New to this, project for me and a 9 year old

Reddit has convinced me to try home assistant. We’re currently operating with Alexa but it’s not enough. I am reading through the website and forum but I’m hoping someone can answer these simple questions.

Can I repurpose a Kano Raspberry Pi 3. I think it’s just a pi branded for kids, pretty sure it can be wiped.

Will home assistant be able to work with different brands of lights and sensors?

I have a hue hub, with 6 ceiling lights and two table lamps. I then have floor lamps with Calex Holland WiFi bulbs in, and then I also have a couple of Philips Wiz. My kitchen has Calex gu10s which are operated by a Calex motion sensor. I have a Philips motion sensor that operates the landing light, and dimmer switches for the bedroom and living room light.

Yes. I made it complicated. We have Alexa around the house, iPads, Samsung tablet, pixel phone and iPhones. You can see my issue…I should have stuck with one ecosphere,

So what I would like, is to set up home assistant with lots of different brands but it work cohesively.

The research I’ve done says possibly…

Yes… probably. More than likely the OS is on an SD card, replace it with a high-write endurance card like a Sandisk Extreme and it should be fine.

Yes, the Integrations page should give you an idea of how many different things work, I recommend Philips Wiz wifi lights, since they allow cloud free instantaneous local control. The Hue integration is cloud based. Either way to HA the lights are lights, the brand and interconnection is irrelevant when developing automations for them.

I use Android phones and Linux PCs, my wife uses Apple but she has Amazon tablets and a Windows PC, and I have about a dozen brands of stuff connected to HA and now they all work together

I agree with everything Richie said.

  1. Your Raspberry Pi should be fine, but do get a good quality SD card.

  2. Check the integrations page to see if your product is supported directly by Home Assistant.

  3. A wide variety of end user devices can be used to control the products configured to work with Home Assistant.

Here are a few recommendations and caveats

  1. Watch a few introduction YouTube videos before embarking on your journey. Here are a couple suggestions:
    Rob from the HookUp -
    Juan from JuanTech -
  2. Start Simple
    a) Your first devices you focus on should be those auto-detected
    b) The second set of devices should be those with built in integrations
    c) Once you have a few devices added work no creating a simply and functional Dashboard. Test it across the devices you intend to use
  3. Start with Simple Automation
    a) Use the built in GUI to create your automation, test and tweak.
    b) Add slow add features (multiple triggers and/or actions)

When looking for video tutorials on YouTube, stick to those that are at most 1 year old if possible, a lot has changed in a year. As you become more familiar it will be easier to extract value from some of the older videos.

Like anything in computing these days, you really want to take it step by step. Start with a simple idea, and slowly built and add to it. This will allow you to develop a solution that is functional from day one and allow you to add features as you understand your requirements better and become more familiar with the platform.

Remember YouTube is your friend, there are a great many members of this community that have shared a ton of content on the platform. Also do not be shy to ask your questions on the forum.

Good luck and most importantly have fun.

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Another thing is that there are a lot of third party “custom” integrations that can run and do things that the built-in integration in HA can’t do (but there is a lot that can be done using built-in stuff, too) and to make those custom things more easily accessible one of the first things you should install is the custom Home Assistant Community Store (HACS) integration.

the one thing I kind of disagree about is using the built-in editors.

They are OK for basic stuff but they lack some functionality and that along with some other idiosyncrasies makes most advanced users typically stay away from them.

It would really be to your benefit if you have any programming abilities at all is to just start out with manualy writing yaml and learn to do it that way. And then if the UI editors ever make it to “prime time” then it will be easy to switch to using the editors. but trying to go from using the UI editors to then trying to figure out more advanced stuff that the editors can’t do is just an exercise in frustration because you’ve never learned the basics of yaml.

It would be like only ever having used a calculator for basic math functions and then trying to learn to do algebra or calculus. :slightly_smiling_face:

And if you are doing this as a project to get your child involved into more advanced tech then learning/teaching a basic programming language like yaml (and eventually jinja2 for templates) is a great introduction.

