By now i guess that some of you are already familiar with Home Assistant.
But for those that dont know what Home Assistant is, basically Home Assistant is an open-source home automation platform that allows you to control and automate various smart devices and services in your home.
It acts as a central hub of sorts to integrate and manage smart devices from different manufacturers that use different technologies, providing a unified interface for controlling and monitoring your smart home.
In comparison to a ready made solution/platform like Tuya, Mi Home, Philips or others, its a bit more challenging to setup at first and a little bit more involved in terms of maintenance, but on the other hand it brings a ton more options to the table.
Options that can allow you to really bring your ideas to life.
The challenges of Home Assistant: Self Hosting
If you are going this route you need a computer/server to run Home Assistant on.
The options in terms of computers&servers are basically limitless, heck…you can even run your Home Assistant instance on a Raspberry Pi 3B or 4.
But because Home Assistant is becoming more and more powerful it is somewhat recommended to take a few things into consideration and im gonna list them below:
- power consumption of the computer
- the speed of the storage medium
- noise levels
- CPU processing power
Sure you can ignore all of the above and install Home Assistant in your server rack but i would not advise you to do that.
Because if you run Home Assistant in Proxmox or Truenas and have a bunch of other power hungry services&VMs running in parallel you may experience slow downs or inconsistent performance (at least that was my experience).
So instead its best to user a low power computer that its sole purpose is to run Home Assistant and maybe a few other services that are not consuming all of the available resources.
What is the best server for Home Assistant?
Once again i will present to you 3 different options, and 3 different price level.
Everyone of them is a good pick, it all depends on how much cash are you willing to spend.
Low Budget Home Assistant Server
HP T630 Thin Client AMD GX-420GI
The first option on your list is a second hand thin client from HP that its generally used in businesses.
Our unit is a HP T630 with a quad-core AMD GX-420GI that consumes around 15W of power.
It supports DDR4 memory in dual-channel, up to 32GB and M.2 SSD (Sata) slot.
In terms of performance the CPU is twice as fast, compared to a PI4 and it puts the PI to shame when you look at all the IO and expansion slots.
Be sides the standard 1Gbps RJ45 Ethernet port the HP T630 it also supports Fiber optic networking thanks to an module that you can install in the back of the unit.
One thing to take into account is the size of the dives, that its a bit bigger then it looks in photos. Basically if you lay the device flat, it has a footprint like 4 Intel Nucs arranged side by side onto a square.
The price on Amazon is in the range of 45$ to 60$, with 8GB of RAM and 120GB SSD.
> See all the HP T630 specifications here.
Mid-Budget Home Assistant Server
3 Different options with similar specs and performance
What we are looking at?
Those are again second hand computers that are used in medium to large scale businesses.
They are great at standalone computers because they have decent performance and upgradability.
But because medium to large scale businesses tend to upgrade the hardware somewhat often, now we see a huge influx of decommissioned computers on eBAY and Amazon.
Here are 3 Different Mini PCs from 3 different manufactures but with similar specs that are more the adequate for running Home Assistant and other services without breaking a sweat.
We are talking about the following machines:
- Dell OptiPlex 7040 Mini PC specifications here
- Lenovo ThinkCenter M710Q Mini PC specifications here
- HP EliteDesk 800 G3 Mini PC specifications here
They all come with Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors, with support for maximum 32Gb of RAM DDR4. One SATA3 drive slot and one NMVe slot, gigabit ethernet a ton of ports and a 35W to 65W TDP.
From my experience the best CPU/RAM/Storage configuration for any of those Mini PCs is the Intel Core I5 6500T, 16GB of RAM and 256GB SATA SSD.
For this configuration you can expect to pay, second hand or refurbished, around 120$ to 150$.
But you have around five times more CPU power and expansion possibilities compared to a PI 4 and around 2.5 times more performance compared to the HP 630T.
Its true that the power consumption went a bit up but not by that much. Because most of the time (at least in 50% of the cases) your CPU load wont be at 100% for extended periods of time.
Another cool fact of those Tiny PC, is the fact that they have 2 M.2 slots and you use a SATA SSD (is way faster then needed for HASS and other services) you can use the slots for a nRF52840 M.2 Zigbee module or an M.2 Google Coral Accelerator TPU.
This translates to a power consumption that is way lass then 35W.
Another option to consider is the HP EliteDesk 705 G3 Mini with an AMD PRO A10-8770E . This one can be found at around 80$ to 120$ and has similar specs with those Mini PC that ive mentioned above.
The only major downside is that the performance is 35% worse then the Intel Core I5 6500T and also the operating temps are a bit higher.
„I dont have a budget” Home Assistant Server
In this case the best option by far is an Intel NUC.
As of now the tiny PCs from intel are discontinued but you can still find alot of relevant models for around 200$ to 900$ new and open box as low as 150$.
The best CPU for Home Assistant in my honest opinion is the Intel Core i5-10210U. Its a Quad-Core CPU that consumes around 15W of power and also it runs super cool.
But if you want more CPU power because you want to run also some VMs or other services that require a lot more CPU/RAM the Intel i5-1240P should do the trick. The price for that configuration its around 500$ to 750$.
In conclusion, choosing the right server to run Home Assistant is a crucial decision that can significantly impact the performance and reliability of your smart home automation platform.
For users seeking simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and energy efficiency, the HP T630 stands as an excellent choice.
Somewhat compact size and low power consumption make it an ideal entry-level option for smaller smart home setups.
For those seeking more processing power and flexibility, the Mid tier Tiny computers and Intel NUCs are the way to go.
Their ability to handle more devices, complex automations, and additional applications provides a scalable platform for growing smart homes.
In cases where virtualization and containerization are preferred, Docker containers running on a capable server offer the best of both worlds. This setup allows for easy management, portability, and resource isolation, granting the user more control over their Home Assistant environment.
Regardless of the server choice, privacy-conscious individuals may opt for self-hosting or cloud solutions like Home Assistant Supervised or Home Assistant OS. While cloud solutions offer convenience and ease of updates, self-hosting ensures data privacy and control over cloud dependency.
Ultimately, the best server for Home Assistant largely depends on individual needs, budget, technical expertise, and the scale of the smart home setup. By carefully considering these factors, users can create a reliable and efficient Home Assistant environment that seamlessly integrates and automates their smart devices, providing an enhanced and personalized smart home experience.