test of the Sonoff Ihost box

Nico   11 min of reading

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test of the Sonoff Ihost box

First of all I wanted to thank Itead for the loan of this Sonoff box iHost version RV1126 of 4gb. First we will take an overview of the embedded application and see if v1.12.0 bears fruit. In a second article I will show you how to Hack the box and install Home Assistant OS on SDCARD without touching the original firmware but still carrying out a small manipulation on the hardware.

SONOFF offers a home automation box operating locally to make your home automation faster, reliable and secure.

LOCAL IHOST HOME AUTOMATION BOX ZIGBEE 3.0 WIFI 2GB - SONOFF

By Sonoff

SONOFF offers a home automation box operating locally to make your home automation faster, reliable and secure.

Content of the Sonoff ihost box

Unboxing and presentation of the Sonoff iHost

The package is neat, the gateway iHost is supplied with an RJ45 cable, a USB-C cable, instructions and a key to activate the reset function.

In short, no frills, just the essentials!

The Sonoff ihost gateway has an interesting visual rendering in blue, red and yellow

The plastic has a Glossy effect, the assembly is of good quality, the visual rendering of the LEDs is very successful.

the back of the Sonoff ihost has a reset button, SD card insert, USB port, USB and RJ45 power supply port

On the back you will find:

  • the reset button
  • an SD card insert ideal for external storage and essential for installing docker instance addons.
  • a USB port also for external storage (too bad it is not UART compatible)
  • a USB-C power port
  • and finally an RJ 45 port
SONOFF offers a home automation box operating locally to make your home automation faster, reliable and secure.

IHOST LOCAL ZIGBEE 3.0 WIFI 4GB HOME AUTOMATION BOX - SONOFF

By Sonoff

SONOFF offers a home automation box operating locally to make your home automation faster, reliable and secure.

above you find an on/off button, a zigbee pairing button, a button to mute the microphone and one to arm the presence and a microphone

You should know that the keys are backlit in blue On top:

  • an on/off button
  • a Zigbee pairing button
  • a mute button (to mute the microphone)
  • a button to arm presence/absence.
the sonoff ihost is relatively small

The size of the Sonoff iHost is correct, it integrates quite a few things so it certainly cannot be smaller.

real sonoff ihost processor

Sonoff doesn’t laugh and installs a rockchip RV1109 or RV1126 processor…..

zigbee chip and wifi sonoff gateway ihost

under the hood we find a module:

  • zigbee Silabs efr32mg21 (non-tuya)
  • an RTL8723 chip which distributes wifi b/g/n

Technical characteristics of the iHost

ModelAlbridge
ProductRV1109 DDR4 2 GB, RV1126 DDR4 4 GB
Zigbee ModuleSilicon Labs EFR32MG21 SoC
Wi-Fi ModuleRTL8723 2.4G Wi-Fi and BLE Wireless Module
Storage methodsUSB and TF card (Max. 256 GB for TF card)
Power supply5V 2A
Power interface typeType-C
CaseABS
Network interface typeRJ45
Wireless connectionWi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GHz, Zigbee 3.0
ColorWhite
Size120mm X 41mm X135mm
dimension in image of the sonoff gateway ihost

Soft from iHost

Before starting this overview, Sonoff has developed very good documentation available at this address: user guide, do not hesitate to consult it because it is very well documented and accompanied by explanatory videos.

First start and Update

To start, if you read the official documentation, Sonoff tells you to connect via USB and RJ45, wait for the blue display and then connect to the address ihost.local {: target=”_blank”}, well for me it never worked I managed by going to the router and manually looking for the IP address, don’t hesitate to set it to a fixed IP address otherwise you risk like me to see it change regularly. Then connect to the prompt:

sonoff gateway ihost connection page

To get started after the first start, you will need to connect to the ewelink application in order to benefit from the updates. My initial version was v1.5 while we are already at version 1.12.0.

Ewelink announces local operation but it turns out that the OTA firmware update only works through the official Ewelink application, which uses the cloud. In short, to keep it simple, Ewelink knows the operating state of the gateway iHost but not what is happening inside, hoping that this is the case.

To do this, just watch the official video:

After restarting, go to the settings page and you will see a button appear for the first update.

setting up the first update of the sonoff gateway ihost

Sonoff Zigbee Pairing iHost

On the homepage you can use the Zigbee network as well as pairing buttons, I’ll let you watch how it works on video

Zigbee compatibility

I have read negative opinions here and there on the hardware compatibility of this box. But since the release of zigbee2CUBE for the box iHost it is completely different. You can find the list of compatible modules on their sites, and it continues to grow from week to week. It is a very good thing.

To have access to a multitude of recognized zigbee modules you will need to activate zigbee2CUBE to do this, go to Pilot > Zigbee2CUBE

activation of the zigbee2CUBE driver of the sonoff gateway ihost

From now on I advise you to pair your modules and you will notice very good compatibility as well as exceptional fluidity during pairing. Honestly, nothing to complain about.**

I’ve installed all kinds of modules and not one has been left behind.

I think that in the long term it will be the most important base after Zigbee2mqtt

If you wish to participate in the evolution of hardware compatibilities, a dedicated discussion thread exists on the Ewelink forum

Zigbee2cube

Message from the manufacturer:

As you may know, the compatibility issue with ZigBee devices is a complex and time-consuming project. We cannot guarantee compatibility with all ZigBee devices available on the market, but we will continually do our best to improve iHost’s compatibility with ZigBee devices, especially NON-ZigBee 3.0 standard protocol devices, do not feel free to join the discussion here.

