Moving a smart home – a couple of honest tips

Published by Oliver on

You built your perfect smart home over the years and now you are wondering how to move it to a new place? Moving a smart home can be tricky. I have been in this situation only a couple of weeks ago. Here are a couple of tips for moving your smart home that I just learned – so your move might be smoother.

Know your setup

When you are planning to move your smart home setup the first and maybe most important thing to do is to make sure you know exactly what you will need to move.

Make a list of all the hardware, document your software and make sure you understand the system “architecture” (what software is needed to run which part of your setup and on which device is it installed).

I can especially recommend checking battery states while everything is still running. Battery powered devices might use a lot more power searching for a missing network connection once you start moving. This way you can avoid any trouble when reconnecting everything afterwards. If this is going to take more time consider removing batteries.

Decide what you want to take with you

This is the perfect time to get rid of things you are not actually using. Go over the list you just created and find those devices. Now might be the time to sell them or gift them to someone who actually needs them.

Depending on the extend of your smart home you might also want to leave some things behind. If you have permanently installed hardware in a house or apartment it might be better to sell it instead of trying to remove everything. In any case make sure to reset everything, remove all personal information and document everything for the future owner.

Start looking for good deals

By now you should have a rough idea of what you are going to need for you future setup and what you can get rid of from your old one. Start looking for good deals now to safe some money.

In my case black Friday / cyber Monday happened around a month before I wanted to move. As I was already planning to move at that point I started looking for good deals and was able to safe quite some money compared to buying during “normal” times. In this case I would recommend buying online to be able to return unneeded things later.

Backup everything

Before you start moving make sure to backup everything. I personally use git and to backup my configuration files. If you are running a database and/or Grafana make sure to also have a backup of those.

Also make sure to have access to all accounts and know your usernames/passwords for your setup. I personally use the open source KeePass and sync it between devices with my own instance of Nextcloud.

Prepare the infrastructure

When I started preparing the new apartment and planning my new smart home setup I focused on preparing the infrastructure. Make sure all you need will be available. Check the possible Internet speed and inform your provider about moving ahead of time.

While you can still work on your new place without any obstacles try to run wires wherever they will be needed later. Here are a couple of reliable ways I found of hiding cables. I am running flat Ethernet cables and speaker wires under the laminate flooring.

Cable ducts in some strategic places are also very useful. I have also run small cables intended for LEDs to a lot of places in my kitchen cabinets to be able to add lights at a later point. During installation this is an easy task but it becomes much more annoying later.

If possible also find a small separated space for you smart home hardware. This can be a cabinet somewhere or a small storage room. Then make sure to run all the needed wires there. In my case all the hidden Ethernet cables terminate in a small storage room where I will install a switch and all the needed smart home hardware.

Be careful when removing devices

Some devices are hard to remove. Decide on how to do that early on and prepare everything you might need. I had used adhesive tape directly on the wallpaper to mount some of my smart wireless switches.

You can remove tape from the wall with floss before moving a smart home
After removing the adhesive tape with floss only minor damages remain

To remove the tape from the wallpaper without too much damage I used floss. Just put it between the wall and the switch and start pulling it back and force to “saw” through the tape. As you can see above I was able to remove a huge pad of adhesive tape, about 5x5cm with only minor damages to the wallpaper.

Start with a clean slate

Depending on how much time you have at hand and how well your setup was running before this can be the perfect time to start a new installation. I decided to finally test HomeAssistant instead of my trusted OpenHab installation. This is the perfect time to clean up everything, update all my devices, and move all the software to Docker. For anyone looking into OpenHab there is a new major version too.

Bonus: keep your Wifi names!

Here is a small bonus fact I recently learned: even if you are planning to change your Wifi infrastructure (like I do 😉 ) keep your Wifi credentials the same for now. This will make moving all your devices much easier. Just set up your existing router and power up your devices.

Later on you can create a new Wifi and start moving devices around. This way you avoid having to reset all your devices or having to connect to their emergency hotspots.

Categories: Basics