Home Assistant is a powerful and flexible home automation platform that allows users to control and automate a wide range of smart home devices. It provides an easy-to-use web interface that allows users to manage their home automation system. However, there are instances where remote SSH access may be needed, such as when troubleshooting or debugging the system.
SSH or Secure Shell is a secure protocol that provides users with a secure, encrypted connection to a remote device. With SSH, you can connect to your Home Assistant instance from anywhere as long as you have a valid username and password.
This article will go through the steps required to connect to Home Assistant through SSH. We will also discuss some best practices for using SSH with Home Assistant.
Step 1: Enable SSH Access
By default, SSH access is disabled in Home Assistant for security reasons. Therefore, the first step is to enable SSH access. To do this, log in to your Home Assistant instance and click on your profile in the top right corner. Toggle on Advanced Mode if it isn’t already on. This will give you access to the Supervisor panel.
Next, go to the Supervisor panel and click on the Add-on Store tab. Search for Terminal & SSH and click on the Install button. Once the add-on is installed, click on the Configuration tab, enter a password in the Password field, and save it. Under Network, set the port to 22, and then click Save. The add-on will prompt you to restart it.
Step 2: Connect to Home Assistant via SSH Client
Now that you have enabled SSH access and installed the SSH add-on, it’s time to connect to Home Assistant via your SSH client. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will be using WinSCP, which is a free and open-source SSH client for Windows.
Launch WinSCP and enter the hostname or IP address of your Home Assistant installation in the “Host Name (or IP address)” field. Make sure to set the port to 22, the default SSH port.
Under the “Connection” category in the left panel, click on “SSH” to expand it, and then click on “Auth”. In the “Private key file for authentication” field, browse to the location of your private key file and select it.
You should now be able to click “Open” and connect to your Home Assistant instance via SSH. If this is your first time connecting to your Home Assistant installation via SSH, you may receive a warning message about the authenticity of the host. If you trust the host, click “Yes” to proceed.
Once you successfully connect to your Home Assistant instance via SSH, you will be prompted to enter your username and password. The default username is “root”, and the password is the one you set when you installed the SSH add-on.
Step 3: Navigate and Edit Configuration Files
Now that you have successfully connected to your Home Assistant instance via SSH, you can navigate to and edit configuration files such as configuration.yaml.
To navigate to the root directory of your Home Assistant installation, use the following command:
This will take you to the root directory of your Home Assistant installation. From here, you can use the nano text editor to edit configuration.yaml. To open configuration.yaml for editing, use the following command:
This will open the configuration.yaml file in the nano text editor, where you can make changes as needed. Once you have made your changes, press “Ctrl+X” to exit nano, and press “Y” to save your changes.
In this tutorial, we walked through the process of connecting to Home Assistant via SSH. SSH access to Home Assistant should be used sparingly and only when necessary, as it presents a potential security risk. However, in certain situations, such as remote troubleshooting or making quick configuration changes, SSH access can be a useful tool.
Suppose you plan on editing configuration files frequently. In that case, it is recommended to set up a Samba file share or install the Visual Studio Code add-in within Home Assistant to get the full power of VSCode in a browser. These methods are much more convenient and efficient than SSH editing configuration files.
Once you have finished using SSH to access your Home Assistant installation, it is important to disable SSH access to reduce the risk of unauthorized access. This can be done by simply stopping and uninstalling the SSH add-on from the Supervisor dashboard.
Best Practices for Using SSH with Home Assistant
Use a strong password. When setting up SSH access, use a strong, complex password that is not easy to guess.
Use a non-standard port. By default, SSH uses port 22. However, you can use a non-standard port to add a layer of security. Make sure to update the port in the SSH add-on configuration and your SSH client.
Limit access. Only grant SSH access to users who need it. Limit access to specific IP addresses or ranges to secure the connection further.
Disable SSH when not in use. If you don’t need SSH access, it’s a good idea to disable it. This will prevent unauthorized access to your Home Assistant instance.
Use other methods for editing configuration files. While SSH access can be useful in some situations, there are better ways to edit configuration files. For example, you can use a Samba file share or the Visual Studio Code editor to edit your configuration files
Here are some frequently asked questions about connecting to Home Assistant via SSH:
1. Is SSH enabled by default in Home Assistant?
No, for security reasons, SSH is disabled by default in Home Assistant. You must enable it and set a password in the Terminal & SSH add-on configuration.
2. Do I need to use WinSCP to connect to Home Assistant via SSH?
No, you can use any SSH client of your choice. WinSCP is just one example.
3. Why would I need to access Home Assistant via SSH?
While it is not a common need, there may be instances where remote SSH access is necessary. For example, you may need to reboot Home Assistant remotely or edit a configuration file if you’ve made a syntax error and need to fix it before it can launch again.
4. Is it safe to edit configuration files via SSH?
While editing configuration files via SSH is possible, it is not necessarily the safest or recommended method. It is better to use other methods, such as creating a Samba file share or using the Visual Studio Code add-in within Home Assistant, for editing configuration files.
5. How can I disable SSH access to Home Assistant?
To disable SSH access, go to the Terminal & SSH add-on configuration and set the “enabled” option to “false.” This will ensure that SSH access is completely disabled.