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Browsing posts in: Home Automation

Measuring Air Quality with Home Assistant

Good air quality is one of those things you take for granted until you don’t have it. Many places have degrading air quality due to pollution or natural disasters and Australia is no exception. Even here on the farm in the middle of nowhere we are impacted. A few years ago, bush fires were so bad that the smoke from hundreds of kilometres away came our way and ended up affecting us so badly we had to drive to the coast for a few nights. On top of that my other half is asthmatic and is affected even worse. For that reason I wanted to have an early warning system for the farm, so we would know the air quality was deteriorating before it got critical.

I got hold of an air quality sensor that monitors the level of particles smaller than 2.5 nanometers, CO2 levels, formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, temperature and humidity. Below is the journey, which didn’t quite go to plan. Enjoy.

A smart lock that doesn’t need internet nor an app

Every once in a while a new product in the world of smart devices comes along that is just a little bit different. For me it has been the Shelly Wifi module, and the Unifi OS launched with the Dream Machine Pro. These aren’t necessarily things that will change the world, but devices that goes a bit against the grain to create either a better experience or fill in a niche gap somewhere. They are creative approaches to existing issues and solutions.

Recently I was sent two smart locks from Brad at sticklabs.io, a tiny company in rural America. It was a year long process from first contact with Brad until I installed the locks on the farm, but it was worth it. These locks don’t require an internet connection, nor a smartphone app, yet are still considered “smart”. It is an approach to cater for scenarios that are remote and provide access to people that you might never meet in person, yet still need access.

I liked the idea so much I filmed the entire install and setup process, which you can see below. I am very keen to hear your thoughts on how you could use it (or not).

Bluetooth in Home Assistant – It’s easy!!

Although I have added dozens of sensors to my farm measuring temperatures, water levels, light, weather and much more, I have done it all with Wi-Fi, Zigbee and cabling. Until now. I have been wondering about Bluetooth connections for a while, mainly because I was sent some SwitchBot devices by Oz Smart Things. I couldn’t get my head around how it would work with Home Assistant and the Raspberry Pi 4 I use. I thought I would have to somehow install more hardware, until I realised that the RP4 comes with Bluetooth out of the box, and Home Assistant just knows about it. I realised this when the integration showed up automatically a couple of months back.

Because I couldn’t get my head around it, I thought I would document how to do it all, from installing a Bluetooth extension cable for better coverage to using the SwitchBot temperature sensor. It is all in the video below. It is super easy. Enjoy.

Monitoring Water Tank Levels With Home Assistant

I have been getting into Home Assistant for automating and optimising the infrastructure on my farm for about a year now. One of that main reasons to initially investigate how to do this, was to monitor my water tanks. I have no town water connected, so I rely on rain water tanks and a bore/well for backup. Living in country Australia, it is east to suddenly use way more water than you think due to washing, pool filling, garden watering, leaks and much more.

The tanks are dispersed on the property, so checking them manually requires lots of walking, climbing, lifting and finagling. Having sensors showing levels, remote on/off for pumps and logic to automate it would save time, money and water. It took quite a while to figure out which solution to implement, but I ended up with pressure sensors/conducers to get a water pressure reading, then convert that to litres using mathematics. It was quite a journey, and the hardest to figure out was the house tank, as it is an in-ground tank. Measuring pressure at the bottom of it is tricky.

In any case, I documented the whole journey in the video below. Hope you find it helpful and leave a comment if you have a comment or question. 😊

Aqara Door Sensor, Govee LED Strip and Home Assistant Automation

I am getting into home automation big time. I am loving the learning process, the tangible result and nerding with all sorts of processes. Most of it involves networking components, programming, new gadgets and an improvement of my every day life. All things I value very much.

In general I am looking for one or more of two principles when I install IoT devices or home automation

  • Save me energy, time or money. There should be a measurable saving somehow that justifies the often many hours of work.
  • Add a function or feature I am missing and would use regularly.

As tempting as it is sometimes to install something “just for fun”, it is most likely a waste of time. This time I needed lights in my server cupboard (which is just a cupboard that I happen to put the server cabinet in) and I figured I could automate it with Home Assistant and automation. I used a Govee Light Strip, an Aqara door sensor and community integrations in Home Assistant to get it all happening. Check out the video below.