Automate your Home using Raspberry Pi, MQTT, and Home Assistant

Written by Pranav Chakkarwar
Published on 05 Apr 2021 & updated on 31 Jan 2023


My previous post on DIY Home automation with Node-Red was hosted in the cloud and didn’t work during public internet outages. So, I decided to use a local first, and private solution - Home Assistant.


Network map of the setup

Home automation network map


Install docker on Raspberry Pi

I am using the convenience script.

$ curl -fsSL -o
$ sudo sh

Pull and run the Home Assistant container

On Raspberry Pi 3

$ docker run --init -d \
  --name homeassistant \
  --restart=unless-stopped \
  -v /etc/localtime:/etc/localtime:ro \
  -v /PATH_TO_YOUR_CONFIG:/config \
  --network=host \

On Raspberry Pi 4

$ docker run --init -d \
  --name homeassistant \
  --restart=unless-stopped \
  -v /etc/localtime:/etc/localtime:ro \
  -v /PATH_TO_YOUR_CONFIG:/config \
  --network=host \

Tip: Use “docker ps -a” to see all your running containers and their status.

docker ps -a

Setting up the Home Assistant

After your Home Assistant container shows a healthy status, visit the IP Address of your Pi followed by port number 8123 (for e.g. mine is

Tip: You can also visit http://raspberrypi.local:8123 (works most of the time).

Create a user account. This account is just used to log in to Home Assistant. It’s not an online account.

Home Assistant setup

During the setup process, Home Assistant will automatically detect If you have printers, smart lights, cast devices, smart speakers, etc. Add them to your dashboard if you wish.

Setting up a MQTT broker

MQTT is one of the best open protocols used for home automation. Setting up a MQTT broker will allow us to control and check device status of all connected devices. MQTT allows two-way communication, message quality control and more.

I know about Matter, but I don’t like it for its proprietary nature. I recommend reading MQTT for dummies to get a basic understanding of the MQTT protocol.

I am installing the Eclipse Mosquitto MQTT broker (without docker).

   $ sudo apt update
   $ sudo apt install -y mosquitto mosquitto-clients

Set Mosquitto to auto-start on boot

   $ sudo systemctl enable mosquitto.service

Make Home Assistant talk to the MQTT broker

Navigate to Home Assistant dashboard -> Configuration -> Integrations.

Home Assistant integrations

Click on Add Integration -> search for “MQTT” and click on the MQTT integration.

Complete the setup by entering the IP Address of your MQTT client and it’s port. If you are following this tutorial, the IP Address will be and the port will be 1883 (

Home Assistant add integrations

Setting up the Arduino IDE

Setting up the ESP-01

The following C++ program will allow the ESP-01 to connect to your Wi-Fi and communicate with the MQTT server hosted on your Home Assistant hardware. I have added useful tips as comments.

Tip: Alternatively, you can install Tasmota which has a lot of configuration options with it’s own easy to use web dashboard.

#include "EspMQTTClient.h"

EspMQTTClient client(
  "WiFi Name",
  "WiFi Password",
  "MQTT Broker server IP Address",      // IP Address of your Raspberry Pi
  "mqtt username",                      // (Leave blank)
  "mqtt password",                      // (Leave blank)
  "light",                               // Client name to identify your device
  1883                                  // The MQTT port, default is 1883.

void setup()
  pinMode(0, OUTPUT);

void onConnectionEstablished()
  client.subscribe("livingroom/light/com", [](const String & payload) {
    if (payload == "1") {digitalWrite(0, HIGH);
                          client.publish("livingroom/light/state", "1");
    if (payload == "0") {digitalWrite(0, LOW);
                           client.publish("livingroom/light/state", "0");

void loop()

Modify your ESP USB flasher to flash the ESP-01 with the code above.

Esp8266 board setup

Adding usable toggles to Home Assistant

As we are running our Home Assistant in a Docker container, we have to ssh into the Home Assistant container by using the following command and modify the configuration.yaml file.

   $ sudo docker exec –it homeassistant /bin/bash
   $ nano configuration.yaml  (If this command doesn't work, you will need to install nano using "apk install nano")

Example config:

  - platform: mqtt
    name: "Living Room Lights"
    state_topic: "livingroom/lights/state"
    command_topic: "livingroom/lights/com"
    payload_on: "1"
    payload_off: "0"
  - platform: mqtt
    name: "Lounge Lights"
    state_topic: "lounge/lights/state"
    command_topic: "lounge/lights/com"
    payload_on: "1"
    payload_off: "0"

This is an example config and you can add more devices and categories if you like. Extended configuration options are explained in the Home Assistant Docs.

Tip: Notice how the Home Assistant publishes command to the “bathroom/lights/com” and the ESP-01 is subscribed to the same topic.

Extended configuration options are explained in the Home Assistant Docs.

Access your Home Assistant remotely

The most common way to access a device over the internet is to set up Port forwarding on your router, but I opt for a reverse proxy because I am behind a NAT and too lazy to get an SSL certificate.

Here are some good reverse proxy providers to choose from:

  1. Nabu Casa - This method is recommended in the Home Assistant Docs.
  2. PageKite - My choice. Always.

Setting up Pagekite for remote access is fairly simple and can be done completely from a command line. Just use the commands below.

   $ curl -O
   $ python2 8123

PageKite proxy client will start once you confirm your details with pagekite. You can visit and access your Home Assistant over the Internet. This URL can be used when you sign in with Mobile apps of Home Assistant.

Customize the Home Assistant dashboard

To demonstrate customization, I applied a custom theme using the configuration.yaml file.

# Example configuration.yaml entry
      primary-color: white
      text-primary-color: black
      background-primary-color: #cefe8e

Automate your Home using Raspberry Pi, MQTT, and Home Assistant

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