I recently stumbled across an article on Medium by Brendan Jackson describing his week-long journey of being locked out of his Amazon account, thus rendering his Alexa devices and all their automations completely useless. My initial thought was “oh my gosh, this is only the start” and that we would begin seeing this happen more and more. However, I began thinking of how to avoid this (and once reading further into the article, my point was proven). How can you prevent a single company from rendering your entire home useless? Well, don’t put your eggs all in one basket!
How Do I Automate My House Then?
First thing’s first: this should not scare you away from automating your house! There are so many advantages and convenience factors to automating portions of your house (and even adding security cameras to your house). My point is to not stick to one single brand that is only controllable by them. Buying products that work natively with Apple HomeKit, Alexa, Google, etc. are pluses because it gives you more than one avenue to pursue should some large corporation decide you are not worthy of using the devices you paid for. Even better, there are some devices that can function completely offline and independent from their manufacturer’s “cloud” environment.
Taking a Look at Home Assistant
Home Assistant is an open-source program that can run on any Docker container, Raspberry Pi, Windows, macOS, or Linux environment that allows users to interconnect and automate over 1,000 different device brands/devices. The best part of this? It’s all done locally and doesn’t require you to allow one big company control how you interact with your house. It’s great!
Home assistant takes advantage of Zigbee, Apple HomeKit, Z-Wave, MQTT, and other local protocols to connect with all of their integrations and supported devices. Unlike most corporations that make smart devices with restricted or limited integration and communication options, Home Assistant combines all of this into one interface with all of their integrations (2476 at the time of this writing) without requiring dozens of bridges, cords, and applications to communicate and use your smart devices. Another advantage to this is that Home Assistant does not require a single Apple device in your environment to utilize any HomeKit features; it has native support within the Home Assistant platform.
How do I Implement This? Any Good Use Cases?
I’m planning on getting another blog post or two put up within the next few weeks to detail my dive into Home Assistant. However, if you decide you want to look into this beforehand, Home Assistant has great documentation on setup, configuration, and automating their product into your home. If you want to see a really good use case for Home Assistant, check out Linus Tech Tips’ video on some advanced configuration for heating his new home.