Basic configuration challenges- Am I doing it right?

Hi All,

After going through all of the configuration guides on HA, as well as reviewing various youtube videos, I am at my wits end and about to give up on HA; but thought will give a last try.

My problem is that I do not know if I am using HA correctly and if yes, what advantages are there over the conventional method of using, say for example, Alexa integrated with SmartThings.

I am a very basic user and have not tried changing the .yaml files. Most of my home devices are connected to HA through SmartThings integration. I have also activated the cloud service so now I can see all my devices on the Alexa app. BUT, Alexa now presents hundreds of entities which gets too confusing. I cannot use voice assistant too as I need to quote the exact entity name which is counter-intuitive.

Also, one of the strengths of HA is security due to local processing of information but if I am continuing to use ST, how secure is it? And if I am still using ST, then why do I even need HA?

I understand these are some super-basic questions and any advise would be greatly appreciated. Sadly, most of the configuration how-to’s fall just short of giving the whole picture.

I think regardless of HA, if you use alexa services you are not ‘processing all locally’ anyways. So yeah, if the point of moving to HA is for the purpose of 100% local only processing for full proof privacy, then you would have to ditch alexa services. Note that voice recognitionis generally the one area where most accept cloud comms even when trying to stay 100% localized. There is almond/ada for ha, but that generally also requires cloud comms due to the processing required (it is perhaps more open source and transparent than alexa). Trying to handle voice recognition locally is very difficult, and generally wont work as well as alexa due to processing limitations. Not saying its impossible, but most folks will either ditch vr altogether (as I have), or concede some privacy to the alphabets to have it. If you really want to dig the rabbit hole though, id say look into using almond/ada to build a fully localized setup. There are others working on this, but it is not a ‘basic’ project by any means.

It’s more of a philosophical mindset you can get into.

Voice recognition is just a fancy remote control. That’s a very small part of what home assistant can do. What it does best is automate everything so you don’t need a remote control.

Yes there are exceptions (switching TV channel, or choosing an appropriate music playlist for example), but for the most part my home is automated so I don’t have to touch a light switch or ask an assistant to turn them on/off. Same for heating. Same for irrigation. Same for security.

This is why some people (myself included) don’t need to use privacy invading voice assistants and go for as much local control as possible.


You’re right, Alexa does present with hundreds of entities (300 plus in my case), and it’s a pain. My approach has been to disable most of them on the Alexa app. Unfortunately that is not the end of it because new ones will pop up every time you create a script, but it’s better than nothing.

Rather than using the entity names on Alexa, I have created a lot of routines referencing those few entities I do want. This works quite well because you can have several routines for each action to allow for variations in the command - “turn the hall light on”, “switch on the hall light”, “For Christ’s sake turn on the bloody light…” etc.

I think you need to realise that you are playing with an automation tool not a control tool. You shouldn’t need to talk to it, it should know what to do.

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Thanks all. My understanding is a lot clearer now. I will continue to tinker with HA now that my expectations have been set right.

I have another question regarding configuration: is it possible to discover devices which do not have a parent integration with HA? I have connected most of my devices through ST integration but I have other Aquara zigbee devices too which I would like to integrate with HA. What options do I have for this?

Generally, is it possible to configure devices in HA without any integration like ST or Tado etc.?

Many thanks!!