Device types

Zigbee defines three different device types: coordinator, router, and end device.


Zigbee networks may only have a single coordinator device. This device:


A router is a full-featured Zigbee node. This device:

End device

An end device is essentially a reduced version of a router. This device:

Zigbee networks may have any number of end devices. In fact, a network can be composed of one coordinator, multiple end devices, and zero routers.

The following diagram shows a generic Zigbee network.

Note Each Zigbee network must be formed by one, and only one, coordinator and at least one other device (router or end device).

In Zigbee networks, the coordinator must select a PAN ID (64-bit and 16-bit) and channel to start a network. After that, it behaves essentially like a router. The coordinator and routers can allow other devices to join the network and can route data.

After an end device joins a router or coordinator, it must be able to transmit or receive RF data through that router or coordinator. The router or coordinator that allowed an end device to join becomes the “parent” of the end device. Since the end device can sleep, the parent must be able to buffer or retain incoming data packets destined for the end device until the end device is able to wake and receive the data.

A device can only operate as one of the three device types. The device type is selected by configuration rather than by firmware image as was the case on earlier hardware platforms.

By default, the device operates as a router. To select coordinator operation, set CE to 1. To select end device operation, set SM to a non-zero value. To select router operation, both CE and SM must be 0.

If a device is a coordinator and it needs to be changed into an end device, you must set CE to 0 first. If not, the SM configuration will conflict with the CE configuration. Likewise, to change an end device into a coordinator, you must change it into a router first.

Another complication is that default parameters do not always work well for a coordinator.

For example:

In general, it is your responsibility to ensure that parameters are set to be compatible with the new device type when changing device types.