In my opinion, the concept of Home Automation started when God said ‘Let there be light’ and the light spread in the whole world.

Just like we do in our smart home with AI-enabled home automation or play or listen anything by giving voice command ( instruction).

When talking about the modern era around 1950. Scientists were obsessed with this idea. Articles, science fiction stories, and science fairs were full of this concept.

For sure there was a robot also present as a home assistant, obey commands and follow instructions.

According to Wikipedia home automation started in the early 1900 when electricity distribution started.

It started in the form of home appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, etc.

The first general-purpose home automation was X10. Communicate over the distribution power lines network technology.

Later in 1978 X10 introduces a product that can control 16 channels including lamps.

The latter trend was to control devices remotely using telephone lines using number keypad of the phone can turn on or off the device as configured in the circuit.

Now our homes really converted into smart homes with evolving new gadgets equipped with IoT ( internet of things ) concept.

What is home automation

Nowadays our life is more complex and comfortable than before because of this need to accomplish lots of tasks together.

For those tasks get support from gadgets. To manage and make it simple there are lots of gadgets but on other hand manage those gadgets also a big deal.

home-assistant-user-interface-panel-1

Here home automation system comes in the picture.

The system takes control of all the gadgets, operate and monitor as per command instruction fed or configure already.

Also possible to control and monitor status using voice command over the cellphone, computer, or other interface devices connected from a home network.

It does not matter controlling from home itself or thousand miles away.

That is the reason to call it smart home and the devices connected with home automation system called smart devices.

Smart home automation platform software

Integrated console environment from where can integrate any home appliance via wi-fi, Bluetooth, or lan network.

home-assistant-user-interface-panel-2

Can be configured, monitor, and access from devices of own choice like a computer, cellphone, tablet, or voice command device like Amazon Alexa.

No matter where you are accessing inside the house or from the office. The home automation platform makes it possible to access from anywhere using the internet.

home automation software platform can be set on a home server on a computer or small computers like the raspberry pi.

There are several platform software are available here will explain about top two Home Assistant and OpenHAB.

Home Assistant smart home automation

One of the most popular home automation applications that convert a normal home into a really high-tech smart home with very little effort.

home-assistance-screen

The home assistant application is based on the hass.io operating system and the raspberry pi hardware platform.

home-assistant-user-interface-panel-4

Just click Raspberry Pi setup to know all about it. How to write home assistant image and run home assistant smart home automation application.

It can be installed on raspberry pi 2,3 and the latest 4 hardware versions. Otherwise can run any python supported platform.

The home assistant can run locally, partially, or on the cloud depends on the user’s choice.

The local installation provides the highest privacy. Even over the cloud never store device data of the user to support privacy.

home-assistant-user-interface-panel-3

Install home assistant on raspberry pi

Firstly go to the home assistant download page and download the image file for the selected hardware platform.

home-assistant-download-page

Here other than raspberry pi hardware supported image files are present in 32 bit and 64-bit option.

For raspberry pi class 2 32GB SD card recommended and 2GB or more than that ram is recommended.

Still no support for Raspberry Pi 4 Mode B 8 GB ram board.

Write the downloaded image on the SD card but before power on and run the setup need to configure a network.

Network Configuration for Home Assistant

The second and important step is to configure the network parameters for the application.

There are two methods to configure network settings.

1 Get a USB drive and format it with FAT 32 partition. Create a “network” folder and “my-network file”.

2 Else open SD card home assistant image and go to “hassos-boot” and create a “CONFIG/network/my-network” file.

Now write the following code into the file also change IP address and other parameters as per your network.