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All really helpful thank you, installation as literally just finished so once I’ve set up the login etc I will go through those videos.

And my son enjoyed the really basic coding they did at school so I’m hoping he’ll enjoy this.

I made the mistake of plugging the pi into an ethernet router which was plugged into an extender, so the speed must have been horrendous. Eventually gave up and moved it downstairs to plug it directly into the router and lo and behold, installation took 20 minutes.

@Nickolaos Actually I have a question. I was reading that some people have been using SSDs instead of SD Cards. I think I will avoid this but is there any benefit to getting a micro sd with a HUGE capacity

The reason some use a SSD vs a SD card is that over time read/write can wear down the SD faster. Also if you have a power outage the SD card has a higher chance of corruption.

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I slogged through home automation myself for half a year more to just think through things and exercise my brain than to automate. I tried out several platforms over the course of about 6 months trying lots of different components before landing on HA about 8 months ago giving Smartthings and OpenHAB a good go before abandoning them for several reasons. So, all that to say HA works, and they have made start up a breeze. I haven’t found anything I haven’t been able to integrate, though definitely some are much easier than others.

Pi will be fine. I use a 3B+ with an SSD and have 75+ devices connected to it. So first point, SD is fine to start but they do fail more often and mine did after about 8 months. Second point set up an automatic backup asap. I use an add on that pushes all my configs to google. Have had to use it a few time.

While I have some samsung smartthings devices, sengled zigbee lights, various light switches, agara sensors, etc, I have pretty much moved completely to devices that can run tasmota and integrated with mqtt. The exception at the moment is i have a bunch of Xiaomi aqara motion sensors that just work so well I have kept them. There isn’t a lot that you shouldn’t be able to integrate.

Have fun

I actually think I’ll be returning the Calex stuff, it’s tuya based and I don’t think it can be flashed to a different firmware. Looking at some stuff on the web suggests the newer tuya based lights can’t be

edit: Definitely returning the Calex Holland. I was suckered in by the low low price but I can’t get HA to discover the one bulb I did install. Wiz Connected, well I’m pretty sure it isn’t exactly Tuya based but fairly close. I’ve got a zigbee dongle on the way so I will just have a look at some decent but not expensive zigbee lights. I’ll probably end up with Hue all over, after a while at least but for now its too much. I need some motion sensors, door sensors, bluetooth bits and bobs. THEN I’ll move on to the more complicated stuff once we’ve got that settled

I disagree.
The manufacturers should make it easier to integrate with each other.

If you want to mix brand X and Y then you should be able to do so.

Imagine if TV, DVDs, Chromecast’s and all that was as “bound” to their own eco system.
Luckily they where smarter back then when TV’s and all that got invented.

I think I used the wrong terminology, what I mean is when I started I read “smart” as smart singular. Not smart with various different versions.

So for instance stuff based on Tuya versus Zigbee versus all the other things. So I think I need to be fairly consistent in my approach or I might struggle.

So now I need to decide what brand of bulbs to continue with, I mean I’ll use multiple brands as long as they’re based on the same software concept I guess

Agree, I have a mix of stuff, but am pretty consistent in each category. All the same bulbs, all the same switches now. I was somewhat lucky in acquiring my bulbs and switches. Costco had / has some reasonably priced colour smart bulbs and switches and well many people buy them and can’t figure out how to use them so they return them. Costco sells these off to outlet stores and one in my area ends up with hundreds of them. I ended up paying $2.50/ bulb and $5 for two and three way switches which all (at the time) converted to TASMOTA easily over the air. For sensors I have agara motion, temp, water, vibration from Aliexpress using the Dresden zigbee. I abandoned my sengled bulbs and a few odds and ends from various other vendors. I am all done with the lighting in the house, and am now moving on to creating some of my own sensors and controls with esp8266 parts… The winter adventure continues… BTW, mixing zigbee and wifi can have its challenges. Pay attention to what channels you set your wifi and zigbee to use otherwise you can end up with flaky zigbee element.s

@Abigail_Kaye. Using a larger SD will not significantly improve performance or lifespan in itself. What you want to do is limit the number of writes/rewrites happening to the card. This can be accomplished by keeping logging to the minimum amount you need.

