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My smart home 2021: A Home Assistant love story (jorisroovers.com)
357 points by jroovers on Feb 17, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 200 comments

Good article that gets into the details of leveraging Home Assistant (HA) to glue together various types of sensors and switches, etc.

I think categorizing HA users into 2 groups of either technical or non-technical is too coarse. You have to add another dimension that captures how much a user is willing to automate their home (making it "smart").

I'm technical, but my goal is to make things as seamless as possible. For example, my Z-Wave wall switches are the type that allow the original switch to override what the remote command sent. These in-wall Z-Wave switches are embedded in the switch box and the existing switch is then low voltage.

The same for my thermostat. Any household member can override locally. I detect the change and make sure I hold that new value over any automations that run that day.

In the end, my HA setup is pretty minimal with no HA add-ons and a few integrations, such as Z-WaveJS2MQTT and MQTT being the most used. This way I rarely hit any issues upgrading HA.

What is still stopping me from jumping into this is the cost of each individual smart device.

They are just too expensive for what they are replacing.

May be my day job of handling servers and services at scale makes me say this…

I’d like my home, appliances and equipment to be dumb and simple. A basic level of automation by making all power switches controllable from a central private endpoint would be nice, but hooking that up to a non self-hosted service is a big No for me.

I’m about to buy a home. It will be fun to find that simplicity in automation for myself.

> making all power switches controllable from a central private endpoint would be nice

This is what Zigbee and Z-Wave are for, and I would say one one of the main points of using home assistant: to keep it all local. The Nabu Casa stuff just allows you to access your required local home assistant setup (RPi, VM, whatever) without having to mess with DMZ to allow direct connections. Self hosted in the whole point of it all.

If you buy smart devices that require cloud connections, then home assistant can also work with many of those, but it ends up being a much worse experience when turning your lightbulb on requires sending an http request halfway around the world and back.

I'd personally recommend the Lutron Caseta line. They use a proprietary RF system so if you want full automation or phone-based control you need their hub, but even without one you can just use them as normal switches, pair switches and remotes, pair switches with motion sensors, etc just as built-in behavior.

They've also covered basic usability issues that a lot of other smart switches overlook, like having a hard disconnect on every switch, so you don't need to go to the breaker box just to change a lightbulb.

Why would I need to go to the breaker to change a lightbulb?

Not necessarily a smart switch thing, but dimmers don’t break the circuit when off. If you remove a bulb, it will hurt if you put your finger in the socket.

There’s usually a secondary way to break the circuit - pull out a bit of plastic, snap the switch plate away from the wall… something. All mine of different brands have some way to do it.

Caseta is also one of the few switches that doesn’t require neutral lines.

I have slowly gone all in on Home Assistant over the past 5 years and I think it is an amazing community, and amazing open-source success story, and fantastic software.

I will say that programming your house yourself can be fun (you can literally do anything) but you also have to then keep up with all the technical debt and changes over time. I still don't think it's a great choice for non technically minded folks that would find that level of tinkering and fixing overwhelming - but I must say that Home Assistant is moving positively in that direction by really focusing on UX - and having a giant community keeping integrations updated, even unofficial reverse-engineered ones, is great.

What devices are you using with HA? I find that's the biggest hurdle for me. There are so many hurdles and the quality is unknown.

As a SWE I was initially skeptical about using software to control more aspects of my environment but I finally gave in and gave HA a shot. It took some work but I managed to cobble together a system using a RPI and ZWave which seemed to work reliably. I slowly added more features like HVAC and controlling my aquarium top-off pump. Everything worked reliably until I went on vacation and the switch controlling the aquarium top-off pump inexplicably fell off the network. I watched the water level slowly drop from 400 miles away over my webcam feed with no way to fix it. Moral of the story is beware of automation and always consider your failure cases. Building up these sorts of systems is fun and rewarding initially but can become a time sink and a liability if you're not careful.

I had HA set up for a number of things at my house but it took too much babysitting for me. I found it fun as a hobby project. But when we did a large remodel last year I intentionally decided not to have smart anythings. This includes Z-Wave, Zigbee, Alexa, Google Home, Sonos wireless speakers, etc.

Instead, I went the opposite direction. Wired everything including speakers. It was much more enjoyable figuring out and planning how to wire and install Sonance Invisible Series speakers behind drywall, pick the location for a Samsung Frame TV and bite the bullet to get a panel ready fridge.

In the end, I found I enjoy form over function and all electronic devices and appliances are either not present or completely hidden.

Yeah, the whole reason I got into this was to monitor my garage door and now I'm considering just going back to a wire and an LED. I can just hook up a RPi or ESP32 to the wire if I want to send myself text messages.

I use Home Assistant in my new house, and it kind of works. But the amount of effort needed to control a cheap wifi on/off plug did not impress me positively. It is basically one bit of information, but it goes through who knows how many layers of software and configurations. Took me a couple of hours to make it work..

I also use the standard thermostat component, which is basic beyond belief. The kind of control that is implemented in the cheapest hw thermostat you can buy. I mean, this is pure software, with 20 more lines of code you could implement a pid controller or smth. I looked into developing my own component, but the documentation for HA development also seems lacking at a quick look.

Home Assistant is the Linux Desktop of consumer applications. Tons of power under the hood and it is not designed with the end user in mind. Home Assistant has accomplished something literally no one else has, including Google, Amazon and Apple. Home Assistant has the best integration across the most number of devices. It is also extremely reliable and you can run it without the cloud.

If you want easy to install, I would suggest using Alexa with Alexa compatible devices. Amazon has really made Home Automation easy.

I agree that Home Assistant documentation is really bad. If you are technical and want to stick it out with Home Assistant, there are Python bridges you can use to write your own custom code.

I used HomeAssistant for over five years and pretty much hated every minute of it due to the amount of effort you describe. Setup, upgrades and maintenance were always a major pain. Features were introduced, rearchitected, and dropped without any consideration whether users 1) Wanted them in the first place 2) Whether it would be a burden to change things. 3) For dropped features, whether anyone would miss it.

It's just a very poorly ran and guided open source project. I ended up buying a Hubitat last year and it's required a lot less effort to run.

I won't comment on the behaviour/oversight of the OS project itself, but as a user I have had an opposite experience to you.

I am still using HA after about five years, and once I had it setup (which admittedly was hard work) it's been no trouble at all.

- Upgrades have never caused an outage - Basically every device is already supported - I can write my own code to extend as necessary - It does not talk to the WAN at all - My only outage was when my SD card died in the rpi

Agree on Hubitat.

Decided to ditch SmartThings. Went all-in on HA for a month. Went to Hubitat and am much happier.

I am using Home Assistant for my home automation for about 4 years now, before just lurking. For me Home Assistant is about quantity, not quality. Look at the massive amount of Integrations, currently sitting at almost 2000 [1]. Which is really impressive, but not even half of them are apparently used [2]?

Another example of this was when Blueprints were introduced [3]. I really, really love the idea of having templated automations, and I even introduced them into my setup. But sharing Blueprints is clunky, not mentioning updating Blueprints, which is borderline impossible from UI. Or at least, I haven't figured it out yet.

I still wouldn't recommend Home Assistant to a non-technical person, as some aspects are really hard to work out. Even if you're *Ops person.

1. https://www.home-assistant.io/integrations/ 2. https://analytics.home-assistant.io/#integrations 3. https://www.home-assistant.io/blog/2020/12/13/release-202012...

> On caveat is that I have started running into some reliability issues (occasional device unavailability) once I exceeded 50 or so devices. This seems to be common for Zigbee networks,

It's patently ridiculous that you could add a lightbulb to your network and be unable to get in your front door the next day because now you have too many devices.

Even more so when you consider that the standard is twenty years old and should be extremely mature.

This is the problem with all this home automation stuff...all of them, Zigbee, Zwave, wifi - seem to crap out as soon as you have a decent number of devices. WiFi seems the least robust for high device count, but why haven't Zwave and Zigbee figured out how to get their systems to work for a large number of devices, a decade-ish into things?

Security is also something of a joke for both zigbee and z-wave.

> I'm excited about the upcoming Matter and Thread standards which are likely to replace/augment Zigbee (and Z-wave) as true interoperable home automation connectivity standards.

