Installing a few smart sockets, switches, or lightbulbs and controlling them from your smartphone doesn’t make your home smart. A smart home should be intelligent enough to make decisions, automate your devices, and send notifications and alerts based on events, time, or information from various sensors.
Although some manufacturers provide some basic options to automate their smart devices in their apps, they are connected to the cloud servers and will not work if the network or internet goes down, making them unreliable. Also, they may log or collect your activity data on their cloud servers, e.g. B. when, where or how you use your smart devices.
What is Home Assistant and why should you use it?
Home Assistant (HA) is free, open-source home automation software that allows you to create a localized smart home with complete privacy. It’s a flexible, reliable, and more secure solution than its cloud-based alternatives like Homebridge, SmartThings, or Alexa Routines.
With HA, you can control and access your smart home devices on the local network. This means that your smart home is independent of the cloud servers or the internet connection and will continue to function regardless of internet availability. Because it’s local, it’s also faster and more consistent.
You can integrate all your compatible smart devices such as sockets, switches, lamps and sensors with Home Assistant, control them individually or in a group and create automations.
You can also build homemade smart switches, lights and sensors for Home Assistant and use them to automate your home with complete privacy.
However, if you already use smart devices at home or in the office, chances are they will work with Home Assistant as it supports more than 1900 devices and services. When the devices are connected to your network, Home Assistant automatically scans and discovers known devices, which you can set up and control using Home Assistant’s web or app user interface.
What can the home assistant do?
Home Assistant is like a smart hub that allows you to add all your smart devices, integrate them as units and control them from a single web interface or HA app on a smartphone or tablet. It can also improve the functionality of smart devices and provide more functions.
Home Assistant also lets you control your devices through Alexa or Google Home Assistant smart speakers, although that requires one Nabu Casa Subscription.
If you have smart devices installed in your home or office that you currently control via various mobile apps, you can integrate them with Home Assistant to control them individually or in a group.
You can add rules-based automation where you can create routines or trigger devices based on time, event, conditions, and actions. You can also add automation scripts to define or set a sequence of actions that Home Assistant will perform when the script is activated.
For example, you can build a smart water/salt level sensor using an ultrasonic sensor and an ESP8266 board to measure tank volume and send notifications to your smartphone and voice alerts through the Alexa smart speaker when the tank level reaches a certain depth.
Similarly, you can also build a home DIY smart energy monitor that reports real-time power consumption to the Home Assistant interface. It records all logs and tracks daily energy monitoring on an hourly basis. You can also add the cost per KWh of energy to view your electricity bills.
If you have a traditional air conditioner or HVAC unit, Home Assistant lets you add Wi-Fi control and make your air conditioner smart without touching the unit.
We’ve already covered several guides on how to build smart DIY Home Assistant devices to automate your home. You can find more information in our DIY section.
We strongly encourage you to DIY smart devices as they do not require internet or third party servers to work and integrate natively with Home Assistant. Use ESPhome and Tasmota firmwareyou can quickly build and deploy smart switches, lights, and sensors in 3D printed cases for a neat look.
What are the potential downsides of Home Assistant?
There are some limitations to using Home Assistant that you need to consider before deploying one in your home.
- With Home Assistant comes a steep learning curve. You’ll have to go through the extensive documentation to learn Home Assistant and take hits and tries to make sure things work.
- Home Assistant regularly receives updates that fix security vulnerabilities and add improvements. When a major update comes, the old tutorials or guides may no longer work or be outdated and require a different approach or some manual tweaks that you may need to figure out.
However, there is a huge community to help you if you run into trouble or need help fixing it. You may find most of the solutions already solved by others. Also, once you have a few devices set up, you will understand most things related to integrating and controlling your smart devices.
What do you need for a Home Assistant installation?
You can install Home Assistant on the following devices:
- Intel NUC based systems (old laptops)
- Asus Tinker Board
- Raspberry Pi 3 or 4
To access the Home Assistant dashboard to control devices, you can use the Home Assistant app, available for iOS, iPadOS, and Android smartphones, or use a web browser on any compatible device.
How to install the home assistant
Although there are four different ways to install Home Assistant, it is recommended that you follow one of the following two methods to install Home Assistant on compatible hardware:
Home Assistant OS (with Supervisor)
This version of Home Assistant comes with a supervisor to manage the Home Assistant core and add-ons. It’s much easier to set up and you don’t have to adjust any settings manually or from the command line. You can install HA OS on single board computers like Tinkerboard, Odroid or Raspberry Pi. We recommend you use this method to install and set up Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi 4 with at least 4GB of RAM.
Home Assistant Container (No Supervisor)
You can also install Home Assistant on a Docker container. However, this does not come with it supervisor and addons. You must manually install the required add-ons using the command line or terminal. You can use this method to install HA on Windows, Mac or Linux PCs and old laptops.
Home Assistant for a secure & private smart home
With Home Assistant you can build a smart home that is truly private and more secure than cloud-based solutions. You can buy smart devices or build them yourself and integrate them with Home Assistant. If you want to keep your activity data private, consider using Home Assistant for home automation and smart device control.