Looking back to year 2021

New year, new automations! Just like beginning of the last year it’s time to summarise my smart home updates of 2021!

New terrace audio

Even in the winter and in cold weather smart home must go on, so in the beginning of 2021 I decided to finally add some audio on my terrace. However, during the last year I’ve not listened music that much on the deck.

Networking update

One thing I did not write a blog post about was the networking equipment replacement. Previously I had Edgerouter X-SFP running as my main router and some zyxel switches here and there. I did start with small and replace the main router with a Unifi Dream Machine Pro.

After some time after playing around with the UDM and making sure it fits on my purposes, I finally decided to go full Unifi and upgraded “all” the switches and WiFi access point with Unifi devices. Along with that a security system had an upgrade as well, since UDM Pro has built in NVR.

One point though, the are some issues with UDM Pro that I have to live with and I’ll most probably will write a new ‘One year of Unifi’ post of it soon.

24/7 security control

As mentioned previously, aso the security system got an upgrade. I’ve switched from various separate camera manufacturers and Milestone software to Unifi protect.

Milestone required a separate Windows machine to run and the free version supported only four cameras. Also the mobile software was very outdated and there were no integration with Home Assistant.

Unifi protect has been a great improvement. Records 24/7 and had built in support to detect person and car movement along with basic motion of course. It also has a Home Assistant integration through a custom component (will be built in for Home Assistant itself soon though).

Unifi protect also has smart doorbells and their product portfolio has been increasing rapidly.

Project summer home

One of the key thing on year 2021 was purchase of a summer home. I’ve been setting up a remote control for all the key parts of the summer home automation: heating and security. Automated/remote heating and monitoring is important for winters to avoid structural damages and to be able to pre-heat the cottage before visiting.

Security cameras are as important since the cottage is uninhabited for most of the year. As a bonus I can verify that the road is plowed before visiting the place.

This project will continue for years I hope 🙂

Heating

One key part of the main house was heating thermostat updates. I did update all the floor thermostats with controllable ones. The main purpose for this is of course to save energy and money in a long run.

This project still continues to find proper configurations and make the climate comfortable and efficient.

Smart window blinds

In the summer I finally managed to make a DIY solution for automating the window blinds. Laziness were the key driver for this since I did not want to close all three blinds every evening and open them every morning. Plus one of the blinds is behind the couch, so it was even not easily accessible.

This project actually turned out to be a hit. It was even featured at hackaday.com and got me thousands of new visitors to the blog!

Other small stuff

Along with all the bigger stuff, a lot of minor upgrades were made: Fire protection, scheduled car heater, smart garage door opener with NFC support, WiFi module to outdoor hot tub, lightning improvements, smart washer/dryer combo etc..

Also Home Assistant Lovelace UI got a small makeover, but it still needs lots to make it simple and efficient.

Most probably I’ve forgot some minor improvements, but maybe those will be presented on room tours later this year!

The Blog

Even if my smart home did not evolve that much, the blog has been growing steadily through out the year. January 2021 the blog had only 433 page views. December 2021 there were 3037 unique page views, quite nice improvement! Most views were on September 2021, because of the hackaday referral of course.

I set up google search console at June to track down the search hits for the blog and search hits has also been steadily growing ever since. Starting from 181 clicks and 7450 impressions on first full month July to 1600 clicks and 59300 impression on December!

Total page views 15983 from 1st Jan 2021 to 31 Dec 2021 with a bit over 50% from search results, 25% from referrals and 16% direct and 9% from social networks.

Most read post of the blog was obviosly the smart window blinds. Behind that not far away came the car heating automation that has been surpsingly popular and is getting more and more impressions from search consoles. It is also #1 result when searching for ‘home assistant car heater’.

Google Search Hits for year 2021

Plans for this year…

Last time I tried to make year 2021 as ‘a year of automation‘, but I did not succeed on that. I’ve continued to integrate even more devices, but still too little of automation. Maybe thies year 2022 will be the year of automations?

Long time plan I’ve had to make a proper wall mounted control panel with 3D floor print. That’s been already started, but somehow I’ve not been able to complete it. I still need to finalize the floor print and create a stylished Home Assistant Lovelace UI to support all major use cases.

Energy saving is a good topic of course, but I’m afraid I don’t have enought data or clear plans how to achieve energy (and money) saving. I’ll be setting that as a strech goal for this year!

Along with that, I will set a target to make few more DIY devices (inlucing LoRa mailbox sensor).

And of course the blog.. The main thing is still to write to myself and hopefully that will help and inspire other people with their smart home as well. This year I will start the ‘room tour‘ blog post series to actually go down all the devices in my house room by room, so stay tuned 🙂

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