Interoperable, but you'll be forced by vendors to use someone's online services. There is no way Matter and Thread will be designed in such a way that you will have freedom from paying somebody every month and give data that will eventually make its way to marketers.

Edit: the author's upstairs window automation devices are ludicrously dangerous from a fire safety standpoint as there appears to be no easy way to open them if the device breaks or loses power. Folks, do not remove manual control from windows. It's not just dangerous, it's likely illegal. Windows and doors MUST be operable, easily, by one hand.

> It's patently ridiculous that you could add a lightbulb to your network and be unable to get in your front door the next day because now you have too many devices.

I am not aware of any keypad zigbee or z-wave door lock that depends on that network to unlock in standard config. Yes, you could set it up that way, to unlock based on presence detection, etc, but that's on you. The standard setup is a local code list on the lock, with updates and status reported to home automation to enable integration. Most locks also have a standard key backup as well, so you're doubly protected.

Similarly with radiator valves; they operate locally. You program them with a mode (normal/off/away) and schedule (given temp at given time) upfront, and then they maintain the required temperature.

Home Assistant is great, but it will face huge hurdles as the founder tries to cash in on the popularity. It's already underway.

1) Nabu Casa was founded with a claim that "it will all be transparent and reported" as to income, etc, etc.

2) Then the "private" components happened only for Nabu Casa - like the cloud connection stuff.

3) A few years later when pointed out nothing was transparent yet the response was "We will not share this information."

3) Nabu Casa then started to hire up the more active community developers and set off on their own closed vision.

4) NC has bought up many of the associated pieces - the companion apps, the ESP32 stuff, etc, etc.

5) NC has hired many of the community developers and now quite some secrecy around the roadmaps and decisions.

6) You dare not question decisions or you get thrown off the forums and Discord channels for life. Many cases of this happening. They have a community manager who is particularly sensitive over any perceived negative comment and prone to going off to which the founder needs to step in and smooth the emotions. Not sure why they've not fired him after strike 4 or 5.

The end result is that Home Assistant is far less open than it was. It is going the same path pFsense did under the ownership of Netgate.

The challenge is many people invested into it and when it implodes it won't be pretty. I am hopeful someone forks it with a better community engagement model.

(I've been a user since the start, and a contributor in the early days. Left the community due to my work being monetized by NC without my consent.)

Hello, I’m the original creator of the Home Assistant iOS Companion App. Just wanted to clear up that Nabu Casa took over the iOS and Android apps purely because of requirements by Apple and Google around a corporation being the only entity that can have a development team. At no time did Nabu Casa pay any money to me or anyone else to acquire the apps. They were transferred to Nabu Casa purely for convenience, since Home Assistant Inc doesn’t exist.

Do I understand correctly that you just gave the iOS app out of your hands, for Nabu Casa to maintain? Or is it solely a legal structure?

I find it interesting if it were the former, I personally would have considered monetizing it myself, but then again, it’s probably not a coincidence I haven’t founded any opensource projects as impactful as Home Assistant. :)

Nabu Casa doesn't maintain it, the community does. I personally haven't worked on it in a while now because I've been consumed with my new company but it is still being very actively developed. I still have full access to the source code and developer account and such and am a resource to whoever needs my input as time permits.

If the community maintains it, why hasn't the community removed the phone-home surveillance in the iOS client?

This is something I only see in packages maintained by a central authority that wants to consume the data from the community, at the expense of end user privacy.

I'm the maintainer of the iOS/macOS app these days. I'm not paid by Nabu Casa and I do it in my free time (if anything, Nabu Casa has avoided doing things which may inadvertently monetize my work to not my benefit, which I appreciate).

There's no analytics nor reporting in the app. I've been slowly removing[0] things that talk to servers other than your Home Assistant server, but your private information's never left the device. Right now the app will talk to 2 additional sources, both of which you can disable in the Privacy settings:

1. alerts.home-assistant.io, which will alert for security issues but is strictly a JSON file it loads [1]

2. Firebase Cloud Messaging, for push notifications (since we can't talk to APNS directly in HA)

FCM is a dependency I'm actively trying to kill off in favor of an implementation that is both end-to-end encrypted and talks directly to Apple's Push Notification Service. Apple would not allow a solution where HA talks directly to APNS as they do not want that many active connections, and it would require disclosing private keys for the App Store account.

Unless Robbie wanted to give me his personal Apple ID password, moving the app to the Nabu Casa App Store account was the only way for me to do anything with the app.

[0] https://github.com/home-assistant/iOS/pull/2010 [1] https://github.com/home-assistant/iOS/blob/861a40a50aa201ff4...

That's freakin awesome, it's so refreshing to see this, especially when Home Assistant is likely to be installed on non-techie's phones and you want to just set it and forget it.

Thank-you for all of your work on the Home Assistant iOS app, it's one of the best parts of the ecosystem imo.

The app privacy label on the iOS App Store directly contradicts your claims.

Is it out of date?

The privacy labels are larger buckets than what I went into, and they err on the side of being more inclusive. For example, Firebase collects usage data on notifications (when they are received, opened, etc.) by virtue of being used, so that privacy label cannot be removed. It's possible some of the "diagnostics" can be taken off the privacy label.

Is it possible to entirely disable FCM in the client to avoid its phoning home to Google? If I wanted Google to have my home event data I would just use Google Home.

Yes. The toggle in Privacy will make the app not initialize Firebase. The library will still be in memory, but I don't believe it does anything. I also do not want Google to receive anything, which is why it's going to be removed once we have a replacement.

Re memory, maybe use dlopen to load Firebase when it is enabled?

Hey Robbie - glad to see you. Yes, the iOS app was transferred prior to Nabu Casa ramping up their current approach.

Too bad; if you hung on you could have gotten some $$$ for it. It would have made me happy to see you financially rewarded as you did contribute a lot early on.

I mean it's still all open source, so what if they want to monetise some hardware and cloud connectivity? Worst that will happen is they will drive more and more into paid plans, a fork may or may not happen and there will be a community split, but for my place personally I don't see much of a risk there when most of my stuff just uses the MQTT integration.

Hopefully with money coming in they can improve the core itself, because at the moment the real value of Home Assistant is the huge community around it and 3rd party integrations.

Wow, that is a bunch of assumptions incorrectly presented as the truth! The Open Home conference in December is laying it out pretty good and shows why and how most of the above is actually miles off: https://www.home-assistant.io/state-of-the-open-home/

It's a yearly state of the union. You are informed of what they want to inform you about.

Nothing "open" about it.

I know the HA founder and think you're mischaracterizing him and his motivations. What you call "Cashing in" is attempting to focus full time on a really terrific project. He's certainly not rich off this and could have instead gone for a commercial/closed source vs the open project it is now.

He tried to sell it to Ubiquiti but they did not bite.

So he ramped up the Nabu Casa approach to "control" the top community developers to ensure he did not loose control of the project. It can only fork if momentum to fork; and if you hire all the contributors that momentum is curbed.

Many have also indicated he's also tried to sell it to Ikea as a center piece to their Smart Home line of products. This was quickly deleted and those in the know tossed off the forum.

I don't think he tried to sell, ubiqiti sponsored him.

From Ubiquiti directly -- he tried to sell them Home Assistant. When it did not work out he left abruptly in what was described as a "temper tantrum"

I'm looking forward to the founders and the core maintainers being able to make a healthy living off of home assistant with the least amount of pointless overhead :)

I have few more things to add...

1. There is one specific "addon" developer/employee who wraps opensource docker containers and automates the releases through github release builds and proceeds to link the about page of addon to his donation page. Example: Nodered, InfluxDB, AirSonos/Cast addons in HA have no link to actual projects or their repos.

2. Absolutely have no standard for stability for what should be critical software, just check the number of production releases to end customer devices this month. EIGHT, yes they pushed eight releases to core app to end users, that's beside the "addon" updates that the guy does with his automated releases.

3. Thanksgiving week of 2021, they pushed a ZWave update which the guy rewrote how events are processed and proceeded to brick everybody who updated.

