Why Hestia and What is Home Assistant (HA)?

Hestia from Wikipedia is:

In the Ancient Greek religion, Hestia is the virgin goddess of the hearth, the right ordering of domesticity, the family, the home, and the state. (Wikipedia)

Hence a fitting name for the project around developing a smart home.

My smart home journey started with a few “smart” devices. Such as a connected IP camera to check on the dog, and a second generation Nest thermostat to start the heating when we were driving home. It really kicked off in 2015, when I joined everything up with a tool called Home Assistant (home-assistant.io)

In its simplest form, Home Assistant (HA) is an ecosystem, where you can put your smart devices together. This means you only need one website to control them all (little win!) but it also unlocks something very clever as your devices can now talk to each other (big win!!).

Via HA, it is possible to say, switch on your porch lights when your phone is close to your house, send a tweet when your 3d printer has finished its job, or even delay your dishwasher when electricity prices are high.

HA is not the only ecosystem available. But it is probably the most popular, completely free, open source and secure. I also closely relate to the founder’s vision for an automated home: https://www.home-assistant.io/blog/2016/01/19/perfect-home-automation/

The downside to HA is that it can be quite complicated to set up. What I (and my friends) have found is that it has become somewhat of a hobby. To tinker around to create the coolest automations, dashboards and even homemade devices.

-- Mike

Mike's HA Dash

The screenshot here shows my main dashboard as of Aug 2021. The great thing about HA is that this can be customised in almost any way you can dream of. Below I will try to list out everything I am using and why.

List Of Components in Mike's HA

Over time I will try to add pages on how to setup and configure all of these components and any new ones I add. For now if there are any queries on any of these parts, drop me a message and I'll do a writeup - Mike

Main/Core components

  • HassOS

    • An operating system housing all parts of HA, running within a virtual machine on an old laptop (- because the battery provides a low cost UPS), a laptop was needed as the 3b raspberry Pi did not have enough grunt

  • HassOS Supervisor

    • Runs within the virtual machine to manage all the external components as well as HA itself

  • Home Assistant (Core)

    • The HA software itself

External Components, these sit in the left hand sidebar of the HA interface. They run alongside the HA instance and are installed in the supervisor tab:

  • NodeRED (nodered.org)

    • Automation and control via pictures! Actions and automations are assembled into flow diagrams, and there are lots of external integrations available to do all manner of “stuff”.

  • InfluxDB (influxdata.com)

    • Place to store all data from the smart home, and enables really clever data queries for Grafana and Node-RED to use.

  • Grafana (grafana.com)

    • Makes pretty graphs and exports of data.

  • ESPHome (esphome.io)

    • Interface to connect ESP devices (such as the ESP32 and ESP8266) into HA with very little configuration/coding.

  • MotionEye (github.com/ccrisan/motioneye)

    • Combines webcam and IP cameras and enables external network access to these cameras from HA.

  • Visual Studio Code (code.visualstudio.com)

    • For editing HA configuration from within the browser.

  • HACS (hacs.xyz)

    • For enabling “community” add ons. These are not (yet) approved by the HA developers.

  • Mosquitto MQTT (mosquitto.org)

    • For IP address reasons I actually run this on the laptop host directly. Mosquitto is an MQTT server tool. MQTT servers provide a central place for devices to subscribe and ping data to.

Integrations, these are the devices and components that I have added into Home Assistant.

  • Drayton Wiser

    • Boiler control, thermostats, and radiator TRVs. I chose this system as it does not need a cloud connection to work.

  • Sofar Solar Inverter

  • Solcast

    • (via Node-Red) Solar forecasting and feedback to the Solcast API

  • “Ecomanager” Plug sockets and Current Clamps

    • Based on the excellent work of Jack Kelly (Github), I have an array of smart plug sockets with energy monitoring for very (very) cheap as well as a current clamp or two.

  • Octoprint

    • For monitoring of the 3D printer as well as webcam access.

  • Mobile App for Android

    • Links to both of our Pixel 3a phones to track location and battery percentages.

  • OVMS

    • (Via Node-Red), all parameters of data are pulled in from the Dexters-Web OVMSv2 server including vehicle location and states.

  • OpenEVSE

    • (via RESTful and Node-Red ) Control and state information for the EV charger

  • MiThermometer Temperature and Humidity Sensors

(via ESPHome BLE) Cheap low energy BLE sensors with a custom firmware from pvvx (Github) provide room Temperature and Humidity monitoring and reporting.