Home Automation with Home Assistant – Beginning the Build


So we’ve decided on the platform; Home Assistant. And now we need to get get the parts to build and work out what we’re going to control and with what. Keep reading…

Lets start with the Home Assistant build – of which there are plenty of options. Unlike this series of posts, where tonnes of research and planning was recommended, I did what I always do, and just go out and buy something. This was a ready made option, a newly released ‘Home Assistant in a Box’ called Home Assistant Green with a Home Assistant SkyConnect (I’ll get into this later).

I went down this route, partly down to laziness and if I’m honest – my main aim was to control a handful of lights and link it to the plethera of smart speakers in my home.

What I didn’t expect, was to get the Smart Home ‘bug’ and get massively into this

Sam Akroyd, Late 2023

Before I continue, I’ll briefly touch on the other options rather than this ready-made ‘bare metal’ option.

Easiest Option: Home Assistant Green

  1. Unbox device
  2. Plug into network
  3. Connect to web interface
  4. Begin playing.

Easy Option: Raspberry Pi

  1. Flash Raspberry Pi with Home Assistant OS
  2. Plug into network
  3. Boot Device
  4. Connect to web interface
  5. Begin playing

Easy-ish Option: Home Assistant Yellow

  1. Install compute module and heat sink
  2. Flash Raspberry Pi with Home Assistant OS
  3. Plug into network
  4. Boot Device
  5. Connect to web interface
  6. Begin playing

Hard-ish Option: Install onto third party devices

Whether its on a ODroid, a Intel NUC – the process is similar, its essentially the install of a linux-based OS on a storage device. If you’re not confident doing this, go down one of the easier routes

Hardest Option: Advanced Install

This covers a few options, such as installed Home Assistant OS in a container (would recommend some container skills beforehand for this), Home Assistant Supervised (a manual install, as opposed to guided, pre-packed insall) or Home Assistant Core (essentially another manual install using a Python virtual environment).

Which install you go with, depends on the hardware you’re going to go with and that is determined by the number of devices and type of devices you’re going to manage with Home Assistant. The reason I say this, is because I did actually buy the Home Assistant Green, only to begin adding cameras to it, and wanting to do some AI model training, suffice to say I crashed it multiple times daily so I replaced it with a beefier box at that point.

The Home Assistant Green is great if you don’t plan on putting anything particularly strenuous through it, and when I say that, I mean multiple cameras, AI models etc. But perfect to control lighting, sensors, etc.

You may have noticed I also bought a Home Assistant Sky Connect. In short, this is a Zigbee 3.0 dongle which I decided (based on price) that I was going to make use of rather than Z-Wave.

Before I get started, lets talk through what hardware I had:

  • Home Assistant Green (later replaced with a Beelink Alder Lake N100)
  • Home Assistant Sky Connect Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle
  • Smart Wall Switch H1 EU (With Neutral)
  • GivEnergy Gen2 5.0KW Hybrid Inverter & Battery
  • Elgato Key Light Air
  • Google Nest Mini Gen2
  • Amazon Echo Gen 2
  • Apple TV 4K Gen 1
  • Sonos Beam Gen 1
  • Tado Heating V3 & 2x Smart TRVs

As you can see, the most disjointed list of ‘smart’ devices you’ve ever seen. But as you will later see, Home Assistant brings all of this (and more) together…

I’m not going to take you through the process of installing the Home Assistant OS on to your device, as honestly its a bit self-explanatory using the installation guides on the Home Assistant website, however lets talk about getting up and running.

Initial Configuration

Once you’ve fired up Home Assistant for the first time, you’ll be presented with the following screen:

Unless you’ve got something to restore, you need to setup your Name, username and password, you’ll need this to log on to the app later on too

Next is your location, this is worthwhile getting it accurate as far as the map is concerned as you can then later create automations based on locations, such as turning on your smart sprinkler system in the evening if you know its been 30c all day, or turning all the lights off when Home Assistant (HA) knows you’re away from home, etc.

Once you’ve decided if you’re going to share analytics and diagnostics data with the HA developers, it should present you with any devices its found on your network that it can work with straight away – bare in mind this is not an exhaustive list, but it helps you get going.

Add the devices that you want to add into Home Assistant, and give them a name that makes sense to you – whatever you do – don’t use the default name – especially if you’ve got loads of the same device, you’ll spend forever trying to work out which of your Amazon Echo devices is which ????

In the next blog, we’ll talk about basic Home Assistant management, from entities to integrations to areas, labels and zones, stay tuned!

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