Guide: Flashing Sonoff ZigBee USB 3.0 ZBDongle-E to use Ember firmware with Z2M

I’ve used the original EZNet 6.10.3 firmware with the Sonoff ZBDongle-E since taking the coordinator in use. Recently I found Frient ZigBee air quality sensor for sale on Amazon and decided to give it a try, but while pairing with my ZigBee coordinator I bumped into an issue: the sensor won’t get discovered with my ZigBee dongle using Z2M. There reason is that EZNet 6.10.3 is not officially supported by the Z2M anymore.

No worries though, there’s a better and newer firmware called ember that can be flashed to ZBDongle-E running on Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 chip. This should solve the support problem, in theory at least, so it’s time to give it a go!

Note: this operation won’t clear your paired ZigBee devices and you can use the ember firmware without requiring to pair/configure every device again!

Download the firmware

First of all a proper firmware needs to be download, obviously. At the time of writing this post the latest NCP Ember FW is v7.4.2.0. I’d suggest to check for the GitHub page for more recent version if available. What you want’t to look is NCP part for zbdongle-e with 115200 baud rate. Those are named as “ncp-uart-hw-vX.X.X.X-zbdonglee-115200.gbl” at the GitHub page.

After downloading the proper (latest) firmware file, continue to the next step.

Flashing the ZBDongle-E

Disconnect the ZBDongle-E from the Home Assistant device and connect it to the PC or Mac you downloaded the firmware on.

Firmware can be flashed directly using web application at https://darkxst.github.io/silabs-firmware-builder/ by using a compatible browser like Chrome or Edge.

Scroll down to ZBDongle-E section and press ‘connect‘. Select used USB port and press ‘change firmware‘ and choose ‘upload your own firmware‘. Select the firmware you downloaded and press ‘install‘.

The flashing should now be running. Don’t disconnect the dongle or close the browser until flashing is completed.

Re-configure Z2M parameters

Now it’s time to re-connect the ZigBee USB Dongle back to Home Assistant device.

Enter your Home Assistant instance and go to ‘settings -> add-ons‘. Select ZigBee2MQTT and enter ‘configuration‘ tab.

Go to ‘serial‘ section and change the adapter from ‘ezsp‘ to ‘ember

adapter: ember

That’s it! Just restart your ZigBee2MQTT add-on and enjoy your Z2M supported firmware.

Conclusion

The EZNet firmware is few years old already and has issues with some recent ZigBee devices like Frient air quality sensor (AQSZP-110). The Ember firmware did resolve this compatibility issue totally and running very stable without issues what-so-ever at least on my ZigBee mesh.

I suggest everyone to replace the EZNet firmware with the lates Ember without any doubts. It won’t even lose your old ZigBee data and the best thing: no device re-pairing or device re-configuration is needed!

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