Home automation advice

I’m very interested in home automation, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on anything because I want to make sure that whatever I buy, I can very easily control it from my own code, for example a raspberry pi. A sleek phone app is nice, but really I want to set timers and otherwise coordinate stuff, perhaps even with sensors. A REST api would work fine for most things, as long as its reliable and easy to use.

I know a lot of you have bought such systems; has anyone tried hacking theirs and/or taking more control? What brand did you buy and how did it go?


Haven’t looked at this, but it came across a feed the other day: http://www.instructables.com/id/Powerful-Standalone-Home-Automation-System-Pi-Sono/

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Control4 has most off the shelf sensors, actuators, and drivers. This is what most hotels and commercial buildings use. It’s probably not the cheapest option. It does have rest api to control things.

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I’ve been tinkering with home automation for a couple of decades. I have a mix of X10 and newer Zigbee / Zwave devices.

Until recently, I was using a package called HomeGenie. Support seems to be falling away on that one.

I now have an Echo and 2 Dots. These can control all the new stuff via a Samsung SmartThings hub. I selected that one because it has both Zigbee and Zwave radios. That part is good. The part where it needs an internet connection to work for most functions is NOT GOOD. Internet down => lights not working. Not good at all.

So my latest project is to add a local control mechanism. To do this, I’m trying to implement a system called Home Assistant. It’s open source, written in python, and runs on a lot of platforms ( most linux flavors, and windows if you jump thru a few hoops ). I’m planning to pair this with a USB Zigbee / Zwave radio.

My initial move was to try and run this on my FreeNAS box, since it’s always on and has cycles to spare. That turned out to be a bad idea. Ever step of the way is a problem, since BSD is NOT linux. Close, but not. In fact this last week’s experience on that has soured me on FreeNAS to the point that I may dump it and switch to OpenMediaVault, which runs under Debian, and hence should have no problem supporting Home Assistant. A Raspberry Pi is also an acceptable host. There’s a package specifically for RPi.

Home Assistant is very do it yourself. The setup wil take some work, but the forums are pretty friendly ( totally unlike the FreeNAS forums ), and examples are plentiful.

Best of luck with whatever system you choose. Seems to be a good time for home automation. Lots of new stuff on the market.

BTW - PLEASE do not turn this into a NAS discussion. If you have strong feelings about FreeNAs you wish to express, please start a seperate thread.


Brady Pamplin recently taught a class in using blynk.com to connect your phone/tablet to your arduino/wemon/pi project.

This service makes it easy to design sleek apps to control and monitor your automation system.

I think Brady is planning on repeating the class.

Good luck,


Look at the Samsung SmartThings.
It has an Arduino shield you can buy that connects to it but it’ll also allow connection to any ZigBee/Z-Wave device.

They have a cloud based website you can login and write code to integrate with pretty much anything you want.
It also works great off the shelf to integrate with pretty much any conventional home automation thing out there.
There’s a decent community behind it too and a lot of people share their integration code.

Honestly it’s probably the best bang for your buck to code/program and play around with but also works great as just a standalone home automation hub.

I’ve had mine for nearly a year so far and love it.

Edit: Forgot to add, It has a pretty nice Phone App too and works great with Amazon Alexa/Echo if you have one.

I have mine set to where if it detects my phone or my wifes phone on the our Wifi it’ll unlock our electronic deadbolt (the door knob lock is stills standard, I don’t trust it that much).
When it detects both of us are off the Wifi after 10 minutes it’ll lock the door and turn off the lights and set my Nest thermostat to higher/lower temp depending on the season.

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This is what is going to happen to you when your house finds out you neighbor treats their house better.


Home Assistant is the best software I’ve found that meets my needs. Yes, it’s going to be a learning process to get it setup the way you want it, but nothing out there is more capable and extensible.

The big draw for me, is that unlike all the “turnkey” home automation systems, Home Assistant doesn’t rely on 3rd party servers/services. My internet connection can go down and I still have control of everything in my house.


Whhaaaaat, your internet service goes down? No way!

Yep, while Amazon Dots are cool, they are not really serious tools for that very reason.

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this a somewhat late post… But I am a new member and would like to join the discussion and offer help.
I have a large home automation system at home with ~ 500 devices automated (sensors, doors, earthquake detectors, …pool etc) running on a MAC w indigo software and ~ 20 Rasperry PIs. If anyone wants to discuss, Karl

ok, necroposting because this is a project I’ve already been working on.

Stack breaks down to this:

  1. Mqtt as a message / communication backbone.
  2. Hass.io is the native phone and/or web based dashboarding interface to your devices
  3. Node-RED is the codeless logic and triggers interface to your devices.
  4. All devices if able can report to mqtt or node-red would talk to the device and forward to mqtt. Hass.io or a second node-red flow then picks this up and acts on it.

Reasons for this stack:

  • own your device, own your code, no coding needed.
  • Docker based (plus for guys like me, bigger plus for anyone that can put hypriot on a raspberry pi, install the CommunityGrid stack and forget about administration overhead)
  • Able to work with nearly 99.9% devices out there (doesn’t matter if its modbus, snmp, http, tcp/udp, mqtt, gpio, serial, and more.)
  • Know nodejs, good one can write additional nodes (modules/libraries) in minutes for edge cases. Don’t, so what then configuration is point and click.
  • Did I forget to mention, google chromecast, google home/assistant, and alexa are all supported in a few clicks. "Ok google, Tell smarthome to post a meme to facebook then start party mode." yep that’s do able.