ESPHome is acquired by Nabu Casa

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Nabu Casa, Inc., the company set up by the founders of Home Assistant and Home Assistant OS, has acquired ESPHome. For those out of the loop, ESPHome, an application I have extensively written about, is in my opinion the easiest way to program firmware for ESP8266 and ESP32 devices. Those devices can easily be integrated with Home Assistant without having to go through any separate service, such as an MQTT broker. ESPHome was created by Otto Winter who no longer has the time to maintain and expand the ESPHome project while leading a somewhat normal life.

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While ESPHome most likely could have no better owner than Nabu Casa, this acquisition has left a number of users uncertain over ESPHome’s future as a free and open product. While these fears might not be completely unfounded, it is more than likely that ESPHome will remain what we’ve come to love over the past years for the foreseeable future.

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Why ESPHome being acquired is good news

Despite receiving a handful of updates, the development of ESPHome has been relatively stagnant over the last two years. Especially if we compare it to the speed at which Home Assistant is being progressing. Despite having a strong and loyal following, the project was at risk of being outclassed by the many alternatives.

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Luckily though, Nabu Casa recognized the importance of ESPHome to the Home Assistant and maker community and has promised to “ensure that the project can continue to flourish as a free and open-source project“. With Nabu Casa’s backing, we can expect ESPHome to be around as an essential companion to Home Assistant for many years to come.

Will we soon have to pay for ESPHome?

The main concerns with Nabu Casa acquiring ESPHome seem to be related to fears that, just like Home Assistant Cloud, ESPHome could become a premium product. While it certainly is a possibility, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Nabu Casa doesn’t just have employees work on Home Assistant Cloud. Nabu Casa employees are paid to work on the free and open-source software that is Home Assistant, too.

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Even if Nabu Casa were to be planning to make ESPHome a premium product or place ads on your information displays (I’m fully aware that this would never happen), don’t forget that ESPHome is open source and can easily be forked.

How will Nabu Casa change ESPHome?

As this acquisition has only just gone through, it is hard to tell, what Nabu Casa envisions for ESPHome. The current ESPHome development team, @jesserockz and @glmnet, hasn’t been replaced and Otto Winter will be available to help out whenever he has the time. Taking that into consideration, it is hard to image that ESPHome will change in any major way.

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What could happen is that Nabu Casa will want ESPHome projects to be configured using a web interface instead of YAML, as we’re currently seeing with Home Assistant. Another possibility is that the MQTT capabilities of ESPHome will be removed, making it compatible with only Home Assistant. After all, pushing smart home enthusiasts to use Home Assistant and hopefully signing up for Home Assistant Cloud is their goal.

At the end of the day, it is likely that the ESPHome project would have continued loosing steam over the coming months. Nabu Casa acquiring ESPHome is the best medium to long-term solution, and we can hope that the project isn’t greatly altered from what it set out to be. On another positive note, your Nabu Casa subscription will now not just support the development of various Home Assistant applications, but also ESPHome.

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Liam Alexander Colman, the author and maintainer of Home Assistant Guides.

About Liam Alexander Colman

Liam Alexander Colman has been using Home Assistant for various projects for quite some time. What started off with a Raspberry Pi quickly became three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-blown server. I now use Unraid as my operating system, and Home Assistant happily runs in a Docker container. My personal setup includes many Zigbee devices as well as integrations with existing products such as my Android TV box. Read on to find out more on how I got started with Home Assistant.

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