Home Automation Setup

This guide is a work-in-progress. Some parts may be out of date or not available yet.


I’ve setup everything in my home to talk to everything else, which is no small feat. I have my media center, lights, music, switches, and more controlled with Home Assistant. Sonarr and Radarr download and organize movies & TV shows that Plex then streams to any device. I can press one button on my universal remote to dim the lights and turn on my TV and soundbar to the right input to start a movie. This is what it takes to make that happen.

Parts List

Most guides for Home Assistant assume you’re using a generic Linux box or a Raspberry Pi. While many things are the same between Synology’s Linux and Debian-based distros like Ubuntu and Raspbian, there’s some differences when using a Synology device.

  • 🖥Synology DS418play
  • 🔎USBZB-1 USB Hub
  • 💡Sylvania RGBW Bulbs
  • 🔄Sylvania Switch
  • 📺Harmony Hub + Home Control remote

Step 1: Preparing your NAS and Docker

While you will need to use the command line to setup Home Assistant in docker, I still use the docker package that’s available to easily manage my six other docker installs, which do not need the command line options to start. The Docker package doesn’t support the device argument, which is used to allow the docker container to read the Zigbee/Z-Wave USB stick. It’s easy to do, just follow this guide to install the offical Docker .spk via Package Center.

You’ll also need to enable SSH under Control Panel > Terminal and SNMP.

Step 2: Installing Home Assistant

Installing home assistant requires a few steps with Docker and your NAS.

Step 2.1: Install the Home Assistant docker container

Docker “containers” are tiny operating systems built to run a specific program or set of programs. They’re nice to use because they’re easy to update and configure.

When Docker is upgraded, all data in the container is lost. To make sure you don’t lost any data, make a folder in a Synology library. You’ll tell the Home Assistant container to store configuration files in this folder. This will also make them much easier to edit. Choose the folder you made as a volume when setting up your Home Assistant container and map it to /config in the container. To run your container, you’ll need to log into your Synology via SSH and use the command line to start your container. The Docker UI in Synology doesn’t support attaching USB devices to containers, but luckily you should only need to do this once (you can start, stop, and update the home assistant container from the UI and it will remember the USB setting).

Adding your Zigbee devices takes some command-line wizardry. If you don’t plan on using Zigbee or Z-Wave devices you can skip this step.

(Optional) Enabling USB support

The Z-Wave/Zigbee USB stick requires some third-party drivers to function properly. Find the right version here. You’ll need to know the CPU generation of your Synology. The DS418play has an Apollo Lake processor. The device will require a reboot once the drivers installed.

Then, SSH into your Synology device. Run cat /dev/tty*. You should see /dev/ttyUSB0 and /dev/ttyUSB1. This shows the USB device is recognized by the Synology.

The below command assumes you downloaded the container named home-assistant from homeassisstant. I keep my config files in the Synology folder /volume1/Vault/configs/ha/config. Make sure you keep the :/config - this maps the Synology directory to a mounted directory in the container.

The command I use to start my container looks like this:

sudo docker run --name home-assistant --restart=always --net=host -itd -v /volume1/Vault/configs/ha/config:/config --device /dev/ttyUSB0 --device /dev/ttyUSB1 homeassistant/home-assistant

This should create the docker container with everything it needs to run Home Assistant with Zigbee and Z-Wave devices. I keep this command in a comment in my config file so I don’t need to remember it, but you should only need it this once. Zigbee should be /tty/USB1. To add it to Home Assistant, active the Zigbee component in your config. You’ll need to specify a complete path to store the zigbee.db file - it will be automatically created but the directory it’s in must exist.

To verify you’ve installed Home Assistant correctly, go to http://your_Synology_IP:8123 and ensure you can see the Home Assistant welcome screen.

Step 3: Configuring Home Assistant

Now that Home Assistant is installed and running, we can work on configuring services for it to use.

I use the following services or devices:

  • Logitech Harmony Hub & Remote
  • Google Assistant
  • Sylvania Smart Lights (Zigbee)
  • Sylvania dimmer switches (Zigbee)
  • TP-Link HS110 smart plugs
  • Dark Sky (weather provider)
  • Spotify

I’ll go through each and describe what I use it for and my configuration.

