Help a newbie understand the possibilities of Home Assistant

Hello everyone! I’ll out myself, I’m a noob trying to understand if Home Assistant is what I’m looking for. I didn’t find the kind of information I need to solve my dilemma in the website, so I’m asking for your kind help to clear out my doubts by either directly answering my questions or pointing me the right direction to find already existing answers. I chose this section for what I’m asking is basically about how some specific hardware works with the system, and I didn’t find a mixed, newbie section for generic questions. Please forgive me and feel free to move my topic should another category suit it better.

I’m a FOSS enthusiast, partially allergic to proprietary and closed sourced protocols, and as a new home owner I’m interested in a few basic smart automation options. I’m excited by the prospect of building my partially-smart home myself, both for the control I’ll have over it, the understanding of the inner, under-the-hood workings and the exciting outlook of building something new. I have little experience about programming, but I’m a power user used (pun not intended) to tinker around, get his hands dirty and flash custom firmware, doing some mild hacking on devices. I’m not scared of headless systems, command lines and configuration files. I’m based in Italy.

Enough context, let’s get down to the matter. I’m currently getting some BTicino/Netatmo hardware to add some commodities to my home. Specficially, some smart outlets (L4531C) to monitor power drawing and energy consumption, some smart dimmers (L4411C) and smart two-way switches (L4003C) to control lights remotely. These three require a gateway (L4500C) which will connect to the wireless network and communicate with all modules via ZigBee.

First question: will an SBC with Home Assistant be able to substitute the official gateway, removing the need for it and controlling all modules via ZigBee itself?

Furthemore, I’m planning to add some Gosund EP2/Tuya smart sockets to monitor individual appliances energy consumption (when more than one are connected to the same wall outlet), with the intention of flashing Tasmota on them. The second question is: will Home Assistant be able to let me monitor power draw and energy consumption for those appliances? Will I be able to get a daily report, or will the data be logged even more times per day?

Lastly, I dream of also getting some Shelly EMs to monitor power draw for the separate channels in my electric panels. Final question: will Home Assistant let me conciliate all those different makes, making (pun not intended) a seamlessly unique ecosystem out of Netatmo, Tuya and Shelly components?

Thank you all for your patience and any kind of help. Wish you an amazing day!

First of all choose your network protocol that you will be mainly using with home assistant and build your network around it. You can choose between zigbee, wifi, bluetooth, rf.
I use mostly zigbee for my devices as from my experience zigbee devices in combination with good coordinator works quite well in ha. If you choose zigbee find quality coordinator based on 26 chip.
Depending on how big is your house you might be needed a wifi mesh network. Investing in some quality router to serve as a local router is good idea.
End devices you will be buying depend on your preferred network protocol.
Just stay away from tuya wifi smart devices because this is terrible decision.


An SBC is … an acceptable starting point, at least if it’s not running on an SD card - those tend to have a short lifespan.

Checking the Zigbee2MQTT supported hardware page shows that the things you mention are supported by it. The odds are reasonable that HA’s built in ZHA integration will also support them.

Tuya … :nauseated_face: A lot of the Tuya stuff is a pain, I’d flag it as buyer beware and recommend you find something less bad.

HA has an energy dashboard and a bunch of integrations for doing things with data, including the ability to send it to InfluxDB for all the graphing you could wish for.

That’s IMO very much the USP of HA - once you have a switch or a light in HA it doesn’t matter what the underlying platform is, it’s just a switch or a light that you use like any other one.


Thanks to both for the input! That was fast.

I was oriented towards those Tuya outlets because of their incredibly small size. I currently have some meross-branded outlets, but those are so big they occupy three positions in an average schuko power strip. Those EP2, I have hopes will not prevent me from using the neighboring slots. Also, I was intrigued by the fact the producer, if asked, sends you a firmware update which allows you to perform an OTA Tasmota flash, without having to dismount the socket to go UART. Can you point to some information about how much and why is Tuya bad?

The major costraint I have is that BTicino is the maker of the electrical modules (wall sockets and light switches) I have in my home, so if I want smart ones to physically integrate I must stick to those. The noob I am wonders if I can tell those modules, with the firmware they have, to communicate with any ZigBee hub (my HA SBC in place of their gateway). I would just need the short answer, then I’ll do my due diligence of learning on the protocol.

I can currently choose between a Raspberry Pi3 and an Odroid XU4 I have lying around. For the latter I have the option of eMMC. Is that better? Or would you recommend an USB stick?

From a quick look, that looks amazing! If I didn’t understand it all wrong, I can just store all the data I want and elaborate as I please, I just need to program it. So, I can also have a power (W) history graph, not only an energy (kWh) report. Those things can be quickly seen from the mobile app?

how much and why is Tuya bad<

Just don’t buy tuya wifi devices. They work over cloud and they are generally terrible devices. Tuya zigbee devices are mostly ok. I have a lot of tuya zigbee devices and they work fine.
For home assistant you don’t need a hub. Avoid a hubs if you can.
You want to have a local controlled devices, no hub bus wifi cloud or anything like that.

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I see those “Gosund EP2” are available in Zigbee fashion as well. Should I prefer these? Also, after flashing Tasmota, they should work locally and not on cloud anymore. Does that solve the problem?

What I mean is making (with HA) my own gateway which would communicate with all my smart devices. Before buying a BTicino/Netatmo smart socket with its gateway I had never heard about Zigbee. The way I’ve understood it is that all child devices communicate via this protocol with a master hub, that is WiFi connected and communicates with, for example, my mobile app to let me see the data. Am I mistaken?

