How to get more smart home devices into HomeKit with Home Assistant – Ars Technica

Enlarge / The Apple Home application is seen on an iPhone screen on November 15, 2017. The Home app allows people to control accessories in their home, like living room and kitchen lights, from their phone.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

I’ve been buying and tinkering with smart home devices for years. As a result, my home network resembles a kind of Model UN of devices, bridges, protocols, assistants, and apps. I try to broker alliances, resolve disputes, and assure everybody, myself included, that this whole complicated thing is still worth it.

My salvation has been Home Assistant, a little server that gives you local control and lots of automation power. Every device in my home is connected to Home Assistant, which runs on a tiny Raspberry Pi 3B+ underneath my printer. I have a custom dashboard with all my switches, sensors, speakers, and lights. I have complete control, a custom dashboard, and infinite automations.

But sometimes, I just want to change the thermostat from the lock screen on my iPhone or tell Siri, on my phone or watch, to turn on a lamp. Yes, Home Assistant has its own app, plus a mobile-friendly website. But I also want to save my partner from learning how an entirely different, somewhat fiddly app works to access lights and switches.

Conveniently, Home Assistant isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Sure, you can use it to cut the big tech companies out of your smart home and design your own dashboard. But you can also use it as a gateway between a motley collection of non-HomeKit-friendly gadgets and Apple’s Home system. Or you can switch between both for more control or easier access.

Let’s dig into how Home Assistant can help HomeKit find every device in your home, even the devices it doesn’t officially support, for free. It can also connect Google and Amazon’s apps and assistants to the rare devices they don’t support, though that costs $5 per month (but also supports Home Assistant’s development).

One more note before heading deeper: if you only use Apple devices to control your smart home devices, you only care about HomeKit compatibility, and you have a spare Raspberry Pi, HomeBridge is another solution. It’s more limited in scope than Home Assistant, but that might be a plus for some folks.

Getting your home in order

Enlarge / Home Assistant setup, pre-organization.

First, you’ll want to get Home Assistant up and running and connected to your devices. It’s outside our scope here to walk you through that process, but there are many resources you can consult. Start with Home Assistant’s official guide to get the system running on a Pi, a NUC, a NAS, an always-on system, a Docker container, or …….



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