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hass.io and I are going to take a little break from each other.

God knows I’ve tried.

I installed Home Assistant first on my Mac Mini, got a nice interface going with it when Lovelace was about to become the standard UI.

It was so exciting. I was like a kid in a candy shop. A cool semi-developer styled Home Automation and Smart Home project I could get my teeth into.

I bought an Aeotec Z-Wave ZStick and installed the Z-Wave modules. I tried to add a bunch of Z-Wave Plus devices…but it was like a Frog in a sock on a motorway – it was hard to get. It never worked the same twice even if it did work and IF it worked the same way twice things didn’t connect right. The hardware was fine as I’d tested it on other Z-Wave networks.

I thought, maybe the problem with all these Z-Wave devices not connecting well is just my old Mac Mini. Perhaps using a complete Hass.io set up will solve my issues.

I committed to a Rasberry Pi, as recommended, and flashed a copy of hass.io on it. Installed Z-Wave requirements, added my ZStick and it worked. But it didn’t.

I learned YAML, integrated my Ring doorbell, my abode security system, a nice weather panel, my Yale Smartlock, my iCloud connection for location data, a nice Zone map and even my Aeotec Multisensor 6.

I could see them in the panel (cards) and could make small adjustments to them in my YAML file. Everyone said ‘you can do most things through the UI now…’.

But here’s the thing…

I couldn’t do anything else with any ease.

For a start, half the known Z-Wave Plus devices I tried to connect were marked as Dead. Half worked fine. No rhyme or reason.

Perhaps it was the distance from the device to the Rasberry Pi and ZStick. I moved them to be within ‘you need a breath mint’ distance and still, no joy.

So it’s one thing to learn how to make the system work but if the hardware trouble shooting takes all your time…exasperation ensues.

I couldn’t make anything update or change via the Aeotec Multisensor 6. I couldn’t trigger a motion event to turn on a basic light. I couldn’t pair my Aeotec LED Strip and make pretty colours in my lounge. I couldn’t pair my garage door unit or half my Z-Wave Plus devices properly.

‘Look in the logs’ they said. I did, it was lines and lines of WTF.

I used to be a PHP programmer and can still cut-a-rug with some CSS. I’m not stupid (subjective opinion). I took hours to understand how it all works but if a user needs to learn Github just to pull fixit files from repositories or crawl through forums of confusing responses and unanswered information, my will to persevere could not be sustained.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Hass.io and Home Assistant are all as cool as they look and I just haven’t been patient enough. Maybe learning more YAML code and understanding each entity and it’s available states is like doing Lego or Capsela for adults? May the Triggers, Action and States are straight forward once you understand the lingo and formats.

I have no doubt that Home Assistant is truly ‘Developed by a bunch of awesome people’. I really believe the people behind this are probably really amazing, generous people. I’ve been at the foundations of platforms like Drupal when it was rising up from the open-source womb. I believe in the incredible power of open-source to change our world but I just need a better UI to make it a little easier.

Some basic change notifications when I add or remove items from my HA Z-Wave network (this is also a gripe at Z-Wave for making it so bad at reporting sensible state changes, errors, additions and removals).

A better log file reporter to understand what went wrong where.

A human element to the states and entity naming (which is also a responsibility of the hardware manufacturers to sort out).

I just think that there must be a way to have config files per device that translate the tech into simple, workable English.

There has to be a way to provide better reporting on errors, issues and fixes. The Z-Wave alliance should work to help HA become better because they are doing a hell of a lot with a very small workforce of committed HA enthusiasts.

Monetise something, somewhere, somehow to take this from complete open-source coder-ificness to a little commercial usability to get some paid workers on it.

I REALLY want to love Home Assistant. I’ve tried it, left it, tried it, left it and now will leave it again. Perhaps in a year, I’ll try it again. I’ll dust off and spark up my Rasberry Pi, re-flash the latest version and see what’s changed.

I would even pay money for it if it can rise above a technical array-based jungle and compete better with well rounded commercial offerings like SmartThings.

For now, I’ll return to my abode security system as my home automation hub. It’s missing more product & hardware integrations than I care to mention, but it works well enough and the CUE Automations make creating advanced IF this THEN that BUT only if THIS seem easy, nice one Abode.

Home Assistant fans can hate me. I understand – it’s a bit rubbish to drop an opinion on a platform I haven’t mastered (despite hours and hours of trying). I am impressed with the community that HA has built but – the platform has got to be easier, and it’s got to work before I can see myself trying again.

To be honest, I’d welcome feedback from HA / Hass.io users. What’s the single most important thing you would recommend to people wanting to get into Home Assistant?

Comment below, I’m keen to get into it.


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38 thoughts on “Home Assistant…I’m done. I quit. It’s over.”

  1. Hi!

    I have a similar background and similar experiences. I most recently had it to a state where I had 3d modeled my house in a Lovelace card that I could click on lights, locks, etc and see the change reflected in the UI. It was cool. Then it died.

    I have rebuilt my system 3 times now and am working on number 4. First time I had no back ups. Second time I had an initial git commit. Third time I had a Dropbox back up, but I lost all my secrets and UI config and even then I still have to navigate the rebuild. Next time I rebuild (I know there will be a next time) I’m going to record my install and script it in bash which I’ve never done before. Or maybe make complete backup images with the old pi 3.

    I have taken forced breaks. Most recent one lasted around 6 months. I have thought of abandoning for sure. Google Home does 25% of what I want but it’s super easy so maybe I just wait for google to get the other 75%? Pi 4 came around and I decided to go again. I’m not suggesting you go back. You have to enjoy it to make that decision. But if you do:
    Try not to blame HA for device/library/standards bs. It’s an amazing crapshoot first hardware and software out there and at least HA itself is continually improving.
    Start with Dropbox back ups
    Look for smaller wins when some library or device has you stumped. lean into your CSS front end strengths when the back end has you down.

    Hope you find your solution eventually!

    1. Thanks Dan – awesome response and pretty much on par with my thoughts. The ideas behind backups for Home Assistant is excellent and one I should have thought of earlier – so thanks for those nuggets. My challenge is that backups work for me, but only if the system is in a good place. If my Z-Wave devices are not connected correctly then backups feel like I’m backing up a flawed version.

      On more reflection, I think if my Z-Wave devices just all connected then I’d probably punching away at learning the system still and not packing it in for another season. I would LOVE it if devices connected effortlessly. There seem to be a lot of people in the community who connect the same devices without issue so, another reason to pause it. Life’s too busy right now for a project that time-intensive.

      The sound of your hass.io / Home Assistant set up sounds awesome, or was, and will be again. Bash scripts a great idea too.

      Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

    2. Use Jottacloud for backup. They have a CLI tool that is super simple to set up. And just dumps everything to the cloud. Cheap as well, $7.50 a month for unlimited space. Lifesaver in a squeeze.

    3. Purchase a low end mini pc and install Proxmox. There is a simple script to get HA installed. I use Zwave, MQTT and over 35 integrations including echo and Google hpme. I also use node-Red for complex automations. I used HomeSeer for over 15 years and their development team works at a snails pace and you must purchase most plugins. Then there is the discussion about plugins no longer being developed or the developer has abandoned the code.

      I converted to HA and never ever want to go back to HomeSeer

  2. Michael A Yeager

    I banged along for a few years on a RPi. It was ok but upgrades and backups were a hassle. Earlier this year, I bought a Synology NAS and installed Docker. Much more stable and since I’m running Raid 5, I’m not worrying about an SD card crashing. HA is the best out there in my opinion, but there is a learning curve….

    1. Synology is a pretty serious update, a smart choice, but beyond a lot of people’s budgets I expect. I could see a lot more uses for it on my network (hosting media etc). Nice choice.

      The challenge is, not ultimately with backups, it’s with errors attaching devices and general system issues.

      There is no point to me to backup a flawed system – if that makes sense?

      If the devices attached worked, as they should, then it makes a lot of sense to take a route that includes backing up regularly on a reliable system.

      1. You trade SmartThings’ frequent cloud outages for Hubitats bi-weekly slowdowns and need to be rebooted. Hubitat also has an ugly interface, a powerful but super complicated rule engine, and no path to profitability for the company. Hubitats z-wave stack is uncertified, so down go there if you’re heavily into zwave.

