My experience with HomeAssistant [HA] /Hass.io IOT/SmartHome controller

BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
My Smarthings v1 hub is about to put out to pasture, as I learned only a few weeks ago from ars:

Time to replace this POS and no longer be a cloud-required part, but cloud optional.

The Plan:
a) To get HomeAssistant (free) installed - In my case, I chose to install it as a virtual machine on my ESXi host. It wasn't smooth sailing, but working fine after I make a few changes. - It could run on a whole bunch of small and low-powered devices including even a $25 RaspberryPI
b) To talk to Zigbee/Z-Wave, I needed an RF controller to talk to such devices. A quick research has shown this to be the most popular option: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GJ826F8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
c) To make sure Z-Wave and Zigbee both work. I installed the Z-Wave JS add-on and used HA's built-in Zigbee Home Automation (zha) integration for Zigbee.

Status: So far, I've successfully paired Zwave and Zigbee devices and created a few simple sun-related automation. At no point, I needed to do any scripting. It was all just using the HA's GUI.

There are still LOTs of things to learn and tweak, but the next big step would be to figure out remote access. HA has their own (optional) cloud offering, but it seems a bit steep at $5/m - I will likely roll my own much cheaper.

I am by no means an HA expert, only starting my journey, but the software seems extremely extensive and still fairly easy to get the basics to work without too much effort.
I am happy to share my little knowledge and learn from others who are more proficient with HA.
 
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panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Spartan
My Smarthings v1 hub is about to put out to pasture, as I learned only a few weeks ago from ars:

Time to replace this POS and no longer be a cloud-required part, but cloud optional.

The Plan:
a) To get HomeAssistant (free) installed - In my case, I chose to install it as a virtual machine on my ESXi host. It wasn't smooth sailing, but working fine after I make a few changes. - It could run on a whole bunch of small and low-powered devices including even a $25 RaspberryPI
b) To talk to Zigbee/Z-Wave, I needed an RF controller to talk to such devices. A quick research has shown this to be the most popular option: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GJ826F8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
c) To make sure Z-Wave and Zigbee both work. I installed the Z-Wave JS add-on and used HA's built-in Zigbee Home Automation (zha) integration for Zigbee.

Status: So far, I've successfully paired Zwave and Zigbee devices and created a few simple sun-related automation. At no point, I needed to do any scripting. It was all just using the HA's GUI.

There are still LOTs of things to learn and tweak, but the next big step would be to figure out remote access. HA has their own (optional) cloud offering, but it seems a bit steep at $5/m - I will likely roll my own much cheaper.

I am by no means an HA expert, only starting my journey, but the software seems extremely extensive and still fairly easy to get the basics to work without too much effort.
I am happy to share my little knowledge and learn from others who are more proficient with HA.
You're lucky to be getting into Hass now since SO much more is configurable with the GUI than in the past. I've been using it for quite a few years and even run my own home alarm system with HA. Including monitoring.

I've got a lot of zwave and zigbee devices and zwave in Hass has come a LONG way, but has had its hiccups along the way.

Right now, I'm trying to see if I want to go to tablet style remotes or keep using the Harmony remotes I've already got. Wifey wants to stick with remotes, but I like messing with new stuff so we'll see what I can get it to do assuming I have any time to do so.

I'm running everything in a VM too since it's easier and if you want to, moving the install to another device is a cakewalk.

I'm using their Node Red addon too for an alarm panel, but that's all right now. That platform is crazy powerful.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Can I just say there are few things I can't think of anything more I would hate to own, than the gear for a dumb home. All I need is good Ethernet, and a security system that is truly secure. Hint, a lot if not most, are not.

I am still quite capable of flipping a light switch by the way.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
@TLS Guy
I am also very capable of changing my AC/Furnace temp several times a day, depends if it gets hot or cold,
but I don't need to since my Ecobee does it for me. Plus it runs the system in FAN mode only, allowing nearly free air circulation is more even temperature control in more house areas.
You say - it's an unnecessary expense? I say the system paid for itself the first year alone in savings in electricity and gas. Every month I get a gas usage report from my gas company and I've told them the year house build and size - and according to them, my house constantly rated as more efficient than both efficient median and the average house usage.

