Ceiling Fans: Hampton Bay zigbee VS. Sonoff ifan02 WiFi

:point_up: this exactly! Safety really has to be the #1 priority.

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So I’ve been kinda following this for a while and initially the Hampton Bay universal package was a little sketchy to get so in some of the older threads people were buying the replacement parts for the Home Decorators fan, and as I understand it that is essentially the same controller but with the added feature of reversing and the remote is black vs the white remote of the Hampton Bay add on package. Also as I understand it, it was the replacement remote and controller were 2 separate part numbers, which together were more than the Hampton Bay package, but if you only really cared about the controller it was less.

I could probably only really justify it if I was buying the replacement part, which last I saw was at around $32 for just the controller. Like I said the remote isn’t really important to me. I might need one just for setup, but I could just cycle through the dip switches for that. Also the idea that maybe I could hack the reversing to actually work is something that appeals to me since one of the reasons I have so many fans is that I have multiple stairways and seperate AC/Heat for upstairs and downstairs plus a walk out basement (so basically 3 stories to deal with) and have installed, well are installing, multiple small 30" fans in the stairwells to kind of pressurize them and keep all the house more regulated. I would really like to be able to auto reverse for heating vs cooling which here in Georgia can switch back and forth a couple times a week in spring and fall.

Not UL rated, well yea that is kind of a concern, although before I started looking into the Smartthings sphere I was seriously considering doing something like this with Raspberry Pis and BCRobotics relay HATs, which is absolutely not UL by any stretch and the Sonoff is marked with a CE Certification, so I’m not sure it’d make me that nervous. I do get the concern though.

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Are you referring to me making DIY smart switches? I don’t see how you get that from what I posted, unless that’s simply a reference to the Sonoff in general, which frankly I don’t really see how a Sonoff packaged purpose built fan controller is different than one from Home Depot.

Your average RF fan controller, UL listed or not are not the most well engineered pieces of kit and from what I have seen of the Sonoff stuff it does look like a pretty well build piece and the company is not at all shy about showing off how their products are made. I mean no disrespect to Underwriters Laboratories but the old X10 wall switches were UL listed and were downright dangerous things to stick in your walls. I’d feel way safer with the Sonoff fan controllers stuck in a roomy light kit designed for 60W incandescent bulbs, running 9W smart bulbs in their place, metal enclosed and ventilated, than those X10 switches that got so hot their plastic housings deformed in the walls so much that you had to break them to get them out through a plaster ring, despite being UL listed.

Also the Sonoff is rated for 90-250V and in a US installation is being used much closer to the lower than upper rated limits of the product. There is a huge, huge difference between 110V and EU single hot wire 220V circuits and these products are being used a lot in Europe. I’ve seen many many reviews on lots of the Sonoff products, and most of these reviews are produced in 220V countries, so I’m not sure I’d over blow these as something obscure or inherently cheaply made and risky. They’re also using the same basic components inside that 90% of all WiFi enabled smart devices are using, the ubiquitous esp8266 which is in just about everything that connects via WiFi and cost less than $100.

So I’m not sure I would have a higher level of trust of the Hampton Bay, or even the GE/Sylvania products for that matter than the Sonoff, since I know what’s in the Sonoff and really have no idea what is in the others. But that isn’t really the concern I have, I’m really probably more interested in how reliably the Hampton Bay solution really functions I guess, as a device or if there is any real issues with the implantation of the Sonoff DH since it seems, less cut and dry, like involving a firmware re-flash. The comment about needing zigbee repeaters nearby the Hampton Bay devices does certainly give me pause, while every one of the fans I’m looking to control already are doing WiFi without a hiccup since they are all loaded with LIFX Minis. It really gets down to, I think, the firmware of the Sonoff vs the RF of the Hampton Bay I think, as I kind of already know what to expect from an esp8266 and know from my recent IKEA Tradfri experience just how bad zigbee can be if implemented poorly.

No, not you at all.

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The zigbee repeater issue is because of the fan blades. Big moving fan blades are just a bear to get signal past. That’s true regardless of protocol or device model. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I personally like to put a repeater up above the fan on the next floor if possible for just this reason.

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That’s good to know, and explains the issue I’ve been having with my Hampton Bay zigbee controller. Unfortunately my house is single story, so I’ll need to get a repeater up near the ceiling.

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An IKEA Tradfri lightbulb makes a good zigbee repeater with SmartThings And is very inexpensive. The product description will say that it needs its own gateway, but you can use the smartthings hub instead. :sunglasses:

The IKEA smart bulbs and plugin pocket socket all work well with smartthings. The handheld remotes and buttons have limited integration at this time.

https://m2.ikea.com/us/en/cat/wireless-led-bulbs-36813/

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Yeah, I already use Tradfi pocket sockets and bulbs as repeaters since they’re one of the few things I’ve found that play well with all of my Xiaomi/Aqara sensors (well, that and they’re really cheap!). Just need to figure out a way to put one of them up high enough. Thanks again for the insight.