4. F*ckin forced OS update, the developer refuses to be able to turn off forced HASS OS updates. If you block the update hostname on your router the stupid script to check updates goes crazy and starts eating up CPU.

Any prospect of a an alternative commercial provider to NC for the cloud stuff?

Other open source software (E.g. LibreOffice) has several shops that help businesses with support and integration/bug fixes

There are three major cloud components. Alexa and Google integrations both have open options that are documented by NC and you are welcome to use them. There’s a lot of setup as you need to deal with a semi-complex config on AWS or GCP which can be challenging if you’re new to those environments, but they work as well as the paid NC option.

The remote access proxy service doesn’t really have an open equivalent but there are tons of other supported solutions out there for secure remote access to your Home Assistant install. Here is one example add-on to provide Wireguard support, developed and supported by an NC employee: https://github.com/hassio-addons/addon-wireguard

In short, the paid cloud services provide an easier path to solutions you can deploy for yourself if you wish. You can still use equivalent services that you host yourself under your own AWS/GCP account. Those services cost NC money to host, so asking for money isn’t too far out there. Of course, that money is more than what the cloud parts cost, and what we all get in return is a team of skilled developers working full time on the project and releasing everything for free.

yeah, I don't even need the NC integration, I use a reverse proxy with SSL, but I pay the $5 a month just because they are doing such a frigging amazing job with a giant project and I want to pay something for it so they can keep doing it full time!

Nabu Casa seems like a great model to bring self-hosting to the masses.

Great article, thanks for posting. I've been on a smart home journey myself, but I'm still currently relying on Alexa for most integration and a Hue Bridge. It works well for the 30-40 devices I currently have.

I totally agree that Home Assistant is probably the way forward for many power users, but it doesn't quite feel beginner-friendly enough yet (although the HA devs do seem to be making some great improvements in this area).

I'm still undecided on Matter and Thread. Both are naturally great technologies, but I can't see Google/Nest opening up to Amazon/Ring and vice versa. Not in any meaningful way, at least. My hunch is that Matter will help smaller smart home companies, but not make much difference for the pre-existing 'walled gardens' that the market has. I hope that I'm wrong though.

(Disclaimer: I blog and do YouTube videos as Smart Home Point, but I mainly cover consumer friendly products - and hence I haven't delved into Home Assistant too much)

It's not even power user friendly.

Things were so fragile, I eventually created Ansible playbooks to maintain my setup. I couldn't trust a simple point upgrade wouldn't break anything, so I had to easily replay steps to revert.

If you have to set up a whole devops infrastructure to maintain one simple home project, there's something wrong.

The promise of thread versus reality I feel will be a big problem - I'd love to be wrong though. I'm on the outside of things (haven't used thread, only read about it... use zigbee a lot though). But the way I understand it is that once you join a device to a particular bridge you will still need to use that bridge's ecosystem to communicate - even though the device has its own IP address. For example, when a thread device joins to homekit and establishes an encrypted handshake, it's not like I'll be able to use that device's IP address to talk to it. It's not going to trust me - only homekit. But at least it'll be able to talk to any homekit bridge on the network and avoid a SPOF if I unplug one of my homepod minis.

I dont think its clear from the blog, but HomeAssistant Blue and/or Yellow are nice, but not required to get going with HA. If you get your hands on RPI 3 or 4, an SSD card and a supported Zigbee/ZWave card, you should be good to go. Installation is well documented.

But overall customization is in fact a major time sink regardless of hardware you use

> But overall customization is in fact a major time sink

I think that depends on what you're trying to accomplish, since "customization" doesn't really have a limit. If it's just exposing your smart devices so you can access them with your iPhone, it's easy. If it's having your lights turn to 5% brightness if you enter the kitchen at 3am, to get some milk, but then slowly ramp up the brightness to 15% when you linger around to make pancakes, then sure. You'll need to write an automation for that.

Having my HomePod remind me that my car charger isn't plugged in at 8:30pm required an automation that involved selecting things from some dropdown boxes.

I want SO BADLY to convert my switches to smart switches, but it feels impossible to find what i need. Good luck searching on Amazon, too. Search for Zigbee, and it will return page after page of zwave, proprietary, and other listings. It's impossible to wade through. I've tried and given up multiple times.

This is what i need that is evidently so difficult to find: 1. Zigbee 2. 3-way 3. Dimmable 4. Beige (almond?) Color

Any ideas?

I highly recommend buying some Zigbee switch modules [1] and wiring them up behind your regular light switches. They convert any light switch into a smart switch that can be controlled through your Zigbee network. (This can be dangerous, but just make sure you turn off the power first, wear gloves, and learn all about line, neutral, ground. Get a good multimeter and triple check everything.)

[1] https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002164359835.html?spm=a2...

I'd recommend checking out some of the "smart relay" devices that let you reuse your existing light switches.

e.g. https://www.amazon.com/Compatible-SmartThings-Philips-ZBBrid... - this one says "2 way" but I'm pretty sure you can wire it up with two physical lightswitches to get the 3-way behavior that you're after. The wiring diagram on the amazon product page suggests as much.

I've personally used this Aeotec z-wave variant and it has worked well for me: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XC4CH98

For multi-way switches what I’ve usually done is wire one switch to the actual load (light) and a relay, and the other switches I pass the wire through as though the switch isn’t connected to the load and then use MQTT to provide the appropriate action. Probably not ideal, but it works and avoids sourcing specific relays and switches.

Check out the Shelly products. You can wire them in behind a standard wall switch, and they can talk to a local MQTT server instead of the cloud. Replace your on/off flick switch with a push button.

Shelly products are also UL-certified. This may be an important factor when it comes to home insurance should something go wrong in a fiery way.

I found the same thing. I was searching for air quality/CO2 monitors. It seemed that decent ones werent with zigbee.

try searching zigbee2mqtt supported devices: https://www.zigbee2mqtt.io/supported-devices/#s=switch

I really enjoyed reading this, thanks for posting. I've been struggling to find a more sustainable solution on my end for all the sensors and buttons I have set up. Anecdotally I feel their battery life tends to be shorter based on whether they're in busy locations or not. I've ordered the CR2477 and CR2450 batteries they use in bigger quantities but I'd much rather be able to recharge them instead. Have you ever found devices of this type that allow them to be recharged?

Have a look online for LIR2450s. They are rechargeable button cells.

I have been using ZWave motion sensors that have USB input so no battery required, for buttons I have replaced a lot of wall switches with Tasmota switches that are programmed for single/double/hold click actions on multiple buttons. This can be great on multi gang switches where I have one button control the relays in all three switches, leaving two buttons open.

I tried to build a company around this in ~2014, we built our own boards and everything, and had a fork with HASS that had more defaults based on our hardware. Too bad it didn't quite work out as a business.

The 3D designs for the hardware cases are still on GitHub: https://github.com/Smart-Torvy/3D-Objects

Ubiquiti also briefly employed the founder of Home Assistant in 2018 and paid him specifically to work on it. People speculated that they were considering releasing some sort of product built on HA, but it never materialized.

It's maybe for the better from a user/community POV, but I'm surprised there hasn't been more commercial interest. HA in its current form is still probably a bit too technical for mass market, but I would think a company could easily spruce it up a bit and instantly have a fairly strong software ecosystem and a lot of good will as long as they handled it right.

Nice! If I understand correctly this is fully local and doesn't depend on cloud stuff? After a few failures I don't want anything that relies on somebody's buggy cloud systems.

It's all local unless you want to pay for the cloud service, which just gives you safe remote access to your local home assistant instance, and gives some services like a nice (cloud based) text to speech engine.

Neither are required. You can happily open up DMZ and use whatever TTS engine, yourself.

Do you have any suggestions for a local TTS engine to use with HA?

I have HA up and running but have only used its web interface so far.

No, but I was looking at ha-rhvoice before I went with Nabu Casa (to support the devs). The readily available local TTS voices will, obviously, not sound as good.

It also depends on what /you/ setup - eg, you can certainly control some things locally and some things only through the cloud if you are using the manufacturers hub, but most things you can also buy a zwave stick and/or a zigbee stick and connect to your devices directly.

Some are a perpetual cat and mouse game though for the companies that simply must snoop your data as part of their biz model or have another reason to be terrified of you directly talking to their things.

