Home Assistant: Three years later

(eamonnsullivan.co.uk)

276 points | by eamonnsullivan 12 days ago

28 comments

  • rkagerer 11 days ago
    The gem of wisdom at the end:

    And I could have saved myself a lot of heartache by avoiding cloud services.

    Thank you. I do not want the functionality of my home dependant on someone else's infrastructure. Or my house to stop working just 'cause the Internet is down.

    It's the epitome of stupid when something as simple as turning on a lightswitch has to send a message miles across the Internet and back to get the job done. John Henry Holmes is rolling in his grave laughing at us.

    • plagiarist 11 days ago
      I have zero idea how the demographic of people excited about Home Assistant and automation are not also, to a person, savvy enough to reject cloud services for controlling their homes. Not only for the partition hardiness, but also to avoid contract changes, being banned over ToS violations, or the company just deciding to close up shop.

      There was an article on HN a bit ago where Amazon dumped a customer, which deactivated a good chunk of their house. The author wrote something like, "I may consider removing Amazon from the equation over this." Fucking "consider"??? It's perplexing trying to figure out that perspective.

      • kevstev 11 days ago
        A few factors come into play:

        Ten or so years ago, when Google was still mostly a darling, I never thought they would ever try to pull anything like that. Yet here we are, and my dropcam is just going to brick itself in April. No update for RTSP/Onvif, just FU you are out of luck.

        Similarly, at least one device I bought didn't require an account when I first got it, but then all of a sudden there was a new app update and you didn't think twice about it, but now this requires a cloud connection. It sneaks up on you, and a few years ago I wasn't thinking about this stuff.

        But yeah, now I have zero tolerance for this stuff. I have had Google/Nest brick my stuff and nag me to get a subscription, Sonos has tried to strong arm me into upgrading my equipment at a cost of over $1k, etc. I am more than willing to pay tons extra for devices I actually own and control, and whose data I own and never leaves my network. Problem is, that its tricky to find stuff that supports open standards. I was more than willing to go in on Ubiquiti's very expensive gear until I learned that they also lock you in and don't support RTSP/Onvif. Then you are mostly in dubious Chinese brands for things and you can't be sure of the quality- though at least I can block them from phoning home or sending anything out of my network.

        The smarthome world is just a real mess right now.

      • marcus0x62 11 days ago
        I started using HA tech at a time in my life when I had more money than time, the DIY stuff was very rough around the edges, and the cloud services I used mostly met my needs with a minimum of effort. I figured if something stopped working, I’d just go out and buy a replacement that did work.

        Now, a decade later, I have more time than money, the cloud services aren’t so reliable, and I’m increasingly uneasy with the implications of relying on something that can disappear (or change for the worse) at a moment’s notice.

        So I’m ripping all of that crap out of my digital life.

        That’s at least one example of how someone can be savvy enough to set up something like Home Assistant but end up with a bunch of clown crap in their house.

      • persolb 11 days ago
        It is mostly a matter of time. I have home assistant running locally, but started paying nabu casa to serve as the remote access bridge after my homegrown external site died when I upgraded my internet. I could fix it myself… but it was faster to just subscribe.

        The other issue is that some cloud services are just better than what I can do on a raspberry pi. I’d rather get voice recognition from Google for ‘free’ than pay electricity and time for a server to always be on.

        • plagiarist 10 days ago
          That perspective almost makes sense for me, if you still have control over your stack you're paying to make it accessible while out. They can go down, go bankrupt, or ban you and not break your house.
      • connicpu 11 days ago
        Absolutely agree, I didn't get a single smart home device until I was certain I could have full local control and that it would work until the day the hardware failed. I started out making my own custom IoT controllers with ESP8266 chips that I wrote arduino code for, but while fun it isn't scalable to my whole house. In the last couple months I got a Home Assistant Yellow which has a built-in Zigbee radio, so my world was opened to so many local-only devices. Now I've replaced the majority of my lightswitches and put zigbee smart bulbs in a lot of my lamps, and it's all controlled from my Home Assistant instance, not a single proprietary app installed.
      • m463 11 days ago
        It's hard for a "reasonable" person to follow this advice.

        They get something home, and it is useful, and their spouse or kids like it... but it has to be hooked to the internet. maybe it needs an account to activate. or many of the other convenient/inconvenient tricks.

        But I'm happy that we have home assistant and tasmota and esphome and all these other wonderful projects that route around lots of these problems.

    • MSFT_Edging 11 days ago
      My frustrations with local automations needing the cloud has sent me on a multi-year long learning experience.

      Basically, I want smart home things, I have some blind spots in my software and engineering skills, therefore I'll DIY my smarthome features from the ground up.

      I wrote a server in python, integrated some ESP32s with temp/humidity sensors. I then integrated them into Vindrikting units. I learned super basic front end stuff to give a page with graphs. I wrote a telegram bot to request the data from anywhere. Then I re-wrote the server in Go(because I wanted to learn go) to where its mostly functional but I lost steam and still rely on the python server.

      Then I found some Kasa smart power strips that are individually addressable so I set up a isolated IoT network with a Pi zero w, and started writing a Kasa protocol library in Rust(because I want more rust experience) then used that library on an ESP32 using the embedded rust toolkits(because my ESPs with C code randomly crash and i want more protection against my grug-brain tendencies) to create remote controls for these kasa devices.

      This approach is far from efficient but it's less a solution to home automation and more a vehicle to guide various learning projects with fun tech. Since its all on my local network and just for me I can decide what I need and don't need. Basically I'm making a really delicate system bespoke for me but as I learn more, each component gets easier and less delicate and I'm getting pretty good at architecting these things. Only downside is its really hard to return to older aspects when new ideas are circulating(ie I really need to finish the go/vue server and begin more integration stuff with the dedicated IoT network).

    • fennecfoxy 10 days ago
      IoT has been ruined by lack of government involvement/companies using common standards.

      If I plug a device into power here, it must abide by electrical safety standards in order to be sold.

      If I buy a phone or a laptop, consumers expect that it has wifi that works interchangeably with existing/other devices or it will not sell.

      I suppose these rules haven't been applied to IoT stuff simply because the market for it is so small. Technoshit not working together in a common way is what bugs me the most about living in 2024; companies only trying to make a profit and not create a shared platform that betters the consumer, even doing stuff specifically to make competition harder.

      We could have it so good!

  • adamtaylor_13 11 days ago
    My experience with Home Assistant has been quite similar to the author’s. I’m also a software engineer so the general lack of stability around device changes always makes me feel like I’ve volunteered to pick up that 8-point ticket on the last Wednesday of the sprint.

    But when everything works, it’s such a cool experience. I hope Matter begins to make local-first a bigger priority as well. That’s a huge concern I’ve recently begun to develop.

    Also I still haven’t figured out how to combine a mechanical and digital solution. Like I want light switches that match my server state for my lights. If I change the switch via my phone, I want the switches to change as well so that the physical switch is always the true state of the light.

    • nucleardog 11 days ago
      > Like I want light switches that match my server state for my lights. If I change the switch via my phone, I want the switches to change as well so that the physical switch is always the true state of the light.

      Like it's an absolute requirement that they show a different physical position when on or off?

      I've got some relatively cheap z-wave switches. They're only momentary, but up is on and down is off. When they're off, I have them configured to show a small white light on the bottom. So my indication of switch state is "small light = off, big light in the middle of the ceiling = on".

      The switches _can't_ be out of sync with their state because they are directly controlling the attached lights. If anything were to somehow get out of sync, it would be home assistant.

      • gregmac 11 days ago
        Yeah, same here. I just don't see the need for a "mechanical indicator" like the OP seems to be asking for, because you can tell by the state of the room.

        Mechanical switches aren't even reliable for this because of how 3-way switches work (their state doesn't indicate the state of the light). Unless you remember which are 3-way and which are single, you can't trust any of them. With smart switches in the same locations this is a non-issue.

        An interesting thing is switches where you can't see if they're on as easily, such as the outside front lights, are for the most part fully automated (based on timer/door/motion and/or camera object detection) and we basically never touch the switch at all.

        It's important to be consistent, though, since you technically can program the switches to do anything. In my house pressing up once turns the light on as you'd expect, but in some rooms the light will be less than 100% or have a warmer color temperature at night. Pressing twice turns on max brightness (or something similar, such as: 5000K color temp; also turning on the lights an adjacent room; turning on _all_ the backyard lights). I rarely use 3, 4 or 5-taps except for a couple special things (eg: 4x off on my office switch puts my PC to sleep; 3x on one of the basement switches activates a "party mode" my kid loves).

        • andsoitis 11 days ago
          > Yeah, same here. I just don't see the need for a "mechanical indicator" like the OP seems to be asking for, because you can tell by the state of the room.

