One of the great things about Home Assistant is that it can run on a wide variety of devices and operating systems, including the inexpensive Raspberry Pi single-board computer.
Installing Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi is a great way to inexpensively get started with home automation.
Follow along to choose the right Raspberry Pi and accessories, learn how to install the Home Assistant Raspberry Pi OS image and get started with your first automations.
Table of Contents
What is Home Assistant?
Home Assistant is an open-source home automation software written in Python 3. It allows you to control and automate connected devices in your home such as lights, switches, thermostats, sensors and more.
With Home Assistant, you can create automation rules to automatically control devices based on time, location, triggers from other devices or sensors, and more. For example, you can set the lights to turn on at sunset or have the thermostat adjust when you leave for work.
Home Assistant offers a flexible, customizable interface to monitor and control your devices. It has integrations for thousands of different smart home platforms and standards so you can easily connect the devices you already own.
Home Assistant can be self-hosted on a local network so your automations continue working even if your internet goes down. The open-source nature of Home Assistant has led to a large community of users and developers who continuously add new features and integrations.
Why Use Home Assistant?
There are several key advantages that make Home Assistant a top choice for home automation:
|Customization||The interface of Home Assistant is highly customizable, allowing you to set up dashboards, views, and lovelace cards however you like. You can monitor everything going on in your home from a single personalized interface.|
|Automation||Home Assistant has very robust tools for setting up automation rules and scenes to control your devices. Conditions can be based on time, sensors, user location, device states, and more. It has advanced features like automation templates that allow complex logic. Features like blueprints allow easy setup of pre-configured automations.|
|Remote Control||Home Assistant offers multiple ways to control your home remotely including mobile apps for Android and iOS, a web app, or even just using any web browser. You can securely access and monitor your home when away.|
|Privacy & Local Control||With local control, all your home automation data stays on-premises and is not shared with any external services or companies. This allows you to keep sensitive information private.|
|Hardware Support||Home Assistant is compatible with all the major protocols such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, Thread and lots more.|
Why use a Raspberry Pi for Home Assistant?
Here are some of the main reasons why a Raspberry Pi is a popular choice for running Home Assistant:
|Low Cost||Raspberry Pi boards are very affordable options for DIY smart home controllers. The entire setup can be built for well under $100.|
|Compact||The Raspberry Pi’s small size makes it easy to tuck away out of sight in a closet, on a shelf, or behind a TV. You don’t need a full PC or server rack.|
|Low Power||It uses very little electricity so it’s cheap to run 24/7. Much more efficient than repurposing an old desktop computer.|
|Headless Setup||A Raspberry Pi can run totally “headless” without a monitor, keyboard, or mouse attached. Everything is configured remotely.|
|Official Support||Official Home Assistant Raspberry Pi OS builds are optimized for use with Raspberry Pi hardware. This includes documentation and configuration tools that make setup on a Pi straightforward.|
|Hardware Expandability||Raspberry Pis have GPIO pins and interfaces to connect sensors, cameras, controllers and more. Great for home automation projects.|
|Performance||The higher-end Pis like the RPi 4 have enough processor and memory to comfortably run Home Assistant along with some extra services simultaneously.|
The main limitations are modest CPU performance and memory capacity compared to full computers. But for most home automation functions, a Raspberry Pi has plenty of power. And the price makes it hard to beat.
Home Assistant Raspberry Pi Options to Consider
When it comes to choosing which Raspberry Pi to use for Home Assistant you have two main choices.
Pre-built or DIY.
Option 1 – Pre-built
Home Assistant Yellow is a pre-built, open-source home automation hub that runs on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. It is designed to be easy to set up and use, and it offers a number of benefits over other home automation hubs, including:
- Upgradable: The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 is a modular platform, so you can easily upgrade Home Assistant Yellow to a more powerful model in the future.
- Expandable: Home Assistant Yellow has an M.2 expansion slot, so you can add additional storage or other hardware.
- Zigbee and Thread support: Home Assistant Yellow comes with built-in Zigbee support, so you can control Zigbee devices without the need for a separate Zigbee hub. It also supports Thread, which is a new low-power wireless protocol that is designed to be more reliable and secure than Zigbee.
- Easy setup: Home Assistant Yellow is very easy to set up. Just plug it in, connect it to your network, and follow the instructions.
Option 2 – DIY
A do-it-yourself installation using a regular Raspberry Pi and the Home Assistant Raspberry Pi image will allow a more custom setup and be less expensive.