The second example is is my smart water sprinkler, the amount of money I did not spend watering while raining is probably in thousands, but my lawn still looks great.

These are just big things, there are plenty of other smart things you could do to improve security &safety, comfort, and reduce bills.

Mark, I appreciate your deed expertise on all things audio and I agree in general IoT devices are poop for security, the way I use them - none of them are exposed to the internet and reasonably secured. In this case, I can safely say that you still have a lot to learn about smart homes.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
@TLS Guy
I am also very capable of changing my AC/Furnace temp several times a day, depends if it gets hot or cold,
but I don't need to since my Ecobee does it for me. Plus it runs the system in FAN mode only, allowing nearly free air circulation is more even temperature control in more house areas.
You say - it's an unnecessary expense? I say the system paid for itself the first year alone in savings in electricity and gas. Every month I get a gas usage report from my gas company and I've told them the year house build and size - and according to them, my house constantly rated as more efficient than both efficient median and the average house usage.

The second example is is my smart water sprinkler, the amount of money I did not spend watering while raining is probably in thousands, but my lawn still looks great.

These are just big things, there are plenty of other smart things you could do to improve security &safety, comfort, and reduce bills.

Mark, I appreciate your deed expertise on all things audio and I agree in general IoT devices are poop for security, the way I use them - none of them are exposed to the internet and reasonably secured. In this case, I can safely say that you still have a lot to learn about smart homes.
Here we differ. This home is highly energy efficient. I hardly ever touch the thermostats, or the ERV control. The temperature never changes by even 1 degree F in any of the four seasons, and the humidity is tightly controlled in all seasons. The only time I have to make changes is switching over from winter to summer and summer to winter. There are a number of manual valves to change and that could not be done by a smart system.

It seems to me that a Smart system would add work here, and be one more thing to give trouble and require updating.

May be I'm of of date, but I just fail to see the point of it all.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Keeping the same temperature at all times, while provides the most comfort - its not the most efficient way.
Let's you're 100% off-grid and using geothermal or solar then I could see your point, but if you're using delivered energy for heating/cooling then keeping the same temp just isn't efficient.
In my old system, I had to switch manually from heat to cooling (no valves turning) but a new one switches automatically. As for solenoid valves, I could see you being cautious with hi-tech stuff since these were commercially available only as recent as 1910.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
I would just say that not everyone is ready or need a smart home and in many cases, early adopters got burned by overpromised/underdelivered features, especially common IoT lack of security.
I opened this thread to talk about free and Open Source solutions, in case someone a) already doing it or b) interested in doing smart devices without cloud or at least to have cloud optional.
As I said - while this makes implementation somewhat more technical, it provides immense results in security, interoperability, and long-term operation.

I for example don't go into the vinyl-related threads and start pissing on that archaic music recording media.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Spartan
I think a lot of folks that haven't had REAL home automation don't see it's benefits. I too have a smart sprinkler system. The only thing different from it and the system I took out is the fact that it connects to wifi, and uses that connection to not water if enough rain has hit the ground. That and doing the schedule is easier from my phone as opposed to changing it from the unit itself.

I too have an ecobee thermostat that I never touch save for turning it from Auto in the winter to Cool in the spring. I don't want it heating my house up to daytime temp. The outdoor heat does a fine job of that. I didn't get my ecobee to save money, but I did get it for the remote room sensors. Two of my kids rooms are above the garage and my builder didn't do a good job of insulating. These remote room sensors took those rooms from drastically different temperature from the rest of the upstairs, to almost perfect. It's all a matter of configuration.

I should look to see how much these things have saved me.

I am also capable of flipping a switch, but when someone opens my theater door and the lights come up on their own, it's a neat effect. Plus, the switch isn't in all that logical of a place so it saves effort. Plus if my kids leave the lights on, they turn off if nobody is in the room and the "remote" isn't turned on.