          It is an aesthetic concern. If you have two light switches next to each other, they can get out if sync by being in different positions but representing the same state (light on or off).

          That would be very ugly.

          • nucleardog 11 days ago
            > If you have two light switches next to each other, they can get out if sync by being in different positions but representing the same state (light on or off).

            I have some of these:

            https://www.thesmartesthouse.com/collections/800-series-z-wa...

            (Third photo shows a side view.)

            They can't be in different physical positions. They're momentary switches. When you press it up then release, it goes back to centered. The only indication of state on the switch is the (configurable/optional) little LED at the bottom of the switch. I have mine set so it's white if the switch is off (helps you find it in the dark), and off when the switch is on.

            So if you have any 3-way switches in your house (I do!), it's actually an improvement as far as your concerns.

          • karlshea 11 days ago
            I think people are asking why he needs a mechanical indicator because there are a bunch of switches available now that don't have one but also don't really look out of place.
          • Symbiote 11 days ago
            My apartment has stateless switches for the radio controlled lights. (I don't know the details of the system.)

            I've lived there for over 5 years, and I still regularly press the wrong switch where there are two or three next to each other.

          • jgalt212 11 days ago
            True. If you have a 3-way switch next to a 2-way switch, you get the same confusion.
          • thunfischbrot 11 days ago
            I solved this by using "Push-Button Switches": https://katalog.gira.de/en/datenblatt.html?ean=4010337126034...

            They look like a push-button, are therefore always "aligned", though the electrical switch alternates between open and closed.

          • thinkmassive 11 days ago
            Have you ever used a three-way light switch?

            Plus the momentary switches are always centered, they look fine next to traditional switches in either position.

      • euroderf 11 days ago
        > some relatively cheap z-wave switches. They're only momentary, but up is on and down is off. When they're off, I have them configured to show a small white light on the bottom.

        This sounds great. Can you provide a pointer or full search term to getting these ?

        • thebasic 11 days ago
          As others have said - I set up my whole house with Zooz z-wave switches (mostly ZEN72 and ZEN77) a couple years back. Very solid - started out on SmartThings, now on Home Assistant. I think my average cost was about ~$22/switch, cheaper than many alternatives. By default they show a small green light when the light is off, but it can be customized to different colors, or off all together. Loving my decision more and more as I keep seeing more news about issues with cloud connected devices and companies.
        • michaelmior 11 days ago
          The Inovelli Red series is a popular choice for Z-Wave switches. They also make a Zigbee version with similar features. Personally, I have been using Lutron Caseta switches which use a proprietary protocol, but you can get local control and they've been incredibly solid.
          • lsaferite 11 days ago
            Over the years, every time I've looked at the Inovelli switches they are always out of stock. I really wanted to switch to them but could never make it happen. If they've solved their stock issues, that's good to hear.
            • michaelmior 8 days ago
              I don't think they have unfortunately which is one of the reasons I'm using the Caseta switches. I would love to switch myself too since the price point is similar, they use an open standard, and the controllable LED is a just a cool added feature.
          • twisteriffic 11 days ago
            The range and battery life on the remotes is unbelievable as well.
        • nucleardog 11 days ago
          A good chunk of my z-wave hardware is from Zooz. I haven't tried any other brands, so I can't really compare or provide a solid "this is better" recommendation or anything. Mine are the older 700 series.

          I've got a mix of the "Zooz ZEN71" for places where I need to switch larger loads (e.g., bathroom light and fan, all my outdoor lights) and the "Zooz ZEN72" elsewhere as it supports dimming.

        • windexh8er 11 days ago
          Zwave Light Switch
      • makapuf 11 days ago
        None of my lamps have a set position for on or off since they're on a toggle switch.
    • wkat4242 11 days ago
      Haha I like your description of the 8 point ticket.

      Updating HA always reminds me of what a friend used to say. "Software is like cathedrals. First you build it, then you pray".

      The post-update relief when everything actually keeps working for once is really great though.

      • yoavm 11 days ago
        I've been using a Home Assistant Blue for two years now. Always updating, never had a single issue. It's actually so smooth I don't even think before clicking "update". It seems like a much more stable installation method.
      • Fnoord 11 days ago
        If that is an issue then backups and snapshots are your friend. Even container can help you. And if you don't want to update, run it on Debian Stable.
    • Larrikin 11 days ago
      The visual indicator should be the light shining into your eyes, not the switch on the wall.

      If you can from some other location see the light switch you already know the state of the lights.

      If your automations are set up well you really should hardly be touching the light switches so they become more of something you only interact with for special reasons.

    • squarefoot 11 days ago
      > I want light switches that match my server state for my lights.

      Not easy to do, short of using switches that can be operated through servos. However you could replace the switches with buttons and step relays that feed back their state to the server, in other words the server doesn't care about the switches or buttons anymore but only reads/writes the relays state.

    • shellfishgene 11 days ago
      > I hope Matter begins to make local-first a bigger priority as well. That’s a huge concern I’ve recently begun to develop.

      That would be nice, but in all other areas in tech that's exacly the opposite of what companies want. I haven't looked into matter too much, but I'm sceptical.

      • bgentry 11 days ago
        You should probably look into it then! I have numerous Matter window/door sensors and switchable outlets connected to both HASS and HomeKit and they're working very well. I've never used a vendor's app for any of them.
    • CSSer 11 days ago
      It sounds like you want Lutron Casetas.
      • xp84 11 days ago
        The newest Casetas are called Diva, and are basically like rockers that are stateless (return to a neutral position after tappdiva, again you can't have a true state-perfect switch, unless it's motorized and to my knowledge nobody makes that.
        • timthorn 11 days ago
          There was a UK start-up a few years back that did make motorised light switches but they didn't stick around long. I'm blanking on the name, though.
        • Y-bar 11 days ago
          Couldn't on/off switches also be achieved with an electromagnet without the need for an actuating motor of some kind?

          - State A (on) - power the device and power the magnet so that the switch moves.

          - State B (off) - power off the device and the magnet, a spring moves the switch.

        • karlshea 11 days ago
          I have a couple of these and they're great, it feels (and looks) like a regular switch.
      • surajrmal 11 days ago
        I like lutron caseta, but I believe those do not fit the bill here. The light on the side may reflect the current light level, but the slider doesn't move. I had some levitron smart lights previously and while I wouldn't recommend them, they had two buttons instead of a physical slider to adjust brightness and avoid the problem altogether.
    • sguav 11 days ago
      > Also I still haven’t figured out how to combine a mechanical and digital solution. Like I want light switches that match my server state for my lights. If I change the switch via my phone, I want the switches to change as well so that the physical switch is always the true state of the light.

      For the lights that I want to "keep mechanically in sync" I replaced the switches with buttons and used a re-flashed (ESPhome) sonoff-mini which conveniently has a button input for the relay. Everything is synchronized no matter the operating interface.

    • alias_neo 11 days ago
      > I hope Matter begins to make local-first a bigger priority as well.

      As of today, Matter is still basically junk.

      I recently bought some Matter smart plugs; I wanted the matter ones to test out Matter and see if it was worth investing more into since I have a SkyConnect in dual-mode.

      I paid _double_ for smart plugs with Matter support, only to find that when connected via matter they're just dumb switches; none of the advertised energy monitoring functionality works. When I asked around on the HA Discord channels about _why_, it turns out that the Matter spec doesn't yet support things like energy monitoring.

      Until the spec becomes actually useful, it's just a waste of money that will give you fewer features than the device might actually support.

    • tass 11 days ago
      Apple’s HomeKit operates over local control, as I understand. For anything that isn’t zwave or zigbee, this has been a reliable way for me to choose devices which don’t require some outside service to control.

      HA supports HomeKit without requiring any Apple devices.

    • eternityforest 11 days ago
      Matter doesn't seem to be talked about much anymore. I would not be surprised if something else catches up and takes over before it gets big, like Bluetooth mesh or something.

      Personally my ideal HA would just be if YoLink made their platform open source. Their hardware is cheap and actually works pretty much perfectly, the only thing missing is open local APIs.

      • rkagerer 10 days ago
        I've been really pleased with YoLink though I wouldn't call them perfect. Over time I get occasional alerts for transient disconnects, and their UI robustness could be improved (like the Android app screens where I make changes but those don't seem to "stick" to the device until I redo it a few times).
    • Thlom 11 days ago
      I bought a Zigbee dimmer switch. Even works directly with the Hue app (My attempts at hass has so far mostly ended in total chaos, so I've given up for now).
    • hughesjj 11 days ago
      Can some of the push button/toggle ones work for you?
    • Fabricio20 11 days ago
      I mean if you don't really want _switches_... I use Sonoff's TX series, they are just a "touchscreen" light switch that lights up when its on. Can't get out of sync since the ring light is part of it being on or off. Don't shy away from the touchscreen aspect by the way, it's really sensitive.

