My Evolving Smart Home

Back in 2015 I gave a bit of insight into my home automation system using SmartThings….and then never said another word about it. It’s time I corrected that.

The Limits of SmartThings

Truth is, I didn’t stick with SmartThings for terribly long. SmartThings was a great starter system, and one I’d still recommend to someone who wants out of the box functionality as well as more advanced options. It has a friendly user interface, but also allowed me to write my own scripts in Groovy for features that weren’t included by default. But as time went one, I became less and less happy with a cloud-based system. There would be times my automations would have a long lag time before firing, because the command would have to go to the Samsung’s server, and then come back to my hub. Even worse, there were times automations wouldn’t fire at all because Samsung was doing maintenance on their servers. This led to a less than seamless process I couldn’t do anything to fix.

Moving To Home Assistant

My spouse and I decided to move from SmartThings’ cloud based solution, to the locally hosted Home Assistant. Home Assistant is an open source platform that connects with a plethora of protocols and systems. It will run on as little as a Raspberry Pi, and by adding a z-wave USB gateway we were able to use most the devices we had with SmartThings. We didn’t have many Zigbee devices, so we didn’t add Zigbee integration. Although there are Zigbee options available as well.

The switch over was simple, and would be simpler now with the SmartThings integration that was added in 2019. Unpair the device with SmartThings, add the device to HomeAssistant and write the automation to match.

Rapid Expansion

After moving to HomeAssistant, our system grew exponentially.There were so many more options available to us now, and an active community to spark new ideas.

We were able to make our own sensors using ESP8266 boards. We were able to flash custom firmware onto inexpensive wifi switches with Tasmota or ESPHome. Making previously cloud-dependent devices able to run strictly locally.

I was able to utilize APIs from places like MTB project and Discogs to add data to my system.

Follow What I’m Doing

My plan is to write more about how my smart home is continuing to grow, and what my favorite features have been. But if you want more information in the meantime, you can follow my repo on GitHub.

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