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Problem on Sonoff Touch installation (US)

I bought the Sonoff Touch for US version. I have installed and paired the device, now it is working with eWink. However, this device should never be sold to the US and will never pass the UL certificate. For the following reasons.


1. Basic design flaws. The US electrical wiring for home in wall installation basically takes the Romex or Beamex format and the wires they provided are solid wires(photo 1). The basic design for Touch dose not allow margins for the screws to protrude from the mounting braket. (photos 2 and 3).  In order to install it, the bracket must be filed down with notches like the photos 2 and 3.


2. The latches of the Touch is too week to handle a solid wire installation(photo 4), basically it is about 1/2" from the wall bracket and the wires are exposed, After install the Touch, I have to use wires to tide it down (photo 5). This is absolutely not acceptable in electric code. In the US, plate covers are tide down with screws.


3. Apparently the switch require constant power to provide the wifi function. The US single cable (Romex or Beamex) wall installation comes in three wires, a ground, a neutral and a hot. The switch has provisions on neutral and hot wires, but has no provision for the ground wire. An ungrounded wire was used up to the 1960's but since 1970, it has been the standard for three wire grounded installation. 


4. Most homes has three way switches. Touch has no provisions for a three way switches.



The whole Touch concept is fine, but you'd better come here to learn about electrical system and codes (law). 

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It's interesting they are supplying shorter screws, but that is only a small part of what is wrong in the design on this switch as was previously stated. I would say that no one at Sonoff took the time to actually install one of these in a US box, or even noticed the design was all wrong. Part of the problem in fitting up is the vast difference in what is out in the field. A house built in 1930 has much smaller boxes than one built in more recent times and this is often exacerbated by the habit the earlier electricians had of using the switch box as a junction. What I was faced with was a box with less than 16cuin that was already packed with 3 old style tarpaper nm wires. If I were so motivated I could have ripped out the box, probably getting involved in a plaster wall repair as well and replaced it with an extended capacity box such as are now available but for some reason that idea did not appeal to me, LOL.

While "the code" prohibits the use of flexible wires in the box one does have to wonder why all our fixtures come with flexible wires and what really is the difference between a wall sconce with flex wire pigtails and a wall switch with flex wire pigtails. My boss, who was a master electrician with a masters degree in EE always said " no problem" but others I'm sure will disagree.
I'm not wrapping any wires around the screw head, but am inserting it and tightening down the screw.
The other thing is that this switch, and all of these sonoffs, are, IMO, over-rated in power handling capacity, in this case the touch I would keep the load to abt. 100w. My experiences with Chinese ratings is one of what may be considered "alternate facts".
My advice on the US version Sonoff touch switches is, Do not buy.

 


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I just received a Sonoff touch today, ordered via Amazon from dealer Kitchenhoney.

It included 3 extra screws, all flat head, and shorter. Does this effectively fixes the clearance issue with the frame?

Also I'm confused by all the talk of stranded vs solid wire.

Is everyone trying to wrap the wire around the screw head? To me it looks designed to insert the wire through the hold in the back, and tighten the screw down to hold the wire in place.


Re: flex wires in the box. Every wall sconce or ceiling light fixture, ceiling fan, etc. comes with flex wires that are connected to the house wiring in the box. The majority of those fixtures do not even sport silicone insulation.
 I, also was not too thrilled to use the surface mount "extension" but using it allows me to completely bypass the weak latches. Now my touch is screwed to the box, and while a curious child might be able to pry off the decor panel and ruin the switch that child would be unable to come in contact with the mains. It's not the prettiest solution. You actually have to use a small screwdriver to pop the decor off but I know kids can get their tiny fingers into just about anything.
 I would like to see sonoff come up with a dedicated NM spacer in black and pre-install flexible pigtails eliminating the screws entirely. Just like the fixtures mentioned above.
Being retired, I'm always home and I will continue to monitor all these sonoff devices, but there is no way I'm going to trust them while away until they have shown me a year's service. The other thing I will never do is use them at load levels even close to what they claim.  I'm not using my 12a. sonoff's to handle anything more than 800w, my 10a's no more than 400w, and these touches only get 80w.

 


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David Vinch

Thanks for the support. I have a non-metallic box, so I did get away with the screws protruding problem.  But it is not upto the code to put flexible wires in a electric box, fire hazard. Also, extending the electric box by a surface mount will reduce your home value, it is not appealing. Maybe only in the garage.


My other problem still is the body of the touch cannot latch to the frame, so the tie down wire shown in one of my photo is still on. 


After all, this is for the hobbyist, not a serious building material that can be sold in the US. I also think this will have problems world wide, just look at that Youtube video from New Zealand.


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@Gary, but to have a US version that does not work in NA is not acceptable, it's false advertising because it does not work in NA.  Actually it does but you have to have make lots of modifications to have it fit.


