Monthly Archives: July 2021

Controlling a Haiku fan with a wall switch

TLDR: I wanted to control the light on Big Ass Fans' Haiku fan via physical wall switch, so this tutorial is going to go over how to pair a smart switch with Home Assistant software to provide a traditional light switch experience. Skip down to Setting up the wall switch to start if you want to skip my ramblings.

Here's a YouTube video if you don't like to read:

Longer story

In the background of many commercial buildings, silently lurking and judging us from above, lies what looks like possibly a recycled helicopter blade. Don't be fooled, these blades are no helicopter blade, they are years of engineered excellence in the makings. The company prides themselves on solid engineering and building a solid product for their customers. They are called Big Ass Fans.

For quite some time I've been eyeing their Haiku fan, which is their residential ceiling fan. Their fans look incredibly modern, operate almost completely silent, have a "SenseMe" feature that figures out when people are in the room to automatically do stuff, and they have an API that you can integrate into locally on the fan via WiFi (lose internet, no problem, you can still control your fan!). One of my biggest "beefs" with today's companies is they try to make things really proprietary and crappy, so seeing the company that takes pride in their product and allowing others to integrate into it remotely without internet is super "cool" 😉

You spin me right round

The fan itself is smart... too smart

One thing that's really interesting, is when you hook up the fan, to me, it's designed more like their commercial units where it needs to be constantly powered on; from there you remotely control the fan either by remote or their smart phone application. Both the remote and even the mobile app, work incredibly well and are extremely responsive, but the only tricky thing about the fan is in a residential setting, many folks have light/fan combos in their bedrooms, offices, and living rooms and if a guest walks into the room and flips the light switch, they are flipping power to the whole fan/light.


In many commercial settings, fans you typically set once and let em' rip, but with the residential play, you have grandparents, guests, friends, etc. that may come over. Since the remote is there, they go, how do I turn the lights on to this room? Unfortunately, there isn't a good answer here other than to put a plate on the wall and force your guests to check out the remote.

I personally find the remote a hassle since I have a small little corridor into one room, so when it's darker in the evenings, you grab the remote on the wall, walk through this dark area, and then aim the remote somewhere at the ceiling to turn it on (this is if you don't forget the remote in the room from before).


I am a "big fan" of having a smart home, but I want it to be super intuitive to the end user. I design everything to be used as if my grandparent is over and they have no idea what the heck is going on. In this case, I leveraged an open source project called Home Assistant and a Leviton Z-Wave switch to do the magic of controlling the fan like any other fan you'd buy at a big box store. More specifically, I really just needed to control the light on the fan, so this tutorial is going to go over how to control the light from the fan via the switch.

Setting up the wall switch

The first thing you'll need is a smart switch. It can be WiFi, Z-Wave, ZigBee, etc; it doesn't matter specifically what brand (odds are, it'll be compatible (here's the official list)), but you'll need a switch that allows you to control it via the computer or your phone. I used a dimmer switch specifically as the light on the Haiku allows several different levels of brightness.

Once you have the switch, what you'll want to do is wire up the fan so it constantly has power and also give power the switch. This does two things: 1) it allows the fan to be powered on regardless if your guest turns the light switch on/off 2) it allows the light switch to stay powered on so you use that to talk to your fan. Here's an example of how I wired my Leviton Z-Wave switch.

Here you can see I don't have anything connected to the red pin, or load. Typically, you'd have this connect back to the fans lights to turn them on/off, but the Haiku fan isn't wired like that.

On this side, you can see we only have the negative wire connected. It's hard to see, but in the box, I have all my neutral and negative wires capped together, which offers power to the fan 100% of the time, regardless of what this switch is doing.

Once you have the switch wired up and ready to go, it should literally do nothing when you turn it on/off, but your fan should stay on all the time.

Setting up Home Assistant Automation

This guide won't go into installing / setting up Home Assistant, rather more so around the automation scripts needed to get this all working. If you are interested in learning more about Home Assistant, you can check out their website here and I have a blog post on how to deploy Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi here.

