I’ve used a few smart home hubs but was never fully satisfied with their features, stability, performance, and compatibility. In 2018 I decided to try out Home Assistant and I haven’t looked back. Home Assistant is the perfect smart home hub for me. Why? Read on to find out why and see if it should be your smart home hub too.
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Most smarthome hubs are reliant on cloud servers to function. What happens when those servers are down? What happens when your Internet connection isn’t working? Your home goes from smart to dumb.
Even worse, cloud smarthome hubs send all the data from your smarthome commands over the Internet. Even if the transmission is secure, most likely the cloud service is mining your data to understand what you are doing in order to market to
Not to mention, this increases the chances of your data getting into the wrong hands. Breaches resulting from poor security practices that you have no control over can expose your data. Do you really want crooks to know when you lock your doors? When you are home? When all your lights are off?
Home Assistant runs locally and whenever possible uses local APIs to control your smart devices (not all devices expose a local API). You don’t need to log in to a cloud account to use your own smart hub. This keeps your data on your local network, and not exposed to mining and exploitation. You also aren’t subject to delays and latency of commands that have to go to the
Tons of integrations
It seems Home Assistant integrates with everything, and if it doesn’t just wait for a release or two and it will. Here is just a small sample of integrations. For a full list, search here. I also wrote about my favorite Home Assistant integrations, including why they are my favorites.
- Google Assistant
- Apple HomeKit
- Philips Hue
- Mosquitto (MQTT Broker)
- Belkin WeMo
- Google Cast
- Zigbee and Z-Wave
Home Assistant has a great community of supporters and developers. One of the reasons I first started using Home Assistant was because I received quick responses and support to my questions about it when I was searching for a new hub. The community in the forums and on Twitter are extremely helpful. There is an informative podcast published with each release that explains the ins and outs of new features and changes.
Additionally, there are lots of eager developers. The pace of development is extremely fast, with a couple of point releases every month. I haven’t even been using Home Assistant for a year and the growth in stability and features added from the development has been incredible. This is why I love open source!
I pick the hardware
Home Assistant, unlike mainstream hardware hubs, runs on the system of my choice – Linux. It is a Python program. It also runs as a Docker container. Because of this, it can run on a variety of hardware and operating systems, including Raspberry Pi’s, QNAP NAS’s, Macs, Windows, and even virtual machines. You can easily use hardware you already have, or purchase an inexpensive Raspberry Pi or NUC to get
Easy path to voice control
Integrating Home Assistant with Google Assistant and Alexa can become pretty complex. Doing it yourself requires you to expose your Home Assistant instance to the Internet, which requires proper security monitoring and planning. Or, you can just use Nabu Casa. For $5 a month you can safely and securely integrate with Google Assistant and Alexa with a few points and clicks.
You can integrate and automate all of those integrations in any way you can dream up the logic for. I’ve detailed some of my automations here. You can get a lot of inspiration from these YouTube channels and from Awesome Home Assistant. In addition, the community can help you implement what you think up. Here are my 9 Favorite Home Assistant automations.
Also, if you’re like me, your automations will grow and grow. Here’s how to organize them.
Not sure what more I need to say here. You get an amazing product that only costs you your time and imagination, which most other hubs will also charge you along with your dollars.
If you are willing to tinker yourself, and value security, flexibility, and local control you should definitely try Home Assistant. It is one of the biggest reasons why I have a smart home.
There are other smarthome hubs out there and it is possible there is a better fit. However, I think you should give Home Assistant a shot. Is Home Assistant perfect? No, no smarthome hub is. But among all the smarthome hubs I’ve researched and tried it is the closest thing to perfect for me. It has been great for me for the last three years!
If you are interested in building a smarthome be sure to check out my Ultimate Guide to Building Your DIY Smarthome.