Home automation and Raspberry PI

Raspberry Pi 3

Written by Mariete

Apr 16, 2020

Updated: May 1, 2020 @ 12:26 pm

As you probably know, shortly after you have read some of my writings on this blog, the small Raspberry Pi mini computer is one of my favorite platforms for everything that has to do with home automation and smart home.

The price and versatility of the Raspberry Pi make it ideal for endless applications.

But, let's go slowly ...

What is Raspberry PI?

The Raspberry Pi is a very cheap small computer, ideal for use in home automation applications, it can cost from a few 35€ (although we will talk about that below) and it has enough power for many more things than you can imagine.

In addition, its consumption is negligible (over the 5 watts at full power), so it is ideal to be able to leave it permanently on without ever turning it off (which is normal in home automation systems, logically). It also has no fan, so it is silent 100%, ideal for it to be on 24 × 7.

Well, now, but, you will ask me, my friend:

What is a Raspberry Pi for?

Well, among many others, you can use a Raspberry Pi to:

  • Home automation controller (yes, this is what we are going to talk about here).
  • Multimedia device for watch movies in high definition, listen to music, etc.
  • System of video surveillance
  • Telephone switchboard
  • Desktop pc alternative

And you, Mariete, what uses do you give to the Raspberry Pi for home automation?

I have several Raspberry Pi at home working permanently, they have been on for years, and some of the things I have done with them are the following:

  • I have the Weather Station, what can you see here, working in one of them. As the weather station needs very little power, I have used a Raspberry Pi 2, a fairly old model, but with plenty of capacity. I take advantage of this excess capacity to also use it as a remote USB port server with VirtualHereIn this way, it is not necessary to take cables from the alarm and the 433Mhz receiver to the virtual machine with Windows 10 where HomeSeer is running (and who is who really uses those devices remotely).
  • There is a Raspberry Pi 3 running Network node and MQTT server. It is a main piece of the house and its reliability is beyond doubt. Sometimes it's months in a row running permanently, night and day, without any problem. Nor does it lack power for the work it does.
  • For the InfluxDB database, where all the historical information of all the sensors in the house is stored (and there are a few!), I use another Raspberry Pi 3. It also has more than enough power for some more minor services such as the server infrared MQTT and something else.

I also have a couple of more Raspberrys that I use for tests, gadgets or substitutions.

And, are there multiple versions of Raspberry Pi?

Okay, I see that you have been paying attention to the previous paragraph, where I have said that I use several versions of Raspberries Pi.

Yes, there are many different versions, because its manufacturer is releasing new models for a short time, but basically the ones you can find on the market (by the order in which they seem most interesting to me):

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Raspberry 3

Although it is not the latest model, it is the one I use for more things. 

I think its performance / price ratio is ideal.

It has wifi, Bluetooth, 4 USB 2.0 posts, 100Mb Ethernet

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Raspberry Pi Zero

Launched in 2015.

It is much smaller and less powerful than the rest of the Rapberry Pi. It does not have Ethernet or USB, but it does have WiFi and Bluetooth. It has Mini-HDMI output.

An interesting concept, and it was planned to cost $US5 (yes, less than € 5!). The reality is that it is selling for much more and, unless it is for something very particular, I think it is not worth your purchase, today.

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Raspberry 4

Announced in June 2019

The last (for now) of the sisters

An important quantitative leap. It is almost a PC in a minimum size

Dual Micro-HDMI output with 4K support

There are 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB versions of memory

And how much does a Raspberry Pi cost?

It depends…

The Raspberry Pi, as such, is cheap. Its manufacturer, the Raspberry Foundation, designed it to universalize computing worldwide, including many countries where even the cheapest of computers could not be afforded.

The initial model, back in 2012, was released for $ 25. Subsequent versions have greatly improved their hardware with very little price increase. The new version 4 has a target price of about $ 35.

Keep in mind that this is the price of the board, to have a complete system you would have to add: power supply, Micro-SD card, box, HDMI cable and, in this case, if a fan is recommended. 

I have chosen a couple of kits from Amazon, one for the Raspberry 3 and another for Raspberry 4, with everything you need. I leave you below two affiliate links (if you buy it through this link I will receive a small commission that will come in handy for the maintenance of the web) for you to buy it.

Raspberry 3

Kit with everything you need to use it, from a seller with hundreds of very positive reviews. Amazon's Choice, very fast Prime shipping.

Raspberry 4

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, 4GB RAM + 64GB Micro SD Card, with Micro HDMI, 5V / 3A Power Supply with Switch, Fan, Micro HDMI. Amazon Prime shipping. Hundreds of positive ratings.

To conclude, keep in mind that Raspberry Pi do not work with Windows, but with Linux, so if you are not familiar with it, you will have to start them by following the many videos and tutorials on the Internet.

If you use it to build your smart home, the usual thing is that, once they are working, they do not leave a monitor or keyboard and mouse connected, they are «install and forget».

Subscribe to the blog now, if you haven't already. I plan to write more specific articles on using the Raspberry Pi to create smart homes.

 

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