Introduction: Dumb Fan Made Smart

I wanted to make a typical pedestal fan smart, because I got bored having to turn it on and off manually, when it's over the other side of the room and I'm on the sofa or in bed. I also wanted to be able to time it off as I went to sleep. Some fans can do this already, but this one couldn't. So, as I already have automated routines running when I go to bed, adding the fan on and timed off into that during the summer made sense. Cheap pedestal fan, meet naked Sonoff basic.


Pedestal fan (could be the wall-mount type too, but the box type is unlikely to have space).

Sonoff basic

Step 1: Tools Needed

This may vary depending on exactly how the fan is put together. I needed a screwdriver (cross-head), electrical screwdriver (the small type for doing up cable joins), and wire cutters.

Step 2: Strip Off Sonoff

The first task is to strip down the Sonoff so we can lose (or re-use!) the case and the bulk. The board of a Sonoff basic is, err, basic and small, using an ESP8266 in small form with a relay plus a transformer. It's the perfect IoT switch for this as the board is small and does just what we need, switch mains on Wifi!

If you haven't already, pair the Sonoff with the wifi network now, before it's in the Fan. Sometimes they need the button pressing to get it to pair when powered up.

Step 3: Your Biggest Fan

This step will vary on your fan, so this is guidance. I had a typical 4-button (stop, go, quicker, helicopter) pedestal fan. I popped the head off so I could work on it on the bench easier. Six or so screws and the front pops off the back. Be careful as the cables are not always that long! You'll notice in my pic that I had already extended the incoming power cables as I need to plug the fan in a good distance from where it lives.

Once inside, you'll need to identify the cables going to each button and the incoming mains cables (two of those in this case). Take your time and be sure you understand where the mains comes in and goes to the buttons.

Step 4: Cut the Wires

Once you've identified what each wire does, cut as needed to get to the point where you have an incoming live and neutral and a neutral to the fan/buttons with a live to the fan. In my example, the two incoming are obvious (follow the main cable). But, the fan wiring was not so obvious, thanks mainly to crazy colour choices in the factory. It turned out the black cable heading to the fan was live and the blue neutral.

Step 5: Cut the Case If Needed

This, again depends on the fan design, but I found a fairly useless part of the original moulding got in the way, so snipped it off with the wire cutters to make way for the Sonoff king.

Step 6: Wire It Up

The next step is simple but tricky all at the same time - the two incoming wires go into the Sonoff (input) and the two fan wires (blue and black remember?!!) to the output side, simple. What's not so simple is then moving the board into the tight space to get it back together.

Step 7: All Done

Fan back together and with the added bonus of a new LED if the wifi is playing up!