Unlike Sonoff Basic, Sonoff Mini aims to fix the issue of not having physical control over your lights. The small white box with multiple terminals connected to your lights would enable the smart functionality and let you toggle the lights via wall switch if you can’t be bothered shouting “Alexa”. But is it good?
In direct competition with Shelly 1 reviewed by me earlier, Sonoff Mini is small enough to fit behind the wall switch or underneath the ceiling light fixture. I’m talking about the lights as 10A current rating, clearly shoots for the shining stars of our homes. If you need something more substantial Shelly 1 comes with 16A rating.
On paper, the device seems to be just right:
- Input: AC 100-240V 50/60Hz 10A Max;
- Output: AC 100-240V 50/60Hz 10A Max;
- Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHZ;
- Material: PC V0;
- Dimension: 42.6X42.6X20mm;
- Alexa, Google Assistant compatible
- DIY Mode
If you read my Sonoff DIY Mode article, you know what I will dislike about the Sonoff Mini, but for now, let’s take a look at the hardware.
Sonoff Mini is much better designed from the user perspective than Shelly 1. It comes with 6 terminals which is a logical choice as your light fitting will supply 2 power strands, 2 strands to close the bulb loop and 2 strands to close the switch loop. No need to re-invent the wheel (looking at you Shelly!) or splice the cables – just plug and play!
It’s rated for 10A so it can handle sockets too as long as you don’t connect anything power-hungry (your 2000W vacuum is ok). It also comes with an external antenna in case the “noise” from the wires disrupts the WiFi.
Another bonus points for Sonoff Mini – the switch loop runs on 3.3V logic. It’s safe to add low power switches to toggle your lights on and off.
Take extra care, you are dealing with a high voltage which is deadly. Turn off the power supply before you fit the Sonoff Mini.
Different countries come with different wiring standards. There are 2 ways in which your lights can be connected to mains. Where you put your Sonoff Mini depends on the wiring standard inside your house.
Installing near the switch
To install Sonoff Mini you have to check how are your lights wired. Turn off the lights using breakers, then open up the wall switch. If you see live and neutral going in as well as going out. Sonoff Mini should be mounted inside the wall behind the switch.
Installing near the light fitting
If you only see only two wires (sometimes earth cable as well) connected, your lights are fed through the ceiling and your Sonoff Mini has to go inside the light fitting hole.
Lights are usually done on a separate loop. They tend to be connected with each other, so you are likely to find another mains cable to continue the loop. If you break the loop (I have done so the first time around) you will still enjoy the Sonoff Mini, just not the lights elsewhere.
If you used the Sonoff devices before, the eWeLink app isn’t anything new to you. Sonoff Mini gets connected in the same way as other devices. Press the reset button for 5 seconds, use pairing mode, follow the instructions and you are ready to operate the device via the app.
The app comes with Alexa and Google Assistant integration and the app integrates further with other systems like Xiaomi Mi home, Nest of IFTTT.
The app is pretty much industry standard, comes with timers and schedules, rooms and groups. All you would need from the smart home app. While the “edge detection” works best for most of the users, there is no option to configure how the hardware switch behaves – something I was impressed with on Shelly 1.
Sonoff Mini also comes with DIY Mode. I have explained in details how to use Sonoff DIY Mode, but here is TL;DR: If you use DIY mode, you loose eWeLink connectivity. No Alexa, Google Assistant and app in DIY mode – it’s down to you and how you manage your devices.
I’m not sure if ITEAD guys will ever change that, but they should take lessons from Shelly 1 in terms of software design and listen to the feedback given by the community.
Sonoff Mini is easier to install for sure. I like the hardware, but the shortcomings of the Sonoff DIY mode are rather serious if you want to have your own automation server. There are ways to connect your Home Assistant and NodeRED servers to Alexa and Google Assistant, but it should never be that difficult. If all you need is eWeLink, smart speakers and physical control over your lights – go ahead! If you have any questions please leave it in this Reddit thread.