As I've reported in an earlier article, Home Assistant Core 1.0 is almost upon us and should make its first appearance in no more than a week. This major release won't just add new integrations, but also improve those already in place. ZHA (Zigbee Home Automation), which is Home Assistant's native Zigbee integration, will see the inclusion of a Network Visualization to the ZHA config panel once Home Assistant Core 1.0 hits.
Previously, users of ZHA had to either use the ZHA Network Visualization (zha-network-visualization-card) card or the ZHA Map (zha-map) card to achieve something similar in Home Assistant. But, as we've seen in the past, when a custom feature or integration reaches a certain popularity, it is likely to be integrated into Home Assistant Core as a native feature, making it easier to use for all.
How the ZHA Network Visualization works
The ZHA Network Visualization's appearance will be similar to the two custom cards mentioned above. You will be able to see all of your individual Zigbee nodes and how they are connected to one another. The ZHA Network Visualization will tell you what type of device each node is and whether it is on- or offline.
You will also be able to see which Zigbee nodes in ZHA are end devices and which nodes are routers. In a Zigbee network, certain devices, mainly those that are battery-powered, are so-called end devices. This type of Zigbee node is only capable of sending commands, but not receiving them. The reasoning behind it is simple, most remotes, buttons, motion sensors, and temperature sensors will only ever send Zigbee commands to conserve energy.
Routers, on the other hand, are devices that can both send and receive commands, making your Zigbee network a mesh network. Most Zigbee devices which are connected to the mains have routing capabilities. These include smart plugs, light bulbs, LED strips, repeaters, and more.
With the ZHA Network Visualization, you will be able to tell why certain devices might be lagging or frequently disconnecting from your network. The network map will show you which end devices are located too far away from any of your repeaters. An end device which is connected to multiple routers is the best-case scenario. If an end device has a weak connection and is only connected to a single router, you might consider installing a Zigbee router between the two.
Improvements to the ZHA Network Visualization are already in the works
The ZHA Network Visualization will presumably be rather basic at launch. It will show you your nodes, how they are connected, and device-specific information. A likely upcoming change to the ZHA Network Visualization will be the possibility to filter and zoom to a certain node. Apart from that, I haven't been able to find any other PRs relating to the ZHA Network Visualization.
The Network Visualization is another win for ZHA
The development of the ZHA integration with Home Assistant accelerating at an incredible rate. Native network visualization is something that has been in the works for Zigbee2MQTT for some time now. As things stand, the best option is still the third-party software Zigbee2MQTT Assistant. Obviously, there are still convincing arguments for choosing Zigbee2MQTT over ZHA, but ZHA's development is definitely closing in.