And like any smart thing you put in your house, some things you need to block at the DNS level if they are hardwired to phone home constantly. But yes, Home Assistant and choosing the right things makes it possible to keep everything internal for sure

When you sell a house like this... what do you leave behind and what do you take?

This has increasingly been on my mind. I've no desire to sell soon, but there's a Nest doorbell that is wired in, so it stays. A Nest thermostat, which I could remove but when I got the boiler I chose to not have the control panel extra with timer as I knew I had Nest. Then the lighting, the motion sensors... should I take the few thousand GBP worth of Hue bulbs? That feels like a yes, just put in the cheapest bulbs.

And so it begins... some things stay, some things go, and the tooling is the hardest. This person has touch screen control panels and Home Assistant. Even if you left it behind, you'd need to transfer the knowledge around it too. But remove it, and the house goes beyond dumb in many ways.

There is almost no way you can handover any HomeAssistant installation during a home sale, not unless you want the buyer to be calling you for help with technical issues/gremlins months after the sale closes. Every single Home Assistant installation is effectively a custom install - there can be almost zero commonality between two different setups really. Things break because you don't update them; they break because you do update them. It's a small but constant stream of maintenance tasks once your HA installation reaches a certain degree of complexity and new owner is likely not going to be interested in that at all?

For me and my own HA install, I accept I will have to revert everything to how it was when I bought the home, which is itself a really tragic statement on the state of home automation in 2022. I get satisfaction from running it, but it does require running. It is not an "appliance", and there are still no real building codes/standards for ensuring these things stay compatible for years to come.

Similarly, if the seller tried to convince me to take a house with their own home made HomeAssistant setup, I would likely request it be removed completely before I closed the sale, regardless of any perceived quality of the work. If nothing else, I couldn't trust they hadn't left their own remote access ability somewhere in the stack and I don't have time to audit what might be years of quite hacky integration work.

There is an old saying, "Never sell a car to a friend". Home assistant is like that, but you should never sell it to anyone, regardless of how good you think you've got it running today.

So far I’ve been able to avoid some of this by registering my home with its own email account and then all home automation items to that account.

I am close to adding an iot wifi access point that can remain with the home. All gear connects to it and then up to whatever internet is present.

My HA currently runs in a vm but seeing the fanless devices (or laptops) is encouraging. Chrome books with 8 gb of ram seem like a good candidate to become a server appliance.

Add to it a few tablets and it’s not so bad. Documentation can go a long way as well even if it is for tenants.

The home assistant blue or yellow device is also intriguing for that reason. If it had a touchscreen built onto it it would be one step closer to being self sustained.

> If it had a touchscreen built onto it it would be one step closer to being self sustained.

Until there are proper standards that we can rely on to last for decades plus for automatable home devices in general, Home Assistant will never be truly self-sustaining. Almost all of its integrations rely on unofficial API access, those APIs change often enough to requiring patching etc. Finding a cheap reliable machine to just run Home Assistant has never been the problem either.

Home Assistant doesn't try to solve the elephant in the room: the complete lack of any standards in the industry, instead it tries to patch over it through regular software updates to keep everything working together.

No matter how good you have Home Assistant today, you are just one bad release or API change from any of the hundreds of smarthome product vendors breaking it - it is completely outwith your control. It doesn't happen super often, but it's often enough that I'd think someone a little silly to include it as part of a home sale process. Almost zero of HomeAssistants integrations are supported by the vendor, some vendors are even actively hostile towards efforts to use their APIs in HomeAssistant.

I'm secretly hopeful that the new standard, Matter, finally solves some of this for the long term, especially with Google/Apple buy in, but will probably be years before we see Matter devices hit mass market:

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matter_(standard)

> https://csa-iot.org/all-solutions/matter/

That's way less of a problem than you make it out to be. As long as you don't use some kind of bridge but just a local zigbee or wifi network not connected to the internet everything will stay as is until a device physically breaks. Few devices actually need a cloud connection and and there are always alternatives that don't.

This has been my experience as well.

Still, some manufacturers like Lutron makes some nice switches however their cloud connectivity is not something I wish to keep a dependency on for the initial setup. There's simply no reason to make it mandatory.

Another piece of useful gear that is being discontinued is the Logitech Harmony Hubs... no replacement really, and the existing gear will be supported for an unknown period of time. Would be a great candidate to open source.

10 years ago I sold a house that had only a couple smart switches, and I took them out before we listed and replaced them with regular switches.

A few months ago I sold a house a house with lots of Insteon stuff, and I left almost all of it in place. Partly it was because we sold quickly and I didn't have time, and partly because it was 9+ year old gear anyway. Insteon has the benefit that the keypad scenes and switch-to-switch links work without a hub. I took my hubs (ISY99 and HomeAssistant) which means no automations or timers.

I would have left the ISY99 if the new buyers had asked, but I didn't want to provide tech support of any sort for it. The downside of this type of gear compared to (the orders-of-magnitude more expensive) commercial stuff is you really have to know quite a bit about it to manage it. For the most part there's really not any local trades people you can call for service, and frankly, it's not worth the headache as a seller to even try to explain any of this.

In my new (current) house I'm in the process of installing Zwave switches. I think they're pretty hub-dependent, which is definitely a downside compared to Insteon for resale. I am really not sure what I'll do when I move, but hopefully it will be several years before that's an issue. I am fairly certain though that HomeAssistant (both software and ecosystem) won't be at the point where I could just leave it for the new owners and not cause more trouble for myself than it's worth.

ZWave is designed to work without a hub once devices are programmed, but you do need to go the extra mile to make that work - as an example you can configure a ZWave switch to send a message directly to the lights it should be controlling, rather than going via the hub (although the hub can also be notified). If you’re curious the keyword you’re looking for is Association.

ZWave is nice because once you get them connected to a USB stick, that stick is all you need to transfer to a new owner; you can take your hub with you. The new owner doesn't get your automations, but those are personal anyway.

I've been wiring up my house for the past couple years. All of our light/dimmer/fan switches are Lutron Caseta and work without a hub. You can add the hub for additional automation and functionality, but you don't need it. Without the hub, the switch controls the device and it just works.

When we leave my plan is to leave the Caseta system in place. Some of the devices are wireless and some switches have batteries (CR2032). We did this so we could put switches in locations you would normally have switches in a modern home without having to tear out the walls and rewire an 80 year old home. Ripping the system out is not an option, and I'm ok with that.

Everything else is going with me. All the z-wave outlets, bulbs, timers, sensors, etc. will still be useful in a new home. I've saved all my old outlets so it will be an easy swap switching the new back to the old.

The only thing I'm unsure about is the Wyze camera/security system I am currently building out. My expectation is that by the time I even think of selling my home it will be obsolete so I'll probably just leave it for the new owners to worry about.

This is why I opted for Shelly on my house build. The dimmers keep dimming and everything works regularly without a hub/HA/Wifi. Leaving the modules inside the light switches. No need for special bulbs and having switches with springs allows any light to be dimmed as long as the fixture/bulb supports it.

There's room for a future product to discover everything within a house. Find all the Shelly devices, figure out which bulbs are Hue, discover any small sensors left behind, etc.

It'll be easy to find the Shellys. Just look for light switches that don't cause the light to turn on or off, or lights that turn on randomly. We put a Shelly 2 on every light switch in our new build 2 years ago (about 30 Shellys) and over 50% of them have already failed.

Usually its either the relay refusing to switch on or off. Or its able to switch on and off via the app, but not via a light switch that it was happily doing the day before. Or it disappears off the WiFi and refuses to connect no matter how many resets / power cycles are done.

After replacing 10 or so of them, I decided it was easier to rip them all out.

Personally I'd prefer if Zigbee just took over everything, then everything would be interoperable and we would avoid being in yet another dystopian hellscape.

I just did this, and it's... fun. Particularly account transfers--most devices that are tied to internet accounts (like Nest) don't allow you to transfer them to other accounts.

So hard-resetting them is often the only option, which is often a time consuming process in itself (I'm looking at you Insteon) and throws away the configuration.

I didn't even attempt to leave the HomeAssistant-based stuff in place.

