If you've somehow managed to miss the news, Insteon is dead. Let's back up before getting knee-deep into this crazy story. Insteon was a smart home ecosystem that offered controllers, smart locks, smart bulbs, etc. You might wonder how Insteon could be declared "dead" since it's common to continue using hardware devices long after their manufacturer ceases to exist. As you might have guessed, this will not be possible with Insteon - at least not in any way resembling the original experience. The key is that Insteon ran a cloud software controller where all customer commands and controls were processed. Once the controller goes offline, everything stops working.
Home Assistant has transformed the world of do-it-yourself (DIY) home automation. Its compatibility with smart products is virtually unparalleled, as it offers a community-supported module for almost everything. Furthermore, in the rare situation where something doesn't already exist, creating the functionality yourself is surprisingly easy. If you haven't seen it, be sure to check out my article on setting up remote access with Home Assistant here before reading this one! This guide aims to demonstrate how you can increase the security of your remotely accessible control panel.
LED strips have become a popular option for decorating a room as they can be used to create a vastly different ambience with the press of a button. While strips are awesome, they aren't always the most practical thing as they can be difficult to mount in the right way for your application. To make things easier, some companies sell light panels which are easy to mount directly on the wall. They can change color and offer tons of effects to keep things interesting. The most common product in this space is perhaps the "Nanoleaf light panel" which does the job perfectly, albeit a bit expensively. To save some money and get additional personalization I built my own light panels in a project I call ColorWall.
Zigbee is a wireless communication protocol commonly used in smart homes. One of its many benefits includes that each non-battery-powered node on the network will act as a repeater making your range larger. Apple's HomeKit, on the other hand, is a network communication protocol, meaning it only specifies the commands each device will send and receive. HomeKit can run over WiFi or Bluetooth with most of the ecosystem opting to use WiFi for its longer range. HomeKit devices are cheap and easy to use, while Zigbee devices have higher range potential. Combining both of these technologies in one smart home would provide the best of both worlds, and luckily for us, it's totally possible!
Home Assistant is an amazing application that provides a way to connect all of your smart devices into a single controller regardless of what protocols they support. Many users encounter a problem after using it for a while because the automations you can create aren't always as powerful as they would like. There has always been the option to use Python by writing your own integration or script, but they are difficult to use just for an automation. Here we will be providing a beginner's introduction to Appdaemon by looking a few examples and explaining how they work. You'll be writing up awesome scripts in no time!