HomeHome AutomationIs Sonoff Zigbee Dongle Plus finally ready for launch?

Is Sonoff Zigbee Dongle Plus finally ready for launch?

Wish it launched with this firmware!

I think it’s time to take the Sonoff Zigbee Dongle Plus from the drawer and give it another go. The “good on paper” ITEAD’s coordinator ended up at the bottom of my drawer marred with compatibility issues. Thanks to Koen and various contributors, a new firmware is available to download through the Z-stack repository on GitHub. Perhaps not everything is lost for this budget coordinator and I may recommend it after all.

Best firmware for Sonoff Zigbee Dongle Plus

Sonoff ZigBee Dongle Plus
Sonoff ZigBee Dongle Plus

What looks too good to be true, often isn’t. Sonoff Zigbee Dongle Plus is offered on the ITEAD store at a fantastic price (for the IC is based on) but failed to impress me on launch due to the pairing issues. Thankfully, the community took the case into their own hands and new firmware is available to try it out.

I unplugged my trusty Electrolama ZZH coordinator and picked the latest coordinator software for CC2652P based Sonoff ZibBee Dongle Plus. I have successfully tested the following versions:

CC1352P2_CC2652P_launchpad_coordinator_20211217  (master branch)
CC1352P2_CC2652P_launchpad_coordinator_20220103.zip (developer branch)

At the moment the ITEAD’s coordinator is shipped with firmware tagged with 20210708 date. In my tests while reliable when paired – trying to add devices (including ZigBee line up) was near impossible. The biggest disappointments were Sonoff devices that refused to pair.

Flashing new firmware

I have the process described in this post (with video). Nothing has changed in this regard, but it’s worth noting that there is a firmware fix that you can apply that will remove the need for pressing the button on the coordinator to enter the flash mode. I’m not going to use that, as it simply takes 1 sec to press the button, and I’m not one to juggle firmware daily. Feel free to follow this method to achieve it.

New firmware, new impressions

I have some great news for anyone with their Sonoff Zigbee Dongle Plus in their drawers. You can now take it out, and replace CC2530/2531 or whatever coordinator you are running (unless you are already using a high-end one!).

At first, stumbled onto a problem where the Sonoff ZB Temperature and Humidity sensor would give me some errors:

Zigbee2MQTT:error 2022-01-08 19:11:30: Configure failed: Error: Bind 0x0012xxxxxxx/1 msTemperatureMeasurement from '0x00124xxxxxxxx1/1' failed (AREQ - ZDO - bindRsp after 10000ms)

No matter what I’ve done, I could not receive any feedback from the sensor even though ZigBee2MQTT was reporting successful pairing. What had fixed it for me, was wiping all of my devices and adding this sensor first. It’s a weird issue, and I may bother Koen about it.

Other devices

Some of the ZigBee devices in my network

I have tested over 20 devices in total (as in types): from Moes TRVs I spoke about earlier, more sensors from Sonoff, Tuya to regular Sonoff ZB relays and partially supported thermostats. Even the Sonoff Button which gave me headaches the first time around worked like a charm.

It is great to see that all the community work and feedback on GitHub paid off and hats off to everyone involved. I’m yet to test the overall stability of the coordinator and how does it play with bigger mesh networks, but after 48h I can confirm that my devices were performing well.

It works well enough that I’m using it for my upcoming writeup which investigates all ZigBee temperature & Humidity sensors and picks the best one for your automation – you should definitely follow me to watch this. I have some surprising results.

Tests 2 days in, so far so good

While you are reading (and enjoying) about Sonoff Sonoff Zigbee Dongle Plus, you may as well take a look at other ZigBee products from the ITEAD lineup to complete your home automation – don’t skimp on devices that double as routers (usually connected to power) as your ZigBee performance is as strong as your mesh is:

Final thoughts

In my initial article, I discouraged everyone from getting Sonoff Zigbee Dongle Plus, now I can finally tell you to give it a go. While more established coordinators like Electrolama or ZigStar are probably best in terms of compatibility and reliability, Sonoff Zigbee Dongle Plus will tempt many with a budget price of $10.99. If you are just getting started – you have my blessing. Let me know if you find any problems with it in this Reddit thread.

🆓📈 – See the transparency note for details.

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