Is that something that is necessary? No, but I like it. Just like I like hosting my own movie library so I don't have to get a disc and put it in a player. I don't wear out any physical copies I have. I don't wear out a BD player, and I have a cool interface to boot.

There are tons of things I don't "have" to do that I want to do.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Keeping the same temperature at all times, while provides the most comfort - its not the most efficient way.
Let's you're 100% off-grid and using geothermal or solar then I could see your point, but if you're using delivered energy for heating/cooling then keeping the same temp just isn't efficient.
In my old system, I had to switch manually from heat to cooling (no valves turning) but a new one switches automatically. As for solenoid valves, I could see you being cautious with hi-tech stuff since these were commercially available only as recent as 1910.
In an ICF home you keep the same temp at all times. There are two heating systems, with two zones. The main level has underfloor hot water heat, and forced air for AC. Only the underfloor heat ever gets used on that level. The upper level is forced air AC and heat and is zone 2. Now the underfloor takes 2 to 4 days to equilibrate completely and changing temperature is not a good idea. The home is highly energy efficient and works best if the temperature is kept constant. In addition the six inch concrete walls hold a lot of heat and it would take days for the temp to change much in any case. The whole house is an enormous thermal reservoir so temperature changes are highly damped. This is a home of the future without the complication of Smart Home.

Changing the seasons involves changing over from humidification to dehumidification and switching a flap valve in the HVAC system and turning on and off the water to the humidifier. You have to throw a couple of valves in the underfloor heating system, and just switching the thermostat for the system on. The circulating fan has to be on at all times, because of the ERV.

I just don't need the complication of Smart home nonsense. Everything is good without it. This home is the most comfortable as far as temperature I have ever seen or heard of, and really nothing could improve it.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
I think a lot of folks that haven't had REAL home automation don't see it's benefits. I too have a smart sprinkler system. The only thing different from it and the system I took out is the fact that it connects to wifi, and uses that connection to not water if enough rain has hit the ground. That and doing the schedule is easier from my phone as opposed to changing it from the unit itself.

I too have an ecobee thermostat that I never touch save for turning it from Auto in the winter to Cool in the spring. I don't want it heating my house up to daytime temp. The outdoor heat does a fine job of that. I didn't get my ecobee to save money, but I did get it for the remote room sensors. Two of my kids rooms are above the garage and my builder didn't do a good job of insulating. These remote room sensors took those rooms from drastically different temperature from the rest of the upstairs, to almost perfect. It's all a matter of configuration.

I should look to see how much these things have saved me.

I am also capable of flipping a switch, but when someone opens my theater door and the lights come up on their own, it's a neat effect. Plus, the switch isn't in all that logical of a place so it saves effort. Plus if my kids leave the lights on, they turn off if nobody is in the room and the "remote" isn't turned on.

Is that something that is necessary? No, but I like it. Just like I like hosting my own movie library so I don't have to get a disc and put it in a player. I don't wear out any physical copies I have. I don't wear out a BD player, and I have a cool interface to boot.

There are tons of things I don't "have" to do that I want to do.
The owner's imagination is the only limit for automation options. While I like to have a light outside the garage door lit at night, I got a cheap smart bulb and set it to turn on 30mins after sunset and turn off 30mins before sunrise.
If you have a modern security system for example and a smart heating controller and like to open windows doors often to let fresh air in, one could easily tie automation to shutoff ac if doors/windows open longer than 5 mins for example.
I think it would be cool to speak Hey Siri, Turn on my theater and few things would happen.
 
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BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Some updates to the original post for the sake of posterity: Even if VMWare promises to support USB-passthrough with vmotion, in practice it didn't work for my home-lab - vcenter 7, hosts 6.7u3.
The solution was to pin down HA's VM to the host with HUSBZB-1 attached.

In other news: Ars Technica has a new HA article:

Migration of my HA ESXi VM to Qnap based VM is coming soon (tm)
 
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