So for stuff that's not trivial to remove just set up new accounts i.e. 123ExampleRd@gmail.com, tie everything to that e-mail and then just hand over the passwords when you move. Preferably do this when you move in, It also solves the issue of providers with no means to share accounts or devices that tie to google/other auth, this way you share the password with everyone who lives with you without giving out any personal credentials.

Not to mention the convenience of having the ability to have e-mails sent to whoever happens to be resident at that property and keep a history that can be transferred. I.e. maintenance invoices, remodel invoices, appliance receipts. Then when you sell the house the new owner will get all that info.

Yea, that's definitely what I should have done. But it did not cross my mind when I originally set everything up. Next time!

This does prevent doing some cool stuff, but I have a rule that everything still has to work without HA. Obviously automation won't, but at the end of the day, the light switches are still light switches. The sensors will simply just not send their stuff anywhere.

You negotiate it between the buyer and seller. You can take everything, or leave everything if you agree.

Otherwise the default if not excluded in most contracts in the US would be to leave nearly all of it. Kind of like keys, even if something is not permanently affixed to the home it is "annexed" and transferred with the home when it is part of the customized home automation system. So the thermostat is part of the real estate even though it is wireless. The motion sensors and door bell are both annexed, and fixtures as they are attached with a wire. The lightbulbs are one thing that is probably not annexed or a fixture, it is a grey area, but potentially are addressed specifically in the contract like curtains.

The trick is just to make all the automation optional. If I sell my house, I'll hand over my Lutron Hub and Z-Wave USB stick. If the new owner wants to plug those in to something, they'll have a bunch of entities to automate how they please. If not, it's just a house with a bunch of light switches like any other. Well, there are also some door/motion/humidity sensors, but it's not like they do any harm if you don't do anything with them.

I've experimented around with HA and some other options for my home. We bought our home just a few years ago, and not likely to move soon, but I thought about perhaps registering an email for the house, and using that for accounts that I wouldn't consider taking with me. Selling the house would consist of clearing out most (perhaps all) email from the inbox, clearing the trash, changing the password for the email account and then handing it over to the new owner. Then they just have to go through the 'forgot password' routine to create new passwords for accounts linked to it. Anything I plan to take with me would need to be disassociated from that account first, of course.

This is just a thought at this point, frankly, so there are obviously some gaps that need to be worked out.

I sold a house with a bunch of smart home stuff last year, but it was all commercial stuff, nothing like a HomeAssistant system. The buyer wanted it and I didn't (and it would have been a hassle to remove), so it was a win/win for me. I just transferred all the accounts and/or changed the emails and passwords, gave them the credentials, and walked away. I do think that this is very situation dependent and there's risk of getting into weird situations where the buyer wants support or something. But I think that as long as the buyer reasonably knows what they're getting into, and you're transparent about what you're leaving, you are under no obligation (either legal or moral) to provide post-sales support...

Kinda related but I've always imagined selling a house and leaving behind a "readme" with the latest state of things. I know inspections cover many things, but it'd be nice to have something from the previous owner talking about how specific things work.

One of the most frustrating aspects of this is all the stuff that's buried in the backyard. I've had to painstakingly survey the property to find all of buried electrical and water pipes and I fully intend to pass the map on to the next owner.

Google is failing me but I've seen advice on having a book for your home. It lists the as-built, photos of the walls showing the wiring and pipes etc and then updates over the years.

I think "How Buildings Learn" by Stewart Brand covered it.

I had a very similar setup in my previous apartment. I used a lot of battery-powered Zigbee devices for motion sensors, contact sensors, etc. and attached them using 3M command strips. I also wired up some Zigbee switch modules behind the light switches, so I could control all of the lights in our house. (This was way nicer and cheaper than using Hue bulbs everywhere.) I also had curtain motors, and a SwitchBot Hub to control air conditioners, etc.

Everything was pretty easy to remove and take with me to our next house.

I didn't have a "full" setup, just a Nest and a few rooms on Hue; I ended up leaving it all behind— the realtor actually had the Nest right on the listing like it was a major selling point, and our new place had an older boiler anyway, so it wasn't clear it would be a good fit.

It was fairly easy to just factory reset everything and walk away, but yeah if there was an actual PC/RPi and a user-managed software stack in the picture, I could picture it being a real headache to sort out.

I believe there are laws (the legal term being "fixture," for things permanently attached to a home) about what can be taken unless it's explicitly included in a contract. The sale contract will probably say that fixtures are included, and if you are not selling certain things, those will need to be specified. And from some brief reading, you may need to be careful earlier in the process as well to avoid false advertisement in the listings.

I feel like the declarations for what comes with the home are going to start to get longer. The big ticket items used to just be fridge/stove/etc. but I wonder if people will start making sure they declare (or explicitly exclude) other things when selling a house.

I moved in to a house with a Nest and it wasn't too difficult to set up again after doing the hard reset. Would've been much more awkward if I moved and there was just no thermostat...

Replace everything with non-smart devices before listing the home and this will be a non-issue.

If I bought a home with smart doorbells and cameras and other stuff, I'd rip it out and replace it anyway. Who knows if the previous owner still has them on their account, or can access them in some way?

It has long been common wisdom that you should rekey or replace the locks when you buy a home. The same logic applies to smart devices.

Things like light switches (zwave, wifi) could probably remain. New owner would just pair them to their own hub/controller.

Hubs probably go with previous owner. Turn-over too complicated - just unplug it and take it.

Something like a Nest (or anything else with direct cloud integration) is a bit more complicated. You'd either have to unpair it from your account or replace it with a dumb thermostat.

I just sold, all switches were GE ZWave paddle switches, new house is old wouldnt work, left them all.

Both doors were Z-wave enabled locks, left both of them as I bought updated ones for the new house

Left 2 IP Cams (with manual and details) that were not smart to take down, and planned on switching at the new house.

I took all the Ubiquiti wifi gear, all the home automation hubs and anything I could EASILY reuse.

It also seems like it would severely lower the value for any buyer who is not interested in all that stuff?

We left the hardwired stuff, a couple Nest thermostats and the garage door openers (obviously) that were connected via wifi, and unplugged and brought with us the Phillips Hue hub. I forget if I took the time to take the Hue bulb out of the ceiling fan.

> you'd need to transfer the knowledge around it too.

My experience with house shopping in LA is that you've got no leverage to question why some panel is missing or some disconnected wires are sticking out of the wall.

Speaking as a prospective buyer, I'd expect the seller to remove any and all cloud-connected devices before selling. To the point where I will explicitly list them as deductions in my offer.

How are you able to make such demands given the current market? Every single house on the market has atleast 4 offers...atleast here in SoCal.

you wouldn't be required to perform KT.

in Texas anything attached stays so even lightbulbs but you can also exclude anything explicitly.

Sure, but you might just throw in cheap bulbs before you show it. Depends if you move out first.

If I ever sold this place, I would move out most of my ha and automation stuff first.

Even a generic hot cold thermostat is pretty cheap and easy to put in.

Would probably leave recessed touch screens though.

I believe one of the hosts on the Coder Radio podcast moved into a home with some home automation stuff (light, heating and locks), but wasn't informed about the configuration or how to operate it. He described it as moving into a haunted house.

This sounds incredibly fascinating. Do you have a link to the specific episode or a title?

I looked, but it's a while back. It was just after the show returned from a break, and it was part of the opening chit chat between the hosts, so not topic of the show.

The most-requested feature for boringproxy has been WebSockets support (which landed in master just this week), from what I can tell primarily because Home Assistant needs it. I hadn't realized how popular HA is. Their forum is very active:


Home Assistant is also quite useful in a Company Office / Small Business. There's daily "added value" on repetitive tasks and simple automations that provide immediate productivity gains.

It's also a great platform to implement weird "physical workflows" that aren't common in household scenarios.

Not sure if I'm just getting older, but the less things/complications in my home, the more peace of mind I have. Been watching the youtube LTT channel on his smart home and I feel all the things going on would drive me crazy.

This doesn't apply only to tech, but even for my next house (Looking into passive homes, least possible HVAC footprint, floorplan for minimal plumbing/electrical).

Sufficiently advanced home automation is indistinguishable from a haunting.

