Home Assistant! – Home automation

Still here, my stuff from the UK arrived so i’m slowly unpacking / organising and building up a workshop to be able to start the fun stuff again.

In the mean time, now we’re back in a house we own, I’m slowly doing some fancier stuff around the house to bring it into the modern age.

First thing – Just what do I use, how do I automate, what can I automate and can I do it cost efficiently…

Some quick online research showed on Aliexpress, a whole load of very cheap wifi based stuff. Having a nose locally shows that everyone’s getting in on the ‘smart home’ act –

K-Mart, Target, Big W, Bunnings and even the supermarkets, Aldi and a number of others.

One thing in common though, most of these seem to be wifi based. That’s not a bad thing, but digging deeper shows that a lot of these devices rely upon ‘the cloud’ which…well, this depends usually on a ‘miscellaneous’ third party to keep that cloud running, lest your devices become useless bricks

There’s quite a few standards nowadays for smart home stuff, Z-Wave, Zigbee , are two fairly common ones, and an upcoming one – Matter

Deciding which to use, primarily is about cost, and of all the above – Aliexpress seems to be full of Zigbee stuff, at great prices

So…Zigbee it is!

Next, what to actually use….

Australia is pretty strict when it comes to DIY Electrical stuff…Put simply, you can’t… and they’re quite strict on legislation for items that can be plugged into the 240v here

So, enter some online forums – and, in particular, this useful Home-assistant post

From there, I discovered how to start, and, enter the………..

Fancy downlights!

We have some rather high ceilings in this house – over 5 meters on one side, with the highest downlights being about 4 meters up!

Little messy due to unpacing still, but you can see the 4 Meter high lights!

These, at under $40 a pop are about twice the price of very similar performing, though not identical Aliexpress ones or these Aliexpress ones

For me, the slightly extra cash paid to the superb Sparky Direct for these lamps was worth it, for peace of mind to get an australian certified and warrantied product…These will be a Pain in the backside to replace if they go faulty!

So far, I’ve purchased 20 of these, and still have a way to go!

To gain the Wife Acceptance Factor , I’m currently setting up our system using the Mercator Ikuu App

The Mercator IKUU app is pretty good , takes a little configuration, but you can group lights easily, program up the switches to do stuff…But, you can’t escape their walled garden (much) . You can’t easily use products from alternate manufacturers or technologies to do ‘stuff’ – i.e my Hue bulbs can’t be triggered from a Wix wifi sensor that also turns on the Ikuu downlights..

That’s where Home Assistant comes in. It runs on all sorts of devices. I purchased a cheap ($100 AUD) Lenovo M700 Thinkcentre TinySpecs it’s only a core i3-6100 but was cheaper and is faster than the currently unobtanium Rasperry Pi 4

I’ve added a cheap Wifi dongle, a cheap Sonoff Zigbee dongle and a bluetooth dongle I had lying around.

I’ll cover the deails about Home assistant another time, Needless to say, it’s a whole kettle of fish and deep rabbit holes in which to venture…

The Walter Lights

In Zigbee2MQTT they show as TS0505B – Here’s the Page documenting their capabilities within Home Assistant

You can display them in the default dashboard as a simple lamp!

Simple Card in Home assistant for an RGB Lamp

Or, you can get fancy and….create a custom card with some code…

Lots of time needed to figure out just how to do scripting, etc on my Son’s room, once i’ve got that sorted, I’ll be able to migrate the whole setup from the IKUU app, over to the Home Assistant app…Then i’ll be able to do fancy stuff like turn off all the lights once everyone leaves the house. Turn on pool heating only whilst there’s enough excess solar. Have the lights come on in the cupboard when I open the door…turn on a light red if the internet drops out….detect how long the kids are brushing their teeth for (with bluetooth enabled toothbrushes)…Geofence the wife’s mobile so it sounds a klaxon when she’s five minutes away from home :-P…..there’s soooooo much. Heck, even the Spectrum Next has a wifi module…Just maybe I can integrate that to Home assistant also 😛


Author: Bleugh

Early Fourties, Wife, two kids in primary school. Both of us work full time...5 years now we’ve been Back in Blighty after a decade away...It's a new country for everyone! Still finding time to tinker!

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