For Default

[connection]
id=my-network
uuid=f62bf7c2-e565-49ff-bbfc-a4cf791e6add
type=802-3-ethernet

[ipv4]
method=auto

[ipv6]
addr-gen-mode=stable-privacy
method=auto

For LAN

[connection]
id=my-network
uuid=d55162b4-6152-4310-9312-8f4c54d86afa
type=802-3-ethernet

[ipv4]
method=auto

[ipv6]
addr-gen-mode=stable-privacy
method=auto

For Wireless WPA/PSK

[connection]
id=my-network
uuid=72111c67-4a5d-4d5c-925e-f8ee26efb3c3
type=802-11-wireless

[802-11-wireless]
mode=infrastructure
ssid=MY_SSID
# Uncomment below if your SSID is not broadcasted
#hidden=true

[802-11-wireless-security]
auth-alg=open
key-mgmt=wpa-psk
psk=MY_WLAN_SECRET_KEY

[ipv4]
method=auto

[ipv6]
addr-gen-mode=stable-privacy
method=auto

For Static IP ( Replace IP and DNS )

[ipv4]
method=manual
address=192.168.1.111/24;192.168.1.1
dns=8.8.8.8;8.8.4.4;

Booting home assistant

After verifying all the connections insert an SD card in the pi port and connect the power supply then turn it on.

Wait for finish home assistant setup will take around 20 minutes depending on network speed and hardware.

Later open the browser on a computer connected with the same network then type “http://homeassistant.local:8123” and hit enter.

The very first step before start configuration is to make an administrator account.

home-assistant-create-administrator-account

Account-holders have all the right and highest authority to add, modify and delete for home automation projects.

Configure home assistant

Now assign the name for a home to access and control. Here detect the location of the building and assign basic parameter settings.

Like unit system of measurement of your choice.

name-location-time-zone-setting

After Home name, location, and rest of the basic parameters the next screen will show the devices, sensors, and services available on the network.

If something is not showing there can be added or configure manually.

services-device-integration

The next step will see the status of the devices, location, or weather report of your choice.

home-assistant-device-interface

Also from the left side option list can detect the devices and sensors to integrate from here.

Automation

The configuration is finished now need to automize the devices and sensors as per our requirements.

Such a way make smart home to function automatic most of the tasks.

Using the Home Assistant application makes it very easy and convenient for smart home automation.

Click on automation editor then type the event name as shown.

home-automation-editor

Then specify the event by measured value or by date and time to trigger that event.

home-automation-configure

Here is the example for more clarity. Need to turn on lights after sunset therefore the trigger event will be sunset.

smart-home-automation-triggers

In the action, the window has to specify the light or group of lights that want to turn on.

home-automation-action

Similarly can trace the location and move for home turn on ac and hot water for shower.

presense-location

Thus the home automation works with Home Assistant and transforms the home into a real smart home.

OpenHAB home automation

Open home automation hub (OpenHAB) is the Eclipse SmartHome project of the Eclipse foundation.

openhab-smart-home-automation-panel

Written in platform-independent java and officially launched in the year 2013 as an open-source project.

It can be configured as a standalone server at a home computer or cloud base.

Application is not limited to any specific operating system or hardware. Almost any operating system can host.

As already know it’s a java application there needs JVM (java virtual machine) to run the application.

Just need to install Java platform on any hardware or software platform like Linux, Windows, macOS, QNAP NAS, Docker, Armbian, Raspberry Pi, etc.

Synology DiskStation and Raspberry Pi are the most popular platforms.

Before further discussion about openhab need to clarify few terms to understand application and configuration.

Bindings

To connect any device physically from application hosting server.

Things

Symbolic or graphical representation of the device on the user interface page.

Items

Attached device information and parameters display for user.

Channels

Combine the item and thing so that the user by selecting the device can access the present status of a device and able to change if required.

Rules

The predefined set of instructions to automate device control to reduce user input requirements every time.

Also can define the security rules also for devices.

Sitemap

Simply graphical representation of home and the location of the devices inside the home.

Like inside the home can locate the fridge, chimney, microwave, food processor inside the kitchen.

OpenHAB Installation

There are two methods for setup on server.

  1. Manual Package for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  2. Self-configured Package or OpenHABian for Raspberry Pi Linux Debian or Ubuntu.

Manual Package Installation

Firstly need to download for selected os and run java8 (minimum) setup.

Few more setups may need to run like Linux samba share, Visual Studio Code.