      If you would rather have the lights control themselves (ex: rgb lights) you can always just replace your physical switch with something similar to the TX but that's just a button and then use automations on HA to have it tell the light what to do.

  • crystaln 11 days ago
    I have an ancient Crestron system from the 90s with a large color touch screen that came with my home. It's impressive and still works, managing an irrigation system, 3 HVACs with probably 20 damper controlled zones, lights (altho I pretty much only use Hue now), and security system.

    When this thing craps out, there is nobody in the world who will maintain it as far as I know.

    The thought of hiring someone to replace it with another Crestron seems silly and expensive given I am a software developer and should be able to hack my home automation system.

    OTOH I also don't want to spend my life debugging HA and don't really see myself getting around to the months of tinkering this project will require.

    OTOOH professional integrators for HA seem to not exist at all. HAOS yields no results on Upwork. There is little discussion of professional installers in their forums.

    Ideally I could hire someone to develop a system and give me a walkthrough so I can go from there.

    Surprisingly the HA community basically rejects the idea that professional services around the platform makes sense, basically indicating that's its too unreliable.

    • _kb 11 days ago
      Traditional home automation - Crestron et al - is the absolute wild west. Business models are overwhelmingly based around hardware sales, lock in, and customer retention through obfuscation and control. This applies to both manufacturers and integrators.

      You won't find a professional integrator to take on a home-assistant based project as the economic incentive is not there. There are some good independent devs but most avoid resi due to volatility and relatively small projects compared to commercial.

      • cybrox 11 days ago
        Which is an absolute shame because in the end it just causes many more millions to be wasted on re-building yet another somewhat "complete" automation solution with a different vendor lock-in that will become obsolete in 5 years.

        In the long run, this business model will just not fly in a world with today's connection requirements.

        • ianburrell 11 days ago
          I wonder if the Home Assistant boxes will help. Getting HA used to mean installing it yourself. Installer would need to come up with custom hardware. Now, they can buy Blue and Yellow and start from there.
      • daredoes 10 days ago
        I develop things for HomeAssistant. The stuff I develop for free can be a hassle to support, so I don't see myself earning a good wage while being happy working on HomeAssistant for non-engineers.
    • MilaM 11 days ago
      I don't think HA is for you, then. The whole idea behind it is to go online, buy a bunch of cheap actuators and sensors from different vendors, and try to make them work together in one system. It's never going to be as reliable as a coherent system from a vendor like Crestron. But it's also much cheaper and 'flexible', of course.

      My rather basic home automation system has devices from more than ten different vendors on two networks (Zigbee, Wifi, soon probably Thread), many of which communicate with custom protocols. It's a wonder that it's working as well as it is.

      Also, HA is developing at a breakneck speed. They release new iterations eleven times per year. Reading the release notes is a must, as many releases change things in subtle ways that might break your system.

      • crystaln 11 days ago
        I want the flexibility and hackability. I don't mind paying $50 instead of $10 reliable hardware.

        I don't want the lock-in of Crestron.

      • crystaln 11 days ago
        That's what I'm talking about.
    • jjeaff 11 days ago
      the only thing unreliable about HA is that occasionally, updates can break things. Otherwise it has been rock solid for me. Put it on an Intel nuc style device with high quality SSD and you should be good for a long time.
      • jclulow 11 days ago
        > occasionally, updates can break things

        But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the theatre?

        • Toutouxc 11 days ago
          Nowadays your phone, computer, fridge and even your car get software updates that can break things. Having to keep track of one more device probably won't ruin anyone's life that much more.

          Also, Home Assistant updates rarely break stuff (I haven't had anything break since I started with it two years ago), and you can always not update for a few weeks.

          • bregma 11 days ago
            Automation is my day job. My home is a log cabin the woods that I heat with wood (in Canadian winters). That should give you an insider's view on the reliability and trustworthiness of home automation.

            The uptime on my laptops is in years because nothing in OS updates are needed. If I'm not adding new hardware or exposing services to the public why would I need to update anything?

            But go ahead and dicker with the technology as a hobby. Everyone needs one.

            • xolox 11 days ago
              > If I'm not adding new hardware or exposing services to the public why would I need to update anything?

              Because you might be using a web browser and/or email client to interface with the outside world...?

          • 10729287 11 days ago
            To be honest Home Assistant is not as "Set and Forget" that could be Philips Hue for example. I could totally see me help relatives to set up a Hue system, or thinking about making a business out of it. Regarding Home Assistant, I have a very basic set up but the few times it breaks after update or randomly shut down without notice would make support a nigtmare for me to engage non tech savy friends in it. Let's be honest, it's hard to imagine a business relying on it for the moment. Way too unreliable and time consuming.
            • cybrox 11 days ago
              Philips Hue is very stable when it comes to controlling the lights via Zigbee and them meshing properly. The customer facing part (mobile app, cloud integrations, etc.) though... whole another story. Not to mention the relatively frequent and sometimes almost arbitrary changes to their app and stuff like forcing you to have a registered account now.

              Yes, Home Assistant is not in the same ballpark at the moment but their all-in-one hardware bridge is actually a good point to get there in the long run. You can plonk that thing down, auto-discover all your Hue lights pretty much like in the Philipps Hue app and you're almost good to go. Scene and Room setup is a bit more cumbersome than with Hue but still doable.

              I for one have moved all my Philips Hue lights to Home Assistant a while ago and never looked back. Everything runs a lot more stable, faster and I haven't had any issues with it. The only problem I've had in the past 12 months (even with regular updates) was my kitchen lights not turning on anymore and it turned out my Hue motion sensor there simply ran out of battery.

              • 10729287 11 days ago
                Thank you for all the infos. You just reminded me i'm a bit biased regarding Hue because I use the Third party app Iconnecthue (ios only) wich is STELLAR. Always been very ahead of Philips schedule regarding features, way more powerful, and the best balance between friendlyness and efficiency. One of the best piece of software i've been using this last decade. Thank you very much to the team. Indeed, running Hue with official software is more cumbersome and limited.

                The recent move from Philips lead me to consider running everything through Home Assistant but I'm not ready yet. Configuring accessories and scene with Iconnecthue (especially splitting behaviors for week/week-end or during day) is too smooth and powerful). Also the Hue Bridge is rock solid, while my HA instance isn't. I could consider it if I were alone but i'm not. Maybe when I'll stop playing with HA and break things.

                For the moment, using adaptive lightning on my Hue bridge controlled lights through HA is an incredible joy tho.

                • cybrox 11 days ago
                  Absolutely understandable. I've actually been in the exact same situation when I was still using Philips Hue. I was using HuePro on Android, which is (or unfortunately rather, was) also an incredibly powerful and well polished application maintained by a third party. I got confused a few times when people brought up issues only to discover that the base Philips app was lagging behind a lot in functionality and user friendliness.

                  As it stands, I definitely understand your approach. Personally, I would also recommend any non-tech-savvy person or people who don't want to mess with it for a while to just use the Hue bridge with HA, if they were to try it out. The Hue bridge is really rock solid, no complaints there.

                  In case anyone else stumbles upon this and is curious, I'm now using a SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle and a Raspberry Pi and at least for me, the stability of the local Zigbee network is as good as it was with the Hue bridge before.

            • michaelmior 11 days ago
              I think that's largely because they're not targeting non-techical users at the moment. However, I think in the years I've been using HA, things have been moving more in that direction.
          • sokoloff 11 days ago
            My iPhone is the first device/system where I don’t dread an update.
            • cybrox 11 days ago
              Apple did a good job shifting that away from the customer. As a developer, I do dread every one of their updates.
              • mardifoufs 11 days ago
                Google manages to make it weird for both the users and the devs :). You never know what an android update will remove (call recording, access to file system, etc) as a user, and devs always have to worry about minimum API support.

                I didn't know iOS had a similar problem on the dev side, so I guess there's really no easy way out for mobile devs haha.

                • cybrox 9 days ago
                  True, I'm definitely not saying Android is any better. And yes, aside from the fact that there's obviously a lot of value to be had, I have grown to simply hate mobile development for that very reason. Every vendor will make whatever change they want to at whatever point they feel like it and it's not like a desktop platform, where you usually can work around it, it sometimes simply destroys your whole business use case or selling point if you're unlucky. (At times even to just be re-introduced later as part of the OS, which is simply stealing from and destroying smaller competitors without repercussions)
              • sokoloff 11 days ago
                That's entirely fair (from your perspective) and entirely correct (from the much larger community of customers perspective).
            • m463 11 days ago
              You forget ios 7!
              • sokoloff 11 days ago
                It is admittedly easy to forget things that were over a decade ago.
        • m463 11 days ago
          don't update.

          desktop/phone folks want the latest and greatest software and upgrade all the time, even automatically.

          server folks want nothing to change ever.

          second mindset is useful.

      • crystaln 11 days ago
        Lots of people asking in the forums to hire someone, and the answer always amount to that it's not reliable enough to do a professional install.

        Maybe it's reliable for you, however why has no one built a professional installer service on the platform?

        • Toutouxc 11 days ago
          I don't think that reliability is the issue. Hass is very reliable, it's just (IMO) a bitch to configure. There's a lot of clicking and fiddling in the not-sure-if-mobile-or-desktop web interface, the menus aren't that well structured, some stuff (less and less, to be fair) needs to be configured in YAML and you don't even get an easy way to access the main config files (there's an addon, which doesn't work for some installation methods).
          • crystaln 11 days ago
            So why is nobody doing this professionally?
            • rickdeckard 11 days ago
              Because HA has no sufficient separation between the frontend and the backend. The platform itself is stable, but the user-experience cannot be isolated

              The result of a professional delivery of a HA-solution would not be the product "HA", but the custom solution that was built on top of it.

              Once deployed, the solution cannot follow the maintenance cycle of the HA-backend without risking to break the frontend experience of your customer, which means unpredictable work-hours to maintain the solution (get stuff to work again, rebuilding broken functionality using new methods, etc.)

              To use it professionally, one of the biggest needs would be that the frontend versioning is decoupled from the backend, so a professional could deploy your custom solution based on HA version A with frontend version A, and regardless how often HA is upgraded to version B, C, D, X, the frontend will still be version A until it is manually migrated (possibly as a paid maintenance service).

              But what this means is, that alot of development effort would need to be put into backwards-compatibility to older frontends and testing of all the permutations whenever a new release of the backend is done.

              The (reasonable) decision of the community is to not do that, and instead put the energy into evolving HA as a whole.

              But yeah, I wouldn't want to deploy this professionally and be in fear every time a new version is released...

            • xiwenc 11 days ago
              Perhaps due to demand and the variety of system compositions possible.

              I have been using HA since early days. If i have to pay someone to build it, i would be very poor. The amount of time and effort put into it, it’s insane. And environment changes regularly.

              So i think there is no professional service because of the high complexity and the customers don't have much budget for this.

              It is possible to assemble very specific setup of hardware and configuration that could work out of the box. Kinda like a HA distribution that has been tested rigorously against a predefined set of supported hardware systems.

            • plagiarist 11 days ago
              Harder to sell the service contracts when the user has that much control?
        • denis1 11 days ago
          The problem of reliability isn't really with Home Assistant. It comes from the pain of integrating the almost-but-not-quite compatible cheap Chinese devices that claim to work with a standard, but don't.

          The ecosystem is so fragmented between cheap race-to-the-bottom gadgets and the more expensive "works only with OUR app" that integrating anything more than just a few bulbs is a pain.

          And that's not even considering the amount of customer support that someone doing this professionally would have to provide.

          • criddell 11 days ago
            Why would installers deal with cheap Chinese devices? Every installer I’ve dealt with has a relatively small selection of vendors and devices that they know and trust. They aren’t reselling random crap from Amazon.
            • TeMPOraL 11 days ago
              No, they're each having a relatively small selection of vendors re-selling white-label Chinese crap.

              In my case: local A/C installers are reselling Haier aircons. Good hardware. Shit software (see "tale of the two apps" elsewhere in this thread). Or, a nice local company selling floor heating solutions. Got electric floor heating from them. Control panels have "smart home integration". Guess who made that? Tuya. The world's finest seller of white-label "smart" devices. Complete with a shit app.

              Home Assistant is the only thing that makes the two device classes more convenient remotely than through an IR remote or using the wired-in control panels.

          • daredoes 10 days ago
            Right there with you that the amount of customer support needed for such a service kills the incentive. I already hate having to fix my house when something breaks or a battery dies. The last thing I want is Joe Schmoe calling me up at 2am because his power went out and shorted the home server, and he has no backups because he disabled the ones I set them up with while "tinkering"
          • xolox 11 days ago
            I've had plenty of trouble with Home Assistant upgrades randomly breaking smart devices from well known vendors, e.g. whenever I update I dread to find out whether my Neato vacuum robot is still supported or whether that integration has crapped out again. Same for my LG smart tv and several other devices. I love Home Assistant but it's not exactly rock solid...
          • crystaln 11 days ago
            Seems like a professional could just limit their install to known reliable devices?
      • gnyman 11 days ago
        Yeah, although I have not had issues in a while, this is exactly what I don't want my home-automation system to do.

        My "solution" is just to update it infrequently, but that does not feel like a very sustainable solution either.

        If they ever introduced a LTS version I would jump on that straight away. My home automation needs to do not change every month. And I'd be willing to pay money for that.

        But it might be that it's a bit unrealistic for this ecosystem and the amount of contributions, so I'll just keep putting off updates until I know I have time to fix it if and when it breaks.

      • ianburrell 11 days ago
        One suggestion I read was HA should move to a stable release model. Keep the ongoing development for those who want to stay on the edge, but do stable releases and then backport fixes. The releases should never break with new features.

        That would be a lot of effort so might make sense to have company and subscription service do the maintenance.

      • op00to 11 days ago
        I run my home assistant on a nuc that acts as a simple kvm hypervisor and then inside that vm I run HA as a container. It is trivially easy to backup, deploy, move around, restore to a previous state, etc.
      • katbyte 11 days ago
        Put it inside a vm, set updates to manual, once every few months snapshot/backup and upgrade. If it fails rollback.
        • xolox 11 days ago
          This is a good idea, however one drawback is that Home Assistant sometimes needs "physical access" to devices connected to the computer that it's running on, for example Bluetooth and Zigbee dongles. Of course you can pass through such access to a virtual machine, but it does become somewhat nontrivial.
          • katbyte 10 days ago
            Fwiw it is rather trivial and reliable to passthrough individual usb devices in Proxmox - point and click even
    • srmarm 11 days ago
      The thing is the selling point is it ties together loads of different systems and is open source. That is also it's weakness and I'd not want to professionally set up a system and then be at the mercy of third party integrations and have to explain that to the client and support it if it fails.

      Furthermore a lot of this you'll need physical access for which limits the scope of remote support.

      Once you're paying someone professional rates than the cost of the parts becomes less relevant.

      I don't think HA is that unreliable itself these days but if I were charging £££ to install I'd probably want to be able to have a company with an SLA to fall back on.

      I suspect there are people using it professionally however they'll be selling automation solutions and just use HA in the background rather than exposing HA to the end user.

    • greggsy 11 days ago
      I recently came to tho same conclusion. It doesn’t help that there is still some unreliability and ongoing stabilizarion across the various Zigbee, ZWave and Matter protocols and products, not to mention HomeKit, Alexa and Google Home/Nest services that people have invested into (this includes families, and sometimes even whole home renovations).

      While that settles down, HA needs to focus on standardisation and redundancy.

      First, there is so much potential from a BIM perspective, but they really ought to think about putting some frameworks in to allow exchange with industry standard modelling and data formats if they want to attract a professional market.

      The Industry’s File Classes (IFC) [1] for example could let you tap into building automation, not just homes.

      Second, it’s a single host service, which makes redundancy hard. What if the network goes down? What do? MQTT could allow the database and controllers to be multi-homed, but the architecture of the software itself is still a bit too tightly integrated (even if it is docker containers all the way down…)

      https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/File_formats_for_B...

    • eamonnsullivan 11 days ago
      That's an excellent point. I don't think HA is anywhere close to being something that could carry a separate professional services industry, like many more mature projects (e.g., Redis, MQTT or whatever). It's just moving too fast. But I could imagine in the future it developing a "long-term support" version model.
  • suyula 11 days ago
    I'm so grateful for what Home Assistant has done for home automation and compatibility, but its focus on dashboards and phone interfaces seems to lead everyone who uses it in exactly the wrong direction.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that a lot of what you like about 'Home Assistant' is Node-RED and Zigbee. They are two of the big building blocks for making a home that is more convenient to live in rather than less (the third being an MQTT server.)

    • eamonnsullivan 11 days ago
      Author here: Yeah, I cut that out at the last minute, but my feeling is that if you need to use the dashboard, the automation has failed. I put the app on my wife's phone, but she almost never uses it. She does use a touch screen on the wall, though, to bump up the heat, but that's about it.
      • apexalpha 11 days ago
        That depends on what you want to do, though.

