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Sonoff SwitchMan M5 series

New switches from ITEAD

A brand new product has been launched by ITEAD. Wall switches had previously existed in their ecosystem, but the lineup was limited to glass panels with a touch interface. Sonoff SwitchMan introduces a tactile mechanical switching to 1, 2 and 3 gang switching. I have one to play with early, so let’s see how well they did it.

More than one Sonoff SwitchMan

Sonoff SwitchMan M5 - 2 gang
Sonoff SwitchMan M5 – 2 gang

I only have one 2 gang switch, but Sonoff SwitchMan M5 is actually a series of wall switches comforting to 2 mounting standards: 80 and 86 (panel width size). The refresh shouldn’t come as a surprise as the product shares the design with NSPanel released a couple of weeks earlier. The 80 series also comes with dedicated grouping panels which let you align all Sonoff SwitchMan M5 together (including NSPanel for a very clean look).

It’s not just the external design that is shared with the NSPanel. The modular build splits the panel to an interface section and the power supply/relay back which connects together with an 8 pin connector – the same one found on the NSPanel.

All of the Sonoff SwitchMan switches require a neutral line to be present in your socket, which isn’t good news for anyone in the UK. Depending on the gang configuration these are speced to the following current limits:

  • 1 gang – 10A
  • 2 gang – 2 x 5A each channel
  • 3 gang – 3 x 2A each
Sonoff SwitchMan M5 front and back

Bluetooth pairing (and product page) reveals that at heart we will find an ESP32 (ESP32-D0WDQ5-V3 (revision 3)) in command of the switch – which means the product can connect to 2.4Ghz WiFi only. The back of the switch features a 49mm x 49mm back with 60.3mm gap for mounting screws.

Overall, the switch feels a little plasticky to the press but it springs back with a familiar feeling associated with a typical push-button design that dreams under the hood. Each gang has an integrated LED light that can be used to illuminate the switch in the dark (you can control the brightness) and indicate the switch operating mode (user-defined).

Back terminals have independent input/outputs for live wire, however, the neutral terminal is shared. It’s not my preferable configuration as additional Wago style clips may be required to wire everything up.

In use

Sonoff SwitchMan M5 series is ESP32 based

As usually with my tests, I hooked it up to the test circuits to examine all the options available in the eWeLink app and test the responsiveness of the switch via the cloud and possible LAN control.

I have to say that the pairing went a long way in the eWeLink app. I remember struggling to pair some of the devices. Bluetooth pairing never let me down and always works swiftly and flawlessly.

Cloud/LAN but no DIY

It’s a shame that the switch doesn’t come with Sonoff DIY mode – something I was hoping for after the resurgence of it in Sonoff SPM controller. Cloud interaction and LAN control are indistinguishably fast. If you are worried about your internet not being present all the time, enable the LAN control to allow your local network to do all the switching while the internet isn’t available.

eWeLink

Almost no surprises here. A typical switch menu is available in the app with channel toggles for each gang in the quick access card. Opening the device menu reveals typical eWeLink options. There are schedules and timers, quick access to all on/off toggles and access to power on states for each channel and interlock options.

A new addition is the inclusion of the network indicator (gang1 lights up blue) and the ability to control the brightness of the LED light in operation. It’s a shame the option to completely turn the LED off isn’t available, but anyone trying to locate the switch in the dark will appreciate the dim guiding points.

A completely new to me is the menu to add remote subdevices. I don’t have any compatible ones to test, but something tells me this integration will include either Sonoff RF bridge or ZB Bridge.

Alexa/GoogleHome

Sonoff SwitchMan and Alexa skill

The eWeLink app is well integrated into both ecosystems and the device will show up as the Main device (with the ability to toggle all ON/OFF) and individual channels. It is identified as a light switch and you will be able to use voice commands and GIU for Alexa and Google Home devices to switch your Sonoff SwitchMan devices.

It’s just a shame, that you can’t decouple the switches from relay actuation. I’m a fan of getting more gangs than you need to enable extra buttons for different lights or controllers. Check out this guide to smarter wall switches. You can still use it this way, but you will hear the relay click even if the terminal isn’t connected to anything directly.

Inside Sonoff SwitchMan

I already mentioned the similarities between Sonoff SwitchMan and NSPanel. Inside we can see that the ESP32-DOW0 is located on the switch plate with the typical GPIO in a header form to ease tasmotising (GPIO00, GND, 3V3, TX, RX). Just remember that flashing Tasmota on ESP32 devices isn’t supported (yet) by tasmotizer and you will have to fall back on alternatives. I will cover this in a separate article.

What’s interesting about the front PCB is the fact that it comes with a number of unpopulated switch traces. The location and number of them indicate that the same PCB is likely used for the whole Sonoff SwitchMan series with rocker alike switches perhaps coming soon.

The backplate for the 2 gang switch is the exact copy of the NSPanel one, with PCB silkscreen indicating that the design is shared between the two.

Final thoughts

Sonoff SwitchMan M5 switches are priced between $19-23 on Itead store. A fair price considering the quality of the switch, available options and features. The lack of Sonoff DIY is disappointing but the presence of the header will make the process of making the switch your own quite straightforward. If this is what you are after, expect the write-up soon. Let me know what do you think about these in this Reddit thread.

🆓📈 – See the transparency note for details.

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