Home Assistant for Home Automation

In 2020, we completely renovated our home. During this process, we had the chance to decide which cables to run and to integrate a home automation right from the start. I'm not a big fan of proprietary servers and controls, so KNX and co. were out of the game.

At first, I wanted to run Domoticz, but this one lacked an integration for our alarm system. Finally, I switched to Home Assistant and I'm very happy with it and the vast amount of features it provides.

Network and Network Structure

One of the most important backbones in our home is the network infrastructure. We ran CAT7 cables in all rooms, used them for the light switches (see next section) and for the alarm system (see later section). Orange CAT7 cables are either network or light, blue CAT7 cables are alarm system cables.

The whole network is run by a TP-Link T-1600G switch which features 48-Ports and PoE+ on every port with a total power capacity of 384W. It's a L2+ switch, so it provides VLAN and some advanced switching stuff. For Internet access, an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter-X powered by OpenWrt is used. All other switches and the WiFi AP are also VLAN capable: That's important, because we defined three VLANs in our home:

  • VLAN “Management”: for configuring devices; does not have Internet access
  • VLAN “Private”: for all computers and other private, “trusted” devices
  • VLAN “Technik”: for all switches, alarm system etc. with “partially” trusted interfaces

The access point (a TP-Link Archer C7) is also powered by OpenWrt and provides two WiFi networks, one bridge to “Private” and one bridge to “Technik”. This way, also the wireless appliances can be added to an “untrusted” network section.

The OpenWrt firewall on the EdgeRouter-X allows or denies access and routes between the different subnets and the Internet.

Switching Lights

Regarding the light switches, I wanted a rather simple solution that can be used stand-alone without any dependency on a central server or infrastructure. After quite a lot of research, I went for Ethernet relay modules: Denkovi smartDEN IP-Maxi. All light switches are connected to the digital inputs and are configured as push buttons for the corresponding relays. They are integrated into Home Assistant and are therefore easily controllable via software. Although a semi-official solutions for Home Assistant exists, I wrote an MQTT-based solution that should be less demanding on the relay modules since it uses SNMP instead of HTTP requests: denkovi2mqtt.

Door Bell

For the door bells, I went for a HikVision IP-based system that is entirely PoE-powered. The outdoor module contains the base station, the indoor door stations connect to this outdoor station. The only downside is that the modules do not support DHCP, all configuration has to be done statically. This one is not yet integrated into Home Assistant.

Heating control

The newly installed floor heating can be controlled via wall thermostats as well as over IP: The control modules are Möhlenhoff Alpha 2 IP systems that provide an XML interface. Using my custom ezr2mqtt server, the parameters can be polled and set from within Home Assistant.

As we have a few older radiators, I installed MAX! wireless thermostats, wireless wall thermostats and I'm using a MAX!Cube with a-culfw with Homegear as central coordinator. Since I got them for cheap, I have several Cubes with additional radio modules (for 868MHz and 433MHz) installed.

Alarm System

As an alarm system, we went for a bus-based Jablotron system. There is a native USB integration for Home Assistant (available in HACS) that works very well. This allows the use of the motion detectors for switching on the lights in the corresponding room using an automation rule in Home Assistant.

433 MHz devices

For the integration of 433MHz devices (e.g. our outdoor wireless thermometer), I built an RFLink gateway - most of the hardware devices were available anyway and the gateway is very inexpensive to build.

Additionally, I'm experimenting with RFLink on ESP8266 and I can receive some 433MHz devices, most notably one Intertechno-based wall switch, via Homegear/CUBe.

Shutters

We have shutters around the house, driven by Elero and Somfy remotes. For the Elero-based shutters, I did a lot of research and finally went for two Mediola v4 gateways. I got them used for a few euros, each gateway can control up to 15 Elero shutters. As integration, I wrote mediola2mqtt, which makes certain Mediola devices available via MQTT, including auto discovery for Home Assistant.

The Somfy shutters will be controlled by Homegear and one of my CUBes with a 433MHz module. For this, I integrated Somfy RTS into Homegear, currently only available in my github.

Further devices

Some further devices integrated into Home Assistant are our Neff oven (via Home Connect) or some Gosund wireless wall plugs, the entire SqueezeBox eco system and a few other devices.

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