More Sonoff Zigbee Goodness

Sonoff ZBMini Extreme and the WiFi equivalent Mini Extreme

Around christmas 2022 I did a writeup on some new Sonoff equipment including the brand new NSPanel Pro WHITE. See Mini Extreme June 2023 Update at the end.

Then I received two more Sonoff products (new to me at least) -the Sonoff ZBMINI Extreme (ZBMINIL2) and a very large Sonoff Zigbee Smart Curtain Motor (Model ZBCurtain). I can’t do much with the latter right now as I don’t have suitable curtains – but:

ZBCurtain

Much as I can’t properly test ZBCurtain on actual curtains, it easily paired with the NSPanel Pro (the Pro, not the APP), turning power on and holding the pairing button for a few seconds, the internal rechargeable battery powered Zigbee curtain unit was added in – at first with a daft name then I called it Curtain Motor – following the instructions I set the curtain limits to just a couple of inches to avoid taking it out of the box and attaching to curtains I don’t have. That way I could test to ensure that both the APP and the NSPanel could control the unit.

Sonoff Zigbee Curtain Unit

In my Amazon Alexa APP, Curtain Motor soon appeared and from that APP I could again open and close the “curtains” – but for reasons beyond me, my Alexa only works with “turn the curtain motor on” and “turn the curtain motor off” – you’d think open and close would be more appropriate for curtains but it seems not.

ZBMini Extreme

Let’s have a look at the ZBMini Extreme as I obviously have the SPanel Pro WHITE here to act as a Zigbee hub:

Now, there’s a BIG difference between these otherwise identical-looking units. While the MiniR4 (Mini Extreme) is claimed to handle a maximum load of 10A (resistive load), the Zigbee 3.0-based ZBMini Extreme claims 6A Max (resistive load) then goes off on a tangent with “LED: 150W Max 100v, 300W Max at 240v” – I wasn’t at first sure what they are referring to there….

Anyway, this is an odd one – no neutral (that might be what the reference to LED is about – LED lighting). There are in total 4 connectors on the connector block – S1 and S2, then L In and L Out – see the photo – don’t you think that’s CUTE? So I can see this easily fitting behind a standard light switch fitting… I remember when such controllers needed a rather unweildy external capacitor – not any more it seems. As for the connectors – not exactly child-proof but I feel quite safe with them as someone familiar with mains wiring.

Sonoff Zigbee 3.0-based ZBMini Extreme
ZBMiniL2 Sonnoff Zigbee switch

I do think a nice touch would have been an uncommitted connector – while testing this new device I’ve ended up with 2 neutral wires fastened together and no-where to go – however – it works…

So in essense, I took a mains plug and lead (220-240v), a lamp, made sure the lamp switched was on, commoned the neutral wires (leaving them dangling somewhat dangerously) – feeding the live from the plug to L In on the Sonoff and the live to the lamp to the L Out on the Sonoff… with all plugged in – I held in the reset/pairing button on the Sonoff for a few seconds, went to my Sonoff NSPanel Pro WHITE control, ADD Device and told NSPanel to START pairing. Within seconds it confirmed it had a new device called SWITCH.

NSPanel Pro

The APP noted a new ZBMINIL2 and I tried turning the device on and off both in the APP and on the NSPanel – NOT really sure why it remained referred to as SWITCH on the NSPanel until the next morning, nor why the image shows a switch always OFF even though touching anywhere in the relevant panel turns the light on and off – brightening up the panel when on – over to Sonoff for that one.

So, generally speaking I think this is all going in the right direcction – but there are still several questions outstanding.

This might just do the job for my thermostat (i.e.) the typical heating system requires a pair of uncommitted contacts so assuming the heating system generates 220v to the contacts this should do) but until Sonoff come up with the reason my new Sonoff temperature sensor won’t act as part of a thermostat, the use for this idea is in limbo. INDEED – in the ACTION section of the NSPANEL – the new ZBMINIL2 doesn’t even appear in the list!! Itead – you reading this?

June 2023 Update

Sonoff Mini L2 Extreme

A quick mid-June 2023 update as I’ve just received another ZBMini Extreme. No visual differences to the actual unit but I note a box-re-think. Good – but I’d like to put in a request to Sonoff designers if anyone’s looking in.

The new (box) design makes it almost impossible to open the box without destroying it. Seems to me that a slight shampher on the inner flaps would make all the difference.

I noted that the v1.1 user guide includes how to arrange single switches and changeover switches for typical household stair lighting. I took a photo then realised that as usual, Sonoff have done a good job of making this information available online and so instead here’s a link and screenshot from the web.

The actual online PDF user manual comes with both Chinese and English instructions. What more could you ask for!!

