Hanifin smart home
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Smart home articles
I write instructional articles on brianhanifin.com. Topics primarily revolve around Home Assistant and ESPHome code and devices, but I also I have written about my HomeLab server setup.
An occasionally updated summary of our smart home
I started using Home Assistant in the spring of 2018 when we outgrew the limited automations on Apple's HomeKit platform. Our Home Assistant initially included many HomeKit smart plugs our collection of smart lights, switches, plugs, cameras, and sensors. Since we have added many devices that use protocols like Zigbee and Z-Wave and even several custom built electronic modules.
Home Assistant now manages our smart home devices with lots of intelligence handled by automations. It is important that our devices can be controlled by standard wall switches, but we also use Google Nest speakers to control our devices with our voice. Not only can we talk to Google, but she can let us know when a laundry cycle, 3D Print, or laser cutting job is complete.
We use a variety of physical switches from hard-wired to battery powered.
In-wall dimmers and switches
These can be used to control dumb lights. However, some devices allow you pass constant power so you can control smart bulbs with Home Assistant. For example a switch in my Dining Room leaves power to my Hue bulbs so I can turn the lights on with my voice or the physical wall switch.
Bedside toggle switches
A battery powered double switch to my wife's bedside table. Single clicks toggle the lights on either side of our bed. While a double click toggles the bedroom fan, or the sound machine.
Google nest speakers and displays
We can also interact with our devices with Google Nest speakers in all of the major rooms of the house.
Our Google Nest also make announcements when something needs our immediate attention. For example: when it is time to leave for school, or its time to start cooking dinner because mom's on her way home from work.
Tablet reference user interface
We have a 7-inch Amazon tablet in the Kitchen which displays useful information such as our family calendar and which child's turn is it do the dishes this week.
Mobile user interface
I exclusively Interact with Home Assistant with my phone (or computer when coding). If no one else needs to bother with it, I have done a good job!
Smart home devices
Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
In-wall dimmer switches and in-wall (or handheld) wireless remotes. Get the Lutron caseta pro bridge so you can us your pico remotes with Home Assistant to control any device in your house! The standard bridge is less expensive but you cannot watch for pico remote button press events.
- Add a battery powered pico remote next to a room which doesn't have a wall switch! Control a smart bulb by any manufacturer! My Living Room was lacking a switch, but I cut a little hole in drywall and now it does!
- Replace a dumb wired light switch or dimmer with a caseta dimmer so Home Assistant can automatically turn the lights on at night when a motion sensor detects you have entered the room!
- Use Home Assistant to brighten the lights gradually to help you wake up in the morning.
Inovelli red series switches and dimmers
Inovelli z-wave devices are high quality and they really care about our niche community. The red series switches handle double, triple, quadruple, and event quintuple click events. These even have a led light strip on the right side which we use different color and animations to indicate the state of things around the house.
- Multi-click actions! 2x click to turn on/off the bright floor lamp, 3x click to turn on/off the floor fan, 4x click to activate your "goodnight" scene, 5x click to activate guest mode on your way to answer the door!
See my automation: automations/buttons/zwjs_button_click.yaml
- House status indicator Use the LED strip to indicate when the garage is open, or the alarm is disarmed.
See my article: "Inovelli red series status LED update"
Philips hue bulbs
Device recommendations: starter Kit (3 color bulbs, battery dimmer, & hub)
The Hue ecosystem is easy to get setup with Home Assistant. We primarily use their tunable white bulbs for plug in floor and table lamps, but we do have 9 colored bulbs in our dining room chandelier for holiday fun.
- Use these bulbs to make your plug in lamps controllable by Home Assistant.
- Create a realistic sunrise to wakeup in the morning using the tunable white light.
Smoke + carbon monoxide detectors
Device recommendation: first alert z-wave 2-in-1 smoke detector & carbon monoxide alarm
Thanks to Carlo's article "PSA: CHECK OUT YOUR SMOKE DETECTORS (ONCE EVERY 10 YEARS)" I realized that I had lived in my house for almost 11 years, and we were due for new smoke detectors. So I replaced them with new First Alert zcombo z-wave smoke detectors.