        I like the energy dashboard a lot, it has literally all data in a single view including cost and PV. There's nothing to automate: the dashboard is the point.

        I also don't automate my lights. I don't want to automate my lights because our life isn't run on such a tight schedule. It always ends up less useful than a light switch in the wall.

        What I do want is to turn off all lights in one go when we go out, and quickly glance at the status of lights all over the house.

        For these kinda things a dashboard is perfect.

    • pkulak 11 days ago
      Exactly. If you have a “dashboard” that you have to use more than a couple times a week, you’re doing it wrong. Well, in my opinion, at least.
      • shellfishgene 11 days ago
        I don't know, many installations like the one OP describes have many more functions that light switches etc., like turning on scenes and automations. You could of course have buttons lying around everywhere, or a panel on the wall, but I'm not sure that's much better than using the phone dashboard app.
  • madaxe_again 11 days ago
    I switched from openhab to HA about a year ago and haven’t looked back - it’s absolutely night and day in terms of configuration and discovery.

    My use case is maybe a little extreme - I live off grid, and I have HA managing our picogrid (dump loads, shifting charge between battery banks, throttling the hydro, etc.), our water pumps, monitoring filters and telling me when I need to change them, and then of course all the usual climate control etc.

    Ironically the one use case I have no interest in is the most common one - lighting.

    • matthew-wegner 11 days ago
      I guess power draw on lights is pretty low, but one thing I do with my Home Assistant setup is aggressively turn off other rooms (and I'm on grid):

      If office computer is used, and "home alone" mode is on, turn off all non-office rooms.

      If I hit play on something on the main TV, or my laptop is used and its network MAC is the couch dock, turn off all rooms except living room, etc...

      (I have a guest mode that disables these things, which is automatically enabled when my partner uses her door keycode)

      • madaxe_again 11 days ago
        Yeah - as we’re off grid with a well managed storage system we essentially have no limit on power, usually a surplus, so lighting (all LED, of course) is just negligible - if I turn every single light in the place on we barely draw 250W. For energy saving, I do have it do stuff like turn off the underfloor heating/AC when we go out, or when we are for whatever reason low on power.

        Now, if they were incandescent it would be a different story entirely - it would be more like 3kW!

        I do actually have one small lighting project in mind - it’s about 500 meters from our house to the mill/guest house, and I’m toying with the idea of having little LoRa/solar fairy lights that turn on and off as you walk from one to the other at night, based on device presence, zone by zone, mostly because it would feel magical.

    • nixgeek 11 days ago
      Do you write about your picogrid and other MEP stuff anywhere?
      • madaxe_again 11 days ago
        Not yet as it continues to be a work in progress - still a few bits around frequency shifting that I’m not thrilled with - but I actually need to do a thorough writeup of it all fairly soon just in case I have a chainsaw accident or whatnot.
  • rsolva 11 days ago
    I have ran Home Assistant in my house for about 6 years, and for a tinkerer who likes to keep things local, is has been great fun! A few quick suggestions:

    - Do NOT use a device with a micro SDcard as the main storage!

    - Play around with devices, but be picky about what you use long term

    - Communicate with your spouse/other people in the house before experimenting :)

    After some crashes and hard lessons, I now run HA on a Proxmox that has two boot drives and regular snapshots/backups of the VM. This adds enough redundancy to keep things running and avoid a dark house if a disk breaks down. With great power comes great responsibility!

    • thebruce87m 11 days ago
      > - Do NOT use a device with a micro SDcard as the main storage!

      You should post why. It could be that you don’t know to buy endurance cards for wear levelling? Or you do and that’s still not good enough? Or something else entirely. Basically I can’t tell if you know more or less than I do from just the statement.

      • xolox 11 days ago
        I suspect they are referring to using a Raspberry Pi and using a micro SD card as the main storage mechanism. This is known to be a bad combination that will fail at an unfortunate time, sooner rather than later.

        Personally I boot my Raspberry's using netboot (DHCP via dnsmasq) and NFS. However I don't run Home Assistant on a Raspberry, it runs on the "server" (headless machine) that's serving NFS .

      • rsolva 10 days ago
        Sorry, I'll expound: I used a high quality endurance card, and it worked fine for a few years, until it didn't :)

        The SDcard started failing when I was on a prolonged Christmas holiday – and Home Assistant was responsible for keeping my house above freezing temps when it was below -10℃ outside. Luckily I have nice neighbors who helped me out!

        Anyway, I had planed to move HA away from the rPi3 for a while, but you know how it is, more important things keep happening, so this crash forced my hand.

        SDcards are a gamble, especially in a device you want to keep running for years and years. I feel much better having it running om my Proxmox with dual boot disks and regular backups, so WHEN a disk is calling quits, it still keeps on working and I have time to replace the broken disk.

  • asveikau 11 days ago
    I also use the docker deployment method.

    I started out with the VM image, which was a good low commitment "gateway drug" to try it out and get to know it... But a big downside I witnessed is their "haos" distro handles disk failures very poorly. I hit that twice, and recovery was not fun. It basically put up an infinite spinner on the web interface, until I messed with the disk image somewhere else. Haos does not even have fsck.

    Now my docker setup runs out of ZFS and I'm happy. There is no update UI or addons but if you're comfortable with a little mild sysadmin style stuff it's fine.

    • spockz 11 days ago
      I’m also running home assistant in a docker container. The only thing I miss is support for some plugins that need to install extra by components like mqtt. It appears that can be done transparently in the Haos image and is manual in the docker flavour.
    • XorNot 11 days ago
      You can install HACS into the docker image FYI and it'll persist, which gets you a pretty huge chunk of the HAOS experience.

      *EDIT: I meant HACS, HACS is what I meant.

      • asveikau 11 days ago
        Hmm, I just read about how to do it. I am already running Debian which is one of the requirements. Maybe will look into it later, but for now it seems like more work for not very much gain.

        Thanks for the tip.

        • karlshea 11 days ago
          I have HACS[0] installed in my Docker image, I use it for exactly one integration and the initial setup seemed a little dodgy but it's been pain-free for a couple of years now.

          [0]: https://hacs.xyz/

          • asveikau 11 days ago
            Yeah, I'm using that too..

            Interestingly when I migrated from a VM to docker, I copied /config over and didn't need to reinstall HACS. It was still there and working.

          • asveikau 11 days ago
            Oh, the original comment, before editing, was talking about installing supervisor into docker. Which is much more complex than HACS.
            • karlshea 11 days ago
              I thought they meant HACS and then mis-typed, but then saw the edit later. Figured I'd link to it anyways since it's a good option for integrations :)
  • iforgotpassword 11 days ago
    > Nothing quite disturbs your peace as sitting in a dark room, or having a light turn on in the middle of the night, because an automation has gone wrong. Hardware, in general, is also crap and I've spent too many hours trying to fix that faulty light strip, dodgy motion sensor or misbehaving sensor.

    This is my concern too, having started just a few months ago. A few days after switching from ZHA to z2m, suddenly one of my zigbee TRVs stayed at 22°C. I thought it was better thermostat acting up, every time I tried to lower it directly via Home assistant it would snap right back to 22. So I opened the z2m webif and was greeted with "no network route (205)" every time I tried to set a new target temp on the trv. You see, with ZHA any zigbee errors would show a popup in HA directly, but since now HA just talks to z2m via mqtt, HA never knows anything went wrong. And to add insult to injury, the trv was still sending updates of the measured ambient temperature just fine, so I didn't immediately think of a network issue.

    • stinos 11 days ago
      This is the thing, and the main reason I only played around with HA but never fully implemented it. Ideally for things which are controlled in 'absolute mode' you need a watchdog. Like something implemented in hardware to keep it from misbehaving. On the other hand many crucial devices have this built in. But obviously plain lights don't. What I mean is e.g.:

      - having HA control your heating's on/off hours, where the watchdog is the heating's thermostat making it stop heating when it's warm enough or forces heating if it gets too cold. So HA crashing and leaving the heating in heat mode might be just a waste but not a serious issue.

      - having HA control the wanted temperature on the other hand is more problematic, because for all I know it could misbehave and make the heating want to go to 30 degrees Celcius or to a value so low that there's no frost protection anymore, then crash and never get it out of that state anymore. And there's no watchdog anymore correcting for it. Potentially this can cause issues. Chances are small, but I don't like the idea that AFAIK these chances are much larger than standalone heating acting up like this.