Lighting controlled by home-assistant is endlessly frustrating. Especially if zwave. The networks are slow, the devices are awkward to configure, and when things go wrong debugging is difficult. Sometimes it takes my lights a good 60 seconds to respond during which time I'll try a few different button dances which all then get lifo queued... End result is light automation that works 95% of the time with the 5% remainder being enough to sour the whole experience.

This isn't home-assistant's "fault," it's the zwave product space being a convoluted mess that HA tries to paper over. Other integrations are better but each integration is a separate plugin thing so quality depends on who wrote the plugin.

My house got a 10% premium due to the home-assistant setup according to the realtor. Lights and music and blinds all easily controlled from an iPad mounted to a thing in the hall. I left all the equipment including the raspberry pi that ran HA, but I took the SD card for privacy reasons. 99% certainty that they don't even know what Z-wave is let alone how to rebuild the network... I'm sure that if I buy a "smart house" in the future it will be beyond my abilities.

You have a serious problem with your ZWave network if it is performing as you describe. I have just over 70 devices live right now and have none of these problems.

Monitor your logs and see if some node out there is screaming or otherwise taking up a lot of bandwidth, as your experience is not at all typical of how ZWave should work.

I have exactly the same problem. Glad to hear this is not typical of all ZWave networks.

It's funny because I have exactly three types of devices:

- Several Inovelli Red dimmers - A few Zooz Zen34 remote switches - An HUSBZB-1 USB stick attached to the machine running Home Assistant

And I've never heard of anyone else having the same sort of trouble with any of the above. Definitely an exercise in frustration.

I don't know what your Z-wave setup looks like, but all I've got are GE smart switches and GE smart outlets, controlled with Home Assistant using an Aeotec Z-stick. It works flawlessly with zero noticeable delay, 100% of the time.

It sounds like you've either got some bad interference or bad devices.

So much of one's experience depends on the z-wave hardware and it's not obvious at all which brands or products will be more reliable or better than others. My network is a hodge-podge of different switches and outlets, but mesh networking means it's easy to poison the network with a bad implementation. And then good luck finding the offending hardware.

Up until this past year, every single ZWave radio was made by the same company. They are now allegedly certifying third parties but I haven’t yet seen anyone announce that they’ve achieved that certification. It’s possible to build a crappy ZWave device, but the radio and network side should be solid, even on crappy devices.

I've had a lot of issues with battery powered z-wave devices not waking up.

Also, IIRC there is a bug in the zwave-js github issue tracker about the 700 series Z-sticks dropping commands. Sometimes I need to reboot for outgoing packets to reach devices from the Z-stick.

I have this bug too. It happened with the old zwave plugin as well, my Aeotec stick just stops delivering packets if it gets bumped and I have to restart the whole system.

One of the recommendations I read on some github issues was to put the z-stick on a USB extension cable to rule out interference from other ports. I was skeptical of this but it did seem to improve my experience.

I still get the issue that makes it need to reboot every now and then however. Edit: https://github.com/zwave-js/node-zwave-js/issues/3906 -- apparently there is a firmware fix for this now? Will try out later.

Same setup here. Love using z-wave as a standard and then bridging everything over to Homekit for siri / phone control center access

I had a similar problem with my Zigbee network when I first started, but I was able to dig in and fix all of the issues. I changed the Zigbee channel and moved everything away from my WiFi router. @NathanCu was really helpful [1] on the Home Assistant community forums.

[1] https://community.home-assistant.io/t/zigbee-problems-how-to...

I can't imagine the state of these houses one or two generations down the line.

I witnessed "smart" houses when my parents' blinders died in "down" position and had no manual override... or when the electricity was down and they couldn't start their wood stove because it needs electricity to work...

I think some people are just so drawn to tech that they end up in these kind of rabbit holes. It reminds me of my nerd friends in uni who spent weeks configuring their linux distro from scratch just to start over a few months later, they were showing me their new shiny shells, how the trackpad finally worked with X and Y drivers, how their tiling window manager was better than macos'.

I don't think the end goal for them is to have a useable thing, it's more about tinkering and probably some form of attention seeking.

>I witnessed "smart" houses when my parents' blinders died in "down" position and had no manual override... or when the electricity was down and they couldn't start their wood stove because it needs electricity to work...

Are you saying you have a stove that doesn't have an electronic starter? Are you on a digital or analog thermostat? Does your home heater work without electricity?

New technology will always have an early adoption phase. Smart blinds suck now but there is no reason why they cant be as reliable as an automatic garage door. It's a motor with RF control. It's not a complex thing.

> Are you saying you have a stove that doesn't have an electronic starter?

Yes, during the same trip (to my parents') I visited an old friend and his parents' house had a good old wood stove, ie: a metal box with a chimney and a door to put wood in it

> Are you on a digital or analog thermostat?

analog (I use my body to determine if I'm cold or warm and my brain to act accordingly)

> New technology will always have an early adoption phase.

Fortunately lots of tech die in that phase and are never seen again, looking at "the house of the future" of the 40s, 50s, 60s I'd say most of it never goes mainstream

> Smart blinds ... no reason why they cant be as reliable ... It's not a complex thing.

Adding even a bit of complexity to an extremely simple system makes it much less reliable and less durable. You need PCBs, antennas, motors, software (with their updates ?), electricity, all of that to do something you could do with your arms in two seconds. Not even talking about the amount of e-waste generated and the fact that no one will be able to source spare parts by the end of the decade. And we all know these things aren't even built to last in the first place (motors with plastic gears, &c.)

Are you saying you have a stove that doesn't have an electronic starter? Are you on a digital or analog thermostat? Does your home heater work without electricity?

Historically and mostly today, a wood stove is a cast iron container you fill with wood mostly to heat a house. There have been innovations in shape, airflow etc to make them more efficient but they generally haven't used an electric lighter.

Electric-light gas stoves normally don't need electricity to function - in a outage you can light them with a match or sparker.

There have been gas heaters that don't require electricity but not central gas heaters, this true.

Eastern California, where I currently live, has experienced a half-dozen days-long electrical outages in the last year alone. A the time two months, when I spent four days snowed-in, with it 45-40 degrees inside my apartment, is notable. What does or doesn't work without electricity is an important question.

"Historically and mostly today, a wood stove is a cast iron container you fill with wood mostly to heat a house. There have been innovations in shape, airflow etc to make them more efficient but they generally haven't used an electric lighter.

Electric-light gas stoves normally don't need electricity to function - in a outage you can light them with a match or sparker."

Does your parent's wood stove work work without electricity? As in, can you light it with a match or sparker?

"Eastern California, where I currently live, has experienced a half-dozen days-long electrical outages in the last year alone. A the time two months, when I spent four days snowed-in, with it 45-40 degrees inside my apartment, is notable. What does or doesn't work without electricity is an important question."

Yea this totally sucks and you make a good point. You parents' blinds needs a manual backup, just like how automatic garage door systems have a manual override. One of the things I try to focus on is to have my home still function if the server is down. My light switches all work without a server or the internet, but my sunrise lights will not. I think that's a good compromise.

Does your parent's wood stove work work without electricity? As in, can you light it with a match or sparker?

My parents didn't have a wood stove but the last house I lived had one and it lit only by a match. The Gp's description is literally the only time I have even heard of a wood stove didn't require hand lighting, that's normally how they work.

(Your tense seems to indicate you're confusing me with the original commenter you replied to FYI - who's parents did have an unusual wood stove apparently requiring electricity. It doesn't offend me but I thought I'd note it in case there was some confusion to clear up).

There are also pellet stoves (not generally considered a wood stove) the burn compressed sawdust and have an electric auger, blower and igniter

This is what all tech is like. I remember when having a smartphone with apps was a quirky novelty that maintenance that only nerds could be bothered with.

Also while I dont give a damn about lightbulbs I would really like more sophisticated control over heating.

For me, a lot of that came down to making sure every automation I add is usable with the least amount of mental effort. For the longest time I didn't automate much at all and often questioned whether I needed all this or not, then we had a baby.

