The Sonoff B1

Sonoff B1The Sonoff B1 is a “white and color” smart-bulb! Not a lot new here you might say – and certainly, many such bulbs exist. Shortly after I received this lamp back in 2017, I happened to be in Toledo in Spain at a major shopping centre at the Leroy Merlin store – and noticed that not only did they have lamps that on the surface look like this – but also they had LED strip.  I also noticed they charged the most horrendous rip-off prices for both.

So I started this review on a positive note because the B1 seemed not unreasonable for a colour, WIFI-controlled light. Sonoff themselves sold this lamp for £13.97 or $18. – The very versatile Tasmota ESP8266 software will support this lamp but (update July 2020) when I Tuya-convert,  it would NOT convert the version 1 B1 – even with the latest (v2.6) B1 firmware – that’s a shame – but read on – the v2 mat be improved in that respect.

I used the eWeLink APP on my Android phone to test the lamp.  Simple enough, turn the lamp off and on 3 times in a row with 2 second intervals and it goes into programming mode at which point the APP picks it up and sets it going. All of that took seconds and absolutely anyone could manage it.

So I now had a lamp which could be turned on and off by the mains switch (obviously) but also over WiFi by the APP and Alexa. Redeeming features include white control with brilliance and warm/cool setting – important as it all depends where you’d put this light as to whether or not you want a standard warm “filament” feel or a cool “kitchen” look.

The lamp powered up at maybe half brilliance and there’s a slider on the APP to control the brilliance. At full brightness on cold white, the lamp is quite bright enough to light up a hallway. On the warm setting, disappointingly less less so but still Ok

I’ve noticed a section over in the Tasmota docs which simply said that the lamp can be custom programmed and that it can be used with Alexa and Google Assistant – it is easy to take off the glass and therefore get to (with a fine soldering iron or pogo pins) the test points i.e. gnd, 3v3, rx, tx, gpio0).

You can switch the App between white and colour – but amazingly, as you do so, the lamp loses the brightness setting for white, defaulting back to “medium” brilliance. This I think, for the partner who isn’t into gadgetry could prove to be very annoying and in the 3 years I’ve had this bulb (very little use), Itead have not fixed this issue – judging my the date on the lamp – they very quickly moved onto the V2 before eventually retiring both models. I’m guessing some but not all the issues I encountered were resolved in the v2 version of the lamp which has more white LEDs but the same 3 RGB LEDs.

Sticking with the APP and V1 lamp for now, in colour mode,  there is no intensity control thought the colour light simply is not that bright anyway – not surprising I guess as the lamp is 6w in total and we have what seem to be one each, 1w red, green and blue LEDs in there. In short, the original v1 was not Itead’s best product.

There are various controls such as SCENE, schedule and timer modes which you can set up on the App but for me, they are icing on the cake – a rather dim cake.

I can’t fault the look of this device – the heatsink appears large enough to get rid of any excess heat.

For a kid’s room corner light or a mood light in a small room this is probably an “ok” product, easy to use etc… but lack of brilliance retention when changing modes is annoying but more importantly lack of overall power means the v1 lamp is limited in use – I’m guessing that the v2 is a lot better but now may never find out.

I was hoping to get one of the v2 lamps to compare and test – I do know that the latter has 16 white LEDs as against 12 but in July 2020 the Itead site states that the B1 product is now “retired” so if you get the opportrunity to pick up these lamps cheaply, bear that in mind and at least make sure you go for the v2.

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21 thoughts on “The Sonoff B1

    1. you’ll always depend on a chinese remote service… with security concerning implied… and that can close from a day to an other… best to flash you’re own firmware, tasmota or espurna, and get rid of it and use your controller…

    2. Thanks for that Juan.

      So – I did just that… and indeed you can control the lamp by Alexa… however I will make the following comments…

      I’ve been using Alexa (indeed I have two of them) for some months now – and I’ve never had it give me such a hard time…

      “Change the sonoff to warm white” – “I’m not sure about that”.

