HomeHome AutomationI wish I had known about the SMLIGHT ZigBee/Thread Coordinators sooner!

I wish I had known about the SMLIGHT ZigBee/Thread Coordinators sooner!

Incredibly easy to use ZigBee/Thread coordinators

Without them emailing me, I would have never heard about SMLIGHT and their selection of ZigBee coordinators and other devices. I’m grateful for pointing my attention to the Kyiv-based company that offers a wide range of smart devices to add flair to your home automation. As they focus on DIY solutions, it didn’t take me long to get interested and the company sent me a care package with some pretty interesting devices.

ZigBee coordinators and more

The parcel shipped to me contained a couple of SMLIGHT ZigBee coordinators, an LED controller and an LED strip to test it. Considering that I was only expecting one of their PoE-enabled ZigBee coordinators to arrive – it gave me a lot to talk about and hopefully advise you which one is for you. You watch my excitement in the #TechDrop short below:

Given the fact, that I covered several different coordinators in the past (namely from Sonoff and Electrolama) I was keen enough to try a PoE-enabled dongle. There was one problem. I don’t have a PoE-enabled switch. A quick Amazon search got me a 5-port switch from TP-Link that hopefully does the job.

My first task was to identify the beefy SMLIGHT coordinators and learn their specs, as the box contained identical-looking products:

SMLIGHT – perfect for beginners

When I started my adventure with ZigBee, things were unnecessarily complex. From the beginning, I advised others to try inexpensive coordinators based on CC2531 as they were cheap as chips and, therefore perfect for “giving it a go”. In hindsight, they were hard to flash, complex to manage and other than costing less than $5 there wasn’t much going for it.

When I moved to the Sonoff ZigBee dongle, things got slightly better, but the whole firmware fiasco made me fall back on quite an expensive Electrolama coordinator instead. While Sonoff ZigBee Dongle is usable now, I’d like to completely change my recommendation on where to start, if you can spend around $30 on the only ZigBee coordinator you will ever need.

SMLIGHT range in detail

SMLIGHT SMZB-06 product line looks rather serious, almost industrial design with a black shroud that houses the electronics inside. Each SMLIGHT coordinator has a button, USB-C (yes!) port and RJ45 port to enable Ethernet and PoE (on supported models). They come with a 150mm antenna and the plastic enclosure can be fixed to surfaces with screw mounts. Each box also contained a small pouch with USB-C to micro USB adapter, screws and 3M pads.

SMZB-07 is less impressive looking, as it reminds me of the Electrolama stick. It plugs directly into the USB and features no buttons. It’s also certified for Matter and Thread alongside the ZigBee.

A1-SLWF-03 controller is a small PCB that provides WiFi, IR and sound-reactive controls to addressable LED strips. It can be powered via a USB-C port, but for longer strips, a dedicated DC jack is also embedded into the shell.

Rapid development

Over just weeks, the SMZB-06 series had multiple firmware revisions bringing Matter and Thread (experimental for now) support. It’s hard not to be impressed with how quickly devs behind SMLight dish out features and support for protocols. In my experience with other coordinators, updates were less frequent and often dropped months between them.


SMLIGHT has agreed to give away a couple of coordinators so that you could get your hands on one! Simply fill out the form below to register your interest and I will pick the winner in one of my upcoming livestreams. You can rewatch the stream and see me suffer brain-dead moments in JS here.

One of the original winners has not responded to my email and I the 3rd winner is Nick D from UK (picked at random outside of the livestream)

Which SMLIGHT ZigBee Coordinator is for you?

SLZB-06 series

Each SMLIGHT SMZB-06 dongle is made from 2 main ICs. ESP32 is responsible for the WiFi component (and likely Ethernet integration) and the same ESP32-D0WDQ5 IC is shared across all sticks.

The ZigBee IC varies according to the product model number:

CoordinatorZigBee IC

While there are technical differences in each ZigBee IC – namely the newer ZigBee chipsets can support bigger networks etc, in reality, you are unlikely to see major differences when it comes to your home automation. Each one is perfectly capable of dealing with an average home. Decide in advance if you’d like the support for PoE

SLZB-07 series

An easy-to-use SMZB-07 Coordinator supports multiple protocols: ZigBee/Matter/Thread and the switchover is as easy as connecting the device to your PC and selecting the firmware from the list in the web browser:

Unlike the SNZB-06 series, this coordinator doesn’t come with a web interface and the usage resembles more Sonoff Dongle or Electrolama. It’s the least expensive one – and it’s recommended if you are just getting started with something like Raspberry Pi.