      Likewise we can now opt for a dynamic electricy tarrif, basic idea being that for instance when you now the prices are going to drop below a certain threshold during the night you're going to tell your home battery to charge at that time. Of course the thing acts like a watchdog for itself in that it stops charging when full, but there is no watchdog keeping it from charging continuously. In other words: if it's put into charging mode and HA crashes and leaves it in charging mode then it will happily continue charging during peak hours. Not 'serious' per se but pretty stupid.

      • iforgotpassword 11 days ago
        I started out with just toggling the TRV between two target temps which is pretty much your suggestion, 17° when I'm away, 20° when I'm home. I added better thermostat to the mix because I liked the idea of using an external thermometer for deciding wether to heat the room or not, instead of the one built into the TRV sitting right next to the radiator. So better thermostat usually overshoots the target temp a bit at first to get the TRV to open the valve fully. I don't even know of I like this tbh, but even in the old setup it would've been annoying to enter the kitchen in the morning to find out it's still 17° because something is broken with the whole setup. I mean before, I just went to the kitchen and turned on the heat manually before using the bathroom and putting on my clothes back in the sleeping room, and I'm still not sure the current automation is that much of an improvement even if it works reliably. Once you start you realize it's really hard to create automations that are subtle yet useful, and still easy to override, because there's always some special cases.
      • marcinzm 11 days ago
        I mean, why not just have HA just control a hardware thermostat that has different mode settings (home, away, etc.)? Plenty of them exist and its, honestly, easier than trying to make HA into a thermostat.

        I've done it in "pure" HA due to specific requirements and do not recommend it. Reliability has not been a problem but everything else was. You'd probably need a custom thermostat software component (as the HA built in one is limited), a wi-fi connected switch (like a Shelly), a high amp relay (if heating or controlling an AC due to startup load) and a low latency temp sensor (most have a 10+ minute delay or 2 degree F delay, I found Govee Bluetooth sensors to work well). Then you'd still probably want a remote control or a physical control panel/dashboard. The IR remotes for ACs are absurdly difficult to decipher (I never succeeded) and there's no good Zigbee remotes I found (the best I found is the Yolink remote but that's not local). Dashboards either involve running a browser on some LCD on a wall or an e-paper display wired to esp-home. Making a dashboard in esp-home is like going back 40 years as everything is individual graphic components drawn one by one. It might annoy you (like it did me) enough to build an svg bashed dashboard creator, a renderer on your HA box and then use a dead PR's remote image loading support in esp-home.

        edit: The only positive about my approach is that I was able to build a custom "feel like" temperature curve that combines temp and humidity. So I no longer wonder all the time why I'm feeling cold or hot despite the thermostat being set to the same thing as last week.

        • stinos 11 days ago
          I mean, why not just have HA just control a hardware thermostat that has different mode settings (home, away, etc.)? Plenty of them exist and its, honestly, easier than trying to make HA into a thermostat.

          Wel yes, that's exactly my point: when done like that there's a watchdog in place. My issue (or rather reluctantce to use it) is that HA and the likes provide as far as I'm aware no watchdog features for systems which don't yet have it. Think some hardware AND-style gate which is only going to apply HA's last state if, say, HA can prove it is up and running properly.

          • marcinzm 11 days ago
            There isn't one because the by far most common failure case isn't "HA isn't running" but "the communication protocol isn't working." A watchdog must be on the device itself because otherwise it's basically useless for all intents and purposes. That said it also doesn't in my experience matter in like 99% of situations (a light stays on... who cares and you'll directly notice the issue with your eyes anyways) and for most of the rest you can just have HA send you a notification that it lost contact with some device for too long. You want notifications anyways because you cannot assume that a thermostat being on means the heater is on. If you need a heater to avoid a water pipe bursting then you should have a low temperature alert as well. The breaker may have blown, the relay may have broken or the heater's overheat fuse may have blown at some point.
  • wkat4242 11 days ago
    I like home assistant a lot but i do think they change too much for the sake of it. Every upgrade breaks someone something. Either some Yaml format has to be changed like from under platform to sensor, some integration I was using breaks, something I still need to use is being deprecated. Often for arbitrary reasons. I would prefer more focus on continuity. Especially the stuff that's already in there should just keep working.

    The problem is this disruption makes me feel really disinclined to update but when leaving it multiple months it's harder to find out what breaks beside I have to go hunt for all the intermediate changelogs.

    • eamonnsullivan 11 days ago
      I keep it up-to-date religiously and rarely run into breaking issues, but I have occasionally. I keep an eye on the release notes (https://rc.home-assistant.io/blog/categories/release-notes/), so I usually have at least a week's notice when a breaking change is coming and can adjust. I used the Met Office integration in some of my automations (setting a fan's speed based on the outside temp) and spotted that it was going to be disabled, and switched to Accuweather before this month's version came out.
      • Ringz 11 days ago
        I have had the same experience. Only once in 3 (or 4?) years was my Zigbee dongle (Phoscon ConBee II) not recognized after an update.

        I just had to restart, and everything worked again.

      • distances 11 days ago
        I've been thinking about setting up HA, but I'm a very lazy home admin. It's likely that pretty soon I would fall to an update cycle of about once every second year.

        Sounds like that would be a major pain though. Is there a pressing need to keep it up to date? Could it be treated as a set up and forget forever system, like I did with my NAS years ago?

        • wkat4242 11 days ago
          You can yes, but the problem is: Once you buy some new device you're going to want to integrate it and that is when you start running into problems without upgrading.

          But yes it will work forever in terms of it not being cloud-connected. Of course with the exception of integrated devices that don't have any local access.

          But yeah it's a pain if you don't do it monthly because you have to manually go and find all the intermediate changelogs and read through them. Or you just pull the trigger and see what breaks and then google how to fix it. Which is what I tend to do.

      • wkat4242 11 days ago
        Yeah but it's a lot of work to keep up with all this every month.

        Especially if you leave it multiple months because the info will be scattered over different release notes.

    • karlshea 11 days ago
      I hear this a lot but I'm guessing it comes from more of the power-user experience. I use it a decent amount but only have 2 yaml-based integrations set up, and I haven't really run into any upgrade issues, to the point where my Docker setup is auto-updated.
      • wkat4242 11 days ago
        Yeah but this is one of my concerns. They're trying to make it a mass market product so they can make more money with it. And the interests of the initial supporters from the time where everything had to be configured in Yaml aren't covered as well.
  • sowbug 11 days ago
    My HA breakthrough, to borrow a basketball term, was switching from a man-to-man defense to a zone defense. I used to think, "I want this motion sensor to turn on that light," and added equipment to do exactly that. Reconfiguration was a physical chore.

    Once I changed my mindset, I counted the number of rooms in my house and bought that many motion sensors. Same with door sensors: every door and closet got one. (I had already replaced all light switches with Lutron Caseta.)

    After a weekend of attaching and configuring sensors, the physical part was done, and it was all software after that. Now, if we want a different behavior, we pull out a phone and change an automation, rather than getting out a stepstool and VHB tape. The house feels more like a platform than a bunch of temporary hacks.

  • password4321 11 days ago
    Related today: Zigbee and Z-Wave are the best part of my smart home

    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=39344786

    • eamonnsullivan 11 days ago
      A section I cut out of the blog before posting was my experiences with Z-Wave. Most of my smart plugs are Z-Wave, which was part of my issue with Zigbee coverage/instability (smart plugs are good routers/repeaters).

      I like Z-Wave, but the stuff is expensive and options (for different types of devices) are fewer, so I've generally followed the economic incentives and ended up with many more Zigbee devices (38) than Z-Wave ones (7).

      Also, Z-Wave is more power-hungry. I have one Z-Wave motion sensor and I need to change the battery every few months. My double-As in my Zigbee motion sensors last two years.

      • mrgaro 11 days ago
        Would you mind (somehow) sharing the source of your current node-red configurations? I'm having quite the same setup, but I really liked your approach and I would love to speed run by taking a closer look what you have. Free time is especially hard to come by now with a young kid :)
  • jhoelzel 11 days ago
    Truth be told i installed HA on a pie about 3 years ago and have largely forgotten about it.

    It just works for me and what i do, all you have to do is occasionally apply updates. Granted i mainly focus on creating my own powersockets and fuses with shelly products and otherwise focus on local homekit devices.

    I also have some of those tuya devices and i hope to get rid of them at some point very soon. Zigbee is good for local and as long as the switch runs by clicking it too, i really have no issue nor care what its running on.

    I just have a secops feeling that wifi is really not what i want.

    • jmacd 11 days ago
      I am with you. 2.5 years running on a Pi. I also have 6 security cameras writing to a MicroSD in it which I thought was surely a recipe for disaster, but it has been rock solid. I have experienced no reliability issues and I am running everything out of Home Assistant exposed as HomeKit resources.
      • m463 11 days ago
        I would back it up regularly.

