There is a new Sonoff in town! ITEAD sent me Sonoff Zigbee Bridge (available for pre-order now for $16.90) to test and give them my feedback. The new Zigbee hub isn’t a surprise to me considering that ITEAD had released Sonoff Basic R3 Zigbee (review) a couple of months ago, but I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early version of the bridge. And, no I don’t mean the CC2531 USB stick that you can also get from ITEAD store for $3.99 flashed!
Like RF but Zigbee
Except for the white colour, Sonoff Zigbee Bridge could be easily mistaken for Zigbee RF Bridge (review). It uses the same enclosure to house the link between WiFi-enabled devices and Zigbee 3.0.
Sonoff Zigbee Bridge uses eWeLink app to connect your Zigbee enabled devices with eWeLink server. If you used the RF bridge, the concept will ve very familiar to you. The hub hosts all child devices which come with the usual eWeLink features (voice control, timers etc.)
Inside Sonoff Zigbee Bridge
The board looks less complicated than Sonoff RF bridge. We can find the well know and familiar ESP8266EX to handle the “smart” end of the bridge but to my surprise, the device is not using CC2531.
What’s driving Zigbee end of Sonoff Zigbee Bridge is SN-011 module with an EFR32MG21 based Zigbee IC. If MG21 designation tells you nothing, don’t worry, the chip is new to me as well and I had to look it up to figure out what’s Sonoff Zigbee Bridge is capable off.
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Bluetooth Mesh
- Multiprotocol (Zigbee +Bluetooth 5.1)
- 2.4 GHz Radio
- Up to +20 dBm TX power
- ARM Cortex -M33 MCU Core
- 1024 kB Flash
- 96 kB RAM
- Up to 20 GPIO
- 12-bit 1 Msps SAR ADC
- 2 x Analog Comparator
- Low Energy UART
- 3 x USART (UART, SPI, IrDA, I2S)
- 2 x I²C
- 8-channel DMA Controller
- 12-channel PRS
The PCB has a couple of development pads that look very promising. I have no doubt, that we would see Tasmota sooner or later in this thing. The question is – is it going to be as easy to use and compatible with other Zigbee devices as CC2531?
This is a Zigbee 3.0 protocol with the chip capable of supporting up to 32 devices. Apart from Sonoff Basic R3 Zigbee and Sonoff S31 Lite socket, ITEAD is planning to launch an array of Zigbee sensors (review):
Looks like Sonoff family is going to be much bigger. I talked before about Benexmart Zigbee Kit (review) – and I’m really interested in the price for the basic package!
Pairing is simple. Hold the pairing button for a couple of seconds, keep the Zigbee device close, and it will appear on the list of “child” devices. I used a Sonoff Zigbee Basic R3 in my tests.
Sonoff Zigbee Bridge seems very responsive with next to none latency. What’s even more impressive is the range of the hub. In my test, I was able to control my Sonoff R3 placed outside the house on the ground floor. This would be the most difficult scenario, as the signal has to travel through all walls (including the structural one) and the floor.
Since the hardware is up to any tasks, it’s time to take a peek inside and see what makes the Sonoff Zigbee Bridge tick.
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Sonoff Zigbee Bridge and other Zigbee devices
I have devices from Sonoff, Tuya, Xiaomi, Aqara and IKEA so I tried to pair a couple of them with the bridge. Unfortunately, only Tuya devices were compatible.
After successfully adding Tuya Temperature and Humidity sensor and PIR sensor from Benexmart Zigbee Kit, (I suspect my Tuya Door/Window sensor would work too, but it’s used by the Smart Door project) I had high hopes for other ecosystems. Despite my best attempts and a careful device selection (IKEA Tradfri Smart socket, Aqara button, IKEA Tradfri PIR sensor) none of them would pair successfully with Sonoff Zigbee bridge, but I’m glad Tuya kit worked out of the box!
The latest post on Itead Store confirms that Sonoff Zigbee Bridge will work with certified ZigBee products which follow this specification:
- One gang smart socket/switch
- Temp & Humidity sensors
- Contact sensors
- Water sensors
- PIR sensors
Right now, I have more questions than answers. Sonoff Zigbee Bridge works just fine, but I would like to find out if there will be a DIY mode? If other Zigbee devices will be compatible, and how open Sonoff Zigbee Bridge will be for hacking. The preorder for Sonoff Zigbee Bridge is active and you can get it for $16.90. Zigbee hubs are still expensive, therefore having an alternative to CC2531 is awesome! Let me know what do you think in this Reddit thread.