HomeAssistant Yellow Review

For Christmas as a gift to myself I bought a HomeAssistant Yellow. If you’re not familiar with HomeAssistant - it’s a one-stop-shop to control all your smart lights, plugs, sensors and anything else in your smart home. HomeAssistant is the software part and as it’s open source you can freely install it on any computer you have. In fact many people install HomeAssistant on a Raspberry Pi.

HomeAssistant Yellow is their own custom hardware with a built in chip for Zigbee (and now Threads) protocol, along with Bluetooth, WiFi and audio out. It takes a Raspberry Pi compute module 4 as its “brains”. This technically means it should - emphasis on should be upgradeable if a Raspberry Pi compute module 5 that is compatible with CM4 socket is produced.

For context - I have been in the Philips Hue lights EcoSystem for years. It was easy to get started with, the app was great and it was renter friendly (just swap some light bulbs) - which suited me at the time. I’ve also had Sonos for over a decade now and my very first use of HomeAssistant was in 2019 when I got a network attached storage device, installed Plex and then used Plex status to have “movie lights” with Hue. So I’m not new to smart home tech.

Firstly the good:

Now the not-so-good:

Overall I would say it’s been a positive experience - I have automated more things since it arrived. One example is opening my office door at certain times of day can now turn on and off devices. I would recommend getting one - just be wary of the SSD issue (make sure it’s compatible) and make yourself aware of the rough edges of HomeAssistant (dashboards, automation creation UI and if your devices are supported).

Update: Since I had the post in my drafts, HomeAssistant have addressed issues around automation UI - while I don’t consider it fully solved - excellent progress has been made. The power of open source!