Home Assistant brings back Bluetooth support with a bang

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Home Assistant Core 2022.8 brings back what the previous release took from us: Bluetooth support. Except, this time around, things are much better. Bluetooth is becoming a first-class citizen in the form of the Bluetooth Monitoring and Discovery integration. This means that Bluetooth devices are automatically discovered and have the ability to push device updates to other integrations providing them.

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As this is the first release bringing full support for the new Bluetooth Monitoring and Discovery integration, the list of integrations is modest, but covers two popular providers of such devices: Govee and Xiaomi. Alongside them, Inkbird, Moat, and SensorPush are also added, bringing the total number of new Bluetooth integrations up to five. Another integration, SwitchBot, will also make use of Bluetooth, making it a push-based integration and subsequently providing a much more stable and offline cloud-free experience.

How Home Assistant handles Bluetooth integrations

The new Bluetooth integration isn’t limited to just the Home Assistant Operating System running on a Raspberry Pi. Those running Home Assistant Supervised, Container, or Core, will require a compatible Bluetooth adapter which must be accessible to Home Assistant. Below is a selection of known working Bluetooth adapters, taken from the official documentation:

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Not recommended are the TP-Link UB400 and UB500, due to frequent connection failures. When choosing an adapter, I recommend future-proofing your setup by going with one that supports at least Bluetooth 5.0. If you wish to integrate devices that are out of a standard dongle-style adapter’s reach, consider a long-range option such as the XDO BT802.

If you are already using a Bluetooth integration in your Home Assistant setup, this update might require you to add a second. Only integrations that have been migrated to the new system can share an adapter, while some legacy integration need exclusive access to one. There will come a point when all integrations will be updated, but until then, legacy integration won’t play nicely with the Bluetooth Monitoring and Discovery integration.

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Don’t ignore the dangers of using Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

With all that said, I still wouldn’t recommend you fill your smart home with Bluetooth devices for several reasons. For starters, Bluetooth sensors don’t mesh. While Bluetooth is technically capable of creating a mesh, I know of very few Bluetooth devices that are mains-powered and could act as routers. As a consequence, the reach of your Bluetooth signal will be very limited. You are much better off building a solid Zigbee 3.0 network, which reliably covers every room of your home.

The second reason is that Bluetooth might wreak havoc with your existing Wi-Fi and Zigbee networks. Bluetooth operates on the same 2.4 GHz band as the before mentioned technologies and might be the cause of interference. While Bluetooth does use 79 radio frequency channels, you have no control over them, whereas you can set your Wi-Fi and Zigbee channels to overlap as little as possible. Bluetooth can also be disrupted by other devices, such as external USB drives, forcing you to use extension cables.

Lastly, there are few Bluetooth devices, for which you won’t find an alternative that makes use of Zigbee (or Thread in the future). If you still insist on using Bluetooth devices, an ESP32 running ESPHome might be able to communicate with them, without you having to use extension cables. For those in need of a way to control SwitchBot’s bots, curtains, temp meters, contact sensors, and motion sensors, there is SwitchBot-MQTT-BLE-ESP32.

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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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