- Safety alert! Have Home Assistant alert you which detector sensed the smoke so you can decide whether to try to put it out, or get to safety!
Xiaomi aqara zigbee smart home devices
Device recommendations: wireless buttons, motion & luminance sensors, temperature & humidity sensors, door & window sensors, leak sensors, vibration sensors Hub recomendations: Phoscon conbee II USB gateway, Aqara homekit hub, Aqara starter kit: hub, plug, button, motion, door/window
This chinese company makes a lot of very useful and inexpensive wireless smart home products. At first I used their Zigbee smart hub to get these devices to talk to Home Assistant. However I now use a USB stick connected to my server to communicate with all of my Zigbee devices.
- Door and window sensors: Stick door and window sensors on doors and windows around your house and have Home Assistant remind you to close the doors and windows when it starts to get warm outside.
- Motion lights: stick a motion sensor in your
2a. Kitchen to turn on an LED strip under your cabinets to give yourself a nightlight when getting water in the middle of the night.
2b. Bedroom to light a dim path to the bathroom.
- Flood damage alert! Place leak sensors under your all sinks, dishwasher, clothes washer, refrigerator, and water heater. Setup an alert to notify you where the leak is. This will give you valuable time to stop major flood damage!
- Medicine logger: stick a wireless button inside the medicine cabinet to log when you gave seizure medicine to your dog.
- Automatic bathroom exhaust: use a temperature & humidity sensor to automatically turn on your exhaust fan and turn it back off when the humidity drops again.
DIY smart home devices
I have flashed the below devices with ESPHome firmware which I have full control over! You can see my code at my esphome-config GitHub repository.
Shelly 1 boards
These devices are great for shoving in a box behind a light switch to add smarts.
- Hue bulb functional light switch: my dining room has a 9 bulb chandelier, this provides constant power, while allowing the switch to remain functional.
- Smart bathroom exhaust fan
2a. turns the fan off after 10 minutes when manually turned on (note: a battery powered motion sensor resets the countdown).
2b. turns the fan on then back off when the humidity is up due to a shower (note: a battery powered humidity sensor in the bathroom is compared to one in a neighboring room).
- Garage door controller: I plan to replace the cloud based chamberlain MyQ controller soon using the hook up's video for reference .
SonOff S31 plugs
The SonOff S31 is a reliable wi-fi controlled smart switch which can be flashed with Tasmota or ESPHome if you wish. The original S31 has power monitoring built in, while the new S31 lite omits that for a discount.
S31 power monitoring project ideas
Note: the relay can be left always on to put these in a monitor only mode.
- Monitor your washing machine so Home Assistant can notify you when your wash is ready to be hung up or moved to the dryer! No more stinky clothes!
- Monitor your dishwasher or clothes dryer.
- Monitor your 3D Printer or Laser Cutter to let you know when it is time to check out that thing you just created!
S31 lite project ideas
- Plug one of these into every floor and table fan you own and just ask your Google or Alexa to "turn on the bedroom fan!".
- Plug one into a sound machine to help you sleep at night. Have Home Assistant automatically start this when your phone starts charging for the night.
I use Life360 for presence tracking on my son's, wife's, and my phone. This has made me comfortable enough to do things like having Home Assistant close the garage door if one of us leaves the home zone. This covers us for those few times we may forget to close the door before driving away! :)
Ubiquiti UniFi integration
For extended family visitors I use the Home Assistant Ubiquiti UniFi integration to track when their phones are connected to my wireless access points.
Guest mode helper
Finally, I have a "Guest Mode" input_boolean setup as both a trigger and a condition on many of my lighting and front door locking automations.
Wi-fi: Ubiquiti Unifi
Eventually you outgrow even the fanciest home wi-fi setup. There were just too many devices for my Netgear orbi mesh networking system to handle, so I had to upgrade to a business grade solution.
