After several years of testing different devices and software for the smart home, I found the definitive solution: Home Assistant. It is an open-source home automation platform that allows you to control and monitor various devices and services within your home. It serves as a centralized hub that connects and integrates different smart devices, systems, and services, enabling you to automate and manage them through a single interface.

The main goal of Home Assistant is to provide a unified platform for home automation, regardless of the brand or protocol used by the devices. It supports a wide range of devices, including smart lights, thermostats, sensors, cameras, media players, and more. By integrating these devices into Home Assistant, you can create complex automation routines, control them remotely, and gather data for analysis and visualization.


As described in previous articles I’m using the Docker environment to host all the local services and so I’m going to install Home Assistant within the Docker Engine. As for all the Docker containers, the installation procedure is very easy. Just run the following commands with the correction of your time zone:

docker run -d \
  --name homeassistant \
  --privileged \
  --restart=unless-stopped \
  -v /PATH_TO_YOUR_CONFIG:/config \
  --network=host \

Then you can log in to Home Assistant via the web interface: http://<host>:8123.

The majority of the Home Assistant configuration is made through the configuration.yaml file, so I configured VSCode to login into my server through SSH. It requires the Remote – SSH Extension and you can log in as root@<host>.

So I can start to configure all the devices. I added the official integration to connect all the smart home services like Sonoff, Meross, Tado, etc. It was very easy to add all the devices but I have to understand how to organize all the dashboards for an efficient visualization.

First automatic dashboard after linking Sonoff and Meross devices

Community Store Integration

Before completing the initial configuration I understood that I need more than the official integration so I installed the HACS repository. It is the Home Assistant Community Store that allows you to install extra features. For instance, I’m currently using:

  • Alexa Media Player
  • Kiosk Mode
  • Meross LAN
  • Room Card
  • Apex charts
  • Plotly
  • Auto-entities

Custom thermostat

And finally, I can start customizing my smart home. The first virtual device that I want to create is a thermostat. I know, I have a Tado a there are a lot of possible ways to create a thermostat, however, I want to use my custom-made temperature sensors. They have a web interface that I can use to read the temperature inside Home Assistant.

I can use the rest sensor platform. It is consuming a given endpoint that is exposed by a RESTful API of a device, an application, or a web service. The sensor has support for GET and POST requests. Inside the configuration file I should add:

  - platform: rest
    name: Temperature Cucina
    unit_of_measurement: "°C"
    unique_id: temperature_cucina

The previous code will give me a temperature sensor inside Home Assistant that I can link as the thermostat target sensor. The following code creates a custom thermostat that uses a Sonoff switch as an actuator driven by the temperature variation of the aforementioned sensor.

  - platform: generic_thermostat
    name: Salone
    unique_id: salone_custom_thermostat
    heater: switch.sonoff_1000c57470
    target_sensor: sensor.temperature_cucina
    min_temp: 10
    max_temp: 25
    target_temp: 20
    hot_tolerance: 0.5
    cold_tolerance: 2

Tado integration

The next step involves the customization of the Tado thermostat. Essentially, I created a new entity that controls the Tado’s actuator based on a different temperature sensor. Firstly it requires the creation of a virtual switch to control the Tado as follows:

  - platform: template
        friendly_name: "Termosifoni Camere"
        unique_id: termosifoni_camere
          - service: tado.set_climate_timer
              entity_id: climate.camera_di_mamma
              temperature: "{{ state_attr('climate.camere','temperature')|float }}"
          - service: climate.turn_off
            entity_id: climate.camera_di_mamma

Then the aforementioned switch will be controlled by a new thermostat based on the desired temperature sensor.

With a similar procedure, I added another typology of entities, the dual thermostat. It allows me to connect both the heating system (the aforementioned switch) and the cooling system. The cooling unit is an air conditioner controlled by a BroadLink RM Mini that emulates its IR controller.

