Adding Zigbee to Home Assistant on QNAP TS-251 with Container Station

QNAP TS-251 NAS devices, like most devices, don’t have Zigbee available by default. Logically that means that Home Assistant won’t work with Zigbee until you add the Zigbee protocol to the NAS device it’s running on.

There are many hubs that can communicate to Home Assistant via WiFi that offer Zigbee. But will Home Assistant correctly connect to the device since it’s going through a hub? Maybe. I’m not sure. I haven’t tried. And honestly – I don’t want to. Using a hub means that you are setting up your devices to what is equivalent to an alternate system of Home Assistant and that you now have to live within that device manufacturers ecosystem at some level. That seems counter-intuitive to the concept of using Home Assistant in my mind. The real goal is to have Home Assistant talking directly to the device via Zigbee.

So to solve this, you just need to add Zigbee to Home Assistant – much like WiFi is already available. That means the QNAP TS-251 needs to be able to talk to the Zigbee protocol directly. And this can be done via a simple USB add-on. These typically are less than $50 and will get Zigbee running on your server quickly! They take a small amount of extra effort to get it integrated into the QNAP NAS as well as to get Home Assistant to talk to it. This tutorial will walk you through those steps and you’ll be up and running in no time!

Zigbee in Home Assistant on a QNAP Container Station setup

Zigbee Coordinator for Home Assistant

There are a few leading products on the market for doing this.

ConBee II

The ConBee II is a very popular option. This offers Zigbee only but comes in a small USB stick size.

conbee II USB Zigbee Coordinator
ConBee II Zigbee USB Stick


The HUSBZB-1 offers both Zigbee and Z-Wave in a USB stick. It’s a bit larger in physical size than the ConBee II, but it is essentially the same price. So if you have the space to fit the slightly larger USB stick into your device, I’d personally suggest this as it gives you the two leading protocols in one device.

HUSBZB-1 USB Zigbee and Z-Wave Stick
HUSBZB-1 USB Zigbee and Z-Wave Stick


The CC2531 is a USB stick that offers the Zigbee protocol. This one comes with a bit more technical setup as typically it doesn’t ship with the zigbee2mqtt firmware. That needs to be flashed to it, typically using a RasbperryPi.

CC2531 ZigBee Sniffer

Researching which Zigbee coordinator to use uncovers a plethora of mixed opinions. Some swear by one vs the other. Everyone’s network, building size/shape, devices used, configuration, etc. is unique and thus it’s very difficult to compare notes at times. The HUSBZB-1 is a compelling device in that it offers both Zigbee and Z-Wave radios in one device at nearly the same price-point as its competitors, which feels like a win win.

NOTE: I initially went with a HUSBZB-1 Zigbee coordinator with the ZHA Home Assistant integration. After several months I found several connection issues and server restarts would result in manual effort being required to get everything working again.

I have since switched to a ConBee II Zigbee coordinator with deCONZ running in Container Station and my issues with the HUSBZB-1 / ZHA setup have gone away. ConBee 2 and deCONZ are reliable, come back online after a server restart, and have been worth the extra effort that integration brought me.

Zigbee Integration Options for Home Assistant

There are three integration options for Home Assistant (that I’m aware of). Depending on which Zigbee coordinator you choose will dictate which integration method you use.

Home Assistant Zigbee Integration by Coordinator

Zigbee CoordinatorZHAdeCONZzigbee2mqtt
ConBee IIYesYesYes
Home Assistant Integration options per Zigbee Coordinator

ZHA (Zigbee Home Automation)

ZHA is a pretty straight-forward integration method. It does have some limitations with some devices, brands, etc. Be sure to read their page before on Home Assistant to know how it will work with your setup.


deCONZ is software specifically designed for communicating with the ConBee II device to expose Zigbee devices. It’s a middle-ware if you will. Depending on your installation method of Home Assistant deCONZ can be integrated into Home Assistant in different ways. But since I’m speaking specifically to using Container Station, you will be limited to one option. You’ll need to run deCONZ somewhere. I’d suggest setting it up in Container Station using the deconzcommunity/deconz container. Once that container is configured and running, you would use the deCONZ integration. All that said, I have not (yet) done this integration myself and thus I don’t have a step by step guide on this process.


To be fully honest and up front, I don’t have sufficient knowledge on this topic to speak too much on how this integration works. It seems to have the greatest cost to entry in that there is more configuration needed to be setup to get this to work. I get the impression that it is the more stable method however, so it may a nice payoff. That is something I may explore at sometime out of curiosity and I can thus update more at that time.

I will say this though. MQTT is a messaging queue system that is lightweight and thus is very popular in the Internet of Things ecosystem. Sensors will send a message to the MQTT broker, which can then push out to many clients. So to set this up, a zigbee2mqtt server will need to be setup – likely in Container Station that can then be the MQTT broker.