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16 thoughts on “More Sonoff Zigbee Goodness

  1. Fitted a couple of the ZBMINIL2 devices recently. Had to change the back boxes from 25mm to 50mm (hammer chisel and filler).
    2 hours after one was fitted – it died. Taking it apart I can see that R3 resistor is burnt out.
    When it worked, it was great with HomeAssistant and Zigbee2MQTT.
    I have also ordered some Aquira Switches to see if the same can be achieved without the chisel.

    1. I ALWAYS have that problem – back in the UK, I have a ZBMINIL2 in the front door hallway lamp switch – it was a REALLY tight fit… ok so here’s the problem – the Aqara product is BIGGER – Sonoff 19mmx39mmx31mm – Aqara 21.4mmx42.9mmx40mm – the latter I’m going from the spec – and it also has an external antenna which will make it even very slightly bigger. Ijust realised I dont have the T1 so I’ve asked Aqara to send one but no reason the specs should lie…

      I just realised I HAD a T1 *(no neutral) back in 2021 – ditched it as I didn’t liek th external antenna and yes it is slightly bigger than the Sonoff.

      I’ll comment in here when it turns up.

        1. Looks ok. I have Sonoff ones – T5-C3-86 TX Ultimate) – need neutral but has WONDERFUL coloured backlight (and replaceable front). Something else to ponder – Aqara so wall switches – Zigbee – no contact.. short the 2 wires out on the original wall and switch from elsewhere or put a controller where the switch was – this sits on top – Zigbee – battery – super thin.. 1 way or 2 way or 3 way – I love them. I use press right for on, press left for off, long perss for full brilliance, double press to sequence colours…magnetic – all back to Node-Red..

  2. Hmmm,

    Considering that Zigbee needs repeaters, that it taket some of your wifi spectrum and that thread is coming, I would reserve Zigbee for battery powered device and some repeaters.

    Therefore I’m more interested to see the green counterpart to ZBmini.

    Anyway if you wait to install it in a stairway confifurTion, do you need two switches or one ?

    1. Funny you should say that… I have, what, 25 Zigbee devices and several WiFi access points – no issues there BUT I DID recently discover (and report back to router manufacturers) that USB3 can interfere with both Zigbee and 2.4Ghz WiFi. I added a USB3 large external SSD to my NAS, the WiFi router in the same room simply gave up and I could not get some Zigbee stuff to work until I was advised to wrap the SSD and it’s associated cable in foil (alien abduction style) – and I am 100% sure that fixed the problem I had – it’s sitting there a month later looking utterly loony – but no problems at all. I’ve not yet noticed any WiFi/Zigbee issues but I’ll take that on board. Generally I do use Zigbee mainly for sensors and the odd repeater.

      1. Maybe the frequent SSD accesses led to more Wifi traffic, disturbing Zigbee. If you have high traffic devices like PC’s smartphones or TV sets on your wifi, connec them over 5ghz or with à lan cable. You can also, if it’s possible changé the channels used by your Wifi network.

        Maybe USB 3 can radiate as you think and Then a shorter, shielded cable could help.

        My speculations.

        1. Hi

          I do all my phone stuff on 5Ghz and the PC is hardwired 99% of teh time, but so many IOT devices (ie all ESP stuff) will only work on 2.4Ghz – even some cameras. I bought a shielded cable – didn’t help with the SSD – ultimately, covering the lot in foil completely solved the problem.

          Thanks for the quick feedback.

          Pete

  3. Problem with these devices is they WILL NOT accommodate #12 gauge solid copper wire (Romex). I know I know, lighting circuits are typically wired with #14 gauge romex but a large number of homes in the USA use #12 gauge romex for ALL lighting and duplex outlets.
    #14 gauge solid copper (Romex) works perfectly….#12 gauge solid copper (Romex)….not a chance !
    I believe the problem is that the onboard wire clamps are selected for 220VAC which allows for a much smaller gauge wire (16 or 18 gauge) because Sonoff mostly sells to the 220VAC world market.

    Just my opinion

    1. I’d say most similar devices would have equali difficulty with 12 gauge solid copper wire – surely any recently rewired or recently built USA building will now be using thinner wire for light switches now we’ve stopped using filament lamps? I’ve certainly had no problem in Spain or the UK even with pre-LED/CF wiring… perhaps the answer is simply to write to such companies (who in my experience are fairly responsive unlike most couriers and phone companies) and remind them that America is a big market and thy use 110v for lighting and could they make connectors a little bigger in new products? – they’d be daft not to oblige.

      I find contacting Chinese companies directly in a well-meaning matter very often gets results.

      Pete

  4. I believe the ZBMini is intended to go inside your light switch socket. So you can set up an automation so it doesn’t matter if you turn the switch on or off it will trigger the device light. Also makes it smart. Same as the Shelley ones.

    1. And that opens another can of worms, now I’m starting to deploy this stuff around the house in rural southern Spain, mostly these and other “Mini” controllers simply refuse to fit into my standard Spanish wall switches… I may have to re-think the backing boxes – I wonder if I’m just unlucky or have others come acros this?

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