Is there a way to turn on large numbers of IoT devices remotely?



I have a lot of IoT devices that I am currently working on (read playing with). One of my biggest headaches is turning on the ones I need without climbing under my desk and plugging in a lot of wires. I looked at IoT controlled power switches but that is going to get very expensive very fast for a large number of distributed devices (really, a $20 power switch for a $5 micro computer?). Obviously once they are deployed in large numbers (~100 at a site) the desk climbing will no longer be an option.

I would also like to be able to turn them on (from fully off) from anywhere that there is internet. We can safely assume that most will turn on when power is restored.

Hopefully, someone has a better solution than mine.


Posted 2016-12-07T13:32:07.537

Reputation: 314

Rather than buying some electronic component for 20$, you could just employ the stupid simple, yet oddly satisfying power outlet switch with a motor taped to it.10 Replies 2016-12-07T13:37:19.133

@10Replies I had similar thoughts but I am unsure about about 1. Reliability (I have found power strips to be a bit dodgy when you flip the switch on and immediately have a bunch of devices draw power) and 2. Scaling, the motor + power switch works well for a single switch but now imagine a large number of devices spread out.AstroDan 2016-12-07T13:47:19.950

1Can you explain why these devices require power up sequencing? Sounds like a software/reliability issue more than anything else - or a made-up question...Sean Houlihane 2016-12-07T14:00:06.277

@SeanHoulihane I meant powering up the ones I need at the moment (very bad wording, sorry). This is for a real project, I just tried to generalize it a bit to much.AstroDan 2016-12-07T14:08:12.117

1Why do you need to turn them on? The only reason you need to turn them on is because you have turned them off. So if you don't turn them off you won't need to turn them on. Obviously this means you need to configure them to default to on when power is restored after a failure.Code Gorilla 2016-12-07T14:51:44.540

@Matt Mostly personal preference and experience. I used to work with a robotic telescope located several thousand miles from where I live. We quickly found that most problems and damage occurs when components are turned on. Thus the standard state for systems not in use was off. For that case I had server switches and X10 controllers, which get rather expensive. Now I am playing with the idea of automating a friends green house on a budget. I can build (have prototypes) the sensors and valve controllers, but I would like them to be off when not in use.AstroDan 2016-12-07T15:08:30.523

You are actually asking for a solution to restore power to a specific device, right? What's behind that power switch seems to be irrelevant.Helmar 2016-12-07T16:15:45.647

2How about wake-on-LAN?v7d8dpo4 2016-12-08T08:41:35.027



In as much as there is a 'standard' solution I suspect it's going to look like a Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller attached to a relay or MOSFET. Something somewhere has to be on 24/7 if you want round-the-clock control over your outlets.

I've made a bunch of internet controlled sockets using ESP8266 ESP-01S modules (not the ESP-01, which has less memory) and cheap Chinese relay boards. You need one relay per controlled device, but can add dozens of relays to each ESP-01S if you make use of something like the MCP23017 I2S port expander. As you're dealing with mains voltage you also need to factor in the costs of sensible enclosures. The ESP-01S serves up a basic web interface with on/off buttons that toggle the relays, which serve power up to your devices.

If you build them yourself (particularly if you sell them to other people), you are very likely, over time, to rack up production, support and maintenance costs a long way over the $20 per switch you mention in your question. If your only goal is to DIY the whole thing, rather than being cost effective, then this is how I'd approach it.


Posted 2016-12-07T13:32:07.537

Reputation: 282

2I rather like this, the answer to any issue in IoT, more IoT!AstroDan 2016-12-08T12:55:41.050