Why do something well if you can do it fast (and automatically)?

There are inevitably many twists and turns when diving into the rabbit hole that is home automation. But just like everything in this life, is it not the journey rather than the destination that makes it worthwhile?

I would consider myself a home automation hobbyist, but minimalist. I like to tinker, test and try things without too much impact to my family. I’m also somewhat limited with the amount of ‘infrastructure’ I can add in and around the house, so I’m limited to things that can be easily setup and removed.

Smart Home Infrastructure

My home automation infrastructure is a Raspberry Pi 4 running HomeAssistant as a docker container along with other supporting containers (such as MQTT, Z2M, EspHome). Most devices either connect to the WiFi, connect to the ESP32 board over bluetooth, or connect to the Zigbee coordinator connected to the Raspberry Pi.


I’ve always been a fan of LIFX lights since jumping on their original kickstarter. I know a lot of people seem to have issues with them dropping off networks but for me, they’re relatively rock solid. Given the cost, I’ve mainly stuck to bulbs in lamps rather than swapping all bulbs in the house.

Fan’s / Aircon

I’ve got a Dyson fan that’s Wifi connected and works pretty flawlessly with the HomeAssistant HACS add-in for it. 

For Aircon, I wanted to setup an IR blaster that can be HomeAssistant controlled. The main goals were to:
1. Be able to remotely turn on the air-conditioning prior to arriving home
2. Have the air-conditioning automatically turn on during the night when the house got too hot.

I first purchased a Broadlink RM4, but had huge amounts of issues getting it to sit stable on my WiFi network. So instead I went full DIY by purchasing an ESP32 board and cabling in an IR Transmitter. I then integrated that into HomeAssistant with ESPHome and sat it facing the air-conditioner. 
It worked fantastically for the first air-conditioner we had. The ESPHome climate component had the codes for the air-conditioner built in and it was super simple. We now have a different air-conditioner which doesn’t seem to have codes recorded anywhere. My next step on this is to setup an IR receiver and record the codes off the remote so that the ESP32 can play them back to the air-conditioner.
Not ideal, but it should work…

Smart Buttons

To control some of the lights, I setup an Aqara 4 button Zigbee device. In order to connect it to HomeAssistant, I purchased a Zzh CC2652R1 off Electrolama. Combined with Z2M (Zigbee2MQTT) and Mosquitto MQTT, it wasn’t too difficult to integrate into HomeAssistant.
I’ve had on and off problems with it falling off the Zigbee network (especially after power outages) but I think that’s more to do with the Raspberry Pi not being able to provide enough power for both the Zigbee stick and the External SSD. Since rebuilding my setup, I haven’t configured it again yet but will need to test it when I do.

Temperature Sensors

I have a number of Aqara bluetooth temperature sensors which connect back to the ESP32. These are mainly handy for the bedroom, but I also have one in the fridge (not yet connected to HomeAssistant). They’re primarily for a part of the air-conditioner automation and for the fridge one, to know if the fridge has lost power and gotten too warm while we’re not home.

Open/Close Door Sensors

A simple Aqara blutetooth open/close door sensor is on one of the bedroom doors and similarly connects back to the ESP32. This in combo with the air-conditioner automation ensures that the air-conditioner doesn’t start and keep running while the doors to the bedrooms are closed.

Smart plugs

I have a few smart plugs which I don’t typically use except for over Christmas when they control all of the Christmas lights. I have a single Belkin Wemo smart plug I bought a long time ago for cheap. Since then I’ve purchased two ATHOM smart plugs. They’re quite cheap and run ESPHome so are incredibly simple to connect in to HomeAssistant.