Finding the right hardware solution

I’ve been running my household and a couple remote rental units on a single pi3b+ for 4 years now without issue. It’s cheap, reliable, no moving parts and uses as much electricity as the nightlights in the hallway.
I’m thinking of upgrading to a pi4b soon… not for any reason other than “just 'cause”.

1 Like

I run Home Assistant Supervised within Docker containers under Debian Buster on a similar i3 box. Docker works well, keeps things in separate environments, and isn’t difficult to learn, at all. Docker is actually a virtual environment. Each Docker container is it’s own entity, and they can communicate among themselves, when necessary. Home Assistant uses this quite a bit, and Supervisor makes installing add-ons an absolute BREEZE.

4GB pi4 + m.2 SSD in Argon One has been very solid so far.

Argon One case - $45
256GB SSD - $38
4GB Pi4 - $55
Conbee II - $42
Zooz z-wave stick - $38

I’m using a 4GiB RPi4 + SSD, no performance issues. I have a handful of addons (mqtt, esphome, grocy, syncthing) and the pi is mostly idle. Unless you plan to run a ton of CPU heavy stuff, I think a NUC etc are overkill.

I am in a similar situation. Currently I got home assistant OS running on a Raspberry 4 with 2GB of Ram. My Plex Server is running on a Shield TV. Additionally I have a Synology DS416j NAS, which runs MariaDB and keeps the Home Assistant database to spare the SD card of the Pi with some more lifetime.

As I am gaining more experience with Home Assistant, I was looking into InfluxDB and Grafana. Unfortunately this cannot run on the simple NAS. It has got no Docker support either. Therefore looking to beef up my Home Assistant setup. A NUC could potentially also run the Plex Server, but looking at cost and energy consumption expanding the Raspberry Pi with an SSD might be the best way forward.
Now I have read about two ways to achieve this:

  • Run Home Assistant OS as per SD card on the SSD
  • Run Debian on the Raspberry with Home Assistant supervised in a docker container.

What are the Pro/Contra of those options?

I am using an 8gb pi and it’s using about 25% of ram with Mqtt, motioneye, DOODS, advised etc. I have read somewhere that 4gb pi4 is plenty for home assistant + add-ons. For the SSD I recommend buying an SSD and a usb 3 to SATA adapter because there are some compatibility issues going around with pi4s and SSD adapters. You can see more about it here. Installing Home Assistant on a RPi 4b 8GB with SSD boot
A 128gb SSD is the most cheapest and reliable as far as I know

I thought supervisor on docker wasn’t being supported long term (or is that something else?). How hard was it to install?

I installed Debian first, docker second, and then used the Hass.IO (as it was previously called) commands to install Home Assistant. Back then, installing Docker was the most difficult part, only because there were multiple versions of it available. Why Debian? Because I’m a UNIX/Linux command-line kind of guy. Why Docker? Because I had previously used it on the RPi3 and was comfortable with it. Why Hass.IO? Because it offered advantages (like add-ons, snapshots, etc.)

HA with Supervisor in docker is not supported but is possible I believe. Supervisor is the part that allows the use of addons

HA Core in docker is officially supported
No addons but you may just install and manage the services in seperate docker containers

Ok that’s what I understood. So it sounds like the easiest way to run with supervisor is to use a dedicated machine or a VM. Are there things you can’t do without the add-ons that you can do with them? Obviously, it’s easier, but are there differences in what you’re allowed to do?

This is basically the only supported way.
Other install methods may lead to problems

Addons are easily configured from UI. Doesn’t require as much knowledge of service. Makes updates easier
All addons are available separately and may be configured and installed independent of HA.
Which method you use effectively comes down to preference

The best advice so far is to define your goals. The choice of running under a version of Linux and Docker vs installing a packaged solution that is offed for the PI or something like the Blue comes down to where you want to invest your time. I went for the Blue because everything is taken care of for me so my time investment is automating things vs spending time installing, upgrading he OS, components, etc.

1 Like

Why do you want to run multiple vms?

Well actually only one. I mainly want to be able to run all my smart home stuff off of the one device (so mostly home assistant, but I also use node-red, homebridge, etc.). I think it’s more like one VM and a normal operating system. However, maybe the better solution is to just get a second pi running home assistant (operating system) and then have the original pi running everything else.

If you run home assistant os you can run node red on the same machine. No vm.

Not sure what homebridge is or what it does sorry.

Got it, so I can just run the OS on any of the many nice mini-pcs? Looking at installation, it looks like there’s one specifically for the NUC, does that mean it’ll be harder to install the OS on others?

I was going to go the RPi 4 + SSD route to run HA and another service (Unifi controller). But from some good online advices, i decided to go for a used mini/tiny/micro PC for 50 euros extras compared with RPi4 8MB+SSD+accessories.

With HA running in a VM on proxmox and a Unifi Controller docker in another VM , the CPU is below 5% and power consumption is between 11W and 12W. So plenty of CPU left to run more services on the same box without any upgrade. And then, it can still be upgraded (empty RAM slot and empty NVMe) if need be. Maintenance is easy and backups are automated (proxmox backs up the whole VMs to a NAS on schedule).

These used mini PCs can be found cheaper than the used NUCs for equivalent config. I do not know about the power consumption comparison.

Interesting, what kind of processor do you have? Just trying to compare stuff? Which mini pc – just want to have a benchmark?

I’m sure there are other reasons. But I’d like to highlight that, if you are running HAOS VM, meaning your HA is supervised with add-on support, there is an add-on for Unifi !

So chances are you could live with only one (HAOS) VM.

I do not have a clear understanding of HA addons but my impression is that this addon is basically a container for the unifi controller so i prefer to have a more direct control of it by choosing a broadly used container and running it in a docker separate from HA’s.
That said i also somewhat went the other way around at first: I first did an HA ‘supervised’ installation in docker but, since the hardware is far from saturated, I instead decided to follow the first recommended installation by giving it a full VM.
All that said, your suggestion is great for someone who is less of a control freak than me.