- Rock solid wi-fi all throughout the downstairs.
- Household members don't complain about the wi-fi anymore!
- Long ethernet cable runs make all access points equally fast!
- Requires a long ethernet cable run to each access point. (But also a "pro"... see the last point above.)
Recommendation: Phoscon conbee II USB gateway
Home Assistant's ZHA integration directly runs all of my zigbee devices. This includes all of my philips hue bulbs and all of my Xiaomi Aqara sensors!
Recommendation: Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 Plus
As of February 2021 Home Assistant's Z-Wave JS integration directly runs all of my z-wave devices. To be precise I am running Zwavejs2Mqtt) with MQTT disabled so I can make use of the z-wave device management UI built in. This includes several in-wall switches and dimmers, smoke detectors, and a bulb.
Our Home Assistant install has approximately 1280 total entities, including 607 sensors.
24 Custom integrations
Anniversary Countdown Sensor for Home Assistant Authors: @pinkywafer.
Component to show potential breaking_changes in the current published version based on your loaded components Authors: @ludeeus.
Run the CLI config_check from a service call. Authors: @ludeeus.
Frigate integration for Home Assistant Authors: @blakeblackshear.
HACS gives you a powerful UI to handle downloads of all your custom needs. Authors: @ludeeus.
Lovelace notification / alert component for Home Assistant Authors: @rr326.
Home Assistant Custom Component for Wyze Vacuum Authors: romedtino.
Home Assistant custom integration to keep track of missing entities and services in your config files Authors: @dummylabs.
Home Assistant Integration for Wyze devices. Authors: @JoshuaMulliken.
29 lovelace plugins
Custom calendar card for Home Assistant with Lovelace
Show a notification count badge.
Flipdown Timer Card for Home Assistant Lovelace
A Lovelace card for Frigate in Home Assistant
A custom Lovelace card for displaying a combination of persistent notifications, calendar events, and entities in the style of a feed.
A custom Lovelace text input row for use in entities cards
Minimalistic graph card for Home Assistant Lovelace UI
Show multiple entity states and attributes on entity rows in Home Assistant's Lovelace UI
Mushroom Cards - Build a beautiful dashboard easily
An intuitive way to represent the power and energy that your home is consuming or producing. (A custom card for the Lovelace UI of Home Assistant.)
HA Lovelace card for control of scheduler entities
A different take on the thermostat card for Home Assistant
A custom component for displaying camera feeds in the style of a surveillance system.
Card that allows you to swipe throught multiple cards for Home Assistant Lovelace
A progress bar display for Home Assistant timers
Weather Card with animated icons for Home Assistant Lovelace
ESPHome add-on for intelligently managing all your ESP8266/ESP32 devices
File editor v5.3.3
Simple browser-based file editor for Home Assistant
HA Scheduler v0.17
Home Assistant scheduler
Home Assistant Google Drive Backup v0.107.2
Automatically manage backups between Home Assistant and Google Drive
Manage your Docker environment with ease
RTSPtoWeb - WebRTC v1.2.2
RTSP Stream to WebBrowser over WebRTC and other protocols based on Pion
Samba share v9.6.1
Expose Home Assistant folders with SMB/CIFS
SDR to Home Assistant v0.1.13b
SDR/RTL Sensors to Home Assistant via MQTT with Autodiscovery
The following are just some of the people that have inspired my smart home.
I aspire to Carlo's level of home connectedness. I have taken baby steps to giving my home a voice, but my speech routines are not being utilized quite as elegantly as at Carlo's house!
I wish I could be more like this guy. He is just so darn positive and happy all of the time. He taught me how to "Tasmota". I like to have one of his videos or streams playing in the background while I am coding.
I just learned of Frenck recently, but he is a long time member of the community. I just refactored my code to be similar to his config (as discussed in this video).
All of my configuration files are tested against the most stable version of home-assistant using Github Actions.