The dawn of Home Assistant Core 1.0 is fast approaching, with its arrival anticipated in just a week's time. This significant update promises not only new integrations, but also enhancements to existing ones. Among these improvements, the ZHA (Zigbee Home Automation) – Home Assistant's native Zigbee integration – will be enriched with a Network Visualization feature in the ZHA configuration panel. Before this upgrade, ZHA users had two options for similar functionality: the ZHA Network Visualization card or the ZHA Map card. However, as history has shown, popular custom features and integrations have a knack for becoming native components in Home Assistant Core. This transition makes them more accessible and user-friendly for the broader community.
Unveiling the ZHA Network Visualization
The ZHA Network Visualization's design will bear a striking resemblance to the two custom cards previously mentioned. Through this visualization, you'll be able to view each individual Zigbee node and their connections. It will also indicate the device type of each node and whether it is online or offline.
End Devices and Routers in ZHA
Additionally, you'll be able to discern which Zigbee nodes in ZHA function as end devices and which serve as routers. In a Zigbee network, certain devices, primarily battery-powered ones, operate as end devices. These nodes can only send commands, not receive them, which is an energy-saving feature ideal for remotes, buttons, motion sensors, and temperature sensors.
In contrast, routers are devices capable of both sending and receiving commands, enabling the formation of a mesh network in your Zigbee system. Most Zigbee devices connected to the mains possess routing capabilities, including smart plugs, light bulbs, LED strips, repeaters, and more.
Troubleshooting with ZHA Network Visualization
The ZHA Network Visualization assists in identifying potential issues within your network. By analysing the network map, you can pinpoint end devices situated too far from repeaters, causing lag or disconnections. An end device should optimally be connected to multiple routers. If an end device has a weak connection and is linked to just one router, you might consider installing a Zigbee router between them for better performance.
Initial Launch of ZHA Network Visualization
Upon its release, the ZHA Network Visualization is expected to be relatively basic, displaying nodes, their connections, and device-specific information. One potential update in the pipeline is the ability to filter and zoom to a specific node. Beyond this, no other related developments have been identified at the moment.
ZHA Gains Momentum with Network Visualization
The ZHA integration with Home Assistant is rapidly progressing. Native network visualization has been a sought-after feature, especially since it has been in development for Zigbee2MQTT for some time. Currently, the top choice for this functionality is the third-party software Zigbee2MQTT Assistant. While there are valid reasons for selecting Zigbee2MQTT over ZHA, the continuous development and improvements to ZHA are steadily closing the gap between the two options.