I’ve mentioned some of my home automation stuff in previous blogs, and whilst it’s nothing particularly complicated, I’ve always struggled with one small part.
For some background, my first foray into home automation was some Philips Hue bulbs which I’d actually bought to use in two up-down lighters. They never got used for this, as the Hue GU10 bulbs are longer than standard GU10 bulbs so wouldn’t fit into the lights. I ended up buying a few more and using 6 as down-lighters in my lounge. If I’m honest, they are a bit of an expensive novelty, but it is nice being able to change the mood in the room either dimming or changing the colour of all or individual bulbs. These were followed shortly after by my Amazon Alexa, which I blogged about here. We don’t use Alexa for much, although she’s become the guardian of our food shopping list. We also listen to some music using Amazon Unlimited and she’s also made the Hue lights more usable for the rest of the family. My daughter often asks her things, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that voice automation will play a big part of the future world, so no regrets about Alexa. I then added a TP-Link HS110 Plug, initially for controlling the Christmas Tree lights, but I now have 3 that are used for other lamps around the house.
The final piece and the one that gets used more than all of the others combined is my Logitech Harmony Elite remote, which I blogged about here. This is one of the best electronic gadgets I’ve ever bought and allowed everyone in the house to control all of the Entertainmentnment devices from a single remote. I’ve had similar devices in the past, and whilst they could be used to control most things, there was always some compromise, and generally, I was the only one who knew how they worked! The Elite controls my TV, Soundbar, Virgin TiVo box, Apple TV, Blu-ray Player, Fire TV Stick, Projector and can also provide basic on/off and dimming for the Hue lights. I can also use Alexa to do many of these via voice control, although the remote is used most of the time. The one thing I couldn’t get it to do was switch on/off the TP-Link switches, even though it has little ‘switch’ buttons on the remote. Well, now I can!
I’d played around with a couple of Home Automation applications inside Jails on my FreeNAS box – Home Assistant and HA-Bridge – thinking I might be able to use them to control the switches on my Harmony remote. I never got that far with either, and in the end, deleted both from my FreeNAS box. I’d created a container for Home Assistant when I was playing around with Docker, and this worked well for controlling the lights and switches from the Web UI and iOS App, so thought I might be able to use this with my Harmony remote.
The main issue I had to get my head around is that the Harmony Hub will only work with a single Philips Hue Hub. Initially, I was still trying to control my lights through the Philips Hub, so couldn’t get it to see Home Assistant. When I realised I just need to use Home Assistant to control the lights and switches (at least as far as Harmony is concerned) it was incredibly simple to get working.
I’m not going to try and describe how here, although I have posted some information below and some of my Home Assistant docker and configuration. If you stumble across this and need some help, let me know in the comments and I’ll try and expand further how I got this working…
I installed the Home Assistant docker using these instructions, with the following docker compose file:
version: '2' services: web: image: homeassistant/home-assistant volumes: - /docker/home-assistant:/config - /etc/localtime:/etc/localtime:ro network_mode: host ports: - 8300:8300 - 8123:8123
My Home Automation configuration.yaml file has the following added at the end:
#TP-Link Switches switch: - platform: tplink host: 192.168.168.71 name: TPLink1 - platform: tplink host: 192.168.168.72 name: TPLink2 - platform: tplink host: 192.168.168.73 name: TPLink3 emulated_hue: