Step by step into HA

HI, being a newbie, after dozens of videos/articles on how to set up HA, I want to go a step further. My questions are:

  • Is there an overview of what is the best step by step approach on mastering HA? Like: after the set up, focus on this, then focus on that, and so on.

  • a lot of terms are frequently used, as if they are common knowledge, but what do they really stand for and how to use them in a HA configuration? A platform, a type, a service, a domain, a mode, an alias, a description, and so on.

Greetings from Belgium

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First always read the docs Many articles and videos can be useful but you need to be aware some may be old and out of date. Read the docs first then look at YouTube etc to backup the docs.

It will depend on the hardware you want to install on so look here.

Most important: if you buy something ‘smart’, first check if there is an integration with HA.
And stay away from Tuya WiFi devices.

Hi all,
Thanks for replying. The thing is: I already have HA up and running (Dwains D) and even managed to setup some automations.
I can manage that but only if I copy/paste exactly how things are explained in a Youtube video, e.g… But if i want to change some variables, I’m stuck.
Like if somebody says: I choose service - why does he choose service and not something else? Why does he use platform and not another parameter? And what happens if you choose another parameter?
That puzzled me from the start and after several weeks it still does.
@nickrout refers me to the HA Glossary. Thanks for that, but it’s not exactly what i need. It’s good to know every relevant term, but I would also like to know when you need to use it, and how.
Hope I’m clear. Again, thank you all.

I don’t use device automations, so service is the first thing to look at when creating automations, if I don’t find there what I need, I look further.

I’m using HA since 2019, and still don’t know (I do, for integrations I’m familiar with, but if something new, I look it up in the documentation for that integration. And things change, mqtt was a platform, it is not any more, it has it’s own key: now)

That’s a relief:-). I can just forget it:-).

You are facing the same problem we all do with any new environment. So much jargon! So many different ways to do things! Hang in there. It gets easier.

I will add though, that I agree you need to keep away from YouTube videos. For one thing, as mentioned, they may be obsolete. But as you’ve found, they can also be incomplete, misleading and in some cases flat-out wrong. I know we all learn in different ways, but I find that I’m better going at my own pace. I can read a lot faster than most people talk, and I don’t need the long-winded introduction or all the initial steps. Just that one step I’m unsure of. And sometimes that’s the one step they gloss over.


Thanks for the encouragement. I will go for the one-thing-at-a-time approach.

Also ask as many questions as you like, but give good info like yaml code etc properly formatted and you will get the answer quickly, as we have all been there.

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Thx for letting me ask newbie questions. One of those: is there a setting to display most recent posts first?

In the forum? Click on latest.

No, I mean whithin (the tread of) a topic. For the latest replies I have to scroll all the way down.

Not that I know.

If you set the notification button to tracking it just jumps to the next unread message. At least it does for me in chrome. If you reply it automatically goes to tracking.

the button is just below the reply button.

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I find it does that (also on Chrome) even if I have that button set to “Normal” instead of “Tracking.” In other words, click on a topic you’ve read before and it’ll start you off at the first new post.

Another tip: I generally start with the “New” button at the top, instead of the default, “Latest.” This seems to skip the ones which haven’t changed since I last logged on. Then I scroll down to the red line at “–last visit–” and work my way back up the threads from oldest to newest. I open a new tab for any I’m interested in, and go back and read them in order after I’ve reached the top.

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Start simple.Build a simple automation that does one thing, and does it correctly every time. Then add conditions and get to understand how they work. Keep each step simple until you master it. Don’t set out to build a complex automation right up front.
As you experiment with switches and lights you’ll start to see the need for conditions that limit execution, and also statements that can selectivly change the action part of your automation. For example CHOOSE statements which are more versatile than IF/THEN.
Next master templates. Templates are very powerful and allow you to do many things. Embrace the Template Editor in the Developer Tools. Here you can experiment with your code, see if it works the way you expect, then paste it in where needed. Here is a quick example:

{{ states('') == 'on' }}

This assumes you have a light named Kitchen and will respond with a True or False depending its state at the time.
Search this forum for help on just about any topic. Chances are someone else has had the same questions you do! If you can’t find an answer, post a question. SPECIFIC questions with a short explanation of what you are trying to do will get quicker responses than vague statements like “it doesn’t work”.
Four years ago I was a newbie like you. Now I’m still a newbie, but with 4 years of trial and error and a very nicely functioning automated home. The skills will come if you take small enough bites while you learn. I can’t overemphasize the need to keep it simple until you master each new skillset.


Thanks for the encouragement! Will follow your advice.

As a content creator who takes an EXTRAORDINARY amount of time to make sure that my videos are as complete and accurate as possible, I take exception to this extremely broad generalization.

The only part that (eventually) becomes accurate, and is no fault of ours, is obsolescence. I, personally, try to make updated videos when that becomes the case.

Regardless that fact, often times the theory behind what was being done remains valid, even if the syntax to repeat it or the exact location in the UI has changed.

By no means am I attempting to defend every YouTube channel out there on the topic - there may well be a bunch of horrible ones (and in the interest of not disparaging my competition, I will refrain from listing some of them off). However, better advice would be to advise OP to scrutinize content until he finds solutions he is confident in, and then to follow those creators that do provide valuable information. I am not the only one, for sure - but there are definitely more bad than there are good.

To assist OP: I found that focusing on one goal at a time, and solving that goal - however difficult - before moving on to something else was the way that I found to learn best when I was beginning my HA journey. Try to stay task-focused. In the VERY early stages this will have you doing lots of things you do not exactly understand, as you blindly follow along with solutions. However, over time, you will do this more and more with other solutions, until one day it all just clicks and falls into place and you begin to see how things are inter-related.


No one said don’t watch YouTube content. We all watch it and learn a lot, and are grateful of the content. What we are saying is beware of out of date content. Always read the docs as well, things change often with HA, and the docs are the most up to date info.

Only today I found the info I needed on YouTube which I could not get to.grips with in the docs, so we need the content on YouTube as much as we need the docs.

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