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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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.

Continue reading “Adding centerfire, increase and decrease to your smart Bellfire fireplace solution”

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

Introducing ESP / NodeMCU boards

This article is part of the Make your Bellfire fireplace smart project that I presented during the Home Assistant Conference 2020.

In the previous article, we introduced Relays that will help to switch the Bellfire fireplace pins of the controller. Now we need to control the relays, we going to do this with an ESP board.

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.  

For this project, I’m using the ESP8266, NodeMCU board.  I prefer using a Development Board because it comes with a USB and all the pins are pre-soldered, making it easy to use. You can buy this board at your favorite Chinese shop somewhere for a price between 3-10 euros. I usually buy them at AlieExpress (cheap) or Amazon (faster delivery).

For the fireplace we are going to use the Digital pins D5, D6 and D7 to control the three relays on the board. Be aware that the printed names of the pins like D1 need to be translated to the according to GPIO number to address them in your code and configuration. I will refer to this image in the configuration section.

Now we have the relay and the ESP to use as a controller. Now we need software that will run on the ESP. Software that we can be used to expose the relays as switches to Home Assistant and define interaction with the GPIO pins on the ESP.  ESPHome is the perfect solution for this.

The next article will introduce ESPHome.

Introducing Relays

This article is part of the Make your Bellfire fireplace smart project that I presented during the Home Assistant Conference 2020.

In previous article I addressed a way to make a Bellfire fireplace smart using the pins of the controller. To do this we need to use relays.

What is a relay?

In really short; A relay is an electrically operated switch.

How does it work?

A relay has two circuits:

  1. The control circuit.
    This circuit is used to control the switch, switching the control circuit will change the state of the load circuit switch
  2. The load circuit.
    The load circuit is where you connect the device that you want to interact with.

Both circuits are separated circuits, there is no direct connection or current flow between the control and the load circuit. This makes using relays very safe.

There is multiple variations of switching the load circuit. For usage with the ESP boards and 5v I prefer using Optocoupler relays. The switch is controlled using light and a photosensor to control the switch. Ensuring 100% separation of circuits.

For this solution, I’m using one board with 4 relays on it. You can buy it for a few dollars on AliExpress.

On the left we have IN top control the board; this is where you provide it with Power and one input to control every relay.

For OUT there are three outputs per relay:

  • Normal Close (NC)
  • Common, to close the circuit
  • Normal Open (NO)

You always connect the Common, but you need to choose between Normal Open and Normal Close. The difference between NO and NC is the default behavior for the relay if it is not power/switched on. If you select Normal Open the circuit will be not closed in a default state, when you use the Normal Close the relay will have a closed load circuit in a default state. 

Now we know we can use relays as a solution for the switches. But how are we going to control the relays? We need a solution to switch the controller circuit using high with voltage to close the control circuit and low voltage to open.  We need a controller for the relay, this is where the ESP boards come in.

The next article will introduce the ESP boards.