Go to the OpenHAB download page as shown below then select the operating system of your choice and stable version.

openhab-home-automation-download

Then click on download and scroll the page for instructions to setup.

openhab-setup-instructions

Last instructions set for Apple MacOS shown in image.

openhab-setup-macos-instructions

OpenHABian on Raspberry Pi

Its small size, low power consumption, good efficiency, and less price make Raspberry Pi the first choice for home automation.

Those who are not familiar with Raspberry Pi and how to write download images on the SD card and run.

Also, explain how to connect and access via ssh or vnc remote access, etc.

Features and advantages

1 No need to learn or work on additional software setups.

2 Already Pre configured so that just copy on SD card and run.

3 For customization and setup need lan or wifi connection to access without a keyboard or monitor addition.

4 Can be extended whole 16 GB SD card with 16 MB split GPU memory.

5 Latest stable version with inbuilt up-gradation functionality.

6 images contained Zulu Embedded OpenJDK Java 8, 11, or AdoptOpenJDK itself.

Setup

Click on OpenHAB download for direct download from the page as shown below image.

openhabian-download

Follow the link Raspberry Pi setup to know how to write a downloaded image on the SD card using etcher and setup.

If using wi-fi connection instead of LAN port then first open openhabian.conf file from SD card on computer or laptop after writing an image.

Consider the network settings and procedures mentioned for a home assistant.

If need to change or configure other parameters possible to uncomment and set the parameter from here.

Remove comment sign and put the values according to own wi-fi network newifi_ssid="My WiFi SSID"  and  wifi_psk ="password123".

After complete and verify the network setup put the SD card into raspberry pi and turn on the power.

Wait for 15-20 mints until openhabian setup complete installation.

For access Raspberry Pi SSH console default username “openhabian” and password is “openhabian”.

openhabian-ssh-console

Using the following command can access the openhabian configuration tools options.

sudo openhabian-config
openhabian-configuration-tools

From here can be update application, install additional package, and more.

All language, time zone, delayed rules loading, a password can be changed with their respective default “username: password” values from the openHABian tools menu.

Initiate OpenHAB 2 Dashboard Setup

Open the browser and enter http://IP-address:8080 to open the interface for smart home automation.

smart-home-openhab2-package-selection

As beginner and using for own standard setup is the best option.

After waiting sometime the following screen will display.

openhab-smart-home-user-interface

Standard setup contains following options and user interface.

1 Home Builder

Classify the following and generate a sitemap for devices and ad-dons.

Localization: Define and configure or choose a local language for menus.

Home Name : Using this option can label the main home menu.

Floor & Rooms: From here can define the total floors inside the building and rooms on each floor.

Objects: Here devices or sensors are called objects mounted inside the room, washrooms, floors, building, or outside of building in the garden area.

Objects can be defined with the customer names and can make a group of devices.

Like a group of bedroom lights, fan, AC that can be turned on or off together with single command or touch.

Collecting all above the information generates a sitemap to transform the home into a smart home.

2 Paper UI

The new interface still in development face but can be useful for textual configuration.

paper-ui-interface

3 Basic UI

Suitable for portable devices like cellphones. Due to responsive design can adjust and run according to different screen sizes.

smart-home-openhab2-basic-ui

4 HABPanel

Using Home Builder device information can generate an interactive dashboard mainly targeted for wall mount tablets.

That can also design, customize and configure as per requirements.

habpanel-configuration

5 Classic UI

Very much alike Basic UI only different in looks.

smart-home-openhab2-classic-ui

Now in the coming topics will discuss about the ad-dons.

Add On Devices and Sensors

There is a very huge list of IoT devices in every category which supports both smart home automation platforms.

Almost every major manufacturing company in the home appliances have their own range of products.

It’s almost impossible here to describe each product but some popular products are as follows.

Voice command AI add on

Here is the list of available and compatible AI. The Amazon Alexa, Mycroft AI, and Google Assistant are well known.

All the above support on both Home Assistant and OpenHAB only needs to add skills accordingly.

Mycroft AI is free and open source AI platform.

