🚨 Honest Answer Alert : Is Home Assistant Reliable?

Hello everyone,

I am a beginner in home automation (not in the technology field, I am a developer).

I have only one question to ask you, because I can’t find the answer elsewhere, a real answer:

Is a home automation system running Home Assistant reliable?

Here’s what I mean by reliable:

  • A system that does not require frequent reboots
  • A system that does not lose its configuration following an update
  • A system that is capable of operating autonomously without constant manual intervention

In short, I am looking for a solution that can integrate harmoniously into my family’s daily life without adding complexity or hassle.

I’m particularly curious how Home Assistant handles power interruptions and network connectivity issues, since these incidents are inevitable. Additionally, I wonder if the Home Assistant ecosystem is mature enough to allow easy use by all members of my family, including those who are less comfortable with technology.

What is your opinion on this?

A big thank you for your reply

See you soon

Yes it is reliable.

However it does require monthly updates and possibly configuration changes if you are affected by breaking changes.

I have been 5000km from home for 12 months. The only issue I have had is hardware related. Crappy smart plugs dying.

Choice of hardware is important.

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The answer to these 3 points is “it depends”…

It depends upon:

  • your hardware
  • your install method / environment
  • the robustness of your network
  • power supply reliability
  • the integrations you use (maybe the cloud)

Personally, I find it extremely robust but my setup is relatively simple compared to others.

I run HA using “HA container” (docker install) on a R-Pi 4 2GB running DietPi on an SSD with an official RPi power supply and a UPS. It has hung once in 3-4 years of use (and I think that was an integration problem). Most of my integrations are local (no cloud) and HA completely controls my lighting, heating, fans, garden irrigation, TV & EV charger, video doorbell and some security functionality). I don’t have heavy processing requirements and nearly all of my devices use Z2M with a Sonoff USB stick. If I leave it alone, it leaves me alone as I have designed it to be fully automated (requires little-to-no interaction to work fully).

But I keep it updated, so there is regular interaction there (Debian updates, HA updates, HACS updates etc) and I like to play with the functionality because I enjoy it.

Despite it working for me almost completely untouched, I consider HA to be an enthusiast’s game albeit one with real home benefit. I don’t believe HA is the right solution for those that aren’t prepared to spend time setting it up and maintaining it.

In summary, It’s a hobbyist’s solution (albeit a fantastic one) and requires maintenance…

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I think the answer is yes. But if you insist on implementing all the latest updates it will need to be restarted often But that is not a fault if you just leave it it should never need rebooting. But for most of us it’s something we enjoy playing with so are constantly adding stuff.

My system has been running for nearly 2 years now, and the only failure I have had was due to an SD card in the very early days. Now running on an old thin client with SSD and it never crashed or stopped. The last time the os was rebooted was due to a power cut during the summer.

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Like you, I’m a software engineer, but I still found Home Assistant a bit of a learning curve. I use it with Node Red for the automations – I’m much more comfortable coding in Javascript than YAML! I picked it up when one of my kids gave me a Raspberry Pi for my birthday and getting HA up and running became my Covid lockdown project. I use the docker/container version, with a compose file that brings up several other things at the same time (Node Red, zwavejs2mqtt, ring-mqtt, etc.).

HA is very reliable, once I got my head around it. The issues I run into are all because I’m constantly picking at it – yak shaving, in other words, and playing with various different devices. I now have 29 integrations, running 33 zigbee devices, 8 z-wave devices and a dozen or so esp32 or other wifi buttons and thingies. Almost all of the issues I have are with my own tinkering – changing from one protocol to another, or another hub (I went from Philips Hue Bridge to SkyConnect recently) or ill-advised/badly-coded automations.

The main aim is that the people in your household not interested in HA should barely notice it. My wife is amused by my “Home AI”, but if it interferes with her day (i.e., the lights don’t turn on when she walks into the room, or whatever), then I’ve failed. She hasn’t complained in several months.

I recommend starting small – one or two things, a smart bulb or two. And curbing your yak-shaving tendencies.

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This is the thing. It is reliable, but that isn’t the point.

