I’ve got some basic questions about Home Assistant (HA).
Is this open source software generally recommended by makers of smart home products like smart thermostats? Or is this a clever way to use the devices, the networks connecting them, and computer programming/coding to enhance the customizability and control? Would the device makers generally recommend using the interface they build?
The concept of some computer code, voluntarily made and shared, to help optimise everyone’s smart home systems like heating: I think it’s just another example of the reason for this online community existing. It’s collective knowledge sharing to provide climate solutions in action, and the best part is, it doesn’t require the motivation to be a climate activist. Having efficient heating systems saves that person money. It’s the kind of win/win that is very valuable….
Best answer by knight
Is this open source software generally recommended by makers of smart home products like smart thermostats?
HA is certainly recommended by a lot of people in the maker, IoT and home automation world. I wouldn’t necessarily say that vendors particularly recommend it though - they seem to continue to prefer to create their own (often half-baked) cloud software, presumably to try and lock people into their products.
So it is more for people who want to avoid that lock-in but want to get a lot of flexibility and creativity without it costing the earth.
Or is this a clever way to use the devices, the networks connecting them, and computer programming/coding to enhance the customizability and control?
More this I would say. HA doesn’t require you to be a coder though, it is aimed at people with the skills to be able to do DIY but maybe not write HAL. HA also integrates to Node-RED which might be the next stepping stone for people who want to create some automated logic but without necessarily the skills to write complex web apps. Of course, HA also lets you write code as well if you want to.
Personally, I’ve always found that I quickly fell off a cliff when it comes to using tools like HA and I get annoyed that it won’t let me do something I consider obvious but others may not. Which is why I started using Node-RED and building my own home automation system using it, Node-RED users are often made up from that strange band of brothers.
Would the device makers generally recommend using the interface they build?
As mentioned manufacturers will mostly prefer their own interfaces in order to try and lock you in. Or if not their own, something like Tuya which is a commercial cloud offering that a lot of the Chinese manufacturers use. The result is similar and Tuya have, for example recently started making changes to their device firmware to try and prevent other makers from replacing it with custom firmware such as Tasmota and ESPhome.
Those of us in the know do everything we can to avoid being locked into commercial cloud tools because we know that they typically end up in an expensive dead-end. With hardware being bricked and having to be thrown away while it is still perfectly usable. Typically, with open source, this doesn’t happen and even if someone abandons some open source application there are usually others who will pick it up and carry on.
help optimise everyone’s smart home systems like heating
Lets be realistic here for a second though. Optimising a building heating system is very much non-trivial. Most home automation is still at the stage of controlling lighting and sending warnings.
Open Source home automation has a way to go before it can match the machine learning of something like the Nest or EVOHOME systems. Mainly because those open systems are not generally able (or willing) to collect and process the vast amounts of data required to make it useful. Things are changing but we aren’t there yet.
So best to focus on more achievable goals. For example adding some basic controls to a “dumb” system that you can’t afford to replace right now. And filling in some gaps in the systems that the vendors provide that they haven’t thought about or can’t be bothered to implement. Such as being able to switch the schedules for a whole house based on the time of year.
be willing to introduce Home Assistant in the form of a basic topic guide
Unfortunately, as I say, I don’t use HA so I couldn’t speak to that. However, I’ve already agreed to put together an article on home automation in general. So at least that should be a start.
You might want to push this forum a bit more with your customers in order to get in more people with experiences in home automation in general and HA specifically.