Introduction to Home Assistant

What is Home Assistant?

Home Assistant (HA) is basically a free and open-source software (FOSS) that act as a control centre/hub/”brain” for various smart home or networking devices that you may already have in your home. Without HA, every devices don’t communicate with each other. The CCTVs don’t talk to the alarm system. The alarm system doesn’t talk to the smart switches. The smart switches don’t talk to the TV. Basically they live in their own world and that means I need separate apps in order to talk to them.

This where HA comes to the rescue. Think of HA as the smartest kid in the neighborhood because he can speak thousands of languages. With HA as the translator, various devices that never talked to each other, can now understand each other. So what I do is I “teach” HA what to do when certain things happen and HA will instruct any devices to perform the tasks that I have taught it to do.

As of version 0.95, it supports up to 1,442 integrations and these are the featured integrations:

Home Assistant featured integrations

These are the primary integrations I am using for my home:

  1. Xiaomi Gateway
  2. Amazon Alexa Smart Home Skill
  3. Dark Sky
  4. IFTTT
  5. MQTT
  6. Plex
  7. Z-Wave
  8. Hikvision
  9. CalDav
  10. Transmission
  11. Asuswrt
  12. Telegram Chatbot
  13. Facebox
  14. TensorFlow
  15. Yeelight
  16. Spotify
  17. LG webOS Smart TV
  18. Android TV
  19. Twitter
  20. Traccar GPS tracker
  21. Broadlink
  22. Orvibo
  23. Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum

Why Use Home Assistant?

Other than helping me to save cost because I don’t need to change my existing devices into the same ecosystem, what I like most about HA is it’s core principles of not relying on the Internet or cloud to work because it resides in my own home network. The advantages to this are…

  1. It’s not control by any large corporations. Won’t be affected when the company decides to end the service one day.
  2. More privacy. What happen in my home, stays in my home.
  3. Faster response because not affected by Internet lag time.
  4. and obviously, my smart home will remain smart when the Internet is down.

Is Home Assistant right for me?

To me, Home Assistant is the best option for me. I can talk about it all day long. But then, I am a person who loves to tinker around with stuffs, prefer DIY and works with programming as a career. When I shared this with my not so technical friends or relatives, they said it’s too complicated. I admit it does have a bit of learning curve and not as simple as other off-the-shelf solutions such as Xiaomi’s Smart Home or Amazon’s Alexa, but it gives me the level of customization that can never be match by those solutions. The automation can be as complicated as your imagination and skills.

If you have the time and interest, I say give it a try because it makes a really rewarding hobby. Otherwise, you can start with Xiaomi’s Smart Home ecosystem first because it is cheap and fully supported by HA, just in case you want to give HA a try in the future.

How to get started?

The best way to get started is by reading the documentation. Even though I installed HA via Docker in my Synology NAS, the best hardware for beginner is Raspberry Pi because most of the guides are written for Raspberry Pi.

It is impossible for me to write everything about HA in one article. At most this just scratches the surface and hopefully enough for you to know what is HA.

If you have any questions, please write it in the comment box. I will try my best to answer them.

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Author: Ben

He is the mastermind behind this blog. When he is not tinkering with smart home stuffs, he develops and hosts websites for other people.

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