Smart-Home-Plattform - ioBroker vs. Home-Assistant

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For home automation, there are numerous different standards and a large number of different platforms. Open source platforms often offer the possibility to connect different automation standards with each other. As an example, a small mini-computer, a Raspberry Pi or a NAS equipped with multiple receivers could control different automation solutions via one platform.

Aim of this article

Overview of smart home platforms and suggestions for building your own smart home

Effort

Reading time: approx. 3 Minutes

Proprietary

Smart home systems from specific manufacturers are usually limited to their devices. The proprietary solutions are mainly connected and controlled via the cloud. Certain manufacturers offer a possibility to access their cloud API, but then you need at least your own smart home center or gateway: a device that can only control their actuators. If you want to expand your SmartHome later with other products, you will need at least an additional control center. Manufacturer-specific smart home solutions should not be part of this article, rather I want to give an overview of platforms that make it possible to connect different systems with each other.

Open source

The market for open-source home automation solutions is very much divided. There is no clear winner here, so choosing a suitable system is correspondingly difficult. Besides Home-Assistant, openHAB (Java based), FHEM and numerous other platforms, ioBroker offers a possibility to connect several systems.

Home-Assistant

After commissioning, the Home-Assistant offers a ready-to-use interface and thus out of the box a dashboard for controlling lights, switches, scenes and sensors. The status of each entity (switches, sensors, ...) is historically recorded and can be reviewed in the corresponding charts as they progress. Due to the integrated auto-discovery, existing systems are found very quickly and integrated automatically. Advanced configuration takes place in the text file “configuration.yaml”.

Advantages:

  • Clear and modern interface
  • Home Assistant is ready to use immediately after installation: sensors and devices are automatically displayed in the dashboard and can be controlled therein
  • existing smartphone app and notifications to the cell phone
  • Numerous PlugIns

Disadvantages:

  • Settings or configurations can not always be implemented in the Webgui, accordingly, certain settings must be text-based or in config files .yaml.

ioBroker

IoBroker is a central server for smart homes and is very modular thanks to the numerous available adapters. An adapter can be seen as a driver for different smart-home devices, as a service or as a service for providing data. The individual adapters then run as their own instance and access the same data objects. The ioBroker makes it possible, as an example, to use a ZigBee switch to control a WLAN device or to control certain processes based on certain sensor values or to make the data available for other services in a uniform manner. It is also interesting that there are adapters for the ioBroker to connect FHEM and openHAB, as well as adapters to operate the HABpanel dashboard from OpenHab and the Lovelace UI visualization from Home Assistant with ioBroker: The ioBroker combines all worlds here.

Advantages:

  • Modular design: Adapter instances run in their own processes
  • extremely flexible and adaptable

Disadvantages:

  • After installation, there is no finished interface for visualization and control, this is only possible by installing additional adapters and configuring them. On the part of ioBroker "VIS” can be used as an interface, which requires a valid license key. Although the license is free for private use, this was reason enough for me to look for another solution.
  • Compared to Home-Assistant, the Admin-GUI doesn't look quite as appealing, but it serves its purpose.

In practice

As a prerequisite for my setup, I don't use a Raspberry Pi as hardware, but my NAS, see: DIY NAS, and some Docker containers, see: Launching Docker containers under Linux.

Specifically, I use the following Docker containers:

Alternatively, I tested the following setup:

  • For consistent communication from a wide variety of devices, I tested ioBroker, see: ioBroker Install - Docker.
    • Devices that are reachable in the network can be connected directly via ioBroker using an appropriate adapter: e.g. Shelly, Nuki or my Pioneer radio. For devices that use their own wireless protocol, a corresponding adapter with connection to a gateway can be used (e.g. the ZigBee gateway: Conbee).
    • In addition, ioBroker can write all sensor data to an Influx DB using the Influx DB adapter: e.g. when the temperature or humidity of a ZigBee sensor changes or a light is switched on or off.
  • The container for the Influx-DB collects the data written by the ioBroker into its database., see: InfluxDB: Time series database
  • An additional container for Grafana can display the live data and historical data of the Influx-DB. In addition, Grafana can be used to define alarms for certain threshold values, which are then sent to the smartphone, e.g. as a notification via a messenger, see: Grafana - Docker; Visualize values and define alarms.

Conclusion

My recommendation, if I had to choose between ioBroker and Home Assistant, would fall in favor of Home Assistant. With Home Assistant it is much easier to get started and thanks to the numerous plugins Home Assistant can be adapted to all needs, see Home Assistant.

 

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Publication: 2022-05-05 from Bernhard


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