      Occasionally I would get the result I wanted, most of the time not – I ended up swearing at Alexa, it was that bad.

      Also as I thought, the colour controls are fixed – you cannot turn the colour up. I set the lamp to green and asked alexa to raise the brightness – it said it was in a mode which would not accept this command.

      So, up to now my comments stand – the colours are no-where near bright enough to be useful – also as you move from green to red, the colour control on the APP is inaccurate and it is not at ALL easy to get a decent yellow.

      Thanks for the information.

      1. I have both the echo dot and Google Home. Both work well for most things but the dev folks (skills writers) need to learn a lot more. When the limit their vocabulary the devices get easily confused. It’s a little harder on a well written app for the Alexa than the Home but I can confound both pretty well. Sometimes it’s a matter of accent most of the time a choice of words.

        Got Google so confused that when I asked for the weather it gave me the news.

        Sometimes I think it’s more ML (me learning) than ML (machine learning).

        Still pretty neat.

      2. I set up two of them today and my experience is similar – the app works well, but integration with home automation, not so much.

        I use Google Home which I find exceptionally good at voice recognition. But it’s been flaky at best with the Sonoff switches I’ve been trying to use, and now it’s even worse with the lights.

        While it does work sometimes, other times it fails (giving a nonspecific error) and at least once, it worked on one but not the other! (screenshot: https://imgur.com/9DxIet7)

        The brightness is what I’d expect from a <$20 LED bulb, and build quality seems fine.

  1. As an alternative I’ve been using these 10W multi-colour bulbs https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01G1PJWYM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 which I control via the Broadlink Mini3/Node-Red/Imperihome and ultimately Alexa albeit within the parameters of the Home Skill Bridge interface. Works well – nice bright bulb with good colours. I’d say between a 40W and 60W incandescent equivalent and the mini3 has such a strong signal it controls three different uplighters that are in different rooms all for £7 per bulb plus £10 for the RM mini 3.

    1. Bright is essential – I really don’t know what they were thinking about with the colours here – too dim. I’m assuming with the home skill you can’t currently refer to “blue” and other colours? Or can you? I have loads or RGB strip around the place I control with Apps (and MQTT) – and I’d love to be able to have them change colour via Alexa.

      1. I set up the colours and patterns I use to be different devices eg bluelight, redlight etc. – with the challenge being to come up with memorable names . Within that constraint the Home Skill Bridge allows me to query Alexa for current brightness and colour and set brightness either specifically or incrementally as well as obviously on or off, For LED strips I use the H801 with Espurna firmware but the same limitations re Alexa.

      2. One problem with bright is that some vendors overdrive their bulbs (I’m told most do) so that they gradually grow dimmer as time goes on. I have a super bright LED in the kitchen (dumb bulb) and will try to keep an eye on it. Perhaps I can use a light sensor to monitor it. 🙂

        I haven’t purchased any of the color bulbs but hope to get one to use as a signal lamp rather than a normal light bulb. I normally just want my warm glow bulbs for most of my use. Need to get some LED strips with that in mind.

  2. Has anyone done much with Google home and node red? Would like to turn sonoff switches on and off via home.

    1. Eventually my info will be out of date but as far as I know right now, Google don’t provide enough data to do any real home control with Google Home unless you’re using their hardware.

      1. This has changed now – Smart We Link is now an option in the devices section of “Home Control” in Google assistant.

        Obviously only with stock ITEAD firmware.

  3. I have a few of these to try them out and got one open and soldered in a header so I can flash with the Tasmota binary image. I used ESP8266Flasher set for 1M and DOUT and programmed to 0x000000 and it happily seems to program it. Trouble is, nothing happens with it when I power it up after flashing it. I was expecting it to appear as a WiFi AP so I could connect and configure it. Nothing.
    I should add that this is the later B1 model with the screw fit cover. Anyone got these to work with Tasmota and if so, how did you configure it?

      1. Yes, the one I have is defo Sonoff as it says on the PCB:
        Sonoff B1 R2 CTRL
        I am going to try and build from source and see if I can enable the SSID just for testing.

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