Now we have a button in his nursery that will dim the lights, start playing white noise on a Google Home speaker, mark the start of a new nap on our Babybuddy instance, then turn off the lights after 30 seconds. When I press it again, it turns off the noise and stops the sleep tracking. If we didn't have Home Assistant we'd have to do all these things manually multiple times a day. Instead it just takes a single button press.

It's a small example, but things like this will keep popping up, and I'm looking forward to making them easier.

There’s no law of nature that says you need to track your kids sleep and upload it to a could service.

It looks like it's self-hosted: https://github.com/babybuddy/babybuddy

It is indeed. It's an interesting open source project too, because its usefulness is very much inversely proportional to the time you spend using it! Contributors often start submitting changes, then their children grow up and they lose interest in the project. Sort of a built-in attention span limit.

Good thing it's not a cloud service then!

Heh, our kids have an Alexa and a couple smart plugs for lamps in their rooms.

They set their own bed/wake routines which was really great because we kinda got the buy in from them on how they want to do it and it's the same every time. They like to come by ever now and then and update the routine, add a step or piece of information. It's fun to do with them and it's nice to have them do their own thing but also not need an adult for everything thing.

I struggle with this too. Whilst there is a lot of opportunities for learning and fun when setting these systems up, you soon forget how things intermingle and monitoring, upgrading, or debugging things becomes a chore.

Systems like this balloon in complexity with all of the different server hardware, IoT standards, subnets, cables, etc. For the average user, things that aren't easy or set-and-forget are probably too much. That sense of overwhelm is my personal experience, at least.

I get the geeky joy of monitoring and possibly automatically controlling things, but the added benefit feels marginal at best for a home. It’s less than marginal unless you go big into the automation.

The other thing that jades me to automation is that in my experience with technology, you either get a easy to use, but limited, remotely brickable, subscriptionware, or you have to roll your own, and end up debugging your bathtub. Neither is very appealing.

I generally agree with this, although I'm also a fan of home automation. I want all my switches to continue to work (they do), no internet connection between me and my automated devices, no complicated "scenes", and I don't want to mess around with some UI every day. Setup, sure, but that's it.

So in the end I have lights that turn on in any room we're in and turn themselves off some time after we've left. My porch light adjusts itself according to time of day, and my laundry tells me when it's done, which is huge for us since it's in the basement.

I keep it simple (one JS file controls the whole house), but it's still a life improvement.

My toddler recently knocked over my poorly placed server which damaged the zwave dongle. Replacing it took a couple hours, but the week spent without the automations was noticable.

There's something about every room lighting up as I walk through the house that makes it feel more welcoming. A bit warmer.

Also, my son loves to turn off the dining room light and then try to run through the dining room as fast as he can without setting off the motion sensor. It turns on every time, but it's a joy to watch.

How do you do motion detection and presence in your setup? How do you make sure the lights doesn't turn off if you're just sitting in the room?

Long timers.

I'd love to have some sort of presence detection that will work with multiple people (including a child) without embedding a chip into our necks, but haven't found anything that seems reliable, yet. Room assistant sounds pretty cool, but I haven't had the time to play with it - and I'm not "installing" bluetooth on my toddler.

Early on I had 5-15 minute timers in most rooms, but my wife and I have ended up sitting in a dark bathroom, or worse cooking in a dark kitchen - flailing our arms to get the lights back on far too many times.

So, I made the timers in most rooms 30 minutes (20 in the bathroom, 5 in closets). That worked well everywhere but the kitchen; I added a second motion sensor there, and it pretty much always gets it right now.

Once in a while the light will shut off in the living room when we're still and zoned out on our phones or a movie, but that's rare enough that it's not a big deal. Also we get to laugh at ourselves for being perfectly still for an entire half hour.

--- Edit ---

I imagine presence detection is significantly easier with one occupant, and I've daydreamed about setting up a "one-person-home" mode that just turns on the light in whatever room last detected someone and off everywhere else. But honestly everything works so well as-is, that I don't think it's really worth the effort.

Misquoted from the Internet: Tech enthusiasts have voice-controlled smart home hubs; sysadmins have a printer and a gun next to it to shoot the printer if it starts acting up.

I mostly agree. I have a few smart switches for main lighting (5 switches of 20+) with basic automations (turn off at bed time, turn on front step and foyer when I get close to home after dark, turn all on if motion sensor trips while I'm not home).

Every time I think about expanding this, I remember what a PITA it was to setup the basic stuff. And I don't bother. I'll walk my lazy ass to the switch instead.

Doesn't help that Smartthings is a dumpster fire of shitty UX that glitches regularly. Anything "better" like HomeAssistant is the rough equivalent of using Linux desktop in the late 90s/early 00s.

I feel that the vast majority home automation tech got the whole thing backwards.

They start with "we can do this" and then "let's see what we can bolt it on".

Instead, they should've started with small things like being able to toggle every existing switch from your phone. Let lazy people be lazy efficiently. Now that has a mass appeal and would've led to a better adoption. Once this is in place, then you can build on it - dimmers, hues, scheduled and presence lighting/heating, etc. Once this is done, accepted and integrated in everyday life, move to more advanced gadgetry.

"toggle every existing switch from your phone"

Home automation is not intuitive. It turns out that toggling every existing switch from your phone is not an ideal goal. Pulling out your phone to use your home automation gets annoying fast.

The best home automation is a system that works without intervention. A good analogy is a digital thermostat vs a traditional analog one. A digital thermostat has the ability to change temperature targets depending on time of day and day of the week.

The best type of switches are the ones that work without intervention. The most common is the sunset porch lights and the sunrise alarm clocks. Other good ones are humidity sensors that trigger bathroom fans, TV/stereo/console that turns on when you pick up your game controller, floor lights that trigger only at night when it senses movement, lights that change color temperature and lumens depending on time of day, etc.

Speaking of that last thing, what's the best way to implement different brightnesses based on time in HA's yaml? I could do a bunch of ifs in each automation but there might be a better way?

+1 to adaptive lighting.

Also if you need a wake up/sunrise light:


> Pulling out your phone to use your home automation gets annoying fast.

What I meant, if it wasn't clear, is to have this as an option. In addition to what's already in place.

"Traditional" home automation tech does exactly that angle. Turns out "upgrade every existing switch" does not have the mass-appeal over a lot cheaper "replace one thing, do a bunch of things with thing" offerings. Most people need to have the latter before they get the appetite to invest in the former. As annoying as they are, "smart" plugs/bulbs are a lot easier and cheaper to deploy in many cases.

It's an interesting balance IMHO. If you can control everything you can build a lot on top, but even just being able to control a few things might already provide you a lot of benefit.

Whoa, I didn't realize automatic radiator valves existed. Always feel guilty about using a space heater because the radiator gets way to hot.

The valves/thermostats in the article is actually kinda big. More modern ones are not much larger than the regular thermostats. It might be a question about which models can be integrated into Home Assistant.

You can also get them that look exactly like a regular one, just with a mains cable coming out too - add any HA-supported relay (or interface to a relay). I've been meaning to do that for some time; I'd prefer that to integrated temperature sensing & controls on every radiator personally.

> It might be a question about which models can be integrated into Home Assistant.

There are also multiple ways (zha vs zigbee2mqtt); and the given valve may support one, but not the other.

All this smarthome stuff like an enormous amount of work. What are any actual concrete benefits over doing things the dumb way?

I can't think of anything significant, certainly nothing to justify the cost (not just money, also time, embodied energy etc).

Though I have 0 experience with this stuff, so I am asking a genuine question.

We use a traditional system at our first home, but at the family holiday home in the remote countryside, smart home stuff makes a lot of sense:

- burglary alarm

- smoke alarm

- no guests? all lights off

- minimal heat in winter to prevent freezing pipes

- preheat home and boiler before arrival

- ...

Without knowing your home, it's hard to say. I think the biggest benefit right now is sun rise alarm lights and circadian rhythm lights. This should have a noticeable benefit for everyone. The hardest part is figuring out what to do with your physical light switches.

At the end of the day though, the ones that benefit the most from home automation are enthusiasts who enjoy tinkering. If that's not you, get some hue lights and light switches, and call it a day.

> get some hue lights and light switches, and call it a day.

Or you know, physical light switches.