In short, ZigBee devices, especially NON-ZigBee 3.0 devices, to be compatible and correctly displayed in the iHost web portal, three conditions must be met simultaneously,

  1. The model reported by the ZigBee device is part of the list of types supported by Zigbee2CUBE.
  2. The capabilities (exposures) reported by the ZigBee device fall within the types and capacities supported by Zigbee2CUBE.
  3. The eWeLink CUBE system has corresponding user interface capability, which means it can display the device correctly. Currently, switch classes, lighting classes, and some sensor classes are supported.

We’ve sorted out a list of devices (check below) that should theoretically be supported by iHost Zigbee2CUBE, but we can’t test them all. If your ZigBee device does not appear as expected in iHost, be sure to first check if it is included in the supported list provided below.

If it is not listed, please wait for periodic updates as we continue to expand the list of supported devices.

Automation (Smart Scene iHost)

The iHost gateway offers a Smart scene tab, it is nothing more than an automation tab.

configuration of smart scenes automation of the sonoff gateway ihost

So at this stage version 1.12.0 does not add anything new in this area and it’s a shame because we are far from what Home Assistant or Jeedom can offer and that’s a shame. It only offers trigger conditions and actions, it’s too light for automation.

Modes in iHost Smart security

By default the sonoff gateway iHost offers 3 operating modes, the Home, Away and Sleep function. Activating one of the modes has the most beautiful visual and sound effect, frankly it’s very nice. It allows you to trigger the box’s audible and visual alarm by flashing. Weak point on this version you will not be able to create other modes.

the Home/Away/Sleep modes of the Sonoff Gateway ihost

Using Casts

The casts are simply dashboards to personalize, and frankly it’s very well done to the point that I think that home assistant should take inspiration from it, in three clicks you create an interface that you can share with a member of your family.

Adding a cast has never been easier

sonoff gateway ihost cast settings page

once on the created cast you just need to:

  • select the relevant modules
  • select scenes
  • configure the graphical interface
  • and choose the configuration parameters such as a password for example.
sonoff gateway ihost cast options configuration page

Here is a rendering created in 2 minutes available on the dashboard of a PC.

rendering of the sonoff gateway ihost casts

Cast presentation video.

Docker in iHost

The integration of Docker is a very important point, because you will be able to configure containers officially run by Ewelink but also containers like Zigbee2mqtt. At this stage I have only tested the official containers which are already prepared to work with the iHost gateway.

At Sonoff as for Home-Assistant this function is called Add-ons

sonoff gateway ihost add-on options configuration page

We find among other things:

  • Homebridge
  • Ewelink smarthome (allows Sonoff to operate in LAN)
  • NodeRed
  • Paral sync (synchronization of zigbee modules of an Nspanel pro with iHost) New in V.1.12.0
  • An weather Api
  • mqtt2tasmota
  • tts2cube pico (doing tts with the iHost microphone)

Matter Firmware V1.12.0

Big news, version 1.12.0 released in November 2023 supports Matter products and adds the Pilot > Bluetooth function. I tested the integration of Matter products for you and I must tell you that for the moment it is far from perfect.

Firstly, the Matter function only works with the Google Home, Apple Home, Alexa and Smartthings applications.

You will first need to link one of the applications mentioned above with Ihost and secondly you will need to integrate the Matter module, in my case as I use Android, in Google Home.

Currently I have 2 Matter products and unlike Home-Assistant where I managed to integrate them, for Sonoff iHost it is something completely different. First, every other time the link between iHost and google home is held in check. And the integration of the modules into Google Home works but are decommissioned once integrated.

So with the release of V1.12.0 Matter is not functional at least for me, maybe I’m not carrying out the manipulations correctly.

Manuals iHost

SONOFF offers a home automation box operating locally to make your home automation faster, reliable and secure.

LOCAL IHOST HOME AUTOMATION BOX ZIGBEE 3.0 WIFI 2GB - SONOFF

By Sonoff

SONOFF offers a home automation box operating locally to make your home automation faster, reliable and secure.

product advantages iHost

  • manufacturing quality
  • certified zigbee 3.0 chip EFR32MG21
  • the price (approximately €99 or €109) depending on the version
  • the many compatibilities
  • the various supports
  • integration of a microphone and speaker
  • Addons integration via docker
  • Zigbee hardware compatibility
  • power of the Rockchip processor

the - of the product iHost

  • No 5Ghz wifi
  • Matter unstable
  • connection to the Ewelink application required
SONOFF offers a home automation box operating locally to make your home automation faster, reliable and secure.

IHOST LOCAL ZIGBEE 3.0 WIFI 4GB HOME AUTOMATION BOX - SONOFF

By Sonoff

SONOFF offers a home automation box operating locally to make your home automation faster, reliable and secure.

Big advantage the box iHost is equipped with a microphone and speakers which will allow you in the near future to be able to control your box by voice, a real plus for years to come.

Conclusion

I gave this box 5 stars, because the manufacturing quality for a ridiculous price makes it an essential control box, the prospect of regular evolution of Sonoff firmware will solve most of the problems you just need to be patient. In short, for 100€ you will have a box that will do the job.

Rating:
Nico

Nico

Founding member of the Haade site, a home automation enthusiast with all the tricks that go well.

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