Home Assistant is open source home automation that puts local control and privacy first. Powered by a worldwide community of tinkerers and DIY enthusiasts. It’s perfect to run on a Raspberry Pi or a local server. Available for free at home-assistant.io
For me it all started with a starter pack of Phillips Hue bubs and a a Hue Hub. The ability to turn on and off lights with a with my smartphone from home or away seemed like an attractive idea. Immediately after that I integrated voice controls from a Google Home and Echo Dot I had. Hue was great for some of the lamps I had that weren’t controlled by light switches, but when it came to all of the recessed lighting I had swapping out those bulbs with Hue seemed expensive and unpractical considering they wouldn’t turn on if the light switches were off. To save money and a to get around managing a ton of Hue bulbs started swapping out traditional light switches with Lutron Caseta switches and a Caseta Hub. I think that was the point that the home automation addiction began.
Before I knew it, I had Phillips Hue, Lutron Caseta, a Nest Thermostat, a Chamberlain MyQ garage door opener and a Logitech Harmony Hub for my entertainment center. It was great having control of so many things from my phone, but I was filling up a entire screen on my phone with apps that I had to manage. If I wanted to give the same functionality to my girlfriend I had to setup and manage all of the same apps on her phone as well. It’s a small inconvenience compared to all of the great benefits I now had, but setting for that solution isn’t something that a good home automation guru is about to settle for. Thus began the hunt for something to centrally manage them all.
I started out with Samsung Smartthings and was able to pull in my lighting and some miscellaneous things, but at the time their offerings for third party integrations were limited. From there I looked at other commercial solutions, but I wanted to avoid buying hubs and paying for software that might not integrate with everything I had or was planning to purchase.
Home Assistant stood out because I could install it on a Raspberry Pi which is relatively inexpensive. I also had been curious about Raspberry Pi for a long time and figured if Home Assistant didn’t work out I’d use it for something else. Home Assistant can be installed on Linux, in a Docker container or they offer a reinstalled setup in an operating system they call HASSOS. HASSOS is easily installed on an SDcard and runs from the Raspberry Pi. I chose the HASSOS option on my new Pi.
Immediately after installing Home Assistant and accessing the web page front-end I noticed it already started discovering some of my devices. Some of the integrations were a breeze and some I had to visit Home Assistant’s website
where I found instructions on home to setup what wasn’t automatically configured. The community driven website they have is so well documented that it’s easy to integrate just about everything. If you have a hard time understanding some of their tutorials there’s an endless amount of YouTube channels dedicated to helping you build on your environment.
So now lets take a look at what I was able to do with Home Assistant!
My home screen incorporates what I want as my default display on when I open HA from my phones, tablets and computers. From this screen I can see who’s home, set my alarm, view a grouped view of my cameras, motion sensors, light groups and a weather map.
My living room screen has live cameras of my living and family rooms, light controls, media players, Google Home and TV controls.
My Kitchen and Garage screen contains my Nest thermostat, weather conditions, lighting, temp sensors and garage door control.
My Upstairs screen has lighting for my hallway and bedroom lighting as well as some of my cameras. It also lets me control media playing on my Google Home speakers.
The basement screen is more lighting and a media control for a Chromecast.
This screen is basically just a grouping of all my lights, speakers and sprinklers. I have these lights setup on individual room screens, but it’s also night to have a heads up view of everything.
This screen is a group some miscellaneous sensors I have configured. There’s a website monitor, a device tracking map, my current internet speedtest results and some information from a server I have running virtual machines in VMware.
The final screen I have configured displays all of my cameras and the motion sensors incorporated into those cameras.