  1. Do not run your logs a full debug unless you need them
  2. Turn off logging on devices/entities that you do care to know the history.

For example. I want to keep track of the weather, I have some really elegant graphs setup. However, I really do not care to log when or how specific motion sensors are triggered.

The integration you are looking to leverage is called Recorder

My recommendation is to get a better quality SD card and you should be fine to start with. If your installation grows by adding a significant number of devices then looking at an SSD may be something you may want to consider. Switching your installation to an SSD is not a difficult process, and you do not have to lose all the hard work you put in, it is however not a trivial task. Once again there are YouTube videos that can help walk you through the process.

My suggestion regarding an SSD upgrade is… if you are at that point you should not be using an rPi at all, upgrade to an Intel NUC or something with more power.

I am using my old storage server, which was hilariously overpowered for its original use, even now it is only around 1/3 of the cpu, and that is because I am also running motion detection for connected cameras, along with multiple applications and virtual machines to support my HA ecosystem.

What will happen with an rPi3 is that as soon as you find some cool feature you want, you find it does not have nearly enough computational power to do the job. A good metric is if you think you need an SSD upgrade, just upgrade everything

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You must check out the Alexa integration

Getting Alexa to say “Bum” still make me laugh and i’m almost retired :slight_smile:

Here’s one way to reduce wear and tear on a microSD card (or SSD or ‘spinning rust’) but it assumes you don’t care if you lose History every time you reboot the RPi.

The important point here is you instruct Home Assistant to maintain its History log in memory and not on the SD card.

db_url: 'sqlite:///:memory:'

I have more than one instance of Home Assistant running and the one that resides on an RPi3 uses this technique. In addition, you can also specify what you do and don’t want to be recorded. In the following example I have excluded entire domains, some entities (more than what is shown here) and several types of events.

  db_url: 'sqlite:///:memory:'
      - group
      - script
      - automation
      - updater
      - sun.sun
      - sensor.time
      - sensor.date_time
      - service_removed
      - service_executed
      - service_registered
      - component_loaded
      - call_service

If you definitely want to maintain a History log after a restart, then don’t use db_url: 'sqlite:///:memory: and simply constrain what you want to have recorded.


One other thing about bulbs…

they are an easy introduction just to get things moving but you likely won’t want them long term unless they are the only option (i.e. you are renting).

Smart bulbs need the switch that powers them to stay on all the time or else they get really dumb really quick. That means you can’t operate the lights just by walking up and flipping a switch like you always have before. You are forced to either use voice control, pull out a phone or get really good at creating an automation system that is almost at AI level so you never have to touch a switch because it just knows you want the light to come on.

My point is unless you have to use bulbs only then it will be a waste of money to buy all bulbs if you will get sick of them because they aren’t natural. I bought 6 smart bulbs when I first started and I only use 5 of them because I can’t find a use for the last one in a place that I never need to operate them manually on a regular basis.

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@finity I am using a Shelly i3 scene controller behind light switches, in combination with wall mounted Lutron Pico remotes to give full switch control over the wireless lighting system comprised of dimmers, wall plugs, and bulbs

I mean, I don’t mind wifi bulbs - I quite like the philips wiz ones, the apps pretty functional! I hated the Calex/Tuya ones and took them all back.

The only reason I was going to go down the zigbee route was based on the wifi load of my router, although I could presumably just reserve the 2.4ghz for bulbs and devices but where is the fun in that!

Tasmota, I read that Tuya is blocking it possibly?

I’ve moved across to a 128gb 3.0 Usb stick I had. Not a permanent solution, I mean the write speed of a flash drive doesn’t match a SSD in the slightest, but it’s functioning for now! SSD, just need a sata to usb cable then I’m good to go after taking out the SSD from my sons pc…