub or gateway.

In a similar fashion to Wi-Fi, Thread as a networking technology is not restricted to a particular application standard. We call that “application-agnostic”. For example, Thread works with Matter, HomeKit, Weave, DALI, KNX, BACnet, and OCF

What is Matter?

From threadgroup.org...Matter is a new home and building connectivity standard that is being developed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance and backed by well-known brands including Amazon, Apple, Google, and many other companies.

Its aim is to unify the best of the smart home technologies into a single application framework standard with IP as the backbone. This will make it easier for manufacturers to create products that will work with a variety of ecosystems and voice assistants, like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and others. A device might offer Matter compatibility alongside support for other protocols or ecosystems. End users will be able to look for the Matter certification logo on a product to ensure compatibility with their smart home ecosystem or ecosystems of choice.

Matter is fully based on the Internet Protocol and will initially work over both Wi-Fi (offering high-bandwidth applications like video security, mostly on mains-powered devices) and Thread (offering low-power or battery-operated devices in a self-healing mesh network, extending reach and reliability), while Bluetooth Low Energy can be used for setup and configuration of devices.

What is the current status of Multiprotocol support?

When Nabu Casa launched Home Assistant SkyConnect, they announced their intent to release a firmware supporting multiprotocol, which allows the Silicon Labs chip to connect to both Zigbee and Thread networks with one radio. This experimental firmware has been available since December 2022. It integrates the Silicon Labs SDK, which adds this support for multiprotocol. During the further development and testing of the multiprotocol firmware, Nabu Casa have concluded that while Silicon Labs' multiprotocol works, it comes with technical limitations. These limitations mean users will not have the best experience compared to using dedicated Zigbee and Thread radios. That is why we do not recommend using this firmware, and it will remain an experimental feature of Home Assistant SkyConnect. If you currently have the multiprotocol firmware installed but don't actively use it to connect to Thread devices, we recommend that you disable multiprotocol.

Nothing changes for current users of the multiprotocol firmware who are happy with their experience. The experimental multiprotocol firmware will remain available, but we will not recommend it to new users. Instead, we will focus on making sure the dedicated Zigbee and Thread firmwares for Home Assistant SkyConnect deliver the best experience to users.

Also see:

Features

  • USB 2.0 Zigbee and Thread adapter
  • Works with Home Assistant and Zigbee2MQTT
  • Future proof and updateable - updates delivered via Home Assistant
  • Reliable range - +20 dBm
  • Zero Setup & Plug n' play - Automatically detected by Home Assistant
  • Over-The-Wire (OTW) update support via USB

Specifications

  • Radio Chipset: Silabs EFR32MG21
  • Frequency: 2.4GHz
  • TX power: up to +20dBm
  • Antenna: PCB
  • Protocols: Zigbee, Thread (Matter)
  • USB:
    • 2.0 full-speed
    • Silicon labs CP2102N USB-to-UART bridge
  • Supply: 5V DC, up to 150mA
  • Form Factor:
    • Width: 18mm
    • Height: 4.5mm
    • Depth: 38.5mm
    • Weight: 4g

Package Contents

  • 1x Home Assistant SkyConnect USB Adapter
  • 1x USB extension cable

Resources

Revision History

  • On 31/01/2024 we updated this page's wording to clarify developments with multiprotocol as communicated to us by Nabu Casa

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