HomeKit’s ecosystem is Tremendous, but usually, it’s very expensive to get a compatible device. But mostly we could see many unsupported devices, the importance of Homebridge is to bring this unsupported device to HomeKit.
What is Homebridge?
Homebridge can be defined as software that allows you to connect to an unsupported smart-home device so that you’ll be able to access it through Apple HomeKit.
Homebridge software can be installed on macOS, Linux, Windows, or even in a docker container, but most people prefer to run it on a cheap rate Raspberry Pi, one of the easy-to-use versions of Homebridge with an awesome website interface is the HOOBS. You can download it for free and install it on your own Raspberry Pi, or you can rather purchase a ready-to-go all-in-one box kit.
How To Instal Homebridge on a Raspberry Pi
If you would want to do it yourself (install Homebridge/HOOBS) I would actually give you a go-ahead order because it’s very easy and straightforward. The first thing you should do is download the image. Is totally free, but you can choose to support the software if you like. But you’ll be prompted to input your payment details even if you’re not paying
After you’ve finished downloading the image, then flash the image to an SD card make sure the SD card is empty because flashing an image to an SD card will empty it. Before proceeding to insert the SD card into the Raspberry Pi.
The Raspberry Pi after it has been powered with a cable (USB-C), Should be connected to the home internet. This connection should be made with an Ethernet cable. You can now set up HOOBS by either wiring it or over Wi-Fi but wiring it is usually more reliable.
The next step is connecting to the HOOBS device. On your web browser go to http://hoobs.local/ for those using Mac but if you’re using Pc go to http://hoobs/. Since it’s going to be your first visit to the site. You’ll be asked to sign up, then you’ll be shown the interface. The web interface is what you’ll use to configure new smart home devices and also add more plugins.
Difference Between Home Hub And Homebridge
Generally, The Raspberry Pi has only been used as an interface for the apple device on your network and non HomeKit device on your network. The home hub is very important in terms of controlling smart home devices through the home app apart away from the local area network (LAN). This literally means that you must have an Apple Device in your house in other to have control over your home devices when you’re not on your local network.
Setting Up An Apple Device as a Home Hub
According to Apple’s Explanations, you can use Home Pod Mini, Home pod, Apple TV, or iPad as Home Hub Devices. When an Apple TV or Home Pod is signed in to the same iCloud account as your Home. Then automatically it becomes a Home Hub. If you want to set up an iPad as Home Hub then you have to sign it into the same iCloud account that was used to set up your HomeKit Device. Then Navigate to settings > home > enable then select this iPad as a home hub.
Device and Costs
Adding smart home devices to Homebridge
Adding Kasa smart light switch to HomeKit
Quite a good number love smart light switches. Because they easily integrate with already made fixtures, and you don’t have to treat them like a smart device. The switch can be controlled like any other light; it just made it versatile by adding up extra options to it. It has multiple peculiar options for these smart switches/ Apple Watch.
- Kasa dimmer switch, three-pack: $44
- Kasa light switch, three-pack: $39
- Kasa three-way switch, two-pack: $26
First, you have to set up the switches in the Kasa Smart app on your iPhone. To connect HOOBS to these switches (or other Kasa plugs or bulbs) is very easy. You just have to install the Tplink Smarthome plugin. It automatically detects the Kasa devices on the network and makes them available through Apple’s Home app. When your devices are added to HOOBS you’ll just need to link the bridge to Homekit as Explained below.
Adding Nest thermostat and doorbell to HomeKit
Nest doorbell and thermostat are one of the favorite devices to access through the HomeKit. They are essential and have worked faultlessly in the Home app with temperature control view, two-way speaking, and live camera.
Firstly set up your Nest smart home devices with the Nest app, then go to HOOBS and make sure the Nest plugin is installed successfully. Navigate to the configuration page, click on the link account. They will be a popup, make sure your browser is not set in such a way that it blocks pop-ups. Sign in to your Google account – make sure is the same google account you used in the Nest app – then copy and paste the generated code in the next step. And that’s all, your Nest device is now connected to HOOBS.
Adding cameras to HomeKit
Adding Blink cameras
Blink cameras are extremely cheap means to add cameras to your smart home. Blink has an offer that enables you to subscribe for cloud storage of video, but you can also store the video clips locally on a USB drive with the use of the Blink sync module without paying for cloud storage. The Homebridge setup with the cameras is still a work in progress, but the recent version offers temperature readings, camera thumbnails, alerts, occupancy sensors, and the ability to arm/disarm the security system. One of its disadvantages is the live view, currently, it’s only working for first-generation cameras.
When you finish setting up your Blink camera in the Blink app, then proceed to install the Blink For Home HOOBS plugin. Enter the configuration settings and input your login details. After inputting your login info, you will get the two-factor authentication code as a text message. Input the code into the PIN requested in configuration, then it should start running, that’s all.
