Guide to HomeKit Compatibility: How to Make Your Homebridge Compatible with Everything

Cupertino, May 11, 2024

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The smart way to bring HomeKit support to everything from Nest to Sonos

As good as Apple HomeKit is, with both voice control and powerful automation, the system is quite limited when it comes to hardware support. For example, you won't find Nest or Ring support for the platform, and there's limited compatibility with other major brands like Arlo, Sonos, and many more. That's where Homebridge comes into the picture. Homebridge can run on almost any computer and, as the name suggests, is a bridge between HomeKit and other smart home devices. Homebridge is a lightweight NodeJS server that emulates the iOS HomeKit API and is open source software that provides the support that is missing from the platform. It is in no way affiliated with Apple, and as with all open source software, you install it at your own risk. It can be a little tricky to install and run, but here we'll walk you through the initial setup. We'll show you how to configure the system and add devices to get you started.

On which computer should I use Homebridge? Homebridge works with Windows, macOS, Linux, and the Raspberry Pi. The most important thing is that no matter what device you install it on, it must always be turned on in order to work. For that reason, it makes sense to install it on a Raspberry Pi, as the small computer requires little power to run. It's worth reading the Raspberry Pi installation instructions on the Homebridge Wiki to get the initially required components installed, before returning to the Homebridge GitHub page for Homebridge installation instructions. If you don't have a Raspberry Pi and just want to try out the system on a different type of computer, you'll first need to download and install the latest version of Node.js, which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

When you first use your Raspberry Pi, it will be running an outdated version of Node.js and the NPM package manager. You must update both to install and run Homebridge. First you need to type these two commands to update the package list:

  • sudo apt update
  • sudo apt full-upgrade

Next, we need to tell the Pi to get the latest version of Node.js by adding the current repository with this command:

curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_15.x | sudo -E bash

Next, you're ready to update to your new packages, so type the following commands (type Y when prompted):

  • sudo apt install nodejs
  • sudo apt install npm

Once installed, follow the steps on the Homebridge GitHub page to download and install Homebridge. You will need to use the following command line from a terminal window during the installation:

npm install -g --unsafe-perm homebridge

sudo npm install -g --unsafe-perm homebridge

Once done, you are done and Homebridge is installed on your computer. You can run it by using the command prompt and typing 'homebridge'. You will see a QR code on the screen, along with a message telling you that there is no config.json file and that you have no plugins. Quit Homebridge for now by going to the Terminal window and pressing CTRL+C (Apple+C on a Mac). There is now a web interface that makes managing Homebridge easier. To install this, open the command prompt and type:

sudo npm install -g --unsafe-perm homebridge homebridge-config-ui-x

Next, we want to install Homebridge as a service so that it starts when your computer boots up. You can do this with this command:

sudo hb-service install --user homebridge

Once you're done, you'll be able to see your computer's IP address and the web server management portal address on the screen. It is worth giving your Homebridge computer a static IP address. This is easiest if you use your router's DHCP reservation feature. Take the full address of your Homebridge server and paste that into a browser.

When you log in, you will see all the information about your server, including the QR code to add it to Apple Home. Installing Plugins and Configuring Homebridge

When you use the installation method above, Homebridge is installed with a default configuration file, so you no longer have to create one. And the web interface automatically updates the Config file, so you no longer have to edit it manually. Still, it's useful to know what should be in the file, just in case. What follows is how to set up the server manually, but you can skip to the Add Homebridge Plugins section below for the easy route. In addition to the instructions below, you can also find the Config file in the web interface by clicking Config.

Brackets allow you to create a new file from the File > New menu. Go to Save and then you need to give the file the correct name and place it in the correct folder. For Windows, you need to type the following folder name in the save dialog box: c:users\.homebridge. For Mac users, in the Save dialog box, press Apple+Shift+G, then type: ~/.homebridge. For both, enter the name of the file as config.json. With Brackets, your config.json file is always available when you open the application, so for future updates, you can select the file, enter the text you want, and click Save.

You can now start adding the information you need. First, you'll need a basic configuration, like this:

{ "bridge": { "name": "Homebridge", "username": "CC:22:3D:E3:CE:30", "port": 51826 , " pin": "031-45-154" }, "description": "My Homebridge server.", "ports": { "start": 52100, "end": 52150, "comment": "This section has been used to control the range of ports to which individual accessories should be associated." } }

You can change the username and PIN, but you must keep the formatting and length the same.

Add Homebridge plugins

From the web interface, you can manage your Homebridge plugins, giving you control over devices that normally don't have Homebridge support. To add a new plugin, click Plugins and search for the plugin you want. You'll often be given multiple choices, but choose the one that says "Verified" and click the Install link. You will get a pop-up window where you can see the installation progress. When a plugin is completed, you will be presented with a new window with configuration options. In many cases, just like with Ring, you just need to log into your account and supported devices will be seen. Once paired, you can click the Settings button to view the options and optional configuration.

For example, Ring allows doorbells to appear as buttons that can trigger events; this is probably not very useful, so you can just hide them from view. Some plugins are more complicated to configure and require additional steps, such as SmartThings. Once you install this plugin, you'll see a long list of required fields to enter, but very little help. If you encounter anything confusing, it's worth checking the official Homebridge website for plugin installation instructions: search for the plugin you want and then read the instructions. For example, SmartThings requires some work in SmartThings itself, as explained in the Homebridge SmartThings installation instructions. In this case, ignore the instructions on how to use the SmartThings Classic app (it has been discontinued), but use the new SmartThings app and you will find the Homebridge app under Smart Apps: you will need to select which devices are available for HomeKit by following the on-screen instructions. You'll find the details you need to configure the plugin under the Show the platform details option.

Verdict: Aeotec SmartThings Hub review

This will give you a configuration file that you can copy and paste into the Homebridge configuration file. However, you can simply copy the information from this file and paste it directly into the fields on the Plugins page in the Homebridge web interface. You can continue to add plugins in the same way, building up all your connected devices.

Add Homebridge to your phone

While your setup is working, open the Home app on your iOS device. Then select '+' and select Add Accessory. Tap 'No code or can't scan' then select your Homebridge computer on the next page. You will be told that this is a non-certified accessory, but select Add anyway. Manually enter the HomeKit setup code (the master PIN in your configuration file). Now your Homebridge devices will be found and added to Home, but don't be surprised if there are more than you think. For example, with Nest Thermostats you get a switch with which you switch Eco mode on or off, the main thermostat and a switch with which you set whether you are at home or not. Any devices you add will appear while your Homebridge server is running. Once your devices are in HomeKit, they will appear by default in the room where you added the hub. You can move and control devices to any room just like any other HomeKit device. You can also use them in HomeKit automations and scenes, and mix and match with native HomeKit devices.

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