Zigbee Lights & Switches

As noted above, your configuration should look like this:

  usb_path: /dev/ttyUSB1
  database_path: /config/zigbee.db

After doing this and performing a reboot of Home Assistant, you should see the zha.permit and zha.remove under the “Services” menu and in the Settings page. Put your lights into pairing mode, and then click call service. They should flash to confirm the pairing.

Grouping Lights

You’ll likely want to group lights into rooms. You’ll need to specify the entity names of the things you’re grouping in your config.yaml. My groups look like this (I mix and match brands of lights):

  - platform: group
    name: Studio Lights
      - light.osram_lightify_a19_rgbw_00a450f5_3 # Lamp
      - light.osram_lightify_a19_rgbw_00a46aa1_3 # Fan light
      - light.ledvance_flex_rgbw_0000820d_1 # LED strip
  - platform: group
    name: Kitchen Lights
      - light.ikea_of_sweden_tradfri_bulb_e26_ws_opal_980lm_feca10c4_1 # Fridge light
      - light.ikea_of_sweden_tradfri_bulb_e26_ws_opal_980lm_fe4b5914_1 # Sink Light
      - light.ikea_of_sweden_tradfri_bulb_e26_ws_opal_980lm_fe4b8996_1 # Hall light

Logitech Harmony

🔧Harmony Setup

You’ll want to set up your Harmony Hub & Remote with all your devices and activities first.

After making sure everything works the way you like with the app, you can never wait for it to load again - it’s easier and much faster to trigger Activities with Home Assistant.

As of 1/3/2019, you’ll need to enable Developer Mode on the Hub to use it with Home Assistant. Plug in the Harmony device to your PC, open the software, and press Alt + F9. You should see a prompt to enable developer mode.

After enabling developer mode, use the Harmony app to make sure all of your devices and activities have been set up. Set up any activities or devices you need before continuing.

⚙️Home Assistant Configuration

Home Assistant’s Lovelace UI makes adding buttons for your Harmony activities easy. First, make sure your device is setup in your config.yaml like so:

After adding to your config and rebooting, test it by toggling the switch for your device in the States UI. Click the i icon in the sidebar and click “access state UI” to see the states UI.

After making sure the integration is working, you can then add buttons to your main Home Assistant screen, also known as the Lovelace UI. See here for more information on how to write your ui-lovelace.yaml. Mine looks like this:

- type: vertical-stack
    # --- HARMONY ---
    - type: entity-button
      name: play switch
      icon: mdi:gamepad
      entity: remote.studio_hub
        action: call-service
        service: remote.turn_on
          entity_id: remote.studio_hub
          activity: "Play Switch"

The type field means I added a button - I just want to click the button to start the Harmony activity. The Name isn’t really relevant. The icon is the icon code from TODO ADD LINK. The entity identifies the Harmony Hub performing the action. Under tap_action, the main thing you’ll need to change is the entity_id (which does need to be repeated) and the activity. You can get the list of activity names and IDs from harmony_your_hub_name.conf in your Home Assistant configuration directory.

Dark Sky

Dark Sky is a very accurate weather provider that you can get free API access for. You can configure any of the data it provides into a card in Home Assistant. I keep mine simple, just showing me the forecast for the day like so:

  - platform: darksky
    api_key: ca523bd948b5f7c2085f6a5777330544
      - summary
      - icon
      - precip_probability
      - temperature


You can connect your Spotify account to see what’s playing and control playback easily. I didn’t change anything from the official instructions here; the media_player object isn’t easily configured.

In the most recent version of Home Assistant, you should be able to add plugs under Settings > Integrations in the UI. In your config file, you only need to specify the IP of the device and an optional name:

  - platform: tplink
    name: Christmas Tree

Closing thoughts

This is everything I have set up right now - I’m still working on getting presence detection set up so my lights will turn on when I get home and off when I leave. There’s also community packages for Sonnar and Radarr to show my TV and film collections I’d like to add to my dashboard. Luckily, Home Assistant has been extremely stable for me - after the initial config I haven’t had issues with things not working entirely. I have some issues, but nothing major except that I would not recommend buying OSRAM / Lightify bulbs as they are extremely short-lived.

Once you get everything set up, you will likely want to keep tweaking and adding to it forever - there’s fewer and fewer limitations the more you know about Home Assistant.