Darren Harrison with his home automation set up.

Darren Harrison lives in the home of the future in the city of the future.

“I like trying things out with Home Assistant,” said Harrison, a developer at Waikato-based software specialist Company-X.

At work Harrison was a developer on Transport Insights, the world’s first national roading data quality assurance tool. It’s no surprise that Harrison is looking for assurance when it comes to running his home.

Harrison installed Home Assistant, an open-source home automation solution, on a barebones Intel NUC personal computer a few years ago. The server uses Internet of Things technology to connect to smart devices like cameras and sensors around the home and is compatible with more than 1,000 brands and services.

“I evaluated all the options and tried to pick one that was open source and had a good community behind it,” Harrison said.

Open source means the code is publicly accessible for anyone to see, modify and distribute. Users can add features to Home Assistant that suit their homes and share their work with others.

“They're pulling in from as many places as possible. Once you connect something together it's coming up with ideas of how you can use that to do something smart,” Harrison said.

For Harrison, smart means using technology to assist around the house, rather than putting it in charge of housekeeping.

“I don't want it running the house, but it's assisting with helpful things around the house,” he said.

“I’ve heard stories of people who connected all their lights to Home Assistant who had a power outage at three the morning and when power returned all their lights started flashing because they were trying to connect to the server. I don't want that.”

Harrison is using Home Assistant for home security.

“I’ve got cameras so we can see what's going on around the house. The system tells me where people are.

“Home Assistant includes weather forecasting, so I can make sure the temperature in the house doesn't get too cold overnight.”

Home Assistant also tells Harrison when to put the washing out and bring it back in again through notifications to his smartphone and Google Home. It’s been in a lot this summer.

“So, I'm out here working in my office and Home Assistant will tell me when the washing machine has finished as it is connected to the power point so I can hang out the washing. It is also linked to a rain sensor so it will send out a warning. When the weather is changeable, and we have a lot of washing to do it is wonderful. It’s pretty handy to know when it’s finished.

“If it doesn't notify me that the washing's done, then we're no worse off than we were before, but if it does it's helpful.”

Harrison also uses Home Assistant to monitor UV alerts, solar panels and energy usage, automatically open the garage door when he or his wife comes home and turn off the office heater.

“It senses when the garage door is open. If it’s open more than 10 minutes, it will notify me.””