State of the (IoT) Union 2021

Following on from last year’s IoT roundup, I thought I’d take another moment to reflect back on the current state of my smart home; how some of the previous projects have aged since first writeup, what’s new and what I’m looking to tackle next.

And oh my gosh, what a year 2021 has been! New homes, new jobs, even more working from home! Let’s get stuck in…

TikTok

As I built more and more smart things, I decided it might be fun to share what I learned on TikTok. I started the AndysSmartHome channel, and so far I’m really pleased with how its going.

Home Assistant

In last year’s round up, I mentioned that I was starting to play around with Home Assistant, this year it’s the centrepiece of the whole SmartHome setup. I am super super pleased with it. Getting it to work as I want is sometimes more a challenge than I would like – its certainly not something I would recommend to a non-technical person – but i’ve really been able to achieve a lot with it and I’ve not scratched the surface.

Bathroom Fan

Back in July I added a new bathroom controlled by Home Assistant using a Shelly relay and humidity sensor. This continues to work really well – it is reliable and dries out the bathroom perfectly without creating too much noise or making the room too cold.

Smart Coffee Maker

In November, I hacked my coffee maker to allow me to get notifications when it is finished brewing, as well as remotely trigger a new brew to start. It continues to work well. I use it when I have back-to-back meetings, with little time between them to go to the bathroom and grab a coffee – I can set the machine up and then trigger it when a meeting is coming to an end and have fresh coffee waiting for me.

Smart Heating

I had previously built a smart heating system that used 3D printed brackets and a stepper motor to drive the mechanical timer on my rental property. I designed it this way to so that it would not damage or modify the house at all and could be removed at the end of my tenancy.


The system continued to amaze me with its reliability, however, over the last year, I bought my home, so I no longer required this setup. I’ve built out a much more configurable setup, which I will write about soon, using Shelly relays to independently control the heating in each room. This allows me to use Home Assistant to create complex rules to detect if I’m working from home and behave differently. I’m hoping this will dramatically cut down the energy consumption of heating unneeded rooms.

Kitchen Lights

In October I installed RGB lights in the kitchen, they remain stuck in place and working without maintenance. They are a huge improve the look of the kitchen after dark and I am super happy with them.

Misc Smart Stuff

Home assistant has allowed for a number of minor upgrades to the Smart Home, not everything made it into a post or TikTok, here’s a rundown of what was new for 2021.

  • Bathroom mood lights: I added Ikea Tradfri spotlights to the bathroom with a motion sensor to control them. This means that the bathroom lights can automatically come on much dimmer at night time, as well as being controllable for when you want to set the mood for a bath.
  • Automatic heated blanket: Using a ZigBee smart socket and Home Assistant, I created an automation to automatically turn on the heated blanket before bedtime if it was cold.
  • Lots more automated lights: I added smart lighting to the bedroom and front hall, both triggered by motion sensors with different scenes for the time of day.
  • Rodent disco: I added flashing and moving lights to the attic space to deter mice

TV Recorder

In 2020, I wrote about my home built Freeview recorder. This continued to run until recently, when during renovations I removed it and decided to retire it. It still worked, but the TvHeadend/Kodi experience was always a bit choppier than I liked, and I never resolved my issues with live pause. Given I’d mostly moved to watching TV via streaming services, I decided it was no longer needed.

2022

I’m really super pleased with the state of the smart home so far, in 2022, I’m going to continue working to smooth out pain points as I continue to work from home. I’m also looking just starting to dig into Home Assistant’s energy tracking features. I already set it up to track energy from my Shelly devices, in the coming months I want to look deeper into this so it I can track energy use of the whole home.

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