  - platform: dual_smart_thermostat
    name: Camera ale
    unique_id: thermostat_ale
    heater: switch.termosifonicamere
    cooler: switch.condizionatore_ale
    target_sensor: sensor.temperature_camera_ale
    min_temp: 10
    max_temp: 25
    target_temp: 20
    hot_tolerance: 0.5
    cold_tolerance: 2

Furthermore, it could be easily integrated with the HomeKit Apple ecosystems through the HomeKit integration.

Thermostat card inside Home Assistant
HomeKit Integration


A lot of smart home devices use MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport). It is a lightweight messaging protocol designed for efficient communication between devices in constrained networks, such as those with low bandwidth or unreliable connections. An MQTT broker acts as a central hub or intermediary that facilitates the exchange of messages between publishers and subscribers in an MQTT-based system. The MQTT broker works:

  1. Publishers: devices or applications that generate and send messages, to the broker, containing data or information that needs to be distributed to interested parties.
  2. Subscribers: devices or applications that are interested in receiving specific messages. T
  3. Topics: act as message channels or categories within the MQTT broker. Publishers send messages to specific topics, and subscribers can choose to receive messages from one or more topics by subscribing to them.
  4. Message Distribution: When a publisher sends a message to a topic on the MQTT broker, the broker receives the message and distributes it to all the subscribers that have subscribed to that particular topic.
  5. Quality of Service (QoS): MQTT supports different levels of QoS to ensure reliable message delivery. QoS levels include:
    • QoS 0 (At most once): The message is delivered once without any confirmation or guarantee of receipt.
    • QoS 1 (At least once): The message is delivered at least once, and the receiver sends an acknowledgment back to the publisher for confirmation.
    • QoS 2 (Exactly once): The message is delivered exactly once by using a two-step handshake process to ensure reliable and ordered delivery.
  6. Broker Persistence: MQTT brokers can be designed to persist messages even when subscribers are not currently connected.
  7. Security and Authentication: MQTT brokers often support authentication and encryption mechanisms to ensure secure communication between devices. This may include username/password authentication, Transport Layer Security (TLS), or other security measures.

Mosquitto broker

So I needed an MQTT broker and I decided to install the Mosquitto broker inside the Docker container.

As for the other Docker installations, we can start from the docker-compose.yaml file:

    image: eclipse-mosquitto
    container_name: mosquitto
      - /opt/mosquitto:/mosquitto
      - /opt/mosquitto/data:/mosquitto/data
      - /opt/mosquitto/log:/mosquitto/log
      - 1883:1883
      - 9001:9001

With this fail stored in the /mosquitto folder we need to add another configuration file: /mosquitto/config/mosquitto.conf as:

persistence true
persistence_location /mosquitto/data/
log_dest file /mosquitto/log/mosquitto.log
listener 1883
## Authentication ##
allow_anonymous true

And finally, build up the container with the composer:

docker-compose up -d

Then we need to add the other user who can use the Mosquitto broker. Login into the container and run into its shell the following command:

mosquitto_passwd -c /mosquitto/config/password.txt hass

After prompting the password you can switch back to the configuration file and add the last line to enable the created user password:

persistence true
persistence_location /mosquitto/data/
log_dest file /mosquitto/log/mosquitto.log
listener 1883
## Authentication ##
allow_anonymous true
password_file /mosquitto/config/password.txt

The last step is to add the user-password relation in all the MQTT devices starting with Home Assistant. For more information see: Configuring the Mosquitto MQTT Docker container for use with Home Assistant.


Tasmota is an open-source firmware that can be installed on various Internet of Things (IoT) devices, particularly those that are based on the ESP8266 and ESP32 microcontrollers. It allows you to replace the original firmware on these devices, providing greater control and customization options.

The Tasmota firmware is designed to provide a flexible and feature-rich environment for IoT devices. It offers support for a wide range of protocols and integrations, including Wi-Fi, MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport), HTTP, and more. By flashing Tasmota onto compatible devices, you can transform them into smart devices that can be controlled and monitored remotely. For instance, I flashed several Sonoff obtaining custom and advanced features.