This article is focused on explaining the complete setup process of what hardware components are required and how to install Home Assistant OS, to help decide which Raspberry Pi you should use see this article I wrote.
Home Assistant Yellow vs Raspberry Pi 4
|Home Assistant Yellow||Raspberry Pi 4|
|Pre-built and ready to use||Requires more assembly|
|Includes Zigbee and Thread support||Does not include Zigbee or Thread support|
|Easy to set up||More difficult to set up|
|More expensive||Less expensive|
If you are looking for a simple and easy way to get started with Home Assistant, then Home Assistant Yellow is a good option. It is pre-built and ready to use, and it includes Zigbee and Thread support. However, it can be more expensive to set up than a Raspberry Pi 4.
How to Install Home Assistant on Raspberry Pi
Getting Home Assistant up and running on a Raspberry Pi is a straightforward process that only takes a few steps. Here is what you need:
|Raspberry Pi||A Raspberry Pi 3 B+ or Pi 4 B is recommended for the best performance.|
|MicroSD Card||You need an SD card with at least 16 GB for the OS and Home Assistant installation. A fast A1-rated card such as the SanDisk 16GB Ultra microSDHC is recommended for best performance.|
|Power Supply||A good quality power supply like the official Raspberry Pi adapter provides steady consistent power to the board. Here is one for the Pi 4 and one for the Pi 3|
|Zigbee USB Controller||Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus: This is a popular and affordable option that is compatible with a wide range of Zigbee devices. It has a built-in antenna for better range, and it can be used with Home Assistant, SmartThings, and other home automation platforms.|
|Z-Wave USB Controller||Aeotec Z–Stick 7 Plus: This is a popular and versatile option that supports Z-Wave Plus and has a good range. It is compatible with a wide range of home automation platforms, including Home Assistant, SmartThings, and Vera.|
|Zigbee & Z-Wave USB Controller||HUSBZB-1 Zigbee USB Stick and Z-Wave Controller: This is a versatile option that supports both Zigbee and Z-Wave. It is also compatible with a wide range of home automation platforms.|
|Thread & Zigbee USB Controller||Home Assistant SkyConnect: This is a new USB stick from Home Assistant that supports both Zigbee and Thread.|
|433MHz USB controller||RFXtrx433E USB HA controller: This is a versatile device that can be used to control a wide range of 433MHz devices, such as remote controls, sensors, and actuators. It is compatible with a variety of home automation platforms, including Home Assistant, Domoticz, and Indigo.|
Install Home Assistant OS
- Insert your empty microSD card into your computer then download and install the Etcher software from here.
- Go to https://github.com/home-assistant/operating-system/releases/ and download the image for your version of Raspberry Pi. For example, if I had a Pi4 I would then download the file haos_rpi4-64-10.5.img.xz, if I had a Pi 3 I would then download haos_rpi3-64-10.5.img.xz.
- Open Etcher and select “Flash from file” then browse to the image file you downloaded in Step 2
- Select your microSD card to flash to then click Flash!
After the image has been flashed onto your microSD card, insert the card into your Raspberry Pi and turn it on.
The operating system will boot up and get a new IP address from your router. You should now be able to connect to http://homeassistant.local:8123 to begin the onboarding process.
To get the most out of Home Assistant, you will need to do some initial configuration.
Integrations allow Home Assistant to interface with all your connected devices. You will need to configure the integrations for each of your home automation platforms.
Tailor the Home Assistant interface by modifying themes, dashboards, views and lovelace cards to your needs. Make your automation control hub intuitive.
Now Home Assistant is ready to start controlling and automating devices in your home!
Home Assistant on Raspberry Pi Use Cases
Here are some of the many ways you can use a Home Assistant Raspberry Pi setup in your home:
|Home Automation||Control lights, switches, thermostats, locks, shades, and more based on time of day, presence detection, events, etc. Turn on lights when it gets dark, close the garage door if left open, and adjust the temperature when leaving home.|
|Notifications||Get notified of events like smoke/CO2 alarms, security system triggers, package deliveries, or weather reports. Send notifications to your phone, email, or other devices.|
|Presence Detection||Detect when people arrive home or leave using device tracking or home-assistant.io software sensors. Adjust home modes and alerts based on who is home.|
|Voice Control||Control your home using voice assistants like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Use custom voice commands to trigger automations.|
|Remote Access||Check cameras, lock doors, adjust the temperature, etc. while away from home using the Home Assistant mobile app or dashboard.|
|Energy Monitoring||Connect smart plugs, switches and solar production sensors to track energy usage and generation. View charts and trends over time.|
|Media/Entertainment||Unified controls for audio and video playback across different media players such as Plex. Customize presets, playlists and viewing options.|
|Climate/Humidity Control||Maintain ideal temperature, humidity, or ventilation levels in various rooms. Coordinate HVAC, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and smart vents.|
|Security and Safety||Connect motion sensors, cameras, alarm panels and monitoring services for central security controls.|
Advantages of Home Assistant on Raspberry Pi
There are many benefits to choosing a Raspberry Pi as the device to run your Home Assistant server:
|Low Cost||For less than $100 you can get started with a capable automation hub for your home. The Pi’s low price makes home automation accessible to everyone.|
|Energy Efficient||The Pi consumes very little power, usually 3-5 watts while running Home Assistant. It saves you electricity costs and environmental impact.|
|Compact and Portable||The Pi’s small size lets you place it anywhere, even behind a TV or mounted on the wall. And you can easily move Home Assistant between locations.|
Does Home Assistant run well on Raspberry Pi?
