Looking back to year 2020

I was planning to write this post right after new year, but better later than never right? I’d though to look back to year 2020 and list things that improved my smart home.

New Roof

The year started by installing a brand new roof on our house. This actually has nothing to do with smart home, but one important thing to our lives. The old tile roof was getting old and tens of tiles had to be replaced every spring. Also the underlay was not in very good shape so we decided to replace that at the same time of course.

New roof installation ongoing

Oh, and of course I dropped one Wireless Xiaomi Aqara temperature sensor in the attic aswell, just for fun 🙂

Audio system replacement

Previously I had few Samsung Multiroom WAM750 speakers in the house. One in the kitchen and another one in the home office. Sound quality was good, but software was just awful. Also the integration to Home Assistant was close to zero.

Most of the times I was just listening a radio in the kitchen so decided to make a play/stop -button for the radio. Old Integration can still be found from GitHub.

In the summer I decided to get rid of the old Samsung Home theatre system as well and replace with Sonos (Soundbar, Sub and two satellites) system. …And of course it got out of hands (again), so the Samsung kitchen speaker was replaced at the same time.

Later by that year I also replaced the office speaker with a refurbished Sonos Play:1. By the way, I certainly can recommend the Sonos Official Refurbished speakers. Condition is like a new and everything is neatly packed. Also deliver from UK to Finland took only two days!

Ventilation integration

One of the most useful DIY integrations so far has been Vallox Ventilation unit integration to Home Assistant. This has also been the most read blog post of the year and has had lots of comments (in the blog, Facebook and private messages).

Into the Google Home

From Amazon Echo to Google Home! For two years I used Amazon Alexa, but in the end I had to move to Google Home. The biggest issue with Alexa was routines that were lost every time rediscover devices were done (and it was done a lot, every time after Home Assistant tweaks).

Also, Google Home had display versions available in Finland! Our household now holds Lenovo Smart Display 10″ (Kitchen), Nest Hub 7″ (Office), both kids has their own 4″ Lenovo Smart clocks along with my wife’s and mine Lenovo Smart clocks that has yet to be installed (Christmas presents).

Lenovo Smart Display 10″ + Google Nest Hub 7″

Replacing NAS

Previously I owned dual bay Zyxel NAS326 that had 2x1T discs installed as a mirroring RAID. Was was OK, but I was running out of space and could just not add a new disk easily. Would have to replace both disks and copy everyting out of it. So.. I decided to sell it and bought QNAP TS-431P as a replacement, along with 2x4T disks.

Now there’s enough space to make backups from all of the machines and have some expansion possibilities as well. Also QNAP has more memory and processor power than Zyxel has to run different types software.

Physically moving Home Assistant

My Home Assistant mini-pc was physically moved from home office to walk-in closet along with few other devices. Also a small device rack was put in place just to make machines more protected and installation a bit more neat looking.

Home Automation server inside the device rack

Starting The Blog

In fall 2020 I finally decided to start writing a blog. Mostly writing just for myself to look back and see how my home automation system is evolving..

Hopefully this Blog has helped/will help some other smart home users as as side effect 🙂

UPS

The biggest home automation issues of year 2020 was few power failures. Every time power failure happened, my router would not connect to the internet and home assistant did not start properly. This was solved by installing an old UPS with new battery behind the router and Home Assistant computer.

The UPS is still running, but it has no integration to Home Assistant and is getting a bit hot (device rack temperature about 30 degrees). This is something I will replace quite soon, but for now it is working ok.

Expanding the Deck

Again, not much to do with the actual smart home, but a big lifestyle improvement. Last summer I decided to expand existing back deck to cover the area with outdoor hot tub.

Deck expansion

What next then?

Hopefully the year 2021 will be the year of automation. I’ve added lots of devices & integrations into my home lately, but still not that many automations.

The best type of smart home is where “everything” is automated and does not have to be commanded at all. Now I’m mostly manually telling to my devices what to do.

Even though, I’ve already have some ideas what to integrate next to the system (with or without actual automation):

  • Outdoor speakers to the deck
  • WiFi-module to hot tub
  • DIY: Garage door opener/sensor with ESP8266
  • DIY: Automated blinds into living room windows
  • Automated front yard lights

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