Device Types Available to Home Assistant Zigbee Integration Options

Device TypedeCONZZHA
Alarm Control PanelYesYes
Binary SensorYes [1]Yes
Number (analog output)NoYes
SensorYes [2]Yes

[1] deCONZ supports binary sensor types of:

  • Alarm signalling
  • Fire/Smoke detection
  • Open/Close detection
  • Presence detection
  • Vibration detection
  • Water leakage detection

[2] deCONZ supports sensor types of:

  • Air Quality sensor
  • Battery sensor
  • Consumption sensor
  • Daylight
  • Humidity sensor
  • Light level sensor
  • Power sensor
  • Pressure sensor
  • Switches
  • Temperature sensor

Wireless Connection Protocols

A quick note about wireless connection protocols – which is a bit of a tangent to the topic at hand, but good information to know.

The machine you setup Home Assistant most likely has WiFi on it either with a wireless radio or by being hard-wired to your network. By this point you should be familiar with WiFi – it’s the way we get on the internet without those ethernet cords tethering all of our mobile phones and devices to the wall. ;)

But there are other wireless standards that are becoming more and more commonplace in the smart home devices. These alternatives have much lower data rates however they also require far lower power usage. This makes them better choices for smart home devices as the battery life in these many sensors will last longer.

Here are some of the most common standards at this time. (There are some other players out there, but I’m not the expert in the ever changing industry, and just want to touch on the current options that you’ll likely see) [source]

ProtocolFrequencyData RatePower Usage
WiFi2.45 GHz or 5.8 GHz200 MbpsHigh
Zigbee2.4 Ghz250 kbpsLow
Z-Wave900 MHz100 kbpsLow
Common Smart Home Protocols

While WiFi devices would be ideal as there isn’t anything extra you’d need to do to connect them to Home Assistant, that protocol has it’s limitations with the power usage.

Building a Zigbee Network

While Zigbee is a wireless protocol, it’s important to understand the components of the network you are building.

There are three types of hardware that you will need in the network.

  • Coordinator
    • The coordinator builds the network. It is a special router. There can be only one coordinator in a network.
  • Router (optional)
    • The router send traffic to the nodes (devices) on the network. Routers need to be on at all times as they are always listening for traffic and thus consume more power than an End Device. In many situations a router is not needed. For larger networks and areas to cover, or if there are obstructions blocking Zigbee traffic to certain areas of a network, a series of routers can be used to expand the network. Also, each routing device (coordinator or router) can only connect to so many devices and thus routers may be needed to expand the capacity of the network.
  • End Device
    • An end device sends information out to the network. (ie. a contact sensors state changed from opened to closed) End devices are allowed to sleep and thus consume a low amount of power and are able to be battery operated.
Device TypeRequiredNumber Allowed on NetworkRoutes Traffic
End DeviceNo
(though your network won’t do anything…)

Network Interference

Like any wireless communication, there can be interference by metal (ie. HVAC ductwork), walls, water, humans, and distance. Think about where you place your coordinator – it is best to be centrally located so that your end devices can easily communicate. If this isn’t possible you could use routers or even a USB extender for the Zigbee coordinator itself. That said, I tried a ~25 foot USB extender and things just go weird and I wasn’t able to get things to work. As soon as I took the extender out of the mix it worked great. That extender is older, so maybe it’s only good for an older USB standard, or was too long and thus the data integrity over distance was failing. I’m not 100% sure at this time, but without it things are stable for now and thus I’ll continue to try running as is.

ZHA in Home Assistant provides a LQI score (Link Quality Indication). I’m seeing a score of 255 for all of my devices, which I believe means “perfect” and that makes me suspicious given the location of the devices in my home. But this may be a rating that can be of value for some others for debugging troublesome end devices.

  • Configuration -> Integrations
  • Click on the devices link in the ZHA integration
  • Click on the Zigbee Coordinator
  • Click on the View Children link
Zigbee link quality indication report in Home Assistant
Zigbee LQI report

Integration Tutorials

Follow these tutorials to aid in setting up a Zigbee network with a QNAP TS-251 for home automation with Home Assistatnt.

HUSBZB-1 with Zigbee Home Automation (ZHA)

HUZBZ-1 is likely the easier integration method for adding Zigbee to add to a network. ZHA is a direct integration to Home Assistant which means there are fewer pieces to manage. Additionally, this paves the way to adding Z-Wave to Home Assistant as well as this is a dual-radio device.

ConBee II with deCONZ

The ConBee II device offers high reliability and is a great choice as a Zigbee Coordinator. The integration on a QNAP server with Home Assistant requires some additional effort, but the network stability is worth the effort.


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