When you've just completed setting up Home Assistant, you're met with something rather akin to an empty canvas—a fresh start with endless possibilities, but undeniably sparse. It's not that the folks behind Home Assistant want to serve you an austere experience, rather, they're averting the risk of turning their highly configurable software into cumbersome bloatware. Imagine having hundreds of add-ons and integrations pre-installed, most of which you'd probably never use; it would clog up the system before you'd even started.
So, why the blank slate? Home Assistant is purposefully lean at the outset. It's a platform designed for customisation, allowing you to build the sort of smart home automation that fits like a bespoke suit. Yet, its true prowess as an automation hub only truly unfurls when you start to integrate add-ons and plugins. You'll find your software metamorphosing from an empty house to a teeming metropolis of automation delights, each tailored to your unique requirements.
The smorgasbord of options might feel overwhelming at first. Worry not. With a collective experience spanning over a decade and a half in smart home deployments, we've curated a list you'll want to peruse. Below are our top 5 recommended add-ons and Home Assistant integrations that will transform your automation setup into a robust, fine-tuned, smart home automation system. Keep reading to unlock the full potential of your smart abode.
#6 - Telegram Bot
The easiest way to achieve cross platform notifications and alerts from, and control of, your Home Assistant setup is with the Telegram Bot.
The value of reliable, real-time notifications is immeasurable, keeping you informed of the gamut of smart home activities from maintenance alerts to security breaches. Telegram, known for its cross-platform adaptability—yes, it runs seamlessly on Chromebook, Linux, Windows, and smart phone and tablet devices—offers not just real-time alerts but also keeps a tidy history for your review. Be it low-battery warnings, leak alerts, or security notifications like doors left unlocked, Telegram has your back. And it delivers these updates with the instantaneous zeal you’d expect of a dutiful watchdog.
But the integration of a Telegram Bot with Home Assistant does not have to be just a glorified messenger. When securely connected to the internet, this bot moonlights as your very own home automation remote control. Far from being just a passive relay of information, the Telegram Bot respond to your text commands. Want to trigger specific services in Home Assistant or perhaps adjust your thermostat settings on-the-go? Simply shoot a command text to your Home Assistant setup via the Telegram Bot. And texts aren’t the only communication medium; the bot can respond with pictures, videos, and much more, offering an interactive interface for your smart home.
So, if you're looking for a notification service that transcends the boundaries of mere alerts, saddle up with Telegram Bot—your quintessential tool for a smarter, more responsive, home automation system.
#5 - Audio distribution via AirPlay to ChromeCast, Sonos, and UPnP
Ah, the symphony of a multi-room audio setup—one of the crown jewels of any smart home. Apple aficionados have long reveled in the sonic delights of AirPlay and its newer sibling, AirPlay 2, for fuss-free multi-room audio experiences. But let's face it: most of us dwell in a more complex ecosystem. A smart home is often a melting pot of technologies, a tapestry woven with threads of both AirPlay and non-AirPlay devices. You've got a Chromecast in the living room, a Sonos in the kitchen, and perhaps a UPnP device or two thrown in the mix. This is where our recommended plugins, AirCast and AirSonos, sing their harmonious tune.
First up, AirCast. A masterful conductor of compatibility, AirCast detects all the Chromecast players pirouetting on your home network and magically transforms them into virtual AirPlay devices. Yes, you heard right. With AirCast in play, your iPhone or iPad can now send that infectious playlist or poignant podcast directly to your Chromecast. No more technologic divide, just seamless auditory joy.
Flip the script, and we meet AirSonos. Do you find your Apple devices scoffing at the idea of broadcasting audio to your Sonos or UPnP players? AirSonos swings in like a knight in shining armor. This nimble add-on scans your network, identifying Sonos speakers and, lo and behold, converts them into virtual AirPlay devices. And here's a cherry on top: because Sonos is fluent in UPnP, there's a good chance this plugin will also extend the olive branch of compatibility to other UPnP players on your network (I'm looking at you, newer Samsung TVs).
In a nutshell, AirCast and AirSonos are your peace treaties in the standards war, bridging the gap between AirPlay and other popular audio standards like Chromecast and UPnP. So go ahead, turn the volume up on interoperability and let your smart home resound with the unifying melodies of these extraordinary add-ons.
