ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

DIY Home Automation with Raspberry Pi

Updated on April 4, 2016
The Raspberry Pi Logo
The Raspberry Pi Logo | Source

Make Your Home Smart with Raspberry Pi Home Automation

The Raspberry Pi is a small, cheap circuit board, called a microcontroller. It is basically a tiny computer on a single circuit board, and has been designed especially with hobbyists and students learning about electronics and programming in mind. It is very low powered compared to a regular computer, meaning that it can be left on all of the time without racking up your electricity bills too much, and it can easily be connected to a range of peripherals and other circuit boards.

All of this makes the Raspberry Pi ideal for DIY home automation projects. It can be used to control your lighting, appliances, security, networked entertainment devices and more. There is a large internet community of hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts out there using the Raspberry Pi for a wide range of ingenious projects which you can copy, and there are several high quality open source projects which you can use to get started.

This article will introduce you to some of the best resources, open source software software projects and other accessories or peripherals that you can use to get started with making your own smart home system. I will also feature some exciting projects which other people have made and shared online to give you some inspirations, and provide a few links to additional resources you may want to take a look at.

Build Your Own DIY Z-Wave Home Automation Controller

Z-Wave is one of the most popular home automation protocols. A protocol is simply a set of rules for electronic devices to communicate with each other, so that they can easily be combined to create a network of devices. This means that there are loads of products out there, such as sensors, lighting switches and dimmers, thermostats and radiator valve actuators, alarms and more which are designed for easy inclusion into a z-wave smart home system.

See: A Beginners Guide to Z-Wave Home Automation

Because z- wave products are easy to install in your own home, they are very popular with DIY installers. But most people will still buy an off the shelf controller. The controller, by the way, is the 'brain' of your smart home - an electronic box, or mini-computer - which takes input from any sensors and switches you have, and usually a phone app as well, and translates this into commands to control your electrical systems and electronic devices.

But if you want a cheaper and more fun option you can create your own controller using a raspberry pi, a USB stick, and some free, open source software. Although I wouldn't go as far as to describe this as a simple project, you don't need to be an electronics expert to have a go at this. A reasonably intelligent and dedicated beginner should be able to pick up everything they need to know along the way.

The Z-Stick and Razberry Daughter Board

The Z-Stick is a pretty nifty piece of kit, which is able to turn any computer into a z-wave home automation controller. It is pretty cheap to buy, and comes in the form of a self-powered USB dongle. The Z-Stick is able to recognize Z-Wave devices and include them into your network, and then serves as a translator and communication device, bridging the gap between your computer and your home automation network. If you want to, you can use this to convert an old PC into a controller, but personally I don't think that is ideal. Firstly, a PC uses quite a bit of power to leave running permanently. Secondly an old PC is likely to have reliability issues, and a new PC would probably end up being more expensive than just buying an off the shelf controller.

What we are interested in doing is using the Raspberry Pi, and for that there is an excellent product called Razberry. The Razberry is a daughter board for the Raspberry Pi - a second circuit board which can be easily attached to you Pi, and when used with a Z-Stick includes everything you need to turn make your own home automation controller, complete with smartphone app.

In addition to the hardware the Razberry board comes with some excellent open source software which you can customize to your heart's content. It comes with an example app which you can use out of the box with very little set up to control your system from your Android or Apple smartphone. This app is written in Javascript - which is one of the most popular programming languages and is also considered to be one of the most beginner friendly. This makes it as easy for anyone to tinker with the example app, or even to build their own from the ground up. The back-end is written in Python.

The hardware set up is not too difficult either, meaning that most people should be able to get a controller up and running and ready to either use or tinker with in very little time and without encountering too much difficulty.

You can find a global list of Razberry Daughter Board Suppliers here or check out the amazon link to the top right of this section of text.

Raspberry Pi Media Center
Raspberry Pi Media Center

The definitive guide to using RaspBMC to turn your Pi into a home media centre.


Raspberry Pi and Raspbmc for Networked Home Entertainment

XMBC is an excellent free and open source software system which you can use to make your own home theatre PC, media server, and to turn your regular TV into a smart TV with your own custom built set top box. It's a great way to build your own advanced, networked home entertainment system without having to spend a fortune to do it.

Most people install XBMC onto a PC, but you can also use a raspberry Pi! One of the most innovative and exciting features of the raspberry pi is its support for high definition video formats, making it a great choice for this kind of project.

Raspbmc is a free distribution of the open source Linux operating system called Debian - the same operating system which is usually used by the raspberry pi. It comes pre-packaged with XBMC optimized for the low power pi board.

Compared to other DIY home theatre / networked home entertainment software like Myth TV, the Raspbmc is really easy to install and get started with - even if you have never used Linux before. And of course it also comes with plenty of advanced features and customization options.

PrivateEyePi Home Monitoring

PrivateEyePi provides free and open source software which you can use to build a range of DIY smart home projects, focussing on 'home monitoring'. If you are interested in using your Pi to create your own home security system then this is an excellent place to start.

In addition to the free software PrivateEyePi has step by step tutorials for a range of projects, and also has a reasonably priced store for you to buy any extra components and devices which you may need.



HomeAidPi follows a similar concept to the Razberry, except that it supports a larger range of systems and is a bit more expensive. HomeAidPi itself is free software which turns your Pi into a smart home controller, which can then be used as the controller for a wide range of home automation devices from popular protocols such as Insteon, X-10 and Zigbee.

Smart Home Automation with Linux and Raspberry Pi
Smart Home Automation with Linux and Raspberry Pi

For complete beginners with no experience using Raspberry Pi this book provides an excellent introduction. It starts of with the real basics, introducing you to the Pi's Linux operating system and teaching you how to use the Linux command line, before going on to explore a range of different home automation projects which are all suitable for beginners.


The OpenSprinkler Project


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • AlexK2009 profile image


      5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Thanks. I will check it out

    • electronician profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean Walsh 

      5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi Alex, please check out this link for an excellent open source project to help you monitor electricity consumption using a Raspberry Pi -

    • AlexK2009 profile image


      5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Interesting article. What I would like is to be able to monitor electricity usage by various devices and I think setting this up could be dangerous. Apart from that I have the control I need, but being able to switch the heating on using a smartphone while coming home sounds neat.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)