Build a cheap water usage sensor using ESPhome and a proximity sensor

ESP home water meter home assistant proximity

This article will provide you with a walkthrough on how you can build a water usage meter sensor that integrates with your Home Assistant for under 10 $/EURO, without the need of any soldering or coding skills.

This article will also cover the configuration that’s needed in Home Assistants to translate the ‘pulse’ to liters (or any other non-metric measurement) in Home Assistant. At the end you will have clear insights in how much water you are using per day, hour and week.

Why do you want to measure water usage of your home?

These days it’s all about insights. I measure pretty much all my utilities, including power and city heating. The last missing piece is water usage. Although water in the Netherlands is not really expensive I wanted to get more insights on how much water are we using and is there anyway to save some water. Unfortunately water delivery doesn’t come with a smart meter. There’s just a analog counter. So how do you measure the water usage and make this analog meter smart?

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Make your city heating (stadsverwarming) smart and connect it Home Assistant energy dashboard

Some places in the Netherlands have city heating. The intention is to reuse warmth from industry to heat your houses and get warm water. In theory this is a very nice system, but in real world this provides pure vendor lock in, as you can’t switch vendor. This makes city heating very expensive for the consumer. Also most of the warmth is not generated by (green) industry residual warmth but generated by burning gas, biomass and other fuels. So not really a green solution. But enough about my complaints about city heating. More important: how can you read the values and get insights of your usage.

The idea of a smart home is not to only control your home, but also get insights out of your home. A warm home and shower is a crucial for a comfortable day-to-day. It’s also the most one of the biggest costs of living. So we need insights.

Home Assistant has an amazing Energy dashboard, that can also your heating by gas. Unfortunately city heating is not measures with M3 gas but it’s measured measurement called GigaJoule (GJ). So how do we get the energy insights of city heating into Home Assistant?

That’s what I’m going to describe in this article :).

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2022 update: Flash ESPhome on ESP32 ESP2866 NodeMCU board

A lot is changed since I wrote multiple articles around ESPhome. One of the mayor things is that ESPhome is now part of HomeAssistant core and it comes with a nice integrated User Interface.

What are ESP32 and ESP2866 nodeMCU boards?

ESP boards are a low cost Wi-Fi chips that have built in flash chips allowing you to build a single chip device capable of connecting to Wi-Fi. newer versions like the ESP32 boards also provide you BLE (Bluetooth low energy) and there’s loads of variety of boards you can use.  

With ESP you can easy make smart solutions for HomeAutomation. You can buy them for about 4-9 dollar/euro on AliExpress or for a bit more with faster delivery on Amazon.

Read more about ESP boards in my introduction to ESP boards article

This article is an updated version of the the Compile and flash your ESP with ESPhome article.

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Adding centerfire, increase and decrease to your smart Bellfire fireplace solution

In previous article series I provided an overview and step by step instruction how to make you Bellfire fireplace with Mertik Maxitrol controller smart. This project that was presented during the Home Assistant Conference 2020.

In the article series and presentation I focused on the essential controls, basically turning the fireplace on and off. I received number of requests to extend the controls to support increasing and decreasing the fire and also activating the so called center burner.

After doing some research and trial and error I’ve found the combinations for the relays to add these features to your smart fireplace.

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Migrating from Zwave2MQTT to Z-Wave JS for Home Assistant

I’m on a quest to decrease the number of points of failure in my home automation setup. Moving everything as close to Home Assistant core functionality.  Recently I moved to ZHA for Zigbee support and removed external bridges like Xiaomi Gateway and Philips Hue.

Now it’s time to remove a Raspberry Pi that’s running Zwave2MQTT. I want to start saying that  Zwave2MQTT has always worked very well for me, it never let me down. I just don’t trust Raspberry Pi’s anymore, SD-card get corrupted and they sometimes just die on me. This is also a reason why I prefer embedded solution with ESP boards.

I noticed Z-Wave JS in the release notes of Home Assistant 2021.2. After a quick read I got excited and was ready to move from Zwave2MQTT to Z-Wave JS.

A few of the garden lights, our bedroom window and a few power plugs are on Z-wave.

Most important are the lights downstairs that are all controlled with Fibaro Dimmer 2. These are lights used by the family every day and are also included in automation for automated turn off and on based on presence. So this migration needed to go seamless.

I documented my steps for future reference and to help others. To be hones the installation was pretty seamless. For continuity I choose to rename the entity IDs to match the old entity IDs. All details and steps can be found below.

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Build a cheap air quality sensor using ESPhome, Home Assistant and a particulate matter sensor

This article will provide a walkthrough of how you can build a Particulate Matter Air Quality meter that integrates with your Home Assistant for under 20$, without any soldering or coding skills needed.

The sensor will provide multiple air-quality measurements directly visible in Home Assistant.

After seeing all kinds of air purifiers in the market, like the one from Xiaomi and Philips. I got interested in the topic air quality. First, I needed to learn more about how and what to measure, followed by actually measuring the air quality in my home. I don’t want to buy a air purifier if the quality of the air in my home is not bad. But how do you measure air quality?

What is a Particulate Matter sensor?

My search started with looking for a particulate matter sensor. A particulate matter sensor measures tiny particles or droplets in the air that have a specific size in microns or micrometers (µm). Like inches, meters and miles, a micron is a unit of measurement for distance. There are about 25,000 microns in an inch.

Particulate matter is the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in air many of which are hazardous. This complex mixture includes both organic and inorganic particles, such as dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. These particles vary greatly in size, composition, and origin.

Source: www.greenfacts.org

Particulate matter (PM) is generally classified into two main size categories: PM10 and PM2.5. As an example, the particulate classified as PM2.5 is the size of 2.5 µm and would be thirty times smaller than that of a human hair.

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Bellfire home automation project

This article provides you with an overview and links of all articles published around the Bellfire fireplace (Mertik Maxitrol controller) project that was presented during the Home Assistant Conference 2020.

Although this solution is presented around Home Assistant you can easily use the same solution in OpenHab, Domoticz or any other open home automation platform.

Slides

View Automate Everything! How to make your stupid device smart on Notist.

Introduction articles

The steps

Shopping list

  1. The ESPboard: ESP8266 board or ESP32 if you also want to use Bluetooth features on AliExpress.com, Banggood, Amazon
  2. The 4 channel relay board. Make sure you select the 5V version The relay: 5v relay board AliExpress.com or Banggood, Amazon
  3. If you don’t want to solder order:
    – Mini breadboards AliExpress.com or Banggood
    – Dupont cables male-female AliExpress.com or Banggood

Optional tools