The Raspberry Pi is an inexpensive way to turn your home into a smart home. There are so many projects out there that it can quickly become overwhelming. What can I do with a Raspberry Pi to make my home smart? That’s why I made a list of the best projects you need to try.
We often imagine a smart home with automatic lights and screens everywhere. But the Raspberry Pi allows many home improvements in different categories, such as security, network and home automation.
In this article, I will show you some of the most impressive projects that I have found, and I will give you a preview of the result and a link to find all the information to set up this project.
If you are looking to quickly progress on Raspberry Pi, you can check out my e-book here. It’s a 30-day challenge, where you learn one new thing every day until you become a Raspberry Pi expert. The first third of the book teaches you the basics, but the following chapters include projects you can try on your own.
1 – Smart TV
Do you know that you can turn your old dumb TV into a smart TV for less than $50?
It’s the concept of Kodi, an open-source home theater software that you can easily use on Raspberry Pi OS, OSMC or LibreElec.
This project will explain to you how to install OSMC, and then how to use Kodi to play media files from a network share.
You can also install extra add-ons on Kodi. For example, the YouTube app is an add-on you can install on Kodi to play YouTube videos on your old TV.
It’s a simple project you can complete in one hour to improve your home.
Check my tutorials on the topic if you want to give it a try:
2 – Philips Hue smart lights controller
If you don’t already know, Philips Hue is a smart light concept. You can buy a Starter Kit with a controller and two bulbs (check the price on Amazon) that you can control with a smartphone app.
I’ve been using it for three years and it’s an excellent product that I am very pleased with.
The app allows you to do several things:
- Turn lights on/off on demand.
- Dim lights in-app.
- Use a timer.
- Create routines to switch lights on/off at specific times.
- Manage lighting scenarios.
Philips also provides an API on the controller to develop scripts to manage lighting scenarios. And you have probably already understood the purpose of this project.
In the link below, I will explain how to control them from the Raspberry Pi. It’s an excellent base to do what you want with smart lights.
3 – Live calendar
This one is a good idea to turn your old computer screen into a smart calendar. This project is also easy to build. It’s mainly DIY with not-so-complicated technical things.
As you can see on the link below, they connect the Raspberry Pi to a monitor and run Raspberry Pi OS and Iceweasel to open the calendar in full-screen mode. After that, you have to add some little configurations to disable the mouse cursor and sleep mode.
Then you’re done.
If a schedule is not necessarily the thing that interests you the most, it is possible to display any web page.
If you have some notions in web development, why not create your web page, with the information that interests you (weather, emails, Facebook/Twitter counters, a live webcam, your sales stats or whatever else).
4 – Plug your old printer into the network
If you still have a printer that needs to be connected to the computer all the time, this project may interest you.
Indeed, it’s possible to plug the printer into a Raspberry Pi, which will then share this printer on the network (via cable or Wi-Fi depending on the model you have).
This project is straightforward, install the software (CUPS) that will serve as a print server. After that, install the printer on CUPS and finally on your computer.
So for less than $50, you turn your old printer into a Wi-Fi printer. In the same state of mind, it is also possible to share an old USB scanner on the network.
5 – Magic mirror
This project is well known to users of Raspberry Pi, and therefore, it has its place on this list.
Michael Teeuw was the first to develop this idea, then taken up by hundreds of people he inspired.
Indeed, the result is exceptional, a smart mirror, which as you can see in the photo allows you to integrate pretty much what you want.
The concept idea is to put a mirror, a TV screen and a Raspberry Pi inside a frame.
The mirror is a specific two-way glass, which lets the text of the screen display while reflecting the image as a classic mirror (can be found on Amazon). This glass is typically the kind of glass found in police interrogation rooms.
Interested? You can find more details in my tutorial on how to install the Magic Mirror software part on Raspberry Pi.
If you are lost in all these new words and abbreviations, request my free Raspberry Pi glossary here (PDF format)!
Source: Michael Teeuw
6 – Smart button
This one is not an entire project, but an idea to have in mind when you start a new project. It’s a smart button that will push what you want when you ask for it. It’s the perfect tool to turn any dumb device into a smart device.
For example, you could switch lights, start the coffee machine, open the garage door or whatever. You can even use it to hit a key on your computer.
You may control the button with your smartphone or other apps like Alexa or IFTTT. But you can also control it from your Raspberry Pi if you need to integrate it into a more significant project (ex: start the air conditioner when the temperature exceeds a certain threshold).
This button is awesome and available at a very affordable price if it’s useful for you (check the price on Amazon). It can save you a lot of time and expense for some projects, so in some cases, it can be a good choice.
7 – Desktop notifier
The purpose of this project is to create a desktop notification manager.
Currently, it displays the number of pending emails, and fans on your Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the number of pending Facebook notifications.
Overall, it’s mainly a coding project, to get the values on different web services (Facebook, Twitter, Gmail). And then some electronics to display these values on the LEDs.
