It’s tempting to be sensational and scream at the top of my lungs: “This changes everything!” I’m sure someone will try that. The reality is much simpler. Sonoff MINIR4M doesn’t change everything, it changes one thing and it does it well. ITEAD finally brings a Matter-enabled relay that just works with your stuff. What does it mean to you? Hopefully, no more Chinese-based clouds, limited ecosystems and freedom of choice. Does it work well?
Sonoff MINIR4M brings Matter support
As usual, I’m one of the few folks who gets to enjoy ITEAD new releases early. I had my hands on iHost before the release, now I’m holding Sonoff MINIR4M in my hands. There was one problem. I have no hubs that support Matter!
Thankfully, Sonoff MINIR4M arrived before Amazon Prime Day, so I promptly acquired Amazon Echo Hub with Zigbee and Matter support. That’s going to be my test device for now. Soon enough, I should also get something that works well with my NodeRED-based home automation server.
Why Sonoff MINIR4M doesn’t change everything?
Matter support changes one thing: how easy it is to connect this device to various ecosystems without messing about with custom firmware. Unless your Home Assistant is Matter enabled, you are still linked to the cloud in one way or another. Just like before with Sonoff ZBMINI – it changes the way you add and share the device. It’s easier, but as you’ll read in a moment, it comes with some disadvantages.
On the outside, very little. The only way you can tell the difference between Sonoff MINIR4M and its older sibling Sonoff MINIR4 which I covered in the past is the colour of the terminal cover. Matter devices will carry a nice shade of teal. Colour coding ITEAD products based on the connectivity protocol is a smart move.
Just like before Sonoff MINIR4M is a single-channel relay that works over WiFi (2.4GHz band). It requires live and neutral lines to be present and can serve as independent physical wall switches. It’s ideal for automating lights at your home – as long as you have neutral in your wall switch box (otherwise, you must deploy it near the ceiling light).
Lights are the intended use case, as Sonoff MINIR4M is small and can be used with a max current of 10A (resistive load). Measuring only 33 x 40 x 17 mm, the relay should fit behind most of the wall switches. If you are looking for something even smaller, check out EVVR Relay. It’s small, but it has all the terminals needed to get everything connected.
Inside Sonoff MINIR4M
Before I use it, I want to take a look inside to see what IC is used to work over Matter. The shell is easy to remove and once pried open, it reveals the access to the main board housing the electronics responsible for power delivery, a relay and controller placed on separate daughter boards.
While my relay doesn’t have any visible markings on exposed sides, the IC responsible for WiFi and Matter is an ESP32-C3. A RISK-V-based Espressf microcontroller that brings WiFi, and Bluetooth 5.0. The daughter board also brings exposed dev pads (GND, RX, TX, VCC) and GPIO00 tranced through the only available button. Flashing custom firmware should be possible, but considering Matter support – do we even care?
Let’s use Matter!
Wiring is simple, follow the instructions to add power and lights then pick a way to connect your switch. As in my demo, I’m using a simple switch, I used both S1 and S2 terminals to wire my single pole toggle in.
The moment I plugged Sonoff MINIR4M to power, a Matter pairing request showed up on my phone via Google Home. I could add it there, but I decided to use Alexa to see it through. Sonoff MINIR4M was already waiting for me on the device list. All I had to do is to scan the QR code from the back and enter my WiFi credentials.
A few moments later, the device was connected and ready to go. It shows up as a smart socket, which comes with some limited options (you can’t access the power loss defaults, inching etc, but the physical switch type can be set using the Sonoff MINIR4M button. See the manual for detailed instructions. Sonoff MINIR4M is responsive to physical switches and internet actions. These updates on the Alexa app almost instantly too regardless of where the command originated.
I can share Sonoff MINIR4M with other ecosystems without removing it from Alexa by generating a temporary paring code which can be added to Google Home to enable my relay.
eWeLink doesn’t Matter
Going through the process again, I tried the eWeLink app. Sonoff MINIR4M had to be reset, otherwise, I couldn’t keep it in the Alexa ecosystem and add it to eWeLink at the same time. To my surprise, the device connects just using normal WiFi and eWeLink protocols. I could tell, as the Local LAN option was available in the app. Using Sonoff MINIR4M with eWeLink seems even more responsive thanks to this option, as every change is almost instant.
Additionally, extra options are available on the configuration page. You can set the Switch Mode to: Pulse/Edge/Follow, you can add power loss options (including delays) and inching. There is an option to detach the switch completely too. It seems that you will have to decide what you care about most, as the way you connect Sonoff MINIR4M to your network will determine the available to you features.
The last step was to measure how much power Sonoff MINIR4M would consume when on standby. It draws 0.2W when the relay is not energised which should translate to about 0.60£ per year assuming my current tariff (0.35).
Shop with Sonoff
Take a look at the ZigBee and WiFi range of the devices compatible with eWeLink:
Sonoff MINIR4M is not going to change everything. It’s handy and inexpensive and you can get yours for less than $13. I had bigger hopes for Matter and how convenient it could be to pair, set up and use new devices regardless of the ecosystem. It looks like we will have to wait a bit more for complete compatibility. Sonoff MINIR4M is still worth having especially if you don’t mind using Alexa or Google Home as your main automation systems. Got questions? Let me know in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈 – See the transparency note for details.