To get this working, you will need a couple of things:

  • Add your smart switch to Home Assistant
  • Install HACS
  • Install Haiku SenseMe Integration
  • Add two automation scripts
    • One to control light on/off events
    • One to control light brightness events
Add your smart switch

I won't go into details here too much since every switch will have a separate way to install (Z-Wave vs WiFi vs Zigbee for example), but here is a nice YouTube video on how to get things going (


If you have used Home Assistant, it comes with many different native integrations out of the box. Unfortunately, many integrations are developed so quickly the HA (Home Assistant) team doesn't have time to vet them all, so they end up being maintained by the community. HACS helps install these integrations, so I'd recommend installing this.

Step-by-Step documentation on installation can be found here: Prerequisites | HACS

Haiku Integration

A few much smarter folks wrote up an integration for the Haiku fan called SenseME, which we need to install. Once HACS is installed, you can search for the integration via HACS and install the integration. Copied from their integration, here is how to install the integration:

  1. Go to Configuration -> Integrations.
  2. Click on the + ADD INTEGRATION button in the bottom right corner.
  3. Search for and select the SenseME integration.
  4. If any devices are discovered you will see the dialog below. Select a discovered device and click Submit and you are done. If you would prefer to add a device by IP address select that option, click Submit, and you will be presented with the dialog in step 5.
  5. If no devices were discovered or you selected the IP Address option the dialog below is presented. Here you can type in an IP address of undiscoverable devices.
  6. Repeat these steps for each device you wish to add.

Information on the SenseME integration can be found on their GitHub site here: mikelawrence/senseme-hacs: Haiku with SenseME fan integration for Home Assistant (

Once configuration is completed, you should see an entity for your fan listed that looks something like this.

On/Off Automation

This automation will first control On/Off behavior from your light switch.

  1. Go to Configuration -> Automations.
  2. Click on the + ADD Automation button in the bottom right corner.
  4. Click on the three dots in the top right corner and click Edit in YAML

5. Paste the following code; make sure you edit the names of each of your light switch entities (one for your fan light and one for the light switch on the wall):
light.your_light (the light for your wall) and light.fan_light (the light on the Haiku fan).

alias: Turn On/Off Haiku Fan/Wall Switch
description: ''
  - platform: state
    entity_id: light.your_light, light.fan_light
    from: 'off'
    to: 'on'
  - platform: state
    from: 'on'
    to: 'off'
    entity_id: light.your_light, light.fan_light
condition: []
  - service: light.turn_{{ trigger.to_state.state }}
      entity_id: |-
        {% if trigger.entity_id == 'light.your_light' %}
        {% elif trigger.entity_id == 'light.fan_light' %}
        {% endif %}
mode: single

6. Click the SAVE button

Brightness Automation

This automation will first control On/Off behavior from your light switch.

  1. Go to Configuration -> Automations.
  2. Click on the + ADD Automation button in the bottom right corner.
  4. Click on the three dots in the top right corner and click Edit in YAML
  5. Paste the following code; make sure you edit the names of each of your light switch entities (one for your fan light and one for the light switch on the wall):
    light.your_light (the light for your wall) and light.fan_light (the light on the Haiku fan).
alias: Sync Haiku Fan/Wall Switch Brightness
description: ''
  - platform: state
    entity_id: light.your_light, light.fan_light
    attribute: brightness
    for: '00:00:02'
  - condition: template
    value_template: '{{ trigger.to_state.attributes.brightness > 0}}'
  - service: light.turn_on
      brightness: '{{ trigger.to_state.attributes.brightness }}'
      entity_id: |-
        {% if trigger.entity_id == 'light.your_light' %}
        {% elif trigger.entity_id == 'light.fan_light' %}
        {% endif %}
mode: restart

6. Click the SAVE button


At this point, whether you use your remote or the light switch, your lights should be in sync! Use the remote or the wall switch to the turn on/off the lights. Try using the switch to dim and it should adjust the brightness of the light (note: there may be a tiny delay after you make changes to the dimmer value as there's a 2second delay in the automation, which prevents the lights from going wonky).