A1-SLWF-03 LED controller

The last device in my box was the LED controller running ESP32 and WLED firmware. It’s a very neat controller that apart from the web interface, offers microphone-driven input and IR receiver for the universal IR remotes.

A1-SLWF-03 can be powered by USB-C and a DC Jack that supports 5-24V – enough to drive longer LED strips. To interface with LED strips a small 4-pin terminal is exposed on one end. VCC, GND and DATA pins are pre-configures, leaving you with a spare GPIO17 which can be used to drive other LED strips.

SMLight has included a 5m RGB strip which I promptly connected to A1-SLWF-03 and powered it all off the 12V charger. You can see it flashing in the background as I speak in some of my videos alongside the DIY SMD LED matrix present on my shelf. Thanks to WLED libraries, the device allows you to group and sync up multiple units and create really nice light effects without writing your own software.

Getting started

It’s nice to see very well-written documentation for SMLIGHT products. This completely removed the guesswork from getting started. What’s impressive (and something I have not come across before) is that each coordinator had their own web interface: smzb-06.local (product_name.local). Call me easily impressed, but after messing about with firmware, terminal commands and countless configurations logging into SMLIGHT coordinator felt like a breath of fresh air.

The interface offers everything you will ever need in a nicely laid-out interface. The settings and features are simply mind-blowing, from one-click updates and switching over from coordinator to router roles to interactive settings generators for Z2M and Z2H. Keeping your coordinator up-to-date and setting it up was never this easy!

The web interface also offers network configuration, VPN settings and other toggles that will make the use of the coordinator and setting it up a breeze. This is probably the most impressive aspect of SMLIGHT coordinators, and just like discovering the ZigBee2MQTT Dashboard, it’s one of these things that makes managing my home ZigBee network so much easier.

Some testing

A ZigBee coordinator is only as good as its performance, so how does it stack against previously used by me, units? I spun up a new instance of Node-RED on a spare node from my Super6C Cluster of CM4 and installed ZigBee2MQTT and mosquitto. Considering the size of my flat, and the size of the antenna on SMZB-06, I expect no range issues. I will leave my competing ZigBee network running to make it slightly harder.

The configuration of my Z2M was very simple. I opened the Z2M helper screen in the web interface of SMZB-06 and copied fields across to configuration.yaml. I started the service and I was ready to pair my first ZigBee device.

I picked 2 Sonoff Temperature and Humidity sensors as my first victims, and I paired them with the coordinator. I have never seen a ZigBee device pair this quickly. I have added 2 at the same time and both were added and configured in about 6 seconds! I don’t even know what to say!

It was time to leave it running for 24 hours and see if I saw any troubles. My first run was done over PoE – if I’m completely honest unless going WiFi – I see no point in dragging another cable if you already have a PoE compatible switch or engaging WiFi and crossing channels with ZigBee – the biggest advantage of this coordinator is the fact that you can manage it all with a single cable.

In both cases, I had no dropped data from sensors. I came across feedback online claiming that someone encountered interference in WiFi mode, but as I was running a newer firmware update, this issue did not surface in my testing.

Note on Thread

In recent updates, the Thread protocol has been unlocked through a firmware update. The support covers Home Assistant, but as I use NodeRED at home, I wasn’t able to test these. After playing with the SLZB-06 series for some time, I have very little doubt that these would be a bad choice when you want to switch to Thread and future your house.

Final thoughts

I had a great time with SMLIGHT coordinators using their products I’ll be adding these to my main server soon. As a bonus, it feels great to know that profits go to a team of people in Ukraine. They made a great product and if you are looking for a more robust coordinator (even if it may be a total overkill for your home network) it’s money well spent. Let me know if you used these before and what you think about the SMLIGHT offering in this Reddit thread.

🆓 – See the transparency note for details.


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