#4 - Google Drive Backup
The unsung hero of the tech world: backups. If you've ever toiled in the digital trenches, you know that offsite backups are the guardians of your data kingdom. Yet, Home Assistant, as marvellous as it is, primarily focuses on local backup solutions. Enter the 'Home Assistant Google Drive Backup' plugin—a nifty lifesaver for when the unthinkable happens.
This hassle-free tool is perfect for both Home Assistant novices and wizards alike. Why? Because it's ridiculously easy to set up. With just a few clicks, you can set a backup schedule that suits you, letting the plugin handle the nitty-gritty details.
Don't have room to hoard old backups? No worries. This add-on plays janitor by sweeping away ancient files, both in Home Assistant and Google Drive. Especially handy if you're running on limited SSD or Micro SD card storage.
But here’s the pièce de résistance: should calamity strike, this plugin enables you to rise like a phoenix. You can restore from a fresh Home Assistant install or recover at lightning speed by plucking your backups directly from Google Drive's cozy cloud.
And, in the off chance something goes awry, the plugin will chime in with a timely alert. That’s right—‘Home Assistant Google Drive Backup’ has your back, quite literally.
#3 - SimpleScheduler scheduler
Having a network of interconnected devices is nifty, but to elevate your home from "smart" to "genius," you need automations. And let's be honest, some of the most practical automations are the straightforward, scheduled ones. You know, the 'lights on at sunset, off at midnight' kind. Simple, yet effective.
But if the default automation engine in Home Assistant seems overkill for such a simple schedule, fear not! SimpleScheduler does as the name suggests, hassle-free, scheduled-based automations, simply. This sleek add-on lets you create schedules for your lights, switches, and more, all with a clean, visual interface. Say goodbye to coding, and hello to a few quick taps or clicks—even on your mobile app!
SimpleScheduler offers three types of scheduling magic. Daily: Pick your ON/OFF times, then choose the weekdays you want them active. Weekly: Tailor ON/OFF times for each day, for that extra layer of customisation. Recurring: Set a time window and make actions repeat every 'n' minutes within it, selecting the weekdays it should happen.
With SimpleScheduler, mundane becomes marvellous, all without breaking a mental sweat. Welcome to the future of straightforward smart home automations.
#2 - Zigbee via zigbee2mqtt
Zigbee is the runner-up in our love affair with Home Assistant automation standards. While Z-Wave often gets the limelight for its reliable and high-quality devices, Zigbee shines in those niche corners where Z-Wave either costs a small fortune or is absent altogether. The catch? Zigbee’s quality can be a mixed bag, often lagging behind its Z-Wave competitors.
Enter zigbee2mqtt, our top pick for a Zigbee plugin. Now, before you start praising the ZHA (Zigbee Home Automation) integration, let’s talk about what it lacks: Zigbee Green Power. In an era increasingly conscious of energy use, omitting battery-free, wireless technology is a no-go. That's why we lean toward zigbee2mqtt.
Safety first, though! When it comes to mains-powered devices, we're not scrimping just to save a buck. The risks—think potential home fires and damage—are too high. For those situations, we stick to battery-powered Zigbee devices.
So, why zigbee2mqtt? Besides supporting Zigbee Green Power, it easily integrates with your Home Assistant setup via a Zigbee USB antenna. It's a veritable playground for those edge-case automations that you just can't accomplish with Z-Wave.
In short, with zigbee2mqtt, you can dip your toes into the expansive pool of Zigbee devices without diving headfirst into potential pitfalls. Smart, safe, and savvy—that's how we like it.
#1 - Z-Wave via Z-Wave JS
In the realm of Home Assistant automation standards, Z-Wave reigns supreme in our book. Why? Well, think stellar wireless security, exceptional battery-life performance, and an enviable wireless range—made even more impressive with the new Long Range sub-standard. But not all Z-Wave integrations are created equal.
Introducing Z-Wave JS, the cream of the crop when it comes to Z-Wave integration with Home Assistant. This isn't just good; this is professional-quality good. We're talking top-notch integration, robust support, snappy response times, and stellar networking performance. If you're rolling with Z-Wave, this is the plugin you want.
For optimal performance, we pair Z-Wave JS with the Atrim Stick antenna. The antenna unlocks Z-Wave Plus V2 and all the bells and whistles of the 800 series Z-Wave. It's like attaching a turbo booster to your smart home setup.
So, want to dial your Home Assistant's Z-Wave game up to eleven? Trust us, make the move to Z-Wave JS and don't look back. It's smart home automation at its absolute finest.