Adding Wyze cameras
Wyze cameras are more full-featured compared to the Blink Cameras, As I already mentioned above, the Blink cameras are still lagging and need a bit of improvement before they can provide a faultless experience. Wyze cameras are a good option. Just that setting them up takes a lot of time, work, including modified firmware. the modified firmware makes it easier to add them to HOOBS as you would have a standard IP camera.
Adding existing IP cameras to Homekit
standard IP cameras are very very easy to add to HomeKit using HOOBS. Firstly we install the Camera FFmpeg plugin. After the installation, then we can add a camera under the configuration. You will need the still-image URL and also the RTSP URL. Therefore adding the URL is just all you have to do, you can customize more specific options, such as the bitrate, resolution, frame rate, encoding method, and add many more cameras.
Adding unsupported smart outlets to HomeKit
The Tuya and Smart Life apps are examples of supported by almost all of the low-price smart outlets and myriad other devices available on Amazon. We’re also Thankful, that the Tuya Web plugin can enable us to bring all these accessories into HOOBS and HomeKit. Beyond general smart outlets, you can also bring more devices into HomeKit.
- Single smart plug four-pack: $26
- Energy monitoring smart plug two-pack: $22
- Outdoor-rated dual-smart plug: $16
First of all, we start by adding all your smart outlets before adding other Tuya-compatible devices to the Smart Life app. Then we proceed to add the Tuya Web plugin to HOOBS and enter the configuration page. Enter your country code (234 for Nigeria), select your smart life as your platform, and enter your log-in details. It’s as simple as that!
Bringing bridged devices into the Home app
We can also Bring smart home devices from HOOBS to Apple’s Home app is easy.
Go to the HOOBS webpage interface and navigate to the Bridges tab. Then you select the desired bridge. Open the Home app, select plus +, and select Add Accessory. Then you have to Scan the QR code provided by HOOBS to add the accessories on that bridge into HomeKit.
After scanning the QR code, you will now be able to name your smart home devices and select icons, and also select the room they belong to.
Using other voice assistants to control Homebridge devices
Importance of Homebridge software
While the importance of Homebridge Software is to add up all your devices into HomeKit, it also links all your smart-home devices. This is where you can see how valuable Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support are. With the help of Homebridge you can add up all your smart home devices together, then use any type of smart picker that you can afford to control. It’s not necessary to spend about $100 on a new Apple HomePod mini for every room if you have an extra Echo Dot lying around.
Adding Alexa support to Homebridge
The Alexa plugin it’s important as it allows you to control any Homebridge-controlled devices with any of our Amazon Alexa devices and also the Astro household robot. When you’ve installed the Alexa plugin, it’ll be very to set up an account for the skill.
Enter your login details on the HOOBS Alexa plugin setup page. Then, you install the Homebridge Alexa skill in the Amazon Alexa app and add up the skill to your account.
Adding Google Assistant support to Homebridge
Google Assistant support has been very useful to me as I now use a Pixel 6 Pro device. While most devices around the house have unification support with Google assistant through their various apps, using HomeBridge makes it easy to add all the devices from different apps at once.
Gsh is a plugin I use to connect to a Google account. After installing the plugin, then go to the setup page. From that page, select Link Account and log in to your Google account. Go to the Google Home app on your Android or iOS device, click on Plus in the top left corner > Set up device > Works with Google > and then add the Homebridge service. From there, make sure you sign in with the same Google account.
All the devices connected to The Homebridge will be seen under Linked to you. You can now customize it by moving each device to the desired home and room that is within the Google Home app.
The Disadvantages Of Homebridge
Let’s not be carried away by the importance of Homebridge and HOOBS without talking about the downsides. The software enables otherwise totally not supported devices to be integrated into HomeKit. There are other types of bridges available, but this particular one is a more brand-specific device. making Use of HOOBS, enables you to use almost any smart device with HomeKit, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa. But, it is not the best solution
Homebridge setup is more involved compared to native HomeKit compatible devices. Homebridge cannot deliver HomeKit Secure Video. This means that it won’t be possible to record with the smart camera connected to HomeKit through Homebridge. it can be disappointing, there are most times where cloud recording is needed, so using an ordinary camera or attaching an NVR for recording may be better.
Setting up the Homebridge and also making sure the setup is right is usually complicated and difficult. We might like to encounter scenarios like a frozen HOOBS web interface and to make sure it’s okay we need to unplug the Raspberry Pi before it will get unfrozen. After the setup, however, most times we rarely encounter difficulties. Everything is meant to work out as expected.
Why Do You Really Need Homebridge?
There’s are plenty of reasons as mentioned above, but if you are using myriad apps on your phone all with the main purpose of controlling one of your many smart devices, Homebridge or HOOBS could certainly be a good answer to why you really need Homebridge software. As It allows you to remove or put all those apps to the App Library while you use Apple’s Siri or Home app for almost every smart home-related activity where it is needed.
With each non-compatible device, you bring into HomeKit, you can save actually save from the native options because it doesn’t take too long to set up and you can also customize it in a way the smart home device can work natively with HomeKit.