If you're tired of waiting for your favorite home automation products to gain HomeKit support, then it may be time to take matters into your own hands. With the proper hardware — or software, you can bring your Nest thermostat or Ring doorbell into the Home app, putting them right alongside the best HomeKit door locks, cameras, and more. Here's how to connect incompatible accessories to HomeKit!
Before getting started
Before we dig into your options, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. HomeKit-enabled products are a small subset of the home automation market for a reason: Apple is very serious about compatibility and security.
HomeKit-enabled products go through rounds of rigorous testing and adhere to strict security guidelines. The same can't be said for non-HomeKit-enabled products. If you decide to use one of the following options, proceed with caution and be mindful of what you choose to install in your home.
Also, while using an out-of-the-box solution or running your own server makes adding incompatible accessories to HomeKit easier than ever, some advanced configuration may still be required. If you don't feel comfortable with plugging in some code here and there and want things to work with a few clicks, then you may want to stick to the best HomeKit accessories.
Adding Nest accessories
If you went with a Nest thermostat back in the day and want to bring it over to HomeKit, then the Starling Home Hub is the absolute best — and easiest, way to do so. As its name suggests, the Starling Home Hub is a small hub device that bridges select Nest devices to HomeKit through a simple to use browser interface. The Starling Home Hub currently supports the following Nest accessories:
- Nest Learning Thermostat (all models)
- Nest Thermostat E
- Google Nest Thermostat
- Nest Protect
- Nest Cam Indoor
- Nest Cam Outdoor
- Nest Cam IQ
- Nest Secure
- Nest x Yale Lock
- Google Nest Hub Max
Setting up the Starling Home Hub takes just a few minutes, with the bulk of the process consisting of entering your Google (or Nest) account credentials. After logging in to your account, you then add the hub to your HomeKit home the same way that you set up your HomeKit accessories — by scanning a QR code through the Home app.
Ring, SmartThings, and more
If you have other smart home accessories that aren't from the Nest line but still want a reasonably straightforward solution, many alternative options are available. One of which is HOOBS, or Homebridge out of the box, which is a complete hardware and software package that is ready to go right after plugging it in.
The HOOBS Starter Kit includes a fully-assembled Raspberry Pi along with a copy of the HOOBS Homebridge server pre-installed on a microSD card. After powering it on, you can add a wide variety of popular non-HomeKit-enabled accessories to HomeKit via plugins. HOOBS/Homebridge supports most of the major smart home accessory manufacturers, including notables such as:
In most cases, installing and configuring a plugin only requires a few clicks. Still, there may be cases where you will need to enter specific information like login details or the IP address of your accessory. Also, since HOOBS runs a modified version of Homebridge, some plugins may not work correctly.
Like HOOBS, the Home Assistant Blue is a hardware and software bundle that can help bring your accessories over to HomeKit. Unlike HOOBS/Homebridge, the Home Assistant Blue runs Home Assistant — a complete home automation platform designed to act as a central location for all of your devices regardless of the manufacturer. If you ever decide that HomeKit isn't suitable for you or you desire more control over automation, Home Assistant is the way to go.
Roll your own server
Finally, If you don't mind getting your hands dirty and want to save a little dough, you can roll your own Homebridge, HOOBS, or Home Assistant server. While it may sound a little daunting, setting up your own server is easier than you may think — and you may already have all the hardware that you need.
The latest version of Homebridge, available for free, runs on various platforms, including macOS, Windows, and Linux. Installation on these platforms requires installing Node.js and running a few terminal commands, but once you complete all of the steps, you install plugins and manage your home through a clean web interface.
The Homebridge team also provides a handy image file that you can flash directly to a microSD card for use with a Raspberry Pi. Once you flash Homebridge to your memory card, your Pi will boot into Homebridge, and you can access it through a local IP address via your browser.
The same goes for HOOBS and Home Assistant, which also offer images for Raspberry Pi that you can download for free. If you install HOOBS or Home Assistant on your own hardware, you still get the same easy-to-use UI as with the HOOBS Starter Kit or Home Assistant Blue, with no limitations or additional hoops to jump through.
Questions about how to connect incompatible accessories to HomeKit?
As you can see, there are quite a few ways to add incompatible accessories to HomeKit. If you run across any hiccups or want to share your favorite incompatible accessories that you brought over to HomeKit, let us know in the comments below!
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