It is possible to modify this project so that it shows the counters that interest you, but it is a good start and it is simple to set up.
8 – Baby monitor
We are here on a project for lovers of homemade. Unlike the previous example, it is not cheaper than a commercial product, but it is much more interesting to set up.
This project is indeed a monitoring system for your baby while he sleeps.
A Raspberry Pi coupled with a webcam that allows you to see and hear what’s going on in the room from another computer (or another Raspberry Pi).
You can use ZoneMinder for example to control the camera (check my tutorial here).
9 – Doorbell notifier
Would you like to know who rang the bell in your absence? Or even know who’s ringing at your door when you’re there to avoid various solicitations?
This is the goal of this project, which will email you each time someone rings your door, with the person’s photo.
This project is not as complicated to set up as it might seem. Just replace the original ringer with a wireless ringer (something like this should be ok, it’s cheap). You will then connect it to your Raspberry Pi and a classic webcam that will take the photo.
You’ll find all the needed information on the link below.
10 – Christmas lights manager
You’ve probably seen these Christmas decoration videos that are all the rage in December. People have decorated their houses and gardens and animated them with music for exceptional results.
Well, it is possible to use a Raspberry Pi to manage intelligence on this kind of project. As you can see in the photo of the installation above, it’s not a simple project to put in place, but it’s worth it.
Here is the video shot by the person who wrote the tutorial:
Source: Chivalry Timbers
11 – Homemade Amazon Echo
If you are on this site, you probably know who Alexa is.
Alexa is the artificial intelligence developed by Amazon and sold on Amazon Echo for example.
Echo products are available at a price ranging from $20 to $150, which is interesting but not so far from a Raspberry Pi kit.
If you already have a Raspberry Pi, and probably even a microphone and a speaker, it is possible to create your own Amazon Echo. Indeed, the Amazon site for developers offers an API that allows you to call Alexa from any device.
The tutorial presented in the link below will let you know all the steps to follow.
12 – Music streaming box
This project is equivalent to the smart TV project but for music. You can build a music player with your Raspberry Pi and some basic hardware (basically a 3B+ starter kit will be enough).
Then you can install the Volumio distribution on your SD card, connect it to the network and your speaker, and that’s all, you’re done
Volumio will allow you to play local music or audio stream from the internet (like Spotify). Then you can control the box from your browser or your smartphone; you don’t need any keyboard or remote control.
Check my video on the topic for more details:
I also have an entire tutorial with 3 ways (including Volumio) to install Spotify here.
13 – Plants watering
Ok, if you plant the Raspberry Pi as in the picture, it will not grow. But the purpose of this project is interesting. It’s about controlling the irrigation of plants with your Raspberry Pi.
The idea is to control the watering of the plants to do it only when it is necessary.
The application is based on the API of a weather service to know the weather and adjust the watering accordingly with a tiny pump like this one (Amazon).
If you are lost in all these new words and abbreviations, request my free Raspberry Pi glossary here (PDF format)!
The tutorial shown in the link below explains the prerequisites, and the step-by-step procedure and provides you with the complete source code.
I have also seen projects in which we use soil probes to adjust the watering to the need of each plant, but it will be the next level.
14 – Voice control
This one is not a complete project, but an inspiration to do what you want The goal is to make possible voice commands on your Raspberry Pi.
The principle is about the same as the aliases on Linux. You indicate the words that it should remember and associate each order with a command to execute.
It is even possible to have it answer your requests to be sure it has been processed.
It will not go as far as a project like Alexa, but it tempts me to try. Imagine being able to start SSH by voice instead of having to plug in a screen and a keyboard because you have forgotten the autostart.
15 – Weather station
This one is an advanced project, with many components, that will improve your electronics and programming skills.
The project is a weather station, that will collect a lot of information, like temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction. You can also add any custom sensors you want to complete the station.
If you are British, you may know about this project. The Raspberry Pi Foundation had indeed sent thousands of kits of this kind to schools in the country.
The software part is simple to put in place because the tutorial explains everything well.
But there are many components to buy, which you’ll then need to connect and assemble properly.
Feel free to check out these full packs on Amazon instead of buying those recommended in the tutorial.
These packs will often be cheaper.
16 – Home thermostat
Do you know Nest?
It’s a company that now offers a whole range of products around the connected home, but it was mainly known for its smart thermostats. Well, the goal of this project is to try to do the same thing for a lot less.
The idea is to use a Raspberry with some extra components (like a temperature sensor) to regulate the temperature and humidity in your home. Then you’ll be able to control everything from a web interface or your smartphone.
It’s a project that is not easy to implement, but it must be nice to complete.
17 – Google Assistant
I can’t put Alexa on this list without talking about Google Assistant. This project is very similar to that of Alexa, but for fans of “Ok Google”.
The steps will be pretty much the same:
- Install a microphone and speaker on the Raspberry Pi.
- Connect the Raspberry Pi with Google web services.