HA is nice, and I've been running it on RPi for a few years, mainly to make my air purifiers work in the way I want, plus some light switches and a motion detector

The only annoying thing are random breaking changes which make me overhaul my configs a couple of times per year

When your power goes out for a few minutes, what state does everything go into when it resumes?

For things like smart bulbs, that's usually set on the device itself. For a smart switch, it's usually just going to be off.

However, with HA you could easily create an automation to set everything how you want it when the power comes back on. It could even be conditional based on the time of day or whatever else you want to consider.

Hm, rebooting the pi doesn't change any state on its own.

Lights which are ZigBee or wifi might turn on when power is restored, and most of my automations are of the form "when motion sensor state changes to occupied: turn on light. When motion sensor state is vacant for X minutes, turn off the lights", so they might stay on until you walk by the motion sensor, at which point they fix themselves.

If you have smart switches, I think they would be off after a power outage.

You can sidestep the cloud stuff if you've got a static IP and wireguard.

I have so far failed at setting up wireguard in my home, much less making it work with HASS.

Can you share some pointers?

If you’re using Docker, the wg-easy project made it pretty easy. Otherwise I’d recommend PiVPN which worked well also with minimal setup. Setting WireGuard up from scratch was a failed endeavor multiple times for me but both of those mentioned projects made it significantly easier.

There are simpler tunneling solutions:


Home Assistant seems to be hostile to Linux distributions. It's still difficult to package.

Maybe they might want to have their own OS only. Maybe charge money for it in future.

The primary distribution method for Home Assistant is via a docker container, which should run just fine on most Linux platforms. There is a Home Assistant OS which is free to use and mostly exists as a lightweight docker host. It is the preferred installation method and is simple to deploy and keep updated.

No thanks. I wrote "distribution" and users should expect a home automation tool to be easily installed and updated without dedicated VMs, containers or other kludges.

Docker is pretty darn easy to install my man! Linux doesn’t make it easy to package applications that work cross platform, so docker makes that possible and it works on a wide range of platforms, including systems like the Raspberry Pi.

"easy to install" is far, far from enough.

Then what exactly is missing?

Currently, the Home Assistant OS offers the following: * Regular update checks and notification in the UI * Single-click update of the base OS and the docker images * Automated checks of your configuration versus the new version to alert if any breaking changes might impact you

So, it's easy to install and it's easy to update. What doesn't it do that you feel it should offer?

I imagine readers here would want local control for home automation. Take a look at www.hubitat.com

The article describes a fully local setup, with much more open components...

The setup described in the article is local as well.

I really want hubitat to succeed but to me it feels like it’s in a tricky place: less open/customisable than HA but not user-friendly enough to be used by total beginners. Hopefully they get the second half of that sorted out and can carve out a niche.

I simply flick a switch to turn on lights. Opening shades is no problem for me, a physically fit human.

How often do you adjust the color temperature and lumens of your light bulbs to optimize for circadian rhythm? I can see why you're so physically fit if you're going around to all your light switches and making these adjustments all the time ;).

I don't care to.

A non-technology solution? In this forum? How dare you, good sir?

Seriously, I've been going as back-to-basics with my newer purchases as possible -- I recently purchased a used sewing machine that has gears made of metal, has no LCD/screen or computer firmware, and only relies on electricity to run its motor.

You are asking for snark with a reply like that you know.

I have forgotten to close the garage a few times, so I get a notification if it's open for more than an hour, or past ten pm.

Motion sensor connected lights are great, and even better if they are time aware.

I like waking up to sunlight and yet I still have some trouble opening the shades while asleep, even as a physically fit human.

You could read a newspaper to get the news or send a postcard to share your opinions with others, yet here you are on the internet.

Technology marches on, you get to chose if you want to engage with it, but I don’t think suggesting that people looking to leverage new technology are somehow less physically fit or lazier than you is the right answer.

How do you flick that switch when you're on vacation and want your home to appear occupied?

You joke, but we both know that automatic lamp timers have existed for decades. I like home automation stuff as much as the next person but this is a disingenuous argument.

With an automatic lamp timer, you lose the ability to (easily) control the lamp manually. Also, what about all of the lights that aren't lamps?

If all you've got are lamps and you're willing to be a slave to the timer, then by all means just use the timer. But once it gets just a little bit more complicated, the timer isn't so great.

I've got an "evening" scene that turns on 10 or so different lights. I will trigger it manually when I'm home and feel it's time, or if my system is in vacation mode it will trigger based on the sunset time. I don't have to worry about accidentally having left a switch off or anything like that. You cannot even begin the replicate this with an automatic lamp timer.

I went from those to a basic HomeAssistant setup, and really enjoy the fact that my light timers can be "30 minutes before sunset" instead of a fixed time that needs to be adjusted throughout the year.

On the other hand, the fact that everything stops working if wifi goes down is a real bummer. I can't for the life of me understand why these "smart" plugs don't just use powerline ethernet. I guess I should just be thankful that their API could be reverse engineered.

You should be using Z-wave instead of Wi-Fi for anything that you can, but in reality how often does your actual Wi-Fi network go down? HA runs locally, so it's not like you need Internet access. Unless your smart plugs are actually controlled over the Internet, in which case you should throw them away immediately and buy something better.

Not sure why another wireless protocol would be any better -- isn't powerline ethernet the obviously best choice for something that has to be plugged in to work, anyway?

powerline is sadly terrible when it comes to radio interference (which isn't surprising: it just dumps HF on power cables, and power cables go in long-ish straight lines - you got nice antennas). Regulation against that is just barely enforced.

no thanks. I like switches and using my body. This kind of tech as progress is a fallacy.

I'm not sure. I love my house, but the lights are insane with a switch under every overhead light, and using smart switches to control them has been so very useful. Generally I control all the lights in a room with 1 smart switch so I don't have to walk across the room to turn on all the lights in the room

My bedroom came with 3 switches in 2 panels across the room from each other, the kids room 2 in 2 locations, bathroom 4 in 1, kitchen 4 in 3, living room 6 in 2, dinning room 2 in 2.

Detailed example: It takes 4 light switches in 3 locations to turn on my kitchen lights:

• 1 panel - 3 sides of the kitchen ceiling lights switch, kitchen recessed lights switch

• separate panel 4 feet away on the other side of a counter - breakfast bar (4th side) ceiling light switch.

• final panel 10 feet to the right, down the breakfast bar counter to turn on the recessed breakfast bar lights.

Is it too much to ask that you circumnavigate the kitchen every morning to turn on the lights to make coffee? No, the previous owners did it every day for 20 some odd years. But do I want to do it? No.

And I certainly think it's progress that I can choose not to.

I'm right there with you. I own a relatively new house (8 years old) and it has SO many switches associated with various lights. Easy to use the switches as they exist, sure. But some simple automations make it easy to flip things on/off without walking all over the house to find the right switch.

Also, some of us have roommates that don't obey the rules. My 3-year old DOES NOT turn on the lights when she walks downstairs on her own in the morning. Perfect opportunity for a simple Z-Wave motion senor + switch automation,.

Otherwise, I agree with the general sentiment to keep it simple. I use Z-Wave switches for lights, a Z-Wave lock for one of my doors, and run HA on a RPi4. Haven't spent an insane amount of time building custom scripts because I want to do other things. And those switches still work without HA too.

(totally see the benefits of Shelly, but hard to stuff in some electrical boxes like those in my house)

You can easily solve those problems with a call to any electrician. You don't even need wifi!

I like using switches and my body too. I mostly like the latter at the beach though, so last year when we had to drive 70km back from the coast because the kid next door thought it would be fun to bounce a football off a window, I caved. Replaced the old school hard-wired 110dB neighbourhood-bothering alarm (home insurance policy requirements suck) with one I can set/unset/silence/check via internet or SMS.

Since then I've added a handful of sensors, switches and pass-through sockets. Very much cheaper than upgrading the entire heating system, long term fuel efficiency gains aside. I don't need to plan/remember to turn off things or change thermostats, I just need to set the alarm "away" and that's done.

I have 3 rules: everything has to work with the same app, I do not talk to my house, and everything has to work acceptably if there's an outage. If it's not helping with security or tangible energy savings I probably don't want it.

Good for you. I personally wish I could control everything with my mind.

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