Chances are, if you are overwhelmed with the choices, you want to ease the burden of configuring your smart home devices and just settle on something like Google Home or Apple HomeKit to do your home automations.
These are great starting points, and can give you a taste of the world of home automations, but they only scratch the surface.
The limitations of Google Home / Apple HomeKit
Re-iterating my first point: These are both fantastic smart home software for your average consumer, but the issue is that they only go so far. If you want a random music station to start playing on your smart speaker when you arrive home, that seems like a reasonable idea that should be possible with Google Home / Apple HomeKit. However, their software does not natively make this idea feasible, and I’d be hard pressed to consider someone a “power user” for wanting that level of automation.
Home Assistant is a community-driven, free alternative
Introducing Home Assistant, an open-source, community-driven home automation platform that has a wonderful interface, you install and run it yourself, and it supports nearly 2,000 integrations. Honestly, other companies cannot keep up with open-source projects like this with hundreds of developers eagerly expanding the functionality on a daily basis. In many cases, companies like Google and Samsung don’t want to, because they want to keep you trapped in their ecosystem.
Break out of the Google/Samsung/Apple ecosystem
It’s not doing you any favors. Consider this: a Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit, at the time of this article, would cost you $150, whereas an open-source Z-Wave alternative would cost only $80. People see the word Samsung and feel comfortable/confident, but from the reviews I am reading, it seems as though it’s quite an inferior, poorly baked product.
Z-Wave on the other hand, is just a protocol. And so there are numerous alarm systems using Z-Wave protocol that you can choose from, and that freedom of choice is like a breath of fresh air.
Why lock yourself down to Samsung products when you can, as a consumer, have more options are a better price.
Furthermore, when Samsung wants to deprecate their product or just terminate it, then you are left with these old pieces of plastic that were once meant to protect you. One by one, these large tech companies are killing off their developer programs and discontinuing support on their legacy products. Don’t get stuck in that “upgrade cycle”.
Customization cannot be matched
Home Assistant is what you make of it. Out of the box, it is barebones and clean. You can create something as simple as your lights turning on when you enter a room, or your lights turning off when you leave. To something more advanced, like an old project of mine, where you create your own alarm system for scratch which can be armed and disarmed with the old physical Amazon Dash buttons which were supposed to just be essentially an April Fools joke from the company.
You can go big or small with Home Assistant, but the point is that the options are there, and it’s intuitive and will hold your hand through the entire process.
Getting started with Home Assistant
Let’s break away from written text and consider a more visual explanation as to how Home Assistant works.