        Alternatively you boot and run a pi off a USB stick.

  • karlshea 11 days ago
    I'm also a Home Assistant convert: I originally installed it to record history from my Nest when the building was having some boiler issues and Homebridge was too hard to monitor.

    Then on install it auto-discovered a ton and I've slowly kept adding more and more smart devices. I went the same way as the OP did where all of the automations are very unobtrusive or simple, or do things like monitor some plants.

    Very happy with it, and I'd encourage paying for their cloud service for remote access just to throw the project some cash!

    • artdigital 11 days ago
      > Homebridge was too hard to monitor

      Curious about this. I tried HA a couple of times but kept going back to Homebridge. I find it far simpler than HA, and easy to write my own plugins for devices that don't have functionality yet

      For me HB was the lighter brother of HA, and HA the full-fledged thing

      • karlshea 11 days ago
        I needed some graphs and was using a pretty janky project to generate them from Homebridge, so tried HA since data collection was built in.
      • import 11 days ago
        HB never be a lighter brother of HA. Hb is simpler because it only covers functionality of one HA plugin (HomeKit bridge)
  • ikidd 11 days ago
    I was a rabid Node Red automationist until they managed to get automations more WYSIWYG oriented. I could write the YAML but it was annoying to debug; NR was much more useful that way, so that's where I went.

    I'm loving the results of Year of the Voice, and there's a contest on now about how to best leverage the hardware and software to build voice interactions. It's a pretty exciting time to be using it.

  • hcfman 11 days ago
    You can mitigate the SD risk by using an in-memory overlayFS mounted OS.

    The original one of the pi is for the whole image. For the Jetson series I create partitions so the OS indeed is memory overlayFS but there’s also a rw data partition and a ro re-mountable configuration portion.

    • bonzini 11 days ago
      The SD card in my case only holds the boot partition (U-Boot, kernel, initramfs). Everything else runs off NFS.
      • m463 11 days ago
        that's a lot of points of failure.

        Now you depend on the SD card, the network and the nfs server...

        just saying. I have a home network and sometimes when power goes out, I've have strangeness when things don't come up as expected.

        • bonzini 10 days ago
          It lowers the chance of failure of the most vulnerable part. The NAS existed before and had RAID and backups anyway. And if the switch fails I can't access home assistant anyway.

          The more important part is that all automations are just nice to have things and not needed to "run" the house. It's for stuff like "charge the car when the sun is high" or "notify me when the washing machine has finished".

      • hcfman 11 days ago
        Indeed, another viable approach.
  • blastro 11 days ago
    My story: Spent weeks / months setting up a fairly sophisticated home automation set up running on a Mac Mini. Worked great for 3-4 years, occasionally I would have to re-pair all of the Z-Wave devices after a power outage, but nothing too serious. Then one day the Mac Mini died and I thought about the days/weeks of work to replace it and just decided not too. In the end, it didn't provide a ton of value beyond the shiny UI and charting abilities. It was fun but I don't think I would do it again, unless I was retired or something.
    • Coloranotio 11 days ago
      I have a very unsophisticated setup, would love to have a more integrated one but i also see the issue with complexity etc.

      In worst case i don't need it.

      But controling heating remotly is great to have. Being able to collect the humidity to prevent mold is also great.

      I hope that all of this tinkering and pushing for it, will make a much more stable and fun experience in the long term.

      I might have a chance to rebuild a old house, i'm still not sure if i want to put cable (some bus system, 12v or PoE/Ethernet) everywere or just using some radio based components.

      The biggest annoyance is defintily the energy usage of bigger things like heating valves or potentially a window or a door.

  • dosman33 11 days ago
    I've been watching the Home Assistant scene for a few years now waiting for a time to dip my toe into the water. I'm fairly selective about what I would possibly even want to automate. During the stone age I was a user of X10 devices, I had most lights in my apartment wired up with it. Also diddled some with X10 scripting automation at my hackerspace using the fire cracker X10 serial interface. However X10 taught you one thing: it worked when it wanted to. It worked great for me for years and then suddenly it'd quit for a few weeks, then start working again. Even wiring in a phase-coupler couldn't guarantee reliability and I finally gave up on it after it mostly refused to work in my first house. Listening to all these stories seems to reinforce HA is just as reliable as X10 was back in the day, lol.

    After moving on from X10 I found another poorly known "automation system" called Home Heartbeat as I was away from home a lot. Having some reassurances the doors were closed and the basement was not flooding was good at that time. Seems like the main thing this system was intended to do was to allow remote water main shutoff and then provide sensors (although the water shutoff valve was unobtanium, lol). I picked up the system and a bunch of sensors on clearance as it went discontinued. This was a system that was just a few years too early to market, it had some features that would be considered hokey today, but could be repurposed into a useful tool. It used an early Zigbee wireless mesh for sensors (door open/close, overhead door tilt sensor, water sensors, motion sensors, etc). The base station had an integrated modem, but also had a USB port for computer integration. I wrote some perl to digest the USB status output and that made its sensor network entirely accessible the way I wanted, I had status updates viewable on my phone from there. I was considering integrating it into HA at some point, but another problem the system had was that the sensors were AVR based rather than ti MSP430 with low-power features, the sensors ate CR123's like candy.

    At this point I'd just like a page to view all the wireless temp sensors around my house in one place. I don't need another light-switch-with-more-steps.

    On another note, any users of Mr. House here? (Pst, hey kid... you like perl AND home automation? I got just the thing for you!).

  • illusive4080 11 days ago
    I’m also cautiously optimistic about matter.

    I have a server I’m sending to someone else’s house, and if it crashes, I want to use a smart plug to cycle it. I have a Eufy smart plug I got for free. Is there a better alternative? This persons house has no automation and no smart hub. Unfortunately I’ll either need something cloud based or something I can statically point to my own Home Assistant running in my house. Is this cloud based Eufy plug my best choice?

    • windexh8er 11 days ago
      You can do this with a $30 Sonoff S31 running ESPHome [0]. Since the Sonoff wall switch can run a ping sensor against your server you could create a watchdog automation right on the S31 to shut off the mains power to the S31 switch and turn back on after X seconds.

      There are other ways you could have the S31 do operational checks but ultimately ESPHome is probably an interesting consideration and supported by tons of off the shelf hardware.

      [0] https://esphome.io/

    • CharlesW 11 days ago
      > This persons house has no automation and no smart hub.

      There are devices with "watchdog" features that can cycle power automatically if an ICMP ping fails. https://shop.netio.eu/netio-power-sockets/powercable-2pz/

      Also, people have rolled their own watchdog solutions using Sonoff devices flashed with Tasmota. https://community.home-assistant.io/t/watchdog-device-using-...

      • plagiarist 11 days ago
        130€? That better guarantee some uptime. I can see why people are rolling their own.
    • soccerties 11 days ago
      I use PiKVM to give the NAS I have running at a friend's house for remote backups IPMI like accessibility. https://pikvm.org/
    • briHass 11 days ago
      The TP Link Kasa plugs are well documented and have a dead simple TCP payload to turn them on/off. They also have the cloud option, but I don't see why you couldn't use a wireguard tunnel or something from their router if you wanted to avoid the cloud.

      Not that I'd recommend it, but you could probably just port forward an obscure port directly to the Kasa plug (DHCP to a static IP).

    • bennyp101 11 days ago
      I've used things like this SMS plug[0] before for places that I needed to power cycle to bring connection back.

      [0] https://cpc.farnell.com/tekview/powertxtuk/gsm-power-socket-...

    • madaxe_again 11 days ago
      Given that you’re planning on operating it remotely, cloud based is just fine, as if their internet is down, and it’s local, there’s nothing you can do anyway.
    • hcfman 11 days ago
      Shelly plugS
  • Sleaker 11 days ago
    Also been running ha for about 3 years, but have been veerrrry slow to add devices and only had a couple automations setup around Christmas. I actually tried th smart plugs thing and found the hue bulbs to be a way better experience because I want the RGB and dimmable capabilities on those as opposed to just on/off, it's something I might look into for some of the other areas of the house though. Nice write-up!
  • Bloating 11 days ago
    When I built my house years ago (well before Thread/Matter), I went through the dog & pony show with the local lutron, creston, vantage dealers. There are a few others around also, like centralite and loxone. It always came down to 1) I didn't want to be beholden to a dealer to change the timing on a light 2) those systems (other than loxone) were/are antiqued.

    Ended-up building a PLC based system. Its been rock solid reliable & I can do pretty much anything I can imagine with it. Its a little risky, in that if I ever need to sell I've limited potentional buyers. But, I think thats the case with just about any centralized system. Not long after I looked at a lutron system, the local lutron tech passed away. One house under construction using lutron was brought to a dead standstill. AFAIK, there are no nearby lutron programmers to this day.