Home Assistant isn’t a home automation product; it integrates thousands of other products (2581 at the last count). As such, users are at the mercy of every one of those manufacturers and we all scamper to keep up because we love it.

The honest answer your original post, if I’m reading it right, is… think through what you want to do (as a developer I imagine you would anyway), then find another system from a single supplier. It will be more limited then HA, and there will always be some maintenance because home automation is a long way from being a mature technology, but you’re more likely to be able to get on with your lives.

But it’s such fun - it would be a shame to miss it. :rofl:

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since you are comming from the “technology field”, you can imagine the following answer:

it depends on …

  • … your setup and underlying infrastructure
  • … your “failover” mechanism
  • … the amount of “third party” plugins / integrations / addons
  • … the manufacturer of the components you integrate into your system

and on all other imaginable combinations :wink:
Yes, you should update “regularely” - maybe not the first release (*.0)
You should read the release notes and look for breaking changes in them
You should run backups - and also make sure, that the backups are working (from time to time)
You might consider to implement additional recovery mechanisms, like virtualization and backups of the VM itself
You might participate into beta tests of the releases to find possible bugs - than can be on a different “development environment”

And especially:
If you run custom components, there’s always a “risk” that the devs of such a component might not be able to adapt to changes with a new version within the beta cycle… so it CAN happen, that custom components will throw errors or stop working until their devs release an update to fix such issues.

And - it can also happen, that if you have Cloud based solutions, the vendor might log you out if the poll frequency might be too high or whatever reason they will find :wink:

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Yes. It is reliable

I never restart except for updates.

I run docker + Ubuntu on server hardware.
When on RasPi + docker I experience random hardware failures but no OS issues.

Updates come monthly. Highly recommended to update but system won’t break if you do not. If you skip months of updates, expect breaking changes to potentially cause trouble when updating.

I have been using Home Assistant for over five years and have helped thousands of users in this community forum. The nature of your questions suggests you want a ‘set and forget’ system and Home Assistant is not that.

I have found it to be reliable but, as mentioned by jchh, it’s for hobbyists. Each monthly upgrade brings new features (a delight for hobbyists) but also breaking changes because old ways are abandoned in favor of new, improved ways of doing things (also of interest to hobbyists, but not conducive to ‘set and forget’).

If you simply avoid upgrading every month, in several months you will face the daunting task of performing an upgrade that introduces many months worth of breaking changes.

If you enjoy tinkering, tweaking, learning about new home automation hardware/software technologies and techniques, Home Assistant can be a very rewarding way to indulge in your home automation hobby. If not, you may wish to explore other home automation solutions.

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Everything said here is outstanding advice and I echo all of it. My addition is this:

HA is my fifth or sixth home automation solution, I landed on it because as a developer it appealed to me to be able to have more control, but I went into it with my eyes wide open knowing that it’s open source and has no support outside of this forum and may have hiccups. My system is quite complex and geeked out a lot, so I do have issues from time to time but no more so than my previous five systems which all have their own peccadillos to deal with.

My failures are generally of my own making or because:

  • I failed to pay attention to a breaking change documented on the release notes
  • I installed an otherwise unknown or untested extension that caused problems
  • A few bad releases that nobody knew would cause problems until they were released
  • I let my log errors go too long without addressing the root cause

For me I must have a reliable system because my wife finds all of this relatively unnecessary so I’ve built something very automatic or voice-centric so she doesn’t have to worry about it, but also because I go out in my RV frequently during the warm months and need my system to be 100% up while I’m gone, so I’ve built multiple redundancies and failsafes into my system to ensure that.

HA is not perfect, but it is close enough for my needs and abilities to make it as close to perfect as my needs dictate. Your weak points are almost always your hardware, bad/cheap/bleeding edge hardware will almost always be your Achilles heel. Always buy the name brand stuff that is widely loved on this forum (i.e., Inovelli, Zooz, Aeotec, Fibaro, etc) and avoid the cheap Chinese stuff and you’ll generally be fine. And always, always, come here and research a device model before you incorporate it just to be safe and you’ll likely be fine. And never be afraid to ask questions because there are a lot of folks here that go out of their way to help (more so than any other home automation solution I’ve used) and are aces at this platform.