Yes. For zigbee you need a coordinator. It’s a usb stick with antena attached to it.
For zigbee devices this will be something like a hub. Zigbee device will pair with coordinator and you will have a local controlled device.
You don’t have to have not a single device connected to the cloud. And that is why you don’t need a hub.

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Thanks. Mine is probably a misuse of language due to my inexperience. What I meant is a coordinator, much like the L4500C gateway. Is a WiFi-Tuya socket ok, though, if I flash Tasmota on it to make it work locally instead that on the cloud?

Yes, eMMC is better than an SD card. Neither are great, but of the two, go with eMMC.

For a USB stick (or other form factor) see this list.

Yes you can, I already gave you the link that showed that :wink:

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Just forget tuya wifi devices. Flashing is very hard as they don’t have exposed pins. It is just a big mess. Buy some decent coordinator based on 26 chip. Doesn’t have to be some sonoff or something like that and buy zigbee smart plugs. They are usually routers and you wanna have routers in zigbee network.

I’m confused. Aren’t those Zigbee adapters?

Thank you very much! Now that I have a rough idea this is what I’m looking for, I have a lot of reading to do, including MQTT. So excited to get started!

I’ve read you can OTA flash, isn’t that good news? Or does it change nothing? Do you have a particular recommendation for a small Zigbee smart plug (hoping it is available in Italy)? My nightmare is its size wasting me the neighboring sockets.

Something like this
It’s pritty small much smaler than aquara and have power meter.

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Thanks! I’ll knock myself out on Aliexpress as well. Saw that one on Amazon but it costs way more.

Yes, those are the little magic radio device (aka coordinator) that allows your HA system to talk directly to Zigbee devices.


I see. I was thinking about storage solutions as well, which would be the most optimal choice? eMMC or a USB pen drive? I figure an external HDD would be overkill.

We’ll the problem us, not all of them. The ‘old’ series use chips that are flashable OTA, but the newer series not…and it is hard to find out from the outside. So unless you are sure, i wouldn’t buy them.
Shelly’s are working fine though, I can recommend then ( or just stick with Zigbee)

eMMC is way better than a pen drive - those are often slower and even more limited in write life than SD cards

If you were looking at hardware with USB 3.0 ports I’d recommend an SSD over eMMC any day. It’s not overkill, it’s good planning.

Home Assistant is the hub (with the appropriate USB sticks).

I have Home Assistant running on an Intel NUC i5 in my basement. By default, headless. I avoid anything with a cloud interface. The only exceptions are my thermostats (that I installed before falling into the Home Assistant rabbit hole) and Alexa. (And one medical device that doesn’t expose its API to mortal users like me).

Almost every light in my home is controlled from Home Assistant and Alexa. I also have many sensors and other controls (my garage door, for example) that are built (by me) using ESP boards (mostly the Wemos D1 Mini). I also have a few 433MHz buttons.

I am also a cheapskate. Only two of my lights are “smart”. Only because I bought them before the aforementioned rabbit hole. All of my lights are simple (cheap) white LED lamps that you can buy at any Home Depot, but the wall switches are a mix of Z-wave and WiFi (mostly WiFi because they are cheaper. A lot cheaper.) A few plug-in lamps have a Sonoff Mini for WiFi control.

Most of the cameras in and around my home are Wyze Cam2’s and Cam3’s. But, I don’t use the Wyze cloud. The Frigate add-on is my DVR (Digital Video Recorder).

Home Assistant is not closed-source, but joining the clique of developers, or even as a contributor is way beyond my pay scale.

Hope this helps in your decisions…

edit: I forgot to mention that I had some Tuya switches that I flashed with ESPHome.

I’ve read if you ask Gosund they’ll update your plugs to the latest firmware for the specific purpose of letting you flash OTA. This obviously voids your warranty, but seems to work on newer plugs too, if you try to flash one at a time. I’m looking for Zigbee variants for that would be consistent with my Netatmo modules, but I can’t find the website I saw them in anymore. WiFi seems overkill to me, since I won’t need any cloud communication but only local connection to my HA, but if I didn’t get it wrong I can use MQTT as an alternative.

If I’m gonna use the RPi3 I have lying around, it will only have USB2.0. Would that be too slow for the purpose?
In “overkill” I meant for excess of available space, but I really have no idea of the storage size a HA hub would need. How much would it be? The great part will be used for data logging? You recommend SSD for their low energy consumption, and adequate write cycles compared to SDs and USB sticks?

@stevemann Nice to hear about your setup. That must have took a long time, but with great efforts come great satisfactions. I too have bought two smart bulbs when I was in a rented room, but now I would just need normal ones to control with Netatmo Zigbee modules, dimmable in my bedroom and kitchenette/living room.

SSDs have a write life that is orders of magnitudes greater than even endurance SD cards, never mind USB sticks.

A USB stick may die in weeks to months, an SD card in months (or less if you’re unlucky) to a year or two. SSDs will last long enough that it’s irrelevant.

Storage space requirements depends on how you configure logging and history (logger and recorder integrations), plus what you do with HA. Keeping every datapoint of a few thousand entities that update many times a minute is quite different to a setup where you’ve got a few dozen entities that update once or twice an hour. If you want to snapshot video cameras that takes more space than if you don’t, and so on.

You can get by with only 32 GB of storage, or you can find that a 200 GB isn’t anything like enough.