        1. I hear you. At the moment For my mission-critical stuff I still use Abode Security Hub (https://goabode). For other stuff, I have a combination of WiFi devices and SmartThings. Alexa acts as the central hub integrating with all of them so I’m fine. I really want to build the ultimate dashboard with Home Assistant but continue to give up on it. I know Home Assistant will continue to improve and it will get there but I have other things that need my time more than a project that intensive.

  3. I’d recommend liquor/drugs or whatever is legal and works for you. I’ve been through all this stuff, but now I’m pretty happy with my setup.

  4. I have used HomeSeer for 14 years and use z-wave for most of my end points. They have a 30 day trial. When I read your issues I was shocked. Sure, some devices do not report their state, but most of what you described I have never experienced.

    I have found HomeSeer to be stable, flexible, and callable. Yes, a bit techie at times, but too me that is a necessary part of automation if you are truly automating and not just using your phone as a remote control.

    1. Looking here because I too am on HomeSeer and looking to switch. Google assistant integration reports errors every time I try to turn on a light. Homeseer doesn’t know the difference between a light and a fan when using google assistant. Homeseer still doesn’t support the double tap on GE/Jasco switches. The know about all these issues and don’t ever even commit to fixing them. You also have to pay for it multiple times over as it seems all development is farmed out to people that want to charge 40 or 50 bucks to integrate to devices that all other systems support for free. Smartthings was great and had none of these problems, it is just slow sometimes do to the lack of local processing, which is why I repaired 50+ zwave devices to Homeseer to give it a try. Sorry I did.

      1. That’s very interesting about SmartThings – I’ve a plan to buy it and use Abode for Home Security and SmartThings for Home Automations. I have a Gen 1 Abode hub and it’s not compatible with enough things but I don’t want to upgrade to Gen 2 when SmartThings is so cheap. The speed thing will bug me if it’s slow. They are my top two picks from the best z-wave hubs list available.

      2. bummer about HomeSeer.

        I’m a longtime SmartThings user (50+ zigbee and z-wave devices) looking to move to something with local processing because the cloud latency is so bad sometimes, and more frequently in the last year, despite my Internet speeds being 250mpbs+, that it’s useless.

        tried Hubitat. hated it. used it for a month; experience was abysmal; UI is horrible; it couldn’t connect to z-wave devices consistently, the mobile app is a joke and it presence detection worked less than 50% of the time (I created a spreadsheet) but yet was responsible for 43% of my battery usage; declared bankruptcy Sunday night. moved the ten or so devices I had on it back to ST.

        Home Assistant is a hard pass for me. my research suggests this article is right: it’s way too much time and effort.

        I’m optimizing for time and effort. I’m willing to pay a premium for something that works. although I don’t want to be nickel and dimed either.

        wanted:
        multi-radio (zigbee, z-wave, wifi all musts) smart home hub with ethernet port, lightning fast local processing that works when Comcast is down, which is at least once a week, with a UI that’s at least as good as SmartThings Classic, and a powerful, intuitive rules engine.

        it’s 2020! how does such a thing not exist? is there really no market for it? Samsung, come out with a v4 hub that has proper local processing. I want to give you money.

        1. We’re on the same path for sure. I will say the new abode iota and abode security hub (second gen) give you what you want. Solid local processing with all the radios and Ethernet connection but just not as many device integrations as ST. Oh, and it’s just been certified for Apple HomeKit.

          I would suggest you list your devices and see if the iota or abode hub can work with them and go for it if so.

          The rules engine is smart. E.g if there is motion outside turn on outside light but if if it’s after sunset etc.

          And you get a security system.

          Love your thoughts.

  5. Sorry to hear your experience. I’m not a programmer, but am handy with IT. I’ve been using HA on a Rpi for about 2 years now. Definitely was a steep learning curve. Afaik, HA is (one of the) best free open source privacy preserving no-subscription-needed run-it-all-local home automation integration solutions. It supports more devices than most other solutions. But your mileage may vary when looking at stability; it depends on many things; i don’t use zwave devices, so no idea whether that has more problems than other tech, and i wonder whether those problems can be attributed to HA.