- Pack all this in a nice box (here in wood, but free to do as you feel).
A real handyman made the tutorial, if this is not your case, remember that speakers on the port jack and a plastic box will work as well.
18 – Garage opener with car plate recognition
I saw a lot of projects on garage door openings during my research to create this list.
But it is probably the most complete so that you can adapt it to your needs.
It’s not just going to open your garage door like a common remote.
But it will:
- Detect a car in front of the garage.
- Read the car plate.
- Detect the model of the car.
- Check that both match.
- Check that the car is allowed to enter.
- Open the garage door if necessary.
- Make sure the car is in and then close the door.
19 – CCTV security cameras
A security camera is an easy project to set up with a Raspberry Pi. But in this one, you’ll learn how to build a complete home surveillance system and manage all cameras from one central system.
For example, you can use four Raspberry Pi Zero with their cameras and connect all to a central storage point (a Raspberry Pi 3B+ should be enough).
From your computer, you’ll access the hub to monitor each camera from a single web interface.
This installation replaces perfectly a complete video surveillance system on the market, for a reasonable budget. Click on the link below to find out more.
More details: Install ZoneMinder on Raspberry Pi
20 – KittyCam: Cat Face Detection in Node.js
Kittycam is an original project that turns your Raspberry Pi into a face detector for your cat.
In this project, she explains how to set up a motion detector, take a picture, perform facial recognition of the cat, store the photos in the cloud and distribute them to the people concerned.
The only hardware used is a Raspberry Pi with a camera and a motion detector (like these on Amazon).
Once you have successfully set up Kittycam, you can improve it by using your imagination (kibble dispenser, opening a door or anything else).
21 – Smart microwave
Ok, the guy who shared this project has made funny pictures, but he also had good ideas.
The goal of this project is to control your microwave from your Raspberry Pi, but not only.
At the end of this project, your microwave could:
- Be controlled with voice commands.
- Use a barcode scanner to look up cooking instructions on the internet. (yes, you can easily find USB or Bluetooth barcode scanner on Amazon)
- Make nicer sounds.
- Be accessed via a web page to control it.
Yes, it’s an awesome project that deserves his place on this list.
22 – Arcade table
You will find tons of tutorials on the net about arcade kiosks.
The basic idea is always the same: a Raspberry Pi, a video game emulator and joysticks and buttons of all kinds.
What changes mainly between all these projects is the creativity of the designer. Everyone goes from their favorite format, whether it is a classic arcade terminal, a control table with a wall-mounted TV for display, or like here, all integrated into a table.
I put you in this tutorial because everything is well explained and easy to follow, whether the preparation of the table or the installation of Raspberry Pi. If you prefer another format I encourage you to search for something else, you should find easily.
Send me your pictures once you have completed this one. I have many tutorials on how to use Retropie after that (13 awesome tips here for example).
23 – Lawnmower robot
And yes … that’s what you think!.
This guy has created a robot able to mow the lawn and is based on a Raspberry Pi.
Like a commercial robot (yes, it exists), it will mow your lawn automatically, in a predefined area.
Limits are created through ultrasonic positioning nodes and a battery change station is installed to extend the mowing period.
Everything has been planned in the project.
For example, a web interface makes it possible to control the robot remotely.
It even introduces a feature to change the role of the robot (for example to turn it into a snow plow in winter ^^).
I highly recommend taking a look at this project, even if it’s just out of curiosity
There is a video that deserves a look.
24 – Smart aquarium
After cats and dogs, here are our fish friends :). We will have gone around all the pets after this (And no, I have not planned anything for snakes and ferrets).
The project goal is to maintain the temperature of your aquarium. A sensor will take care of taking the temperature permanently and communicate it to any computer on the network.
This is the first step for smart aquariums. For example, I also saw projects that distribute food to fish at predefined times or even auto-refill ideas.
25 – Pool control
And the last project on this list is a big one.
We will dive into the automation of your pool.
The poolers offer more and more of this kind of service when installing a new swimming pool.
But as the guy who wrote the tutorial says, it costs a lot ($10000 he says).
The goal of this project is to do it with even less than $1000 of hardware and a few hours to get the same result. This project makes it possible to control a spa and a swimming pool and you can adapt it to your installations.
The web interface allows controlling especially pumps, heating and chlorine.
Be careful though, I think this is the only project on this list that uses high-voltage circuits.
If you are not an electrician and do not have any electrical skills, you may need to look for help with this project.
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And here we are at the end of my list of favorite projects for the home.
You now have a good overview of the possibilities of the Raspberry Pi at home, and I hope that it will have made you want to test some of them.
It’s not an exhaustive list as there is almost no limit, for example, Raspberry Pi at home is often used for 3D printing, file server or whole network ad-blocker.
And for more general project ideas, check out my ultimate list of suggestions here: All The Best Raspberry Pi Project Ideas (with links). You can’t go wrong with these ideas.
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