Top 10 uses for Home Assistant without buying extra hardware

Tutorial Home Assistant

Home Assistant is a great software package to make your home smarter. The main focus is simplicity. Because it is open source, you can use it for free and extend it if you want. You can activate the core functionality using plugins. Home Assistant has a pretty frequent release cycles to improve and extend functionality. There a many things you can achieve through Home Assistant without buying extra hardware.

To give it a chance, all you need is a Raspberry Pi to get things running. If you have them, you can easily start to integrate your lamps, sensors and switches into Home Assistant. The power of Home Assistant is in it’s integrations. But if you don’t have this smart equipment or rather decide to temporary stick to your other smart home system, Home Assistant still has a lot of very cool features for you.

This list is based on our own experience. If you think we missed a major one, feel free to have a look in the component library and let us know.


Presence Detection

Based on your smart phone Home Assistant can detects if you, your family and friends are home. There are three ways to achieve this: the system can scan your local network, search for Bluetooth devices within range, and use a third-party service.

The easiest way to scan your local network for the presence of network devices, you can let Home Assistant connect to your router. Check out if your router is supported by Home Assistant and add the appropriate ‘device_tracker’ entry to the Home Assistant configuration.ini file. If your router is not supported, you can choose to go for the Nmap device tracker. A first great use of Home Assistant without buying extra hardware.

Present Detection badges
Present Detection badges


Sunrise and sunset are already integrated in Home Assistant, all you need to do is to set your location in the configuration file. For meteorological data you can use different Weather components. Some of these components can also be configured as sensors. Examples are the components of the Dutch weather source Buienradar and Buienradar Sensor.

Knowing the weather is great, but there are also more specific climate components that can improve your life. Examples are the pollen sensor component and the World Air Quality Index component.


With the Waze Travel Time sensor you can use Waze to calculate travel time from one or two fixed or variable points. You can use GPS coordinates but also use a device, sensor or zone as a start point or destination.

Waze routes Home Assistant
route from work to home and Home to work from Waze.

Mail and Calendar

Home Assistant is not the best way to process your mail and appointments, but you can easily display them. For email you can display the number of unread emails but also the content of the messages.

Next to the traditional calenders (like Google Calendar) you can also integrate different versions of ToDo lists, like Wunderlist, Todoist and Remember The Milk.

Birthday calendar-Home Assistant
Birthday calendar-Home Assistant

Garbage Collection Scheme

On Github, user Pippyn made available Home Assistant sensors for multiple Dutch waste collectors. Two minor drawbacks: it is not yet an official component and it’s only for the Dutch market. For the rest, it’s great! You can easily configure your waste collector and address and the sensors will show you the days the different types of garbage will be collected. Even two extra sensors are included for the garbage that will be collected today and tomorrow, so you can use it in automations.

Garbage collection card
Garbage Collection Card

Product Price Tracking

So you probably are orienting on buying smart sensors, switches and lights so you can control them with Home Assistant and make your home more awesome. But you don’t want to pay a premium for these products.

A good first step to pay a good price for the components is to consider China shops to purchase your sensors, switches and lights. But Home Assistant can assist you in that. It can monitor the prices of the products you are planning to buy, so you can buy them when they are on sale. Currently only a Gearbest sensor is available as official component to track prices of specific products on Gearbest, but that probably will be just a matter of time. Be sure to check out our list of smart sensors, switches, lights and other smart products that are compatible with Home Assistant.

Postal Service Trackers

We all receive packages now and then and Home Assistant can assist you with that. Some of the components can display the number of packages to be received (for example the PostNL sensor) but some of the components, like the UPS Sensor and the Fedex Sensor, provide detailed tracking information. Even the tracking service for your China orders, has a sensor in Home Assistant.

17track and PostNL in Home Assistant
17track and PostNL in Home Assistant

Stock Exchange Tracking

When browsing through the Home Assistant components, there are plenty of plugins to monitor the different stock and currency exchange markets. A great way to start is to the Alpha Vantage component. You need to request a free API key at their site, but then you are ready to go.

Track you stock positions and currencies in Home Assistant
Track you stock positions and currencies in Home Assistant

There are also components for the next generation currencies, like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, so you can monitor the rates and your wallets.

Public Transportation

For a large number of public transportation companies, you can monitor your trips and travel time through Home Assistant (for example Dutch Railroads, German Railroads, London Underground). You can setup your different trips as sensors in Home Assistant, so you can configure notification and combine them with other components.

And if public Transportation take too long for you, you can always configure Uber.

Order a Pizza at Dominos

Good news: you can order a pizza at Dominos using Home Assistant. Bad news: this feature is currently only available in the US and there currently is no support in this component for toppings, coupons or order tracking. But its a start of something awesome! A background on this feature can be found here.

What next?

Having these components configured is a good start, but as said in the introduction the power is in it’s integrations. So connect your Philips Hue or Ikea Tradfy and control the lights from there. If you are planning to buy lights, sensors, switches or cameras check out our library with products that are compatible with Home Assistant.

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