What You Need to Start on Home Assistant?

by Jaden Lee

If you are smart home enthusiast, you probably have heard of Home Assistant before. Home Assistant is a home automation hub, or home automation software to be more precise. It is free and open source and fully local alternative to HomeBridge or SmartThings. With Home Assistant, you can automate your smart home without the cloud because it’s locally hosted.

You let the Home Assistant find all the smart devices on your local Wi-Fi network, connect with the ones it can control, and gives you a simple interface to make them act as a group based on when and how you want the single command to trigger. What makes Home Assistant great is that it isn’t trying to focus on a single brand of smart products. Most of the gadgets you already have will work, and connecting to network services like IFTTT is straightforward and simple.

Here, I would like to share with you the hardware and software that need for Home Assistant setup.

If you want to control Zigbee or Z-Wave devices with Home Assistant, you need interfaces/bridges or controllers to communicate (so Home Assistant can speak the language of the devices).

Suggested Hardware

You will need a few things to get started with Home Assistant.


Raspberry Pi 4 Model B + Power Supply (at least 2.5A) + Case

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is a good, affordable starting point for your home automation journey. You should be able to find these items in web stores in your country.

But if you have hundreds of components and want a history of that items for a longer period it can be useful to run it on an Intel NUC. An Intel NUC is more expensive but also more powerful, especially if you want to run other software besides Home Assistant as well.

MicroSD card

Ideally get one that is Application Class 2 as they handle small I/O much more consistently than cards not optimized to host applications. A 32 GB or bigger card is recommended.


SD card reader

This is already part of most laptops, but you can purchase a standalone USB adapter if you don’t have one. The brand doesn’t matter, just pick the cheapest.

Ethernet cable

Home Assistant can work with Wi-Fi, but an Ethernet connection would be more reliable.


Installation Steps 

1. Put the SD card in your card reader.

2. Open balenaEtcher, select the Home Assistant image and flash it to the SD card.

3. Unmount the SD card and remove it from your card reader.

4. Follow this step if you want to configure Wi-Fi or a static IP address (this step requires a USB stick). Otherwise, move to step 5.

    • Format a USB stick to FAT32 with the volume name CONFIG.
    • Create a folder named network in the root of the newly-formatted USB stick.
    • Within that folder, create a file named my-network without a file extension.
    • Copy one of the examples to the my-network file and adjust accordingly.
    • Plug the USB stick into the Raspberry Pi.

5. Insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi. If you are going to use an Ethernet cable, connect that too.

6. Connect your power supply to the Raspberry Pi.

7. The Raspberry Pi will now boot up, connect to the Internet and download the latest version of Home Assistant. This will take about 20 minutes.

8. Home Assistant will be available at http://homeassistant.local:8123. If you are running an older Windows version or have a stricter network configuration, you might need to access Home Assistant at http://homeassistant:8123 or http://X.X.X.X:8123 (replace X.X.X with your Pi’s IP address).

9. If you used a USB stick for configuring the network, you can now remove it.

If the Pi connected to the WiFi with no problem, the preparing page comes up, and the latest version of Home Assistant starts downloading.

Suggested Hardware for Zigbee Gateway

If you want to build your own Zigbee gateway with Home Assistant, I would recommand on zigbee2mqtt. In order to run zigbee2mqtt we need the following hardware.

CC Debugger
CC2531 USB Sniffer
Downloader Cable CC2540
Male to female USB extension cable

Male to female USB extension cable is just optional, here is the reason why.

Here is the list of supported Zigbee device(s)

Installation Steps for Zigbee Gateway

Please refer to this website for the installation steps.

Suggested Hardware for Z-Wave Gateway

If you want to connect Z-Wave products with Home Assistant, you have to plug Z-Wave USB stick into your Raspberry Pi.


Aeotec Z-stick Gen 5

Z-Stick Gen5 is a Z-Wave Plus antenna that works with Home Assistant.

Installation Steps for Z-Wave Gateway

1. Plug your Z-Wave USB stick into your Raspberry Pi.

2. Add the following in your congiguration.yaml:

3. Restart Hassio(Home Assistant) and all should work. You will have a new ZWave entry into the configuration menu.

4. Add new Z-Wave devices in the Hassio(Home Assistant) configuration menu.

5. Put your new device in “discovery” mode: normally should be enough to start it up but, in case, there is a button on the device to force a network discover.

6. Click on Add Secure Node button into Hassio.

You should see the new node(s) into the Nodes combo box. All is done. Enjoy your new Z-Wave network.

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