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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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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.

@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.

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.

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.

 

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.


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.

 

Regarding the "code" non-compliance. You can do anything you want with your house, whether it is compliant to the code or not, but when you have a claim with the insurance, you will find problems. That is the bigger issue.

IMHO, the use of flex wire in wall is not compliant because of the fire hazard and easily being damaged by insects/rodents. I have to spend a day to trouble shoot a wall socket because rodents chew through the NM, had it been BMX then it could be saved. Figure how much it costs an electrician vs the cost of wiring if you do not know how to DIY. Frankly, I did not DIY for that issue, but the person did the troubleshoot was part of a bigger project so it did not cost me much. 

I've recently installed several LUTRON and Leviton dimmers, they use stranded wire for their pigtails.

Attached are images showing the stranded wire.






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There is nothing in the US national electric code that prevents the use of stranded wire. It simply states it must be adequately protected where necessary. For instance, when ran in walls, it must be in a raceway or metal sheathing (FMC, etc). This isn't unique to stranded cable either, the same rules apply to solid wire ran in walls without an outer sheath (as in not romex).


When used in a receptacle box, the box provides protection, and there are no further requirements from the NEC, it is perfectly legal. In fact, you'd be very hard pressed to find solid conductors in many commercial applications, a majority use stranded THHN due to ease of pull through conduit and other factors.


One thing to watch out for though is make sure the terminations on the device are rated to accept stranded wire. If they aren't, that's a violation. For instance, a lot of receptacles and switches are only rated for solid wire. That doesn't really apply here though


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Here is a discussion by industry electricians on the matter http://www.electriciantalk.com/f5/use-stranded-wire-20907/


NEC banning stranded wire is one of the oldest myths out there that just won't die 


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I give up.


I put stranded pig tails on since even the shorter screws would not sit flush when screwing down onto solid wire.

When I finally go to slide the switch into place, it stops short. Seems the body of the switch is slightly too wide to fit into a standard metal box!  I can deal with shorts from the screws, put on insulation, cut out part of the box, whatever. How am I supposed to deal with a switch that is simply too wide  (1.9") to fit into the box!!  This is not some ancient non-standard box, it was installed when the home was built in 2005.

Glad I bought my first one from Amazon as a test, now I can return it with no hassle!



Welcome to hell :P

Even with stranded wire, the screws cannot hold the wire and fit into the frame. The worst part are those "hooks" to hold the face plate on to the frame, I cannot make it work and I have a 1998 house with all the electrical update.

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