Through the use of Home Assistant + any smart switch, we can easily control the Haiku fan with physical nobs and dials. While this tutorial only covers controlling the fan's light via a switch, the same principals can be used to add a second switch to control the fan speed.

For those that like physical knobs and dials to control your devices, hope this was helpful!

If you are thinking of buying a Big Ass Fan, please consider using my referral code so I can use them towards future reviews!

How to update Z-Wave JS Docker Container

This document is written to help those that are using Z-Wave JS and Home Assistant as Docker containers. This tutorial goes hand-in-hand with this: How to update Home Assistant Docker Container | Jack Stromberg

Validate your current version

First, validate what version of Z-Wave JS you are running. To do this, navigate to the Z-Wave JS webpage and hover over the i icon to validate what versions of the software you are running. The Z-Wave JS webpage can typically be accessed at http://yourip:8091.

Get the current name of your container and version

sudo docker ps

In running this command, note the NAME of your container as well as the IMAGE.

Stop and delete the container

Replace the name of the container in the command below with the value you had.

sudo docker stop zwave-js
sudo docker rm zwave-js

Update packages

Some versions of HA require newer versions of Python, Docker, etc. I may consider updating to latest package versions first.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Pull the latest container from Docker Hub

Replace the value below with your IMAGE value you documented in the previous steps.

sudo docker pull zwavejs/zwavejs2mqtt:latest

Deploy the container

Make sure your replace the name and value of the image with the values in the previous step. In addition, ensure you specify the correct path to where you existing configuration files exist to have the container load your existing configurations.

sudo docker run -d --restart=always  -p 8091:8091 -p 3000:3000 --device=/dev/ttyACM0 --name="zwave-js" -e "TZ=America/Chicago" -v /home/docker/zwave-js:/usr/src/app/store zwavejs/zwavejs2mqtt:latest

Validate your version number

After a few minutes, navigate back to the Z-Wave JS page. Upon load, you should now be on the latest versions.


You can find the latest, stable, and development builds out on docker hub here:

How to add buster-backports to a Raspberry Pi

What are backports?

Debian has a really good write up here on what backports are. Copying directly from their introduction paragraph:

You are running Debian stable, because you prefer the Debian stable tree. It runs great, there is just one problem: the software is a little bit outdated compared to other distributions. This is where backports come in.

Backports are packages taken from the next Debian release (called "testing"), adjusted and recompiled for usage on Debian stable. Because the package is also present in the next Debian release, you can easily upgrade your stable+backports system once the next Debian release comes out. (In a few cases, usually for security updates, backports are also created from the Debian unstable distribution.)

Backports cannot be tested as extensively as Debian stable, and backports are provided on an as-is basis, with risk of incompatibilities with other components in Debian stable. Use with care!

It is therefore recommended to only select single backported packages that fit your needs, and not use all available backports.

Once I enable backports will all packages use them?

No! Any new packages and updates to existing stable packages will prefer the stable releases. The only time you will leverage a new backport package is if you explicitly specify to pull from them.

How do I enable backports?

First you need to add the new backport source to your sources.list file. Edit the file in vi:

sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list

Arrow down to the last row, press o to create a new line and then enter the following:

deb buster-backports main

Press escape and then type :wq to save the changes and exit via.

Next, we need to specify a keyserver to verify the authenticity of these packages. Note we use Ubuntu's key servers to validate the packages. Interestingly, Debian has a keyring to validate the packages, however the keyring doesn't contain the backports for buster on the raspberry pi at time of writing this. Ubuntu's servers will work fine to validate the authenticity of these packages and you will ultimately pull the packages from Debian rather than Ubuntu.

sudo bash
gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 04EE7237B7D453EC
gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 648ACFD622F3D138

gpg --export 04EE7237B7D453EC | sudo apt-key add -
gpg --export 648ACFD622F3D138 | sudo apt-key add -

How do I obtain a package from backport?

You can leverage one of the follow formats to specify the backport package:

apt install <package>/buster-backports
apt-get install <package>/buster-backports


apt install -t buster-backports <package>
apt-get install -t buster-backports <package>


aptitude install <package>/buster-backports