Five Free Home Automation Tools
So you’ve spent all your money on a crapload of smarthome devices and don’t have anything else to spend on software, or you just like tinkering with stuff and discovering how and why they work, or maybe you’re just a fan of not supporting developers for their hard work and want something for free. Actually that was sort of snide. There are plenty of people that support developers but also like open source software, myself included. Any way you look at it we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a short list of free and/or open source home automation software.
First off is Eventghost. Eventghost is not actually strictly HA software and was not designed for that. What is it then? EG is a Windows based automation tool. It can use different input controls such as infrared, wireless remotes, game controllers, keyboards or input from remote devices to trigger macros. It could be used to control a media center computer but it’s also possible to use for a hell of a lot more than that.
My personal use is sort of as a middle man. There is an Eventghost plugin for HomeSeer that I use for the two to communicate. I also use the MQTT protocol for the same thing. I set up some of the cheap Chinese miLight LED light strips in my kitchen. For some reason the app I use with it won’t communicate with the Wifi hub so I set it up on my personal PC and let EG make sure it’s constantly running. I also have an old Snapstream Firefly remote set up and Eventghost intercepts those commands and forwards them to my FireTV as well as to Homeseer. I also use it with Tasker and Autoremote so that I can control my PC remotely if needed. That’s currently about it. I used to use a convoluted system of macros so that Homeseer would know exactly which HDMI input was on and turn on/off the correct virtual devices via my Globalcache IR devices. Currently that is disabled until I have time to really work out how I want it set up.
Anyway, it supports just about any type of PC connected remote receiver you can think of, tons of built-in program controls as well as hardware via serial port, over Ethernet and USB. For a semi-complete listing you can check out this list.
Domoticz is an HA system with support for quite a few devices and additional support for 3rd party integrations. It was designed with an HTML5 front end so can be accessed via desktop and mobile. It’s pretty lightweight as well and can run on the Raspberry Pi as well as OSX, Windows and Linux. The source code is available on GitHub and is released under the GPLv3.
Home Assistant is available on GitHub and is released under an MIT license. It can be run on anything that will handle Python 3. It supports quite a few commercial and open source devices and hubs and also allows you to integrate with Alexa and IFTTT. I’ve been toying with the idea of running HomeAssistant as another secondary (tertiary I suppose) controller in addition to HomeSeer just because of the amount of stuff it supports and will control. I’m only really familiar with Python 2 but I do know that 2 and 3 can run concurrently from what I understand.
OpenHAB is popular among open source folks that are into HA. There is a large support community and it’s written in Java so will run on just about anything, including the Pi. It supports hundreds of devices and software and also has Android and iOS apps. OpenHAB’s source is on GitHub and is released under the Eclipse Public License.
Open Source Automation is the last one we’re looking at today. I’m not very familiar with OSA yet but it looks promising. It runs on Windows only and doesn’t appear to be open source, only free. There seems to be a wide range of plugins and more in development.
Do you use any of these or something else? There several other free programs available, some of which have been around for a long time as well.