To enable MQTT, after setting username and password in the GUI, remember also to set:

 SetOption19 0

Energy monitor

Another advanced example of Tasmota was created with a custom circuit. By using a CT (Current Transformer) Clamp it is possible to measure the current and power consumption of devices. It is a device used to measure the electric current flowing through a conductor without the need to physically disconnect the circuit.

The basic principle behind a CT clamp is electromagnetic induction. It consists of a ferromagnetic core (typically in the shape of a split ring or a jaw) and a coil of wire wrapped around the core. The conductor carrying the current is passed through the core or placed inside the clamp’s jaw. When an electric current flows through the conductor, it creates a magnetic field around it according to Ampere’s law. The CT clamp takes advantage of this magnetic field. The magnetic field induced by the current in the conductor interacts with the ferromagnetic core of the clamp, causing a proportional magnetic field in the core.

Home power consumption

With the Tasmota firmware, we can read the clamp signal. The following is an example of the application of the SCT-013-xxx clamp to measure a three-phase current. Each clamp shows an output of 1V that linearly vary with respect to the current.

Do not operate with line cable, 230V could be very dangerous. Seek help from a professional electrician.

It is only for testing purposes

It is really easy to implement in the Tasmota firmware. I flashed a Wemos D1 for each current phase connecting three clamps in total. Then each clamp read a cable of the three-phase power source for electricity inside the house.

Linear relation mapping

For each device, inside the Tasmota configuration set the ADC CT Power device and with the console, you can refine the sensitivity.

<Sensor>, <param1>, <param2>, <param3>, <param4>

The AdcParam command requires five parameters:

  • 7, is used to mark the CT POWER senso as AdcParam 7
  • <param1>, set as 0 marking a non-invasive current sensor
  • <param2>, use to select the typology of CT Clamp with respect to the maximal ampere, here I used a 20A clamp: the STC-013-020. It is the scaling factor to convert the voltage output in the 0-1023 range of the analog converter.
  • <param3>, the maximum voltage/1000. Here, it is 230 V and so 0.230.
  • <param4>, the minimum current threshold
AdcParam 7,0,2146,0.230,0.060

You could use Tasmota to calibrate the sensor however I preferred some post-processing inside Home Assistant. The idea was to use two fixed and known loads, preferably a resistive one as a filament lamp, to mark two points in the linear relation. I also used a professional Amprobe to double-check the power consumption. For each load, you need to mark the output values from the Tasmota s and the real load w.

  • s1, w1
  • s2, w2

Then it is possibile to map each value of the signal to obtain the current wattage as:

w=w_1+(w_2-w_1){s-s_1\over s_3-s_1}

Then we need a Rieman integration helpers to integrate watt in each time steps into Wh and then an Utility Meter to split the integral into each day/hours values.

Utility meter code block

Sensor data mapping

Three-phase power computation

The actual power consumption needs some refinement but it is relatively precise with less than 5% deviation from the energy-supplier one.

Home Assistant GUI and the energy dashboard

Media player

With the HACS Alexa integration, you can control each Amazon player device. For instance, I created a custom card showing only active devices:

Yaml card configuration

Custom dashboard

I created several Lovelace cards to resume information inside the main dashboards. For instance, the main dashboard shows the temperature of different rooms, people’s location, actual power for the three phases as well as the average energy consumption in the previous 24 hours and the devices currently turned on.

Devices on

Energy consumption

Three-phase energy monitor

A special dashboard is dedicated to the thermal system where I can monitor temperature, boiler, solar panel, radiator, and pump status and drive the heating or cooling systems. This dashboard and how I created it will be described in a further article.

I also created a dashboard for single-room resumes:

Energy dashboard

In addition, I started using the Home Assistant Energy Dashboard to include all the information about electricity and gas consumption. Furthermore, besides the Solar segment should be related to the electrical energy produced by solar panels, I decided to use it to insert information about the thermal energy produced by the solar panel.

I made other advanced configurations for thermal systems control and some custom cards but I’ll talk about that in further articles.