Where do I start?

Hi all,

I have recently installed and fired up Home Assistant. I have managed to get my install to recognise most of my devices and simple automations are working just fine.

I keep seeing different recommendations for things like morning briefing routine. Or various integrations that I would like to use. However when I come to look at how to install or get going. A lot of it doesn’t make sense to me. I have no idea how to configure Yaml files.

I have looked for resources for a complete newbie on these subject, but so far I have been found wanting. I am sure I’m not alone here and wanted to hear recommendations for where to start in order to get a good grasp of the HA system, resources etc.

Thanks, appreciate all of your advice.

This is a little old but a good starting point:

Edit: P.S. A lot will depend on what you want to do, how you want to do it, your investment of time to learn something new, and experimenting (willing to occasionally fail). There are a lot of folks here willing to help too - ask and we will try to help.

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My honest advice: Ask yourself why you installed HA and start with that use case. Don’t try to just “do things”. Learn the system by building those initial cases. There is too much to first learn everything and then start solving problems. I still learn things 5 years down the line.

You will need to determine your aptitude for learning something like YAML and it also depends on your background. It’s more powerful than the UI, but can be frustrating to get to grips with YAML and Jinja (programmers do better due to their background). Remember there are two parts to this: UI YAML is separate from all the backend stuff like automations, sensors, etc. You can use the UI to configure the UI while building sensors in YAML.

Learn core concepts such as understanding what an entity is. You might be inclined to think in terms of devices, but that will land you in trouble, even though the UI makes the use of them enticing. To me, I just think of a device as a grouping of related entities and then work with the entities.

Break problems down into small pieces. Don’t try to do too many things per automation.

Don’t try to get fancy at first. Use built-in capabilities before using custom components. These often add an additional layer of complexity, like using JavaScript (if it’s for the UI), which might just confuse you more initially.

Stay away from smart bulbs (we all make that mistake and their use cases are limited; do some searches on this topic). If you have a family, make sure you have their buy-in and manual overrides in case of the system misbehaving or failing.

Good luck. :slight_smile:

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Great reply, thank you. Makes sense.I guess I’m all after the shiny new stuff. I think you’re probably correct. There doesn’t seem to be much written intended for newbies I have found so far.

Much appreciated!

The learning curve in HA is steep, without a doubt! :slight_smile: But keep in mind, HA has grown into a system, that has more than 1000 different integrations… :open_mouth: Being difficult kind of comes with the job. :laughing:

That being said, I’d like to give you these more general advice, because others already said a lot of good things:

  • Give yourself time. This is your home, and making it smart is something that grows on you. It’s more like getting a new dog, than buying a new TV. Both parts have to learn to know each other.
  • Backup, backup, backup! Especially during the first few months, you likely will tinker a lot with your HA. After a few months you normally have a good running system, and haven’t realized, how big the influence in your home already is. When you tinker and something goes wrong, your family members won’t be amused. If you can’t react and restore the “comfort”, you’ll loose a lot in acceptance points. And trust me, the acceptance factor is something you won’t like to underestimate. :wink:
    So backup your config as often as you do “bigger” changes to your installation.
    If you’re running HA-OS or a supervised install, I highly recommend this Add-on:
    Add-on: Home Assistant Google Drive Backup
  • Set yourself little projects with specific goals. Eg. “I want my livingroom light to light up red, when the front door opens”.
    • Start by searching here in this forum. The search is good, and as topics tend to get quite long, use the “search only this topic” function (it’s included in the search in the top bar). Use your idea as search inputs. You’d be surprised, how often you’d find a similar question. :wink:
    • If the search doesn’t turn up anything good, open a topic. Read the guidelines here, and try not to be to overwhelming. A new topic with five questions will likely get not that much response, as if you’d have asked question by question.
    • Read up here in the forums. The most knowledge about HA is concentrated here. If nobody knows an answer here, there probably isn’t one. :slight_smile: And the best tips come around deeply buried in some 5000 post topic. Really, the information you can get here in two hours by reading in interesting topics should keep you busy for at least two days. :laughing:
  • Make a plan now, how you want to sort your files in HA. I explicitly recommend using packages. It will save you a lot of time later.
  • And last but not least, here is a good topic to read. It will be overwhelming at first, but it will get you a lot further.

You might ask, why I’m not giving you some links to tutorials and such, but I personally think, be reading and exploring different topics here, you will get in touch with a lot more helpful code examples, than be reading or watching a tutorial. :wink: But that’s just me! :slight_smile:

Have fun with your newly awakened home!

EDIT: added the missing link

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Hey Paddy, did you forget to include the topic?

Thanks for the advice. The Google Drive Backup you’ve recommended is the first successful install I have done. All of the others fail when to install via a link. Good advice on the family buy in. I’m already getting the eye rolls :wink:

Yep, me being dumb I forgot the link, sorry! :slight_smile:

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And practice restoring your system from those backups!!! The worst time to discover that your backups don’t work or you don’t know how to properly restore your system is when you need to restore it.

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Very good point, that is often overlooked! :+1: I try my backups every now and then (once every three or four month), fortunately untill now they were all ok, but good practice would be to check them more often. :slight_smile: I only needed a HA backup once, but I would’ve been seriously p******, if it hadn’t worked. December 26 isn’t the best moment, to have a really f*** up system :rofl: :rofl:

Totally agree, but would like to reiterate my earlier point, rephrased: I believe your HA system should be one of convenience and not be mission critical. You have to assume the system can die and then you must be able to perform at least basic functions, e.g. a light must still have some level of manual control. Obviously there are ways to make things even more resilient like having a failover system ready. #tradeoffs :slight_smile:

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There is a huge difference between something being your hobby and people actually using it too (a.k.a. in production).

You should start with reading a book about project management, because apparently you don’t know that you first should write down the goals you want to accomplish before installing Home Assistant.

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It would also be good to take notes as you go, I sometimes do this and find it helps in a years time when you want modify something but can’t remember how you set it up. My biggest issue is I don’t do this often enough and spend a lot of time trying to work out how to do something again just to be able to change it :rofl:

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