Extending HomeKit with Homebridge and Raspberry Pi to All the Things

What to do with a Nest thermostat, Belkin WeMo smart switches and lights, web services, and custom home-grown sensors in an Apple household? Can HomeKit talk to non-HomeKit devices? An excellent project named Homebridge along with its user-provided plugins has the answers.

Table of Contents

HomeKit’s shortfalls

Apple’s HomeKit has many promises on a smart, seamless home environment. And indeed, if you have a collection of devices that directly support HomeKit, it is like living in a future paradise. Doors that unlock when you approach them, speaking into your watch to turn down the lights or crank up the A/C, or check in on your pet when you are fine dining.

Where it fell down though, is the multitude of devices and products that do not have HomeKit support built-in. Indeed, after years of Belkin WeMo (WeMo Says No HomeKit), Nest, other one-off “smart home” monitors and controls, the first things I had in my home that actually integrated natively with Apple HomeKit was Philips Hue. And even there as is typical, they direct you to use their one-off apps to register and control their branded devices.

Enter homebridge. Easy as Pi

  • homebridge: “HomeKit support for the impatient”

A node.js-based bridge for HomeKit devices, homebridge can serve to connect assorted types of devices and services into the HomeKit environment.

Install on Raspberry Pi 3

For this to work, it is assumed:

  • you have a Raspberry Pi 3 running Raspbian OS
    • a Pi 2 also should work
    • it’s connected to same network that target smart home devices live on
    • ssh access to Pi
  • have nvm (node version manager) activated on a raspberry pi 3

There are many instructions on how to image Raspbian onto an micro-SD card and configure for home network. I run mine without a monitor or keyboard connected, using only Ethernet-connected SSH to connect to and control it.


Actual steps that I used

nvm is a handy utility, and the following assumes you are using latest stable node.js installed using nvm.

These may differ from instructions on the wiki as a result, but I have tested and used these actual commands.

sudo apt-get install -y libavahi-compat-libdnssd-dev

sudo npm install -g --unsafe-perm homebridge hap-nodejs node-gyp
NODE_BIN_DIR=$(dirname `nvm which default`)
NODE_MODULES_DIRS=$(dirname $NODE_BIN_DIR/../lib/node_modules/.)
cd $NODE_MODULES_DIRS/homebridge/
sudo npm install --unsafe-perm bignum
cd $NODE_MODULES_DIRS/hap-nodejs/node_modules/mdns
sudo node-gyp BUILDTYPE=Release rebuild
sudo which node-gyp BUILDTYPE=Release rebuild

Now use “normal” installation instructions.

Launching homebridge

There are instructions available on how to auomatically launch the homebridge server when your Pi starts up (e.g. systemd), but I use something different. I use GNU screen to be able to reconnect to long-running commands (such as node.js servers like homebridge is).

screen -R
which homebridge
homebridge=$(which homebridge)
# ... homebridge start-up output here

Homebridge plugins

The power and flexibilty of the homebridge bridge comes from the plethora of plugins available. There are, at this writing “586 packages found for “homebridge-plugin”. Not all are of the same quality or as widely applicable as each other, and many have been made redundant, but there is likely a plugin existing for something you wish that HomeKit supported. And if not, you can use Javascript and node.js and the example plugins to make your own… :)

From my ~/.homebridge/config

The ~/.homebridge/config.json needs to be edited for your devices. Here’s a snippet with most custom values obscured.

  "description": "Used as template for creating your own configuration file.",

  "accessories": [
  "platforms": [
      "platform": "BelkinWeMo",
      "name": "WeMo Platform",
      "noMotionTimer": 60,
      "ignoredDevices": ["DEADEC18FEED"]
      "platform": "Nest",

      "token": "c.crazylonggKtOkenjkhrhrhrhrhrQREQrq"


Belkin WeMo plugin

Belkin sez no waze. Internet can haz WeMomeKit.

The plugin I used is homebridge-platform-wemo

sudo npm install -g homebridge-platform-wemo

auto-detect config.json (platform)

 "platforms": [
      "platform": "BelkinWeMo",
      "name": "WeMo Platform",
      "noMotionTimer": 60,
      "ignoredDevices": []

works perfectly!

Nest plugin


There are full install instructions in the project’s README, and here is just a summary of the steps.

  1. setup Nest developer account
  2. sudo npm install -g git+https://github.com/igbopie/homebridge-nest.git
  3. add credentials to config (to get token) and launch homebridge
  4. IMPORTANT: From homebridge gather taken in output; update config with token now, and restart
Published on April 30, 2017