    However, PLCs are easy to obtain, relatively easy to learn (if you're technical) and just about any small+ city is likely to have control engineers that might be willing to support as a side hussle.

  • apexalpha 11 days ago
    I really wish Home Assistant had some default good dashboards. I have HA for a few years now and the Energy dashboard they made is by far the most polished one I have. The rest are basically just buttons I randomly put into it.

    Native floorplan would be great, too.

    HA is fantastic, but it has a steep learning curve on the frontend part.

    • greggsy 11 days ago
      The 3D floor plan component is based on SweetHome3D, and requires the dolls house to be create offline and uploaded, but there’s discussion afoot to have the JS version of the editor baked directly into the console so watch this space.

      As for default dashboards, I think the only real way to do this properly would be to create a wizard to help get things off the from ground.

      It really does need a fair understanding of (or at least the existence of) entities, devices, HACS, and the developer tools pane. And that’s just the foundational stuff you need to know about before you can even consider tinkering with platforms and entities in yaml files.

      Some jargon-free steps like ‘Select all of your outlets’ > ‘Select the properties you want to display’ etc.

      A ChatGPT configurator would be interesting, similar to the one in Pirtainer (which I admin I’ve never used).

      • apexalpha 11 days ago
        A wizard would help, I think. But what's most important for me is that I don't want to setup home assistant. I want home assistant, I want the end result, but I don't want to have to build it brick by brick. I just don't have the time for that (anymore).

        I also think a floorplan where you can click a room and see the lights and everything is much more intuitive than a website.

        But also I think many things can just be assumed. Everyone has lights, for example. So why not have this be a native solution in stead of having to set it up manually.

        Setting up the Energy dashboard, including all the graphs, data and history etc... took less time and effort than it would take to automate a single light bulb.

        • greggsy 11 days ago
          My nirvana is to be able to create a dollhouse using the LiDAR Scanner on my phone, and simply tap where device is. No modelling, just let me tap somewhere in a digital twin.
  • highdeserthackr 11 days ago
    Absolutely love HA, it's been deployed for 6 years now. I try and run as much as possible through a mosquitto server to keep things decoupled.

    The biggest pain has been ZWave devices. I've had multiple in wall switches croak for no obvious reason. Also devices dropping out, intermittent problems receiving commands. Recently installed a whole house surge protector in the main panel...we'll see if that helps.

    The biggest hit with the household is the random family photo on the dashboard, updated every few minutes from the NAS archive.

    Zero dependencies on cloud services. Wherever there are no good choices, instead I make custom ESP8266 devices, all integrated to mqtt. Have deployed one to listen to my weather station, one to control outdoor lighting, a roof snow melt system, even one to control the sprinklers intelligently.

  • octodog 11 days ago
    Why do none of these long articles on HA ever provide proper examples of their automations?
    • deely3 11 days ago
      I believe because it will be a really lot of work. You will have to go step by step to review every setup and it can be not so trivial because of different devices versions, different software versions, differents in setups, etc.

      Like writting a program.

  • tlavoie 11 days ago
    One thing that strikes me a bit odd about HA is that it seems to really, really want to be its own install. Make it a Docker container, or a VM, or a full-on OS install. Can it be installed nicely on top of something else?

    While I have a few Raspberry Pi and Odroid devices kicking around, they mostly have jobs already. I would like to be able to run something as a package on top, rather than replace what it does now.

    • p1mrx 11 days ago
      To run Home Assistant on Gentoo, I previously used HomeAssistantRepository but it was constantly breaking. A couple years ago I gave up and switched to pip in a venv, and it's been fine ever since. This should work on any distro:

          $ python -m venv hass.env
          $ source hass.env/bin/activate
          (hass.env) $ pip install homeassistant
      
      The remaining puzzle piece is an init.d script; mine is a hacked-up remnant of the one from HomeAssistantRepository.
      • tlavoie 11 days ago
        Awesome thanks, will give this a go! This makes much more sense to me than dedicating yet another, mostly-idle little system.
        • xolox 11 days ago
          I run Home Assistant from a "manually managed" Python virtual environment as well, and have been doing so for years. It works fine. The developers are quite aggressive in insisting on recent Python releases, so upgrading is always a bit of work, but it's manageable. I'm using supervisord to keep Home Assistant (and AppDaemon) running, but you could use systemd as well.
          • tlavoie 10 days ago
            Sounds good, thanks. Running manually for the time being, I did see the deprecation warning for Python 3.9, meaning I should get around to updating this Raspberry Pi to Bookworm. (Or NixOS, like my laptops, then I can manage things with more granularity.)
  • dbrgn 11 days ago
    For Zigbee, I can recommend using the Zigbee2MQTT (https://www.zigbee2mqtt.io/) integration instead of HomeAssistant's built-in ZHA system. It might be a bit more complex to set up, but it's very powerful and works fantastically. (User "simon42" on YouTube has some good videos about the topic, but they're in German.)
  • dalex00 11 days ago
    Using Habitat because no internet connection is needed and zigbee, matter and z wave and Google home etc can also be integrated

    https://hubitat.com/

    Good developer community and helpful forum

    UI could be better but really powerful.

  • lkdfjlkdfjlg 11 days ago
    This seems like hell to me. Every time something unexpected happens your mind will go into overdrive following code paths. No thank you, my mind time is too valuable for this. I want my appliances dumb.
    • cybrox 11 days ago
      Really depends on how you use it. In my experience, the smarter you want to make your home, the more it will just get in your way, no matter how good or bad the technology is.

      If you use a system like HA to automate a lot of simple things, it just works™. I've been running HA for years now and I'm incredibly happy with it.

      Most rooms I don't spend a lot of time in have motion activated lights that sill allow me to override that with a simple wall switch, some lights turn off when I stream something on my TV and I have temperature and moisture monitoring with alerting in case something goes wrong like my washing machine blowing up.

    • driverdan 11 days ago
      If you set it up well it's rare for things to go wrong. The only issues I've had with automation were my own fault, such as using the wrong time. I can't remember any of my automation failing. The key is to keep it as simple as possible.
      • lkdfjlkdfjlg 11 days ago
        Obviously the vast majority of the issues are my own mistakes. In no way does that detract from my point.
    • smt88 11 days ago
      It has lots of logging. I've been using HA for months and never think about it at all.
  • TeMPOraL 11 days ago
    My experience is similar to GP, if only about a year long. There's a clear point when my Home Assistant setup graduated from tinkering into serious, almost critical infrastructure at home: the moment I got A/C controls working with it.

    Hear the tale of the two apps:

    1. Haier hOn: takes between 5 and 15 seconds to start up. Assuming it didn't randomly log you out, it takes a minute of tapping through bullshit multi-level screens, with multi-second delay between each, to get to the point when you can control a single aircon unit. Switching between units is 2-5 seconds - and you need to be careful, because if you press the phone's "back" button, it'll shut down the app, so the whole 1-minute ordeal restarts. Every 5-10 control interactions, it'll go "oops, something went wrong", and then to get state and control over units, you need to restart the app. You look at it sideways, believe it or not, restart the app.

    Total time to set three aircon units: some two minutes, maybe more, and a lot of frustration. My wife flat-out refused to do it, instead always asked me (as I have much more experience in quickly navigating buggy software). Myself, I hated it every time.

    2. Home Assistant app: takes 2-5 seconds to cold-start into the app, less than that for warm start. The default dashboard shows all three A/Cs, with controls, temperature graphs - everything at a glance, on a single screen. And then below there are controls for floor heating and other stuff. Zero crashes.

    Total time to set three aircon units: 3-10 seconds. I sometimes race to see how fast can I do it. My wife loves it, I never get asked to do anything with A/C for her anymore.

    I'm only beginning to integrate and automate more things. Recently I upgraded a bunch of cheap (but stylish, and importantly, well-built) IKEA PM2.5 sensors with ESP8266 (decade-old NodeMCUs I had in a box), and through a bunch of graphs quickly added to another Home Assistant dashboard, we've learned a lot about what does and does not affect air quality around the house. I've also started to set up automated notifications for bad air in different rooms, because it's stupid easy to do. Another stupid easy thing to do was to make my washing machine notify both of us when it's done. Or auto-dimming that one Hue bulb my kids are using as night light. Etc.

    If my setup died today, nothing would stop working - a few things would become less convenient, aircon would become stupidly annoying to operate again - but we would feel it, so I'm now trying to beef the hardware durability up a bit.

    And yes, I ain't buying anything "smart" that can't talk well with Home Assistant anymore.