The first step to an (almost) intelligent house with Sonoff
A heating boiler, a light bulb or a radio are just a few examples of things that I always felt the need to be able to start or stop remotely, when I was not at home. The concept of intelligent house seemed always fascinating, but I didn’t think that I could do it in the near future, due to the rather high costs involved.
That’s until I ran (by accident) over a small device that can make life a lot easier, giving you the ability to control various devices through your smartphone.
It’s called Sonoff, it’s small, it’s cheap (around 10 USD, or even cheaper if purchased directly from China) and, at least at first sight, it works pretty well.
I ordered 3 pieces to make more tests, but today I only installed one in a test configuration.
I needed the device itself (10 USD), a wireless network (I had wifi in my house for a long time, because I cannot stand all the cables and my phone has weak signal in my house), a phone (mine is an android phone, but I believe it also works with an iOs phone), a piece of wire, a plug and the thing that I was going to start or stop (in this test I used a led strip connected to a 12V power supply).
I also needed a small screwdriver and a knife (to strip the wires, although it would have been more stylish to use special pliers for that).
The hardware part is simple: cut off the power wire in two (watch out for the wire to be disconnected from the outlet). The Sonoff is installed just like I would install an usual switch. From the instructions leaflet, I understood that it would not be good to mistake the direction, that is to connect the power supply to the out terminals, so I was very careful. I took care to connect the null to null and phase to phase (N-N, L-L). Then I plugged the wire coming out of the Sonoff to the led strip power supply. The connection terminals are fairly easy to access, but a very small screwdriver is needed. Also, the circuit board moves a little inside the box, so be careful not to damage anything inside.
Also in the preparation phase I installed the application (ewelink, available in the App store), and continued by creating an account and logging into the application.
Once I plugged in the setup, I pressed the Sonoff’s button for 5 seconds, until the LED started to flash. From the phone application I added the device, which the app discovered very quickly. There have been some synchronization problems, but I don’t know exactly yet what that was about. So I applied a basic strategy, that any person who ever worked with a computer knows: I restarted both the application and the Sonoff (by unplugging it and then plugging it back, since I do not know if it is possible to do this another way). The second attempt went well.
By the way, to answer a question that I also asked myself before I bought the Sonoff: It connects to a secure wifi network and the password needs to be typed when syncing. It also remembers it, so Sonoff will automatically connect back to the wifi network in the event of a power failure.
After synchronization, I began playing with the LED strip until my eyes were starting to hurt because of the light of the strip (I have a 5050 led strip with a 14.4 watts per meter power, which kind of blinds you after staring at it for a few minutes).
The app is neither bad nor fantastic: you can start or stop the device, you can program stops for the next two years, set startups or periodic stops, set a countdown to change state, upgrade the firmware (which I did as soon as I opened the application and saw a notification that there is a new firmware version). I’m going to further test the application, and to look if there’s any better alternative.
It is good to know that with a simple push of the button the state changes, that is, it can turn off or turn on the hardware, with just a button push (it might be possible to hide it under another case, so everything should look just like a normal switch) .
I still have a lot to learn about it, but I can be sure that from now on, I can stop or start things through the house with the smartphone, which is a big step towards an intelligent house (not too smart though, because I am a “control freak “and I like to take my own decisions too).
Printre utilitatile “jucariei”, cea mai importanta mi se pare posibilitatea de a porni sau opri centrala de departe (prin inserierea pe alimentarea unitatii de control). Tot important mi se pare sa poti porni sau opri luminile din casa (ideal, in combinatie cu un sistem de camere de supraveghere, pe care le voi testa in curand), chiar si o sursa de zgomot in genul unui radio fiind utila.
Among the utilities of this “toy”, the most important one seems to me to be able to start or stop the remote control unit of the heating boiler. It is also important to start or stop some lights around the house when not at home(ideally in combination with a surveillance camera system that I plan to test soon), or to turn on or off a sound source (a radio or tv).