Home Assistant offers a wide variaty of add-ons. These add-ons are made by HA theselve or provided by the community.
In this article I am going to focus on two specific add-ons which will make your life a lot easier: File editor, Node-RED, Terminal & SSH, VLC, Z-wave JS.
Quick tip: The add-on page has a "Show in sidebar" toggle. This makes a add-on easy to access without having to browse through the settings page first.
You can install these via Settings → Add-ons. At the bottom right you see a blue button labelled [ADD-ON STORE]. Type the name in the search bar or browse the store to go the particular add-on page. On this page a button [INSTALL] should be shown. Click this button to install the add-on to Home Assistant.
This add-on makes it very easy to browse and edit files directly in the browser. Very useful when editing for example your
Home Assistant logs a lot of data which can wear out your SD cards quickly. For me only the history of my electricity sensors is interesting. Logging is done by the recorder integration. In your
configuration.yaml you can specify which entities HA needs to include for logging. With the file editor add-on this is piece of cake!
recorder: include: entity_globs: - sensor.electricity_*
With this add-on you get an SSH terminal in your browser. You can do the same as the previous plugin: edit files and browse the file system. Beside that you can also manage processes, check the system etc.
Last but not least, the VLC add-on. This add-on allows me to play audio on the RPI for Home Assistant. To play particular events, such when the doorbell rings, I've uploaded certain wav files to Home Assistant.
By far the nicest add-on is the Node-RED add-on. Although Home Asisstant allows you to create automations via their GUI, Node-RED takes it one step further. Instead of filling in forms, you connect nodes to each other.
For example in the flow below I play a MP3 file when my doorbell rings as well as sending a push message with Pushover.
Sadly, Node-RED has a somewhat steep learning curve. Finding the things I wanted to automate was difficult when I first started. But with a friend's assistance, I was able to get by. Now, I would no longer automate in the Home Assistant GUI.
The magic node to look out for is the Debug node. It shows you the value coming in. Also don't forget to set the output to "complete msg object" to see everything send by the node.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to add-ons. There are so many add-ons available, it is truely amazing. The community makes lots of nice add-ons as well.
In the next part 3 (not published yet) will describe the automation flows I've made in NODE-red 🚀