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One more factor to take into account with any Wi-Fi device is that you can run into a device limit pretty quickly. Many home routers can only handle up to 30 devices, some will go up to about 100 but cost a lot more. In contrast, you can have literally thousands of zigbee devices, one reason they are so popular for lightbulbs.

And of course then there’s the power utilization issue, although if you’re running the fans anyway you may not care about that as the controller is only a tiny fraction of the total fan usage.

Anyway, just something to keep in mind once you start going up above about a dozen Wi-Fi IOT devices. :sunglasses:

Yea, got that sorted out, I’m using a commercial corporate campus type Aruba mesh for my WiFi, I can do hundreds of WiFi connections, especially low bandwidth things like IoT devices. Multiple meshed access points with a wired backbone. I have to dumb down the configuration on the 2.4Ghz bands to make consumer IoT devices happy, and even then I still have to fire up a ‘fake’ consumer network to install and update some device, well OK, specifically LIFX which I don’t think is capable of living on a network with more than a Class Cs worth of addresses (256). But yea I am well aware of the limitations of consumer routers and WiFi Access Points. If I didn’t have the network I do I would be a little more cautious of diving into WiFi devices in any significant way.

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So I guess we’ll do a head to head, I ordered a Sonoff ifan02 and a Hampton Bay. Tried to call the number listed in this thread: Hampton Bay Zigbee Fan controller for the Home Decorators Eastwind replacement parts, but was getting a “you are calling outside of our business hours” message not outside of their business hours so not sure what that’s all about. But given that what I had to order was the whole Home Depot Hampton Bay kit so it’s not exactly that inexpensive of a solution at $50 a piece.

This is kind of making me rethink about the Zwave wall control solutions from GE/Honeywell/Leviton which are all rated for much higher loads and most of my fans are setup in groupings that pulled from what was an existing ill placed ceiling box, and I pulled an extra lighting wire when I did it, meaning I could conceivably control, in most cases, 2 or 3 fans at a time per controller with those wall controllers, although the controller itself would be mounted in a ceiling box, if that makes any sense. All the fans branch out from what used to be a single circuit lighting circuit, all 3-way in fact but none have separate fan/lighting runs to the wall. They do however all have a separate circuit -from- the original ceiling fixture lighting box -to- each of the fan rated retrofit boxes I put in. Given though that same of these boxes are 16’ up it does make me concerned even more about the reliability of the device to stay connected, as even though they are exposed in a plate just like they would be in a wall they are effectively inaccessible in any kind of normal circumstances. Though I have seen where people have buried those devices into the canopies. Anyway point being the groupings are all mostly 2 or 3 fans and the load rating of the wall switches is more than enough to drive 2 to 3 fans per device, based on fan only load, that needs a little more research though.

Thanks Eric, I’ve just seen your device handler for the ifan02 on github. Would I still need to flash the firmware on the ifan02 unit in order to use the device handler you’ve written? Thanks again and great work!

Yes, it would need my firmware flashed on it. You can backup the iTead firmware though if you think you might one day want to go back.

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Thanks Eric, looking at github there are a number of Sonoff bin files so am confused which one I need…
https://github.com/erocm123/SmartThingsPublic/tree/master/devicetypes/erocm123/sonoff-wifi-switch.src

For the ifan02 specific device do I need to use the ‘firmware_flash.zip’ file?

Also would you be kind enough to point me on how to flash ifan02 device. I’m looking for a step by step process as I’ve never done any firmware flashing before?

Thanks Imran

The necessary files are actually here:

Also, there are a lot of good resources out there on how to flash esp8266 devices.

On this device, I didn’t do any soldering. I just held the wires in place during the flash procedure.

There is also a thread with a lot of info and probably the best place to post about flashing questions:

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Hi @erocm1231!

Would be fine to flash this ifan02 firmware in the new ifan03?

Thanks for your work!

Looks like the tasmota guys are saying that the ifan03 board is quite different from the ifan02.

Hopefully there will be a new/updated DH for the ifan03, so I can use that with ST as opposed to the tasmota nightly that I have on there now.

you can flash with Tasmota and then use Bretts device handler with a slight modification.
Works fine, just finished testing it.

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I’ve been using Tasmota on my iFan03 for a while now. Can confirm it’s working well.

Hi @fooktheta i am unable to get the tasmota device to spawn child devices for ifan03? What is the line that needs to be modified in the DTH? Ive already changed Line 257 case 44: //iFan03.