    Btw, HA has a paid option, and afaik they use the money they make from that to pay some developers to improve/develop HA. I guess there is a reason they haven’t gone to v1.0.

  6. I am still relatively new to using Home Assistant but have not experienced the frequency of problems with z-wave that you did. I am using the Go Control HUSBZB1 stick as I have both z-wave and zigbee devices to move over. Perhaps that has made a difference. I have added z-wave and wi-fi based lights and switches and never ran into issues. I have integrated Chromecast, Ring and Smarthings without issue so I can progressively add functionality directly to HA. Is there a learning curve, you betcha’! Am I still frustrated that it is so hard to program automations? Yes, and they are working hard to improve that. But Smartthings failed on me so often it became a security concern. I found Homeseer automations even harder to understand and gave up on it during the trial. If I have to learn to make something work well, why pay so much? And pay for upgrades too? Sorry, not for me. I will take my free HA install on my $35 rpi any day and feel much better in the long run. I wish you the best when you “return” to HA later and hope the experience proves to be better.

    1. Thanks Bob, appreciate the reply. That could be a thing for sure – the Go Control Z-Wave stick. I have a Zigbee lock so one that can handle both would be ideal. The challenge is that this is for Australasia (Australia/New Zealand/etc) which has a different Z-Wave frequency. Why Z-Wave couldn’t have found a signal free, international frequency is a shame.

      I think this is why the Aeotec Z-Wave stick made sense here. I’ll look closer though as getting the Z-Wave solved would certainly accelerate a return to trying again.

  7. I just wanted to pop in here and mention I’ve had no problems with the HUSBZB1 as well. Seems to work well for me so far. Also, while Raspberry Pi’s are great for rapid prototyping, I’ve given up on using them for anything worthwhile. Pihole? Running on a VM. Hassio? Same thing. They just don’t have the power to give me immediate access to whatever is running on them, nevermind all the sd card corruption problems you can run into with power outages or logging.

  8. You are echoing my frustrations in many ways. And my background is VERY similar. I was (still am) a Drupal guy. I can also dance the CSS dance. But YAML gives me the sweats. One mis-space and nothing works.

    I also use the GoControl stick and it works well overall. But I am running on a Linux PC with HA in a Docker container. It’s fairly stable.

    But I am now working on media, which is very important to me. I have a library of over 25K MP3 files. And a Russound (others too) audio matrix amp setup. Trying to get that working in HA is a freaking nightmare. And it seems that 99% of the people involved with HA seem to think that the answer is to dump it all and go with a bunch of Chromecast/Home devices. Which is not an answer. So now I’m thinking that I need to look elsewhere. Again.

    Funny thing is, that most of what I need still works in my old Premise Home software that hasn’t been updated in over 15 years. And it was mostly a click and drag interface. Way ahead of it’s time. But in 15 years a lot of new tech has come along that just isn’t supported. So…

    1. I have heard good things about the GoControl Z-Wave stick. I’m not sure it’s the aeotec Z-Wave stick but if I revisit Home Assistant it again it might be worth the investment.

  9. I hate to admit I laughed at a lot of this as after 6 months on Hassio I was close to quitting everything, I purchased a small, no darn considerable about of equipment that I slowly lost patience with, I had a pi 4, with a ZigBee and Zwave USB card and every thing I could think of that was ZigBee or Zwave compatible and an Amazon Echo in every room. Months I spent on this reading the forums, for it to work for two days and then fail for 3. In the end I thought long and hard about what I actually wanted from the system and then threw out a lot of the ideas/dreams I had with it. The end result is 6 months on I have a system that works for me. I have taken out all the Zwave and ZigBee devices and have used Tuya (cheap Chinese brand) devices and Sonoff switches and everything seems to be working as it should. I now have a Raspberry pi 4 with touchscreen sitting in the kitchen and running Android 9 giving my wife complete control over everything in the house. All connecting to a Hassio on another raspberry pi 4. Motion Detection/automation/scripts all work as they should. I have been in IT security for over 20yrs and this has to be one of the most frustrating projects I have undertaken. Now, around £10k and 6 months later we have a system that can turn the alarm off, put the kettle on, lights and heating on while my wife is on her way home. Was it worth it, no! But I wouldn’t change the way it works now. Great read, it’s always nice to know that other people have gone through the same craziness.

