HomeBridge. Many of us have heard about this, but not everyone knows exactly what it is about. In this article you will learn what HomeBridge is and what HomeBridge is not. And why even play with him?
However abstract it may sound, I heard about HomeBridge before I learned what it was HomeKit. HomeBridge is very popular with people who build a smart home based on the Apple ecosystem. HomeBridge is an open source project, i.e. one that people do for free. Its idea is simple - list all devices that do not have Apple certification to HomeKit. So that we can control every smart device in our home via the Home application.
Official HomeKit or HomeBridge?
Let's be clear. If you have two devices, one of which is officially signed as compatible and the other is available via HomeBridge, then choose the first one. It is not so easy to get certification from Apple, so if a company has obtained one, it means that it really got bored.
HomeBridge is for all devices that manufacturers have not decided to certify with Apple. It is often the case that one manufacturer only certifies part of the devices in HomeKit. An ideal example is Xiaomi. If we have a goal Aqara Hub or Mi Hub V3, the devices that work with it after Zigbee will be visible in HomeKit. Now Roborock S6, Mi 3 Air Purifier i humidifier - no. And even better, because it may happen that some devices attached to a HomeKit-compatible gateway will not be visible in the Home app. An example is hooking Ikea GU10 bulbs for the Mi Hub V3 goal.
HomeBridge - will help in most cases
That is why HomeBridge was created, which has been on the market for quite a few years. Thanks to it, we are able to add incompatible devices in such a way that the House application can see them. HomeBridge is a NodeJS server working as a bridge, thanks to which we can add unsupported devices to the Home application. For applications, this is just another gateway that connects products from many different manufacturers.
HomeBridge has to be able to do something. In our case, it is Raspberry Pi 4B, but it can be Raspberry Pi 3B or another minicomputer. You also need a PC / MAC for configuration, a memory card and a moment of patience. We will publish a guide on installing it in 10 minutes later this week.
Once we have HomeBridge working, then we start adding more plugins that will allow us to add incompatible devices to HomeKit. One plugin may be responsible for adding one or more hardware. There is a little principle of testing here - you install and check if it works. If it works great, if not then next. In one of the upcoming articles, we will prepare a list of recommended plugins.
We must remember that HomeBridge is an open project, so plugins are also created by enthusiasts who share their knowledge. Therefore, it may happen that the plugin is abandoned. Often, however, when we reported a bug, the answer came faster than if we had reported it through the official channel.
Backup, backup, backup
Nothing has taught me how to make backups like playing with HomeBridge. Sometimes one bad plug can get you really mixed up. And instead of trying to fix it, it may be faster to upload a backup. It is therefore always worth to drop the current working version to disk or flash drive. I will also publish how I do it in one of the articles.
Is it worth it?
In my opinion, yes. Despite the fact that you will sometimes have to go to the terminal and click something, it is worth it. The number of devices that appeared in my Home application has increased dramatically. Purifier, humidifiers, vacuum cleaner, lamps, even a flower monitor. All these devices would not have had a chance to appear there, had it not been for HomeBridge.
Making everything flickering beautifully is time consuming and you will have to run the backup copy again many times, but the end result will be satisfactory for you.