While the Raspberry Pi makes Home Assistant affordable and accessible, there are some drawbacks to consider:
|Performance||The Pi has limited processing power and memory compared to a desktop or server. Complex automations and large media libraries may impact performance. A Raspberry Pi is powerful enough for Home Assistant if you don’t install too many addons.|
|Backup Power||The Pi needs to be continuously powered on so a UPS or battery pack is recommended to avoid losing power and crashing.|
|Hardware Availability||Raspberry Pi availability remains highly constrained versus surging user demand, primarily due to chip scarcity. But supply shortages should slowly ease over time as manufacturing expands.|
|Storage||Most Pis have microSD card storage which is slower than SSD or HDD drives on PCs. This can impact the speed of reading/writing files. Home Assistant users also often experience failed microSD cards therefore using a USB adapter connected to an SSD hard disk would be a worthwhile alternative.|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet on Pi is not true GbE, so maxes out below 300 Mbps. WiFi also caps out around 300 Mbps due to USB bus speed.|
Home Assistant Raspberry Pi Alternatives
Here are some alternative options to using a Raspberry Pi for running Home Assistant:
- Old laptop or desktop computer – An old Windows, Mac, or Linux machine can run Home Assistant. Less compact but provides more computing power.
- NUC/Mini PC – Mini PCs like Intel NUCs give a balance of small form factor and better performance compared to a Pi.
- Single board computers – Alternatives like ODROID, Pine64, Asus Tinker Board offer similar functionality as a Pi with potentially faster specs.
- Virtual machine – You can install Home Assistant on a VM inside software like VirtualBox or VMware Workstation on a desktop OS.
- Home Assistant Yellow – Pre-installed Home Assistant instance on an SD card for Raspberry Pi. More beginner friendly but less flexible.
- NAS server – Use a mini server like a Synology DS418play to run Home Assistant for high performance.
- Used smartphone/tablet – Install Home Assistant mobile app on an old Android or iOS device and mount it on a wall as a control panel.
So in summary, while a Raspberry Pi works well, there are many alternatives to explore if you want more power, easier setup, or different form factors for running Home Assistant.
Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi provides an inexpensive way to get started with controlling and automating the devices in your smart home.
The open-source nature, active development community, and ease of use on a Pi make it a great choice for your home automation hub.
With a little effort setting up integrations and customizing the interface, you can build an automation system tailored exactly for your home on a budget.
What are the minimum system requirements for running Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi?
The minimum requirements are a Raspberry Pi 3 or higher, Home Assistant OS, 2GB RAM, and a 16GB+ SD card. For best performance, a Pi 3 B+ or Pi 4 B with a fast A1 microSD card is recommended.
What home automation devices and platforms work with Home Assistant on Raspberry Pi?
Home Assistant has integrations for over 1500 different devices/platforms including Philips Hue, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Nest, Ecobee, Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT etc. Most major smart home brands are supported.
Can the Raspberry Pi power a Home Assistant setup with many devices and automations?
The Pi can handle moderate-sized setups well, but larger systems with many resource-heavy devices/automations may impact performance. The Pi 4 has more processing power and memory to manage heavier loads.
What happens if my Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant crashes or loses power?
Your automations will stop working until the system is restored. To avoid this, use a UPS power backup for the Pi. Configure regular backups of your Home Assistant configuration for easy restoration.
How do I access Home Assistant remotely when it’s running on my Raspberry Pi?
Home Assistant offers multiple remote access options including smartphone apps, webapp, or any browser. Use VPNs, authentication, and security measures to safely access your instance over the internet.