The "radio less" Home Assistant vs. the "octopus in the center of the house"

Home assistant differs from other “modern” applications in that it is closely tied to hardware. Probably most users have at least two or three radio interfaces to interact with stuff in the house: Bluetooth/BLE, Z-Wave, Zigbee and WiFi are more or less necessary for HA, even if the host running HA itself is connected by Ethernet.

For some forms of radio interfaces, a detached scenario is the norm, eg for WiFi. While it would be possible to run hostapd on the same host that HA is running on, I suppose most people just use an access point (or wifi router) on a position where it is convenient and useful reception wise.

It is less clear with Z-Wave and Zigbee: There are tightly coupled solutions to these protocols, and I assume many people have a host running HA with a few USB cables coming out, each with a ZigBee, Z-Wave, BLE, 433MHz etc. stick on the end and sitting in a corner like a spider or an octopus (8 radios is a bit much though ;). For ZigBee or Z-Wave it is not as tragic if the position of the radio is not in a perfect position, as routers and mesh networking make this less important.

What is your thingking about this?

Currently I am rethinking what to do about this, as HA supervised going unsupported probably means I will go virtualized. I am not sure I really will want to virtualize several USB sticks, if a detached solution similar to WiFi access points makes more sense (put a raspberry pi with deconz or z-wave2mqtt in a convenient position high on a wall, where the radio has a good reach).

Is your HA more “radioless” or “octopus”?

In my case, my HA server is centralized.

I’ve a NUC like computer: it’s a custom built i7 computer with 32Go of RAM, an M2 NVMe SSD. The whole is put in a 3D printed case. On this computer I run Proxmox with multiple VMs:

  • My first VM is the main one: OPNsense. It act as my router and firewall on my network. This VM is directly connected to the internet using some IPtables in the hypervisor. On this VM I also added 3 hardware NICs on a bridged internal network to be able to connect at the back of the computer all the LAN devices of my house
  • Second VM is also very important: openwrt. I have two 3x3MIMO wifi atheros chipsets on the computer that I PCI-Passthrouht to the VM. So this VM is basically my wifi access point in the house
  • One OpenMediaVault VM with 3 HDD to act as a NAS
  • Then multiple VM/LXC container for HA, and all the other stuff I want to run on

So I’ve got a Zigbee2MQTT stick connected, multiple antenna on the case (for the Wifi) and multiple ethernet cable (one for the WAN and multiple for the LAN) at the back of the computer.

So basically I have one “box” to run everything. My house is quite small and the wifi coverage is very good everywhere. That’s why I’ve gone to this path using only one powerfull computer.



My NUC sits on the desk and has a zwave and a zigbee stick connected directly to it. the only “octopus” cables connected are the power and ethernet cables.

In my situation I see no good reason to put the USB sticks on the end of a USB extension cable mounted on the wall somewhere remote to the HA machine.

Mmmm…Neither as well. HA is running in a VM, on a server, in a rack, tucked away in a closet. Wifi is handled by dedicated access points and Z-Wave via vera (with ethernet and power cable going in).

A NUC, with a single ZWave USB dongle, Ethernet, and Power cord. In my network closet. I have a Unifi AP mounted on the ceiling in the living room to handle wifi.

Home-assistant runs in a docker container on a server. All communication with Things happens via ethernet.
I try to standardise everything to MQTT (wifi or cabled) or MySensors for low-power/specialty stuff (I use the ethernet gateway.)