A parcel turned up for me today – the Sonoff 4CH. You may recall I wrote some time ago about a smaller version they put out and I was quite scathing about the wiring. I turned out as you recall that this was a third party product and they were in the process of making their own version. Well, this is it.
The unit uses an ESP8285 (like the 8266 but with built-in Flash) to make a low cost 4-way mains power switch in a very nice DIN box. The price of the unit, at around £11.53 + postage, makes it cheaper than some people charge just for the box!!!
If you read this blog regularly you’ll know I’ve no interest in running their products on their own cloud – and that despite having my own very comprehensive software, this fellow has recently IMHO taken the lead in powering Sonoff products with his code. Well, it just so happens he supports this boar, so this morning I grabbed the latest software, put in my MQTT and WIFI credentials, made the one change to the code needed to run this board (a single define) and off I went to open the board up.
Inside is the usual handy programming connector needing 3v3 and ground as well as serial in and out from an FTDI. As usual, I broke all the rules and instead of using a proper 3v3 supply I powered the board for the purposes of programming, directly from the FTDI – remembering to set it to 3v3 and not 5v. At first I got nowhere until I realised I still had my Arduino environment set to ESP8266 – a quick check and there is indeed a setting for the smaller board.
And that was it – nothing to report really – it works as you’d expect. Now what I don’t understand are the little covers – which on one side of the board cover up the 4 buttons to turn the outputs on and off (one of them is also the programming button) and on the other side the LEDs. I will be drilling 5 holes in there so I can actually see the LEDs – but that’s just me.
DIN mounting, well put-together, inexpensive 4-relay switching. The information claims you can use a maximum of 2.5Kw and that each output is 10 amps… well, I’m not sure I’d want to put 10 amps through there especially inductive, maybe more like half of that, while obeying the total of no more than 2.5KW. There’s a little fuse on the board on the incoming live - but to save opening it up in the event of problems and finding a tiny fuse, I’d be thinking about the lowest sensible value of fuse in your power lead. I put a 10 amp fuse in there and may yet replace it with a 5 amp (of course what this means depends on which side of the pond you are on – we Brits get a lot more power out of 10 amps than our American friends).
You may notice something odd - or depending where you live you might not find it odd at all – the neutral block is green and the earth block is grey. You see, being a Brit – I associate earth with grass – i.e. green and our earth wire is either green or some combination of green and yellow… so I could see someone being caught out by that – you’ll notice my wiring looks off with the green earth heading into the grey box!!! Those push connectors incidentally work a treat! With previous Sonoff products I had people asking me what to do with the Earth wire – no such problem here.
This one is going to Spain with me – we have Star wiring over there and spare room on the power DIN rail so this will fit in very nicely to control some lighting and one small heater over there. If you’re starting from scratch this could make a decent low-cost-per-relay move into home control along with whatever software you use to control things – in my case – I send commands out from Node-Red via MQTT straight to the board over WIFI.
At least on the surface, another winner from this company. Don’t all rush as Itead are on Chinese holiday until 3rd of Feb!