My network has hundreds of devices, hundreds of automations and scripts and I have had a burp in my system maybe a dozen times over the past year or two but my complexity is such that really isn’t a terrible track record.

Lastly, if you plan on having a large home automation system just save yourself some hassle now and don’t put it on a rPi, go with a dedicated computer or virtual machine. If it’s going to be small/mid sized then go with a pi but use an SSD, never an SD, with a powered USB hub and always use extension cables for your USB devices (pi or otherwise).

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My biggest gripe about HA is that it is in a constantly rolling beta state. Primary releases are monthly (2023.1.0, 2023.2.0 … 2023.12.0), followed by several patch releases each month (2023.1.1, 2023.1.2, etc).

I’ve regretted every time I was lured by a new feature to jump on a “.0” release. Issues are fixed pretty quickly, but I generally don’t update monthly, and never to a “.0” release. I’ll track issues and wait until there are fixes for whatever was broken for the month. Once upgraded, I’ll generally go as long as possible. Went about six months this year, until there was a co-dependency issue with zigbee2mqtt that forced an HA update.

But generally, excluding hasty updates, HA has been very stable and reliable.

Generally the only reboots needed are after updates - and more often than not those are not true reboots, but restarts of the HA container.

I’ve never had that issue.

Once you have your automations set up and tweaked, you should be good.

As far as your family is concerned, Home Assistant is not reliable. But it’s nothing to do with Home Assistant.

When you flick a light switch, once in every 15 years it will not turn on because the bulb has died (assuming LED). People are accustomed to this level of reliability.

With smart devices you don’t get the same level of reliability because there are more variables. Your wifi/zigbee network might be having issues right now; the light switch might have low batteries; your server might not have recovered properly after a power outage; etc etc. I’ve never had Home Assistant not restart properly, but I have had addons like deConz not start because it can’t find the dongle, so none of the zigbee devices work.

And one time when I was out of the house, my daughter was having problems with completing a final year uni assignment. The cheap-arse Aqara plug that I used to monitor energy used by the server decided to die in quite spectacular fashion. Initially it would turn off an on every minute, but by the end of the day it was doing it more times a second than I could count. This impacted my router, but to my daughter, it’s all “Home Assistant”.

I’ve had 1st/2nd gen devices die from Ikea (5 bulbs died in the first 6 months), Aqara (various issues with plugs), Lifx (3 bulbs died within a year), TP-Link (at least 4 plugs have died), and many no-brand AliExpress devices. All blamed on “Home Assistant” by the family.

I echo what most have said: it’s reliable if you manage to keep your hand off and don’t try to fix what isn’t broken. I had issues with it for a while where the interface became irresponsive every 48hrs or so but that seems to have been fixed.
Big caveat on letting the rest of the family use it: if you have inquisitive children it’s very hard to prevent them from messing stuff up big time. There is no decent user access control. So either you automate everything and don’t give them access, or you have a good talk with them and tell them not to go to the settings and hope they listen.
Specifically on power and network interruptions: it seems to deal with that pretty well, but naturally when your local network is down you will have problems with the web interface. I would advise to run as many devices as possible on zigbee or z-wave rather than wifi, and make use of smart controls that also allow physical control (e.g. dimmers or switches that react to physical input as well as commands over the air)

Home assistant itself has proven very reliable in the 4-5 years I’ve been using it, but it’s always at the mercy of the stuff you connect it to. Many people have fought endless battles with their zigbee or z-wave networks, niche integrations and hostile companies.

Wow, thank you for your answers!

Thank you for taking the time to explain your point of view and advise me. It’s very informative!

See you soon everyone!

From my personal experience: I use HA for many years on a NUC. One full year, I was not able to do updates and kept HA exactly as is. No single problem has occured. However sometimes after an update issues may occur. In most cases they are fixed within a couple of days or week.

So: reliable: yes if you take some precautions for updates:

  • Wait a week or two before updating to the next release
  • Test custom integrations before adding them into your system
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