Tag Archives: mains controlllers

Cheapest IOT on the Planet

You’ve seen me writing about SONOFF before, several times – and you’ll see it again – but today I’m writing about one thing (for now) – “MUCH CHEAPNESS” to quote a last-century holiday advert. I would be very much surprised if the Sonoff WIFI is NOT the cheapest WIFI mains controller on the planet.

This started as a simple article about the Sonoff and the new pricing but it is RAPIDLY developing – one of our readers (see comments) has alerted us to some MQTT software I’d forgotten all about and which is coming along in LEAPS AND BOUNDS for the Sonoffs – meanwhile I’m having a measure of success right now, setting up a REALLY cheap possible Raspberry Pi alternative – but more of that later – if all of this comes together you really COULD be looking at a complete IOT setup that is the world’s cheapest…  For now – let’s concentrate on the Sonoff. Later today I’ll know if my other experiment has succeeded and I’ll update the blog.  

Incidentally if you’re finding this interesting you are not alone – this blog entry is already getting record levels of viewing!!

sonoffLet’s start off for new readers by describing what the Sonoff IS and what it is NOT.  Itead Studio are based in Shenzen, China and I’ve been following their antics for quiet some time now. You’ll see reviews in here of their products  including Sonoff and the Nextion displays. They’ve certainly had a great effect on my IOT experience.  I’ve been building mains control stuff since the last century – and part of my drive has been cost. Off the shelf devices were just too much so I built my own. Then, all of a sudden these guys started producing stuff that was so cheap, it was not even worth the effort of building from scratch.

I’m an ESP8266 enthusiast as it was obvious from the start that this wonderful WIFI controller was going to be a game changer and the Sonoff device basically puts together an ESP8266 chip, a mains power supply and a relay – for a no-nonsense simple mains controller.

Sonoff has it’s own CLOUD service so that off the shelf you can start controlling your home from your mobile phone – but I’ve never been interested in that, for me the exciting thing was to use my own software in the devices so they could be part of my Raspberry Pi controlled home. I have them all over the place – and soon, thanks to some pricing changes I’ll have even more.

What Sonoff is not: It is not for everyone. They use a 10 amp relay but many of us have concerns what that means – I certainly would not wire a 10amp heating element to these devices. On the other hand (no responsibility accepted here) I HAVE had a 700w heating element attached to one of them for some time without issue – and I have LOTS of lights attached to others. So Sonoff is NOT a super high power controller. In this incarnation discussed here it does not have all sorts of fancy inputs like infra-red, Bluetooth etc. It merely takes commands over WIFI to turn on and off a relay. At a pinch you could connect a temperature sensor to it but you might have to get the soldering iron out for that.  It is not an OTA (over-the-air) programmable device before presumably for very tight cost control issues, they’ve chosen a small FLASH which hasn’t enough spare room for that.

What Sonoff is: The cheapest IOT mains controller on the planet, probably. It is small, reasonably well put-together, reliable, looks fine stuck on the wall and importantly – you can with a little effort re-program the device with my software – or other software. The choice is yours – use as-is, out of the box or put the effort in to re-program – either way you have rock-solid, DIRT cheap mains control over WIFI.

What has changed: The price – Sonoff was dirt cheap before but thanks to reader Kris – I just discovered they are selling the units for $4.85 – that is under £3.50 in English – you just SURELY cannot beat that!!

Here’s the link. Enjoy and don’t blame me if it isn’t what you need. https://www.itead.cc/smart-home/sonoff-wifi-wireless-switch.html

On that link you’ll find sizes, prices, information, schematics and much more. If you want more information on Sonoff – using it, reprogramming it  - you could do worse than doing a search through my blog (search in the right of the page) – it’s all there including the experiences of myself and others.

ALSO reader BOB has reminded me that there is some software for Arduino-types (well the Arduino environment for the ESP8266) that CAN handle OTA as it is smaller and more focussed than my software which could be better described as “kitchen sink”.   Here’s the link – no guarantees as I’ve not used it – though if I get time this week I could well update one of my Sonoffs.

There is possibly more around the corner… keep checking in – right now I’m off to CHURROS in the local market.

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