Owning an Open Home
6 min read

Owning an Open Home

Owning an Open Home

Welcome to the August edition of the Open Home newsletter, the place to learn about the latest and greatest things for your smart home that improve its privacy, choice, and durability.

The Open Home newsletter is written by Paulus Schoutsen, founder of Home Assistant and Nabu Casa.

It is 9 years and 11 months ago that I started Home Assistant while living at the UCSD university campus in San Diego. I have been renting apartments ever since until last month, when my wife and I bought our first home. Yep, the founder of Home Assistant is now a home owner.

The first thing that hit me is the responsibility. Everything is ours, the walls, the doors, the windows, the lights. We can finally customize everything to our liking, make everything exactly how we want it to be. However, everything being ours also means that now we're on the hook for maintenance and replacing it when it breaks.

Luckily, Home Assistant can help with many tasks and give some peace of mind. For my setup, I use a Home Assistant Yellow. Here are some of the things that I did.

To get energy consumption under control, I made sure all the light bulbs are LED. I started with "dumb" LED lights as they will work with the existing dimmer switches that are installed. I went for Philips bulbs, as they have a 95 CRI (Wikipedia about CRI) and give out a warmer light when dimmed (also, a little bit of patriotism, of course, as the company is Dutch, like me). In the future, I plan on hooking the lighting into Home Assistant and use scenes to control the light during different parts of the day.

To reduce the worrying about leaks, I got a couple of Zigbee and Z-Wave leak detectors from my box labeled "White IoT devices". This box goes back almost 10 years and some of the manufacturers of those devices don't exist anymore. This doesn't matter because both Z-Wave and Zigbee are open standards and don't rely on anything online. The devices paired to Home Assistant without issues – all local. I added an automation that sends me a notification if any moisture sensor becomes wet (using a state trigger). The notification is marked critical, so it will break through my do-not-disturb mode on my phone and Mac.

Picture of a water leak sensor in a wet sink.
Always test your automations.

For smoke detectors, I am installing Z-Wave smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It's important that any safety devices work standalone (sound alarm on detection) and that the connection to Home Assistant is only for extra features; like turning on the lights and notifying me on my phone. I also had an old unopened Nest Protect from 2014 in my gadget stash. Sadly, I realized that it had already expired.

Review of the Z-Wave smoke detector on Amazon: Installed flawless with Home Assistant through Z-Wave have had zeor issues with communication or otherwise.
Look at the review section for any smart home products on Amazon and quickly find out if it is compatible with Home Assistant (the answer is usually yes)

Internet is an important part of our life and it needs to work reliably. The most reliable way is to get wired internet to as many devices as possible. Our place is sadly not equipped with Ethernet, but it did have Coax. Using MoCa adapters I was able to leverage the old cables for a 2.5 Gbps network connection. Plug an Ethernet and coax cable in each MoCa adapter and the Ethernet cables will act like they are connected directly to one another. Sweet.

In the 11 years that I lived in the US, I never had to bother with trash pick-up. We would drop it in a container managed by the building and went on with our day. Not anymore – I now have four bins that I need to keep track off.

To cope with this, I have added a "trash pickup" calendar in Home Assistant and, using recurring events (Thanks Allen!), I track the days that different bins need to be put outside. Home Assistant will notify me on the evening before trash days to put the bin outside. The notification includes an action to mark the task as done. I can also mark it as done from my Home Assistant dashboard. Since I might be busy when the notification arrives, I have set it up to remind me every 30 minutes until I mark it as done.

I've made my trash notification system available as a blueprint that you can one-click add to your own installation:

My Home Assistant: Import Blueprint.

Lastly, … ha – that is a joke. I have already come to realize that home ownership is a never-ending list of things that should be fixed. Hope my quick list of initial automations inspired you to make some cool ones yourself. Now back to fixing that loose doorknob…

All links to Amazon are affiliate links to help me pay my mortgage.

Home Assistant 2023.8

The latest release of Home Assistant was another great one. The team worked very hard to make it possible to translate services. This allows our translator community (join us!) to translate it into the 60 languages that Home Assistant supports. This was the last major part of the system that was still delivered in English.

There are a lot of other cool features, like allowing you to register custom sentences with wildcards, allowing you to use part of your spoken sentence as a notification, or even to control generative AI!

2023.8: Translated services, events, and wildcards!
Sentence triggers can now contain wildcards, a brand new event entity, all services are now translated into your language, generate images with OpenAI’s DALL-E using Assist, and more!

Assist arrives on Android

Home Assistant's Year of the Voice keeps chugging along. Last month, we released Chapter 3 with as the big new feature Assist now being able to be set as the default digital assistant on Android. It's now possible to quickly open Assist on your watch or phone and access the most private voice assistant.

Year of the Voice - Chapter 3: Ready when you are
The full power of Assist on all of your Android devices.

Z-Wave firmware updates

Last year we launched the Z-Wave JS firmware update service. It allows Home Assistant and other projects that use Z-Wave JS to find and apply firmware updates to Z-Wave devices. We collaborate with partners from the Works with Home Assistant program and other manufacturers to make their firmwares available to people.

Today we're happy to announce that Aeotec is now providing updated firmwares for their devices!

This brings the total to 6 manufacturers and 104 devices. Thanks to Aeotec, Jasco, Heltun, iBlinds, Inovelli and Ultraloq!

Home Assistant Tip of the Month

Screenshot of the edit entity dialog in Home Assistant.

You can edit binary sensors in the UI to change if Home Assistant should treat them to detect moisture, smoke, or anything else. This will impact the icon and the text used to describe its state.

Thanks to JLo for the tip. For more great Home Assistant tips, follow his Mastodon or Twitter.

Community highlights

USB backup support for Home Assistant

Backups are important as you never know what's going to happen. Gord created the USB Backup Home Assistant add-on to allow storing backups on USB drives connected to your Home Assistant machine. Add to your Home Assistant.

Adaptive lightning for Home Assistant updated

Bas has released v1.8 of Adaptive lightning for Home Assistant. It allows you to synchronize the color temperature of your lights with the position of the sun.

Track pet gate open/close status

To manage his dogs movements, Nathan created a small device to track the state of different gates in his house. It's powered by WLED and controlled via Home Assistant.

In other news

There is no interesting Internet of Things news to share this month.

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