Category Archives: ESP8266

Sonoff S31 Power Monitor

Sonoff S31

I’ve actually blogged about this before but I bought some more of these and just think that the Sonoff S31 is the best power monitoring device going.   I got mine on Amazon for about $18 each and I think you can find them a buck or two cheaper in other places.  Just make sure that you don’t purchase the Sonoff S31 LITE.. The Lite version DOES NOT power monitor.

The devices work with an app called EWELink but the company that makes all this is called iTead  and they are a Chinese company based in China and some people have caught their app sending back interesting information to the home server in China.   In short……..I don’t trust the app.  You can use them right out of the box with the app but that’s not what I’m all about here at John’s Tech Blog.

So what I do is to modify the devices firmware with something called Tasmota which works on Wifi, creates a web page that displays all your vital information and it ONLY reports to any server if you TELL IT TO.  Mine reports to MY machine to machine protocol server (MQTT) so I can tie the switches into my Home Automation software so I can turn them on and off.  Also you can do really cool stuff which I won’t go into here in great detail.  For example, I can have it send me an email if it sees a refrigerator showing so many watts for so long a period of time.  Excessive wattage would be from the light bulb being on so maybe me pulling 60 extra watts for 2 minutes means someone left the door ajar.  Cool.

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Making Your Refrigerator SMART

I have an old refrigerator in my garage which I suspected was a power hog.  I bought a Sonoff S31 Power Monitoring outlet and flashed it with custom firmware (Tasmota) and blogged about that here.

I’ve since figured out you can do a WHOLE LOT MORE with a Tasmota flashed Sonoff S31. I figure there are two important things you’d want to know about an old refrigerator.

  1. Is it running?
  2. Has the door been left open?

Both answers can be tackled with home automation.  I use the EXCELLENT program HomeAssistant.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

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Flash Outlets with LED Ring With Tasmota

Found these cool little outlets on Amazon and verified they can be flashed with Tasmota Over The Air (OTA).  They are technically called “Home Awesome Breathing Light Smart Light.

They are also sold under the name TMRLife Plug

They are another made in China device that is controlled via phone app and I generally don’t trust such things.  Flashing the device with Open Source firmware is MUCH better for securities sake.

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Power Monitoring To Find What’s Costing You Money!

In the interest of being good stewards of the planet AND saving money it’s a good idea to keep an eye on energy consumption.  But how?  You’ve probably seen commercials for Sense Energy Monitors but that seems kind of extreme to me. Also it has a learning algorithm that takes MONTHS to work and some items never get properly identified.

I’m taking the ONE AT A TIME approach by using simple outlets that can be used for single applications.   Introducing the Sonoff S31

Very cool and also reasonably inexpensive. These work right out of the box and link to an app called EWELink.

Just for the record I think EWELink is CRAP.

Also this is Cloud based and the Cloud lands in China somewhere which really doesn’t appeal to me at all.  So we’re going to flash this device with Tasmota firmware and no more talky talky to China.

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Hacking Unknown 2 Channel Relay With Tasmota

In my quest for the perfect low voltage or dry contact garage door relay I stumbled across this one that I found on Amazon

Seems like it might have been made by ITead because it came programmed with EWELink software.  Having said that I cannot find it on their website and I also thought it might be a Sonoff brand name.   I still think it is ITead but I just can’t prove it.

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Sonoff SV for Garage Door Opener

I was using a Sonoff 4 Channel Pro relay in my “Smart Garage Door” project however it was big time overkill.  I only need one relay to pull this off.   In addition to this I was using a NodeMCU ESP8266 to act separately as the garage door sensor.   So in essence I had:

  • Spare Remote Control (for Security 2.0 garage door opener)
  • Sonoff 4 Channel Pro Relay
  • NodeMCU ESP8266 Chip for Door sensor

Now I have

  • Spare Remote Control
  • Sonoff SV

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Flashing Single Channel Inching Relay (Sonoff?) With Tasmota

Decided to put a smaller, single channel relay in my Garage Door project. I ordered what I believe is an ITead Sonoff Inching Relay.

This module is preloaded with software and you can use an iPhone to trigger the relay using an app called EweLink

Basically you start the chip up, connect to its WiFi network and configure it to yours.


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Making a simple door sensor from ESP8266

You see all these Home Security systems being advertised all the time and they all have one gotcha.  Some kind of charge every month.  Why not just make your own?  Also it costs PENNIES on the dollar compared to some of those others.

One of the biggest components of home security is knowing the state of windows and doors. And that is very simple to obtain and with INEXPENSIVE hardware.  This guy is the backbone to this project:

This is a NodeMCU ESP8266 Internet of Things (IoT) chip.  Translation:  It’s a little teeny tiny small board computer with a wifi antenna on it.

You can get ESP8266 devices WAY cheaper than this even though this guy only costs $9 or so.   A couple of things I like about it are that it has a Micro USB input connector on it and the legs are already soldered on.

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Making Your Garage Door Smart

I have a LiftMaster garage door opener in my home.  Newer garage doors implement something called Security 2.0 which means the remote and receiver on the opener have a rolling (changing) code between them.

So essentially that means you can’t just trigger the opener by adding a wifi controlled relay to make the door smart.  What you have to do is to buy a My Q Smart Garage Hub which used to cost bigger bucks but now comes in around $80.  There is a subscription service you can buy to integrate into your home automation.  Otherwise it only works with a phone app.  Also, do you REALLY want your garage door state published to someone else’s Cloud?

In order to have a wifi controlled garage door or an MQTT controlled garage door (machine to machine protocol) you’ll have to cheat.  Here’s what you need to pull this off:

  • Spare remote with Security 2.0
  • Inching relay such as Sonoff 4 Channel Pro
  • Some ethernet conductor wire

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Sonoff RF With Tasmota Firmware in Homeassistant

If you have dabbled in Home Automation you’ve probably heard of Sonoff.  They make all manner of home automation devices.  I’ve been largely ambivalent towards them as I prefer Z-Wave devices and hackable outlets to power most of my home automation needs.   But I kept READING ABOUT THEM.  Everywhere you turn on the Home Automation sites people are talking about Sonoff and something called “Tasmota Firmware”.

I decided to see what all the fuss was about and ponied up the requisite $11 for a Sonoff RF from Amazon.  I’ve been on a 433 MHz device kick lately and I like the fact that radio controlled devices can work even when the network goes down.  As long as a Raspberry Pi is on that delivers that radio burst…….BOOM……the lights go on and off.

So I got one just to play with.  The interesting thing to me is that not only is it 433 MHz radio controlled it also works with WiFI and if you flash it with Tasmota Firmware it will do MQTT as well.   Okay, I’m getting slightly impressed here.

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