You guys seems to love part one of this little mini series where we took a look at some of the most common Home Assistant beginner mistakes that I see all of the time on our awesome Discord server, from YouTube comments, the Home Assistant community forum and various other support channels. If you haven’t read part one of this, you can check it out here!
So jumping right in with mistake number 1, and that is not using a naming scheme.
In particular, not using a naming scheme from the get go – when you first start out with Home Assistant, you may not have that many devices and so naming your devices may not be something you really give that much thought to, so you just go with something like “living room light” or “light 1” or even just sticking with the default name of the device.
But trust me, once you start gathering more and more devices, you will want to have a more useful naming scheme in place otherwise things can get really confusing very quickly, and suddenly you won’t know if “living room light” is the main room light, the lamp in that corner, the lamp in the other corner or what the heck is going on.
If you want my advice for what I do, here are a few examples of what I typically do:
Its not just devices that this applies to, but everything – Automations, Scripts, Entities, Scenes and basically anything you can give a name to, will benefit from this advice. Coming back and changing things after the fact can be a nightmare as you’ll have to rename everywhere that references the original name in all of your scripts and automations, so save yourself some time and get a good solid foundation down right out of the gate.
I’m probably about to attack everyone here, including myself, but mistake number 2 is to stop over complicating things!
We all know how powerful Home Assistant is and how really any automation you can think of doing, can probably be done, but sometimes this can be our own downfall.
There is so many ways to do things and because Home Assistant is so powerful, this can almost trick us into thinking that everything we are doing needs to be this big long complicated automation with dozens of triggers, conditions, choices and action upon action. But, sometimes you just need to take a step back, breathe and it will hit you that there is a much easier and simpler way of achieving the exact same result.
It’s funny, I actually had a really good chat with Home Assistant developer and legend Franck recently, and we were talking about this exact thing saying how we are both guilty of over complicating our automations, so trust me you are not alone, we all do it, but sometimes things don’t need to be all that complicated and it pays to just keep things simple you know?
Infact, let me know in the comments if you know exactly what I’m talking about, if you are guilty of over complicating things, let me know down below!
2 Factor Authentication
The third of our Home Assistant beginner mistakes is a simple one to fix and that is not enabling 2 factor authentication.
In my opinion, there really is no excuse to not have 2 factor authentication enabled, it can be done in just a matter of seconds, and should provide a big improvement in security for those of you who have your Home Assistant available outside of your house. You also won’t really notice it is even there because once you have logged in for the first time, you will never really have to deal with it again since Home Assistant keeps you signed in.
The only reason you could have for not enabling this is if you don’t have Home Assistant available externally or you use a VPN to access your instance, but even then I still think it is worth turning on given how little time it takes and how much it will improve your security.
If you want to know how to enable 2 factor authentication, then I take you through the process in the essential tips for security video. That’s also a great video if you want to learn some more about securing your Home Assistant.
Mistake number 4 is one that some of you may not agree with, and that’s OK, and that is leaving too long between updates.
Hear me out, I think Home Assistant is much more stable and reliable now when it comes to updates, and if you do your due diligence of reading the breaking the changes before upgrading like we discussed in the article, and you maybe even wait for a couple days or a week after the latest release, then you will more than likely be absolutely fine to update.
The reason I think leaving too long between updates is a mistake is because you just end up having to read through months and months of breaking changes and release notes, and the likelihood of missing something there is quite high.
I’m not saying you have to update every month if you don’t want to, but even something like every second month or something like that would be a much better strategy than say 6-7-8 months or even more. I do think that for 99% of people it is probably more than safe enough to update every month if you want, plus if you have your backups as we’ve spoke about in the previous videos, then you can always rollback. You do have backups right?
Check those Logs
The fifth and final mistake is a simple one, and that is not keeping an eye on the logs, and not just when something goes wrong, but occasionally taking a peak in there from time to time.
The logs can often provide a lot of information that you may otherwise be unaware of, such as integrations not working properly, automations and scripts not configured correctly or other errors that may stop Home Assistant from running or even potentially slow things down.
The first logs you can check for are the obvious ones under configuration and then logs, but if you are using Home Assistant OS or supervised, then you can also access some other logs under Supervisor > System and then logs and this is where you may find errors relating to supervisor, such as add-ons or snapshots. It’s worth just having a quick look in here from time to time just to make sure everything is working properly, and these logs will also be really useful for if you are asking for help on discord or in the forums so it is good to know where they are.
And that is it! That is 5 more Home Assistant beginner mistakes that I see all the time, but I’m curious, let me know in the comments what is the biggest mistake you’ve made so far on your home automation journey? These are ones that I often see when helping people, but perhaps you have some others I haven’t thought of yet, so drop them down below!