    1. So what you are saying: z-wave and zigbee don’t work properly with hass.io. That’s exactly what I think after testing it with a properly installed z-wave network having about 80 devices in it.
      I will dump hass.io right away.

      1. I don’t think that is what Mark is saying. He and I have obviously had issues but you can see there are more people on this thread, and hundreds or thousands more who have no problem with their hass.io and Z-Wave /Zigbee devices no problem. I will still consider returning to try it again in the future when I have more patience, time and improvements have moved along.

    2. Thanks for the comment Mark – interesting to hear where you ended up and most importantly it seems to have worked well for you. I will have a look at Tuya as I’ve not heard of them before.

    1. Yes, most of my Z wave devices work with abode. Unfortunately, some devices I have are not compatible which is why I have been experimenting with home assistant. I also still have the generation one hub from abode which is more limited than the generation two hub from abode.

  10. I am not a coder but I can get most techie stuff working. I totally agree with your the Home Assistant and the rest of the DiY hobbyist kits are just not ready for prime time.

    1. I can see they are there for some people but a while out for anyone that has no desire to ‘play with’ their system, or anyone non-technical. I think if you make it a hobby or project then it could be fun, but agree that it isn’t primetime ready otherwise.

    2. I can see they are there for some people but a while out for anyone that has no desire to ‘play with’ their system, or anyone non-technical. I think if you make it a hobby or project then it could be fun.

  11. I am 13 days into HA and loving/hating it! I have Insteon & Zigbee & Alexa working fine, and for now, interfacing HA to HS for Z-Wave.. My dashboard is ok but only a 2 out of 10 compared to others I’ve seen. A 20 year HomeSeer veteran I still like HS but their Alexa integration sucks even after 4+ years. There is great support in HS forums, unlike what I’ve seen with HA thus far. I’ve spent way too much time googling this that or the other thing about HA with most answers being very incomplete or assuming you have years of HA experience. This morning I had 87 tabs still open in Firefox! Last go-round was trying to get OpenZWave working and no success yet with my RaZberry card in Pi 3B+ that HS talks to like a ZNet, no problem. OZW will work with my spare HUSBZB1 but I don’t want to use a USB dongle, I want my RaZberry with external antenna which outperforms anything else I’ve tried. So, 13 days at an average of 8 hours/day? (Some days 0 hours – girlfriend duty, others 16+) Huge learning curve unlike HS. Powerful? Yes. Flexible? Yes. Complicated? Very…

      1. I’ve made substantial progress with HA. I can now understand a lot of the ins and outs of yaml, scripts, lovelace, etc., etc. I’ve successfully deployed Open Z-Wave separately from HA on my RPi-3B+ using the the RaZberry daughter card.
        I’m using AppDaemon4, Duck DNS, File Editor, Home Assistant Google Drive Backup (which I successfully used , twice), Home Panel, Mosquitto Broker, NGINX Home Assistant SSL proxy, Samba share, TasmoAdmin, Terminal & SSH, UniFi Controller, motionEye, AccuWeather, Adaptive Lighting, Amazon Alexa, COVID-19, Entity Controller, Google Cast, HACS, I N S T E O N , Internet Printing Protocol, Life360, Local IP Address, Logitech Harmony Hub, Mobile App, MQTT, Nest, Orbit BHyve, Scheduler Integration, Sinope Neviweb, Sonoff LAN, OpenWeather, OpenZWave, SpeedTest, Zigbee plus 37 HACS Frontend add-ons so far.

        1. Superb. Berry happy for you (get it…Rasberry…Berry…ok, I’m trying too hard now) and impressed when what you’ve managed. Your comment, and it’s perfected naming convention, also infers you are an excellent end-user for HA. I wish I had your patience and well done on the setup. I hope you’re sharing all that wisdom in the HA forums! 😉

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