For integration and binding with applications need to follow instructions as well as show the time of integration.

voice-add-on-integration

Health AddOn

The list included the latest covid-19 application also for monitoring. Else all products are well supported.

All are simple to add and configure.

health-add-on-bindings

Media Player Add On

Almost all media player is covered in the list. Here Kodi is a completely open-source and complete media center.

Supports to lot’s internet channels including YouTube and OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.

Also have command skill for Alexa, Mycroft AI, and Google Assistant.

media-player-add-on

Apart from that, there is a lot more addon for security, network, light, heater, and many more devices.

All of them can bind or integrate to make a smart homes through home automation.

Community support, Security and Remote Access

For both applications very good support on the official website and vast community support growing every day.

The home assistant supports around 3000 home automation devices. OpenHAB supporting more than 300 and growing very fast.

There are several tutorials, video, and community support makes it easy to handle.

From the security point of view, both applications provide an SSL certificate on the server.

home-assistant-mobile-app-install
Home Assistant Android app install for access from mobile

Remote access is password protected. When using the cloud never stores device information on the cloud.

openhab-mobile-app-install
OpenHAB Android app install for access from mobile

Both applications can create stand-alone private servers for home automation.

Both are good applications for creating the smart home and still improving.

Supports MQTT and IFTTT platforms.

This is the right place to start making home smart and take control in your hands.

What is the best home automation system ?

As of now on the parameter of easy to use and ad-dons the best option is Home Assistant.
It supports almost 3000 devices and sensors which is huge. Can be set up very quickly with little or no knowledge of Linux.
Other hands OpenHAB also good but the setup is not easy, sometimes confusing.
Features are good and device support is growing.
The community support for both is good.

What can i automate at home?

Presently almost everything can be automated.
Almost every home appliance company manufacturing products that support home automation applications and their protocols.
Home security, door lock, doorbell, security camera, HVAC, entertainment, lite, washing machine, refrigerator.
Almost every device available for home automation.

Why do we need home automation?

The following reasons are for adopt home automation.
1 Access and control appliances remotely.
2 Surveillance and control home even far from home.
3 Time saving because not always monitor everything manually.
4 Saving energy when the device not in use can program to turn off automatically.

How does automation work?

Home automation is a mixed combination of software, hardware, and many technologies.
Altogether work in a systematic way we get the result called home automation or smart home.
The main unit is server or master where the main application store which communicates, control and operates the devices connected to the server via Bluetooth, LAN or Wi-Fi.
The home automation application can control the devices with pre-configured instructions.
Also, monitor feedback and control devices as programmed.
Users can connect from server and monitor, control, or command remotely from cellphones, tablets, or other interface devices connected to servers via local networks or the internet.

What does a home assistant do?

It is an application design for home automation. This means with the help of a home assistant can monitor, control or automate the devices use electricity as a power source.
The application resides in the server and all the devices should be connected and configured with it.
This application helps to automate some processes. In other words, to operate devices manual action is not required every-time.
For example, when no one is inside the room then using the presence sensor feedback home assistant can turn off the TV and AC.

Is home assistant free?

Absolutely, it’s free and open source. Anyone can download and can use it.
Open source means software code is also available if anyone wishes to customize the code can do it himself.
Even there is a community to support and guide to resolve problems.

How do you start a home assistant?

For beginning get familiar a little with computer hardware, network, and software.
Even it is very easy to use but understanding the terminology should be familiar like with other applications use on cell phones.
Get familiar with Raspberry Pi, how to use it, burn images, ports, and interfaces like Wi-Fi, Alan, etc.

How much RAM does home assistant need?

2 GB or more than 2 GB Ram is sufficient to run home assistant efficiently.

Is OpenHAB free?

Similarly to the home assistant, it is free and open-source for everyone.

How do i start my Raspberry Pi OpenHAB?

If already familiar with Raspberry Pi then it will be easy otherwise first need to know about Raspberry Pi.
All the supporting links are provided in the article.
Once get familiar with it read above how to setup OpenHAB on Raspberry Pi otherwise can go to openhab.org.
There is each and everything about the OpenHAB software application.

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