Home Assistant Headaches

So, this weekend I took on the project to deploy my ZeroW as a Home Assistant OS image for my secondary household that has a much smaller setup compared to my HE household, but I am not sure what it was: either the specs of the ZeroW just not being up to snuff or what, but I ran into nothing but issues on HA, especially when compared to the OOB experience of HE.

I wanted to start simple and just automate the bedroom which has a fan with 4 Yeelight CT bulbs and an Echo Flex with a motion sensor attached, something that was already being hosted on the primary home’s NR instance, which is cool and all, but it had its problems, namely latency, and I wanted to make it local to the household. I started with HA and right off the hop, it found the Yeelight bulbs as HomeKit devices which was odd since I do not own an iPhone and they have never been linked to HK nor do I have HK QR or code to enable it.

But easy enough, I ignored those devices/integration and added them via the HA Yeelight integration, which I was then met with only a single device per integration which was annoying but doable. Then I found what seemed to be 5 separate places that the device is named, and I could not find any place to change/update the IP for the device as at the time they did not have DHCP reservations which led to some devices being unresponsive obviously (this has since been remedied via DHCP reservations).

But after all of these hurdles, it was set up and working fine for manual control, so I proceeded to start some automations. I am familiar with NR so I wanted to go down that route first but IIRC people recommended against using the NR addon route and just do a normal install, which I was met with SSH somehow not being enabled by default for their OS image so you need to download an addon to enable it, but that addon did not work for me and just returned 505 Bad Gateway message whenever I tried using the terminal. How SSH is not enabled by default and how you need a third-party integration hidden behind an advanced setting is beyond me, but I digress.

So after all of this, I thought I would just go back to basics and do what I know, and what I know is Raspberry Pi OS which I could then just add HA and NR to as normal, or so I thought. NR installed fine, minus some npm and deprecated modules issues which were compounded with me trying DietPi first, which I honestly want to love, the devs are great, but I have never had a reliable setup especially compared to RPi OS. Then I went to install HA and short of doing their very involved method of installing their supervisor on the OS, you suddenly are missing out on a ton of features with just “Home Assistant Core” like addons and even the snapshot system which was less than ideal.

At this point my patience was growing thin and I explored other routes to what I wanted to do. NR luckily has the great Alexa-Remote2 based nodes (using the cakebaked variant), local yeelight integration nodes, as well as “local” echo integration nodes that emulate a hue bridge for virtual devices. I am using that last set of nodes to transfer the Echo Flex motion sensor data via a simple routine. So, at this point it is working as well as any of my other motion lighting automations using HE/NR but much much lower pricetag which is cool ($10 SBC, $40 MSRP Echo+Motion Sensor, x4 $15 MSRP bulbs).

Long story short, I am happy with where it is now, but no thanks to Home Assistant and I was wondering is this kind of story standard for Home Assistant or 1) am I just dumb :upside_down_face: or 2) did I just get unlucky?

P.S. Sorry for the essay, but with the launch nearing I wanted to get a better idea of the competition that is currently out there and boy does HA have a long long long way to go before it hits the mainstream if ever. That being said, I could not agree more with the sentiments of the Founder’s vision for a perfect smart home so I definitely see a future for HA since the foundations are good:

A pi zero platform is not ideal for this purpose. It’s low powered, and more importantly runs an arm6 core (think first generation raspberry pis) which can cause headaches when installing apps requiring arm 7 core instructions. This I know from first hand experience, even though the low cost is at first extremely compelling but later the extra effort to get it running quickly eats away the initial value proposition.

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I wish I could just give you a silent nod. Hand you a core. Fold my hands and walk away. With no words. I hate it when my days are what you described. So sorry you had to experience that. I’ve seen a mixed pie on this. (no pun intended) I’ve looked at Home Assistant. It can definitely be a rabbit hole.

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Yeah I didn’t think I was trying to do anything special. I guess if you just stay 100% in the HA ecosystem you would be fine, maybe?, and I cannot speak to its Zigbee or Z-Wave functionality as my secondary home only has WiFi devices. But if you really do need more powerful specs, I am not sure what the draw is then, especially compared to HE. A kitted out Pi4 is at least like $60 and then you have to buy zigbee and z-wave radios which is another $50, and with the MSRP of HE of $150 but regularly on sale for $130, I am not sure the headache is worth $20 or even $40 as a worst case.

That being said, Node-RED is running great on my ZeroW and if there are nodes for everything you need then great, and I see no need for HA which is good.

I think I am coming to the conclusion that a pure-DIY solution is not for me, at least not at a primary/production level. For testing it is fine and fun, but I do not trust their reliability for any other person besides me.

Now I’ve not had good luck with my pi 3b+ and home automation. DIY IS a tough thing.

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I wonder is it possible to do a pure NR setup or is it missing out too much on the management side to make that viable. You can communicate directly to Z-Wave and Zigbee radios with nodes correct?

It is. But… you’re losing a lot of functionality.

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Yes, and in some cases I did that in the past, but no so much now as I migrate stuff over to the Core. It’s a slow process, but exciting. Seeing how things interact and how feature rich some of these devices really are. It’s like Christmas every day. I’m figuring out that some things just weren’t given the time on other platforms.

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