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While agree I wish there would be a better design, if you want a UL listed product compliant with US standards, buy one. There's a reason the price is so low.

 I have also contacted support re: touch US version stating all the same concerns. I feel Sonoff must redesign and ship out replacements to every US user starting with all of us who have complained.

This is a workaround:

Mount the touch utilizing a surface mount box

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Legrand-Wiremold-500-and-700-Series-4-8-in-Starter-Box-V5751/100030097

you do not need to use the silver plate but you must buy some 1.5" box screws while at the store. Eliminate the rectangular plastic mount plate from Sonoff and either grind holes in the HD box to accommodate the latches or just cut them off. Remove the decor plate from touch and drill two box screw holes in the switch then you can mount the touch to the surface mount box and the too long screws they used will not be a short danger. I also use 14awg silicone jacket ultra flexible stranded wire pigtails on the touch, this makes it much easier to install b ut you are left with a unit that protrudes like any surface mount switch would. There really is NOT enough room in a one gang for this touch to safely reside. THEY REALLY NEED TO REWORK THEIR US DESIGN AND I HAVE DEMANDED THIS IN MY SUPPORT TICKET.

To the support team.  Is there a redesign of the Touch US version?  I bought one and like what Jack stated, the screws protrude too much and will touch the metal box.  This is not ideal.  The device box dimensions are 3 x 2 x 2 1/2".  Please redesign your Touch US version as it is useless for me now.  Also, we use the device vertical so your product name should be printed vertically and not horizontally.

There is nothing to talk about the design on Touch, if it can gain UL approval, then you have a point. If it is not UL approved device, then there is no grounds for your argument.

 I'm very familiar with US electrical codes and I think you are being somewhat over zealous and irascible in your comments. 


Please don't take my suggestions too literally - by "soldering" the connection could be, during the manufacturing process, electrically welded / crimped to conform to code... 

But more essentially you are missing my point which is that the Touch s/b supplied with wire "pig tails" which are more convenient to use and solves the too long screw problem.


Furthermore I tend to disagree with your 14 gauge wire requirement  - I'm looking right at a Belkin Wemo and it seems to me that their pig tails are in fact 16 gauge and are certainly stranded wire!

I might add that logically for the short length of the pig tails there will negligible difference in the conductance between 14 and 16 gauge... 


Not sure about your comment about hooks and where that came from - not from my comments...

I would agree that the the units need to a proper screw connection into the outlet box.


Glen,


I don't know where do you come from but your idea will not fly with the building codes in the US. You cannot solder any thing in an in-wall installation. That will not pass UL safety check. The minimum in wall wires for US is 14 gauge, not  16 and the wires must be solid copper. The Touch must be redesigned so the wire can be connected to the units from the back, not from the side. The body must be screwed into the electric box, not using a "hook" to secure to the "frame".  Nothing to be sold without total redesign and they should buy some like kind switches and electrical boxes to test out.

One idea to fix the protruding power screws (and Sonoff should use this idea) is to remove the screws and solder some ~16 gauge stranded copper wires (and color code them - wht for neutral, blk for line and yellow for the bulb...).

The wire leads should be about 8" long..

Not sure how accessible the screw posts are but hopefully with a bit of fiddling you can solder a wire to it.

Certainly during manufacturing it would be easy to afix the wires!


I like the Sonoff products - they work pretty good and the price is good - and only wish in addn to using wire leads for the power wiring that the face plate conformed to the "Decora" standard - this is key if you want to add a Sonoff into a multi 'ganged' box with other Decora style switches...


If they implemented these ideas I bet they would sell a "ton" of Touches ... !!!


Everything Jack said is correct - these are basically useless in the US. There's some design flaws that make me wonder if anyone ever actually used one before shipping them. Like he says, once you have the mounting bracket on the wall, and screw the wires into the device, the screws are now protruding slightly farther out, and won't allow you to put the Touch into the bracket. You have to file it down. Also, it's too wide. I haven't found a wall box that lets me put this in without the live screws on the side touching the metal box! I'm willing to pay for an improved version of this that actually works in the US. Itead - for better service next time, try actually installing a new product you design before shipping it
Yeah I would be ok if they found some limited solution with newer boxes...if it means keepimg costs down. Boxes can be replaced if push comes to shove. It is a hobbyist product. Can spend big bucks today for more friendly solutions.

OK


http://tinkerman.cat/esp8266-multi-relay-boards-sonoff-dual-electrodragon/


Sonoff dual maybe able to fix the three ways switch problem, but do we have to flash it with ESPurna to perform the operation or it has firmware included. Besides, it is the regular Sonoff, it has not been released to Touch and when it is implemented, will that fix all the problems that Touch has?


I still cannot make the touch to hold solid in the electrical box. 

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