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Getting Started with ESP8266 WiFi Transceiver (Review)


The ESP8266 is a Wi-Fi module great for IoT and Home Automation projects. This article is a getting started guide for the ESP8266 development board. 

About the ESP8266

The ESP8266 is a $4 (up to $10) Wi-Fi module. It allows you to control inputs and outputs as you would do with an Arduino, but it comes with Wi-Fi.
So, it is great for home automation/internet of things applications.

So what can you do with this low cost module?

If you want to create a web server with the ESP8266, we highly recommend following our tutorial: Build an ESP8266 Web Server

ESP8266 specifications

  • 11 b/g/n protocol
  • Wi-Fi Direct (P2P), soft-AP
  • Integrated TCP/IP protocol stack
  • Built-in low-power 32-bit CPU
  • SDIO 2.0, SPI, UART

Comparing the ESP8266 with other Wi-Fi solutions on the market, it is a great option for most “Internet of Things” projects! It’s easy to see why it’s so popular: it only costs a few dollars and can be integrated in advanced projects. We’ve published dozens of free ESP8266 projects and tutorials.

There is a successor of the ESP8266 – the ESP32. The ESP32 combines Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and is dual core. Read the following article to know the differences between the ESP8266 and the ESP32:

ESP8266 Versions

The ESP8266 comes in a wide variety of versions (as shown in the figure below). The ESP-12E or often called ESP-12E NodeMCU Kit is currently the most practical version, in our opinion.

We highly recommend using the ESP8266-12E NodeMCU Kit, the one that has built-in programmer. The built-in programmer makes it easy to prototype and upload your programs.

For a comparison between the different ESP8266 boards, you can read the following article:

ESP8266 Pinout

The most widely used ESP8266 development boards are the ESP-01, the ESP-12E and the Wemos D1 Mini.  We’ll show you the pinout for those boards. If you’re using another development board, make sure you have the right pinout.

ESP-12E NodeMCU Kit Pinout

Here’s a quick overview of the ESP-12E NodeMCU Kit pinout:

Wemos D1 Mini Pinout

Here’s the Wemos D1 Mini pinout:

ESP8266 – ESP-01 – V090

Here’s the ESP-01 V090 pinout.


Programming the ESP8266 Using Arduino IDE

There are several ways to program the ESP8266, but in most of our projects, we use the Arduino IDE. Follow the next tutorial to install the add-on for the ESP8266 in your Arduino IDE:

Recommended ESP8266 Projects

After installing the ESP8266 board add-on in your Arduino IDE you can start making projects with the ESP8266. We have a compilation with more than 30 projects and tutorials with the ESP8266:

Here’s a selection of some of our most popular and beginner-friendly projects with the ESP8266:

Watch the ESP8266 Video Review

This video is a bit outdated but gives you a simple introduction to the ESP8266.

Learn ESP32 with Arduino IDE

This is our complete guide to program the ESP32 with Arduino IDE, including projects, tips, and tricks! The registrations are open, so SIGN UP NOW »

Recommended Resources

Home Automation using ESP8266 »
Build IoT projects and home automation gadgets with the ESP8266 Wi-Fi module.

Build a Home Automation System »
Learn how to build a automation system using open-source hardware and software from scratch.

Arduino Step-by-Step Projects »
Build 25 cool Arduino projects with our course even with no prior experience!

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