My smart home setup powered by Home Assistant

It’s only fair that I share my setup. As I recommend countless products on this website, I want to show you that I have experience with them and know what I’m talking about. Throughout the years I’ve learnt a lot about working with various system and were I to start over I would change a few things. For full transparency, I will tell you what I’d still recommend and what I would do differently.

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My Unraid home server powers everything

After playing around with TrueNAS CORE and Proxmox VE, I decided to combine my NAS and home server in to one machine running Unraid. I have not regretted that decision one single time. Unraid is the perfect host for Home Assistant Core. My love for Unraid even led me to creating a whole new website on the subject.

The heart of this system is an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 CPU. At the time, it was the cheapest way of getting six physical cores with hyper-threading in a CPU. As AMD Ryzen CPUs are power efficient, it makes them perfect for any home server. The current AMD Ryzen 5 5600X  would offer a substantial upgrade.

AMD Ryzen™ loves fast memory, so I went with a 3200MHz kit from HyperX. The RAM has caused me no issues thus far. They don’t have any RGB LEDs, which is an added bonus for me, as I prefer not to be spending money on things I will never use.

The dream build

Were I to rebuild my home server, the Fractal Design Meshify 2 XL would house all the components. This case has excellent airflow and supports up to 18 hard drives. Just a few 16 TB or 18 TB drives would last me more than a few years. Building in my Define XL R2 was an absolute joy, and from what I have read, things have only got better. A server case currently isn’t an option for me, as I live in a flat and the noise would be too much.

Fractal Design Meshify 2 XL
  • Design: Iconic angular mesh design provides filtered airflow
  • Layout: Dual-layout interior easily fits motherboards up to E-ATX and SSI-EEB
  • Storage options: Supports up to 18 HDDs and 5 SSD mounts
  • Cooling: 9×140 mm or 11×120 mm fan positions

Even though my desktop/gaming motherboard is doing fine, I would like to switch to something more suited to a server. The ASRock Rack X570D4U-2L2T supports all the latest Ryzen CPUs, is compatible with ECC memory, and features four Ethernet ports, two of which support 10GbE.

ASRock Rack X570D4U
  • CPU support: Ryzen 5000 G-Series, 5000 Series, 4000 G-Series, PRO 5000, 4000, and 3000 Series, 3rd Gen Ryzen, and 2nd Gen Ryzen
  • Chipset: AMD X570
  • SATA Controller: 8 SATA 7-pin connectors, including 1 support SATA DOM, 4 SATA via optional M2-HD M.2 device
  • Networking: 2×RJ45 (10GbE) by Intel X550-AT2, 2×RJ45 (1GbE) by Intel i210, 1×IPMI 2.0

As Unraid functions differently to TrueNAS CORE, ECC memory isn’t necessary. Despite that, there is one benefit to error correction code memory I would appreciate: peace of mind. I run many containers on Unraid and store backups of my photography and videography on my home server. When purchasing ECC memory, it is important to check whether it is compatible with the motherboard. In this case, the motherboard linked above is compatible with the memory linked below.

Kingston KSM32ED8/32ME

  • Size: 32 GB
  • Speed: 3200 MHz
  • Error Checking: ECC
  • Signal Processing: Unbuffered

The Zigbee ecosystem

My first-ever smart home devices were a pair of Philips Hue spotlights and the Philips Hue hub. I used these as part of my alarm clock with the integration of the app Sleep as Android. Ultimately, this is what got me started smarting up my home. I have since expanded my Zigbee network and don’t regret picking it over competing ecosystems, such as Z-Wave. There are many cheap Chinese sensors and devices which also use Zigbee, and I use them around my home. Because I use products from many vendors, I have retired my Philips Hue hub and replaced it with Zigbee2MQTT.

The only thing that lets Philips Hue products down, is pricing. I now also have multiple bulbs from the IKEA TRÅDFRI line and can’t tell the difference. I also started using GLEDOPTO LED strip controllers, which I discovered thanks to the Zigbee2MQTT community. These are cheap and compact controllers which can be hooked up to any dumb/traditional LED strips (i.e., they don’t support individually addressable strips) of your liking.