Absolute new beginner

First of all, thank you that you exist. :smiley:

So, I always dreamed to live in a house, not in a loft (apartment). In few months I will have my own house for my family. I wish to automation my home and have a large display on the wall so I can control everything. I read for 2 days this forum, docs etc, but I still don’t know some things. In large part or for the moment it’s about hardware.

I will buy today an Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ with 32Gb card, power suply and Wi-Fi network. I will install OH2 for the beggining on my Windows PC and make some tests there. Beside the RPi I will need a USB dongle (for RPi) to comunicate with devices ans sensors from my house. This is correct until now? If yes, please someone recommand me an USB or something else that would work with my sensors (I dont know yet what I will buy) on a budget price. Is there any dongle that work with more than one protocol (Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wing and so on)?

For the beggining I wish to test only to turn on/off a light at sunshine/sunset or a certain hour. I will need a smart switch and a dimmer, or the swith is enough?

Thank you in advance.

Later edit: No wires if possible. :smiley:


For me I rely on z-wave, so I used UZB https://z-wave.me/uzb/ . Also you can use https://z-wave.me/products/razberry/, I did not try it but I will later, because I believe it it more professional than usb dongle.

However, if your home covers with wifi, I believe you can even rely on the wifi and use wifi actuator and sensors (such as http://sonoff.itead.cc/en/ and http://www.milight.com/)

Install openHABian on the pi and do your testing from there.
You will get a feel of the real system and linux. If you practice on the PC it might get quite different when you move to the Pi


Ok. I will try direct on RPi. 10x.

Just for the record: There is nothing preventing you from having more dongles. I have a Z-stick for Z-wave and a Tellstick Duo for 433. If you want to begin small 433 is a good choice since the devices are very cheap, but if you plan on doing a more serious setup I’d vote for Z-Wave or ZigBee. Or a combination :slight_smile:

Or all 3. :stuck_out_tongue:

Of course :wink: Just keep in mind that mesh networks (like Z-Wave or ZigBee) works better with more nodes. I had many problems with my Z-Wave network in the beginning, but with 10+ nodes things started getting better. So there’s a point in going for many nodes of the same type.

If you are just starting with OH don’t try to do more than you can chew. Do it one step at a time. It can get complicated and a bit overwhelming at time.
Read the docs again and again. The binding docs are VERY important.
Start with one technology and get familiar with it
Start with simple

Like @vzorglub mentioned the binding docs are very important. After reading through them, take a look at what you already own that may be able to communicate with openhab via binding. For example, your TV, an Amazon echo, etc… If your wanting to keep the cost down take a look at the sonoff or esp8266 devices, no dongle needed. Most of my home is automated with just the RPI and no dongles. Also read up on anything before purchasing, it may be worth a few extra dollars for one brand over another.

I’ll throw in - learn how to search this forum to take advantage of shared experience.
(Sidenote - be cautious about posts or web tutorial technical detail from before, say, 2017. OH1 had differences to OH2 that you should be using, and new users often get caught out using an old ‘start here’ guide)

Relevant previous found by searching “zigbee zwave dongle” -

Also, if you’re all new with a PI -> BACKUP your SD CARD

And not only when you have time … everytime.
I learned this the hard way.
When I say backup, it means stop your PI, pull out the card to your windows computer and make a copy with

Can be quiet long, so don’t use a 32gb SDCARD if you don’t need as much space, but the ONLY safe way to backup the entire system.

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Doesn’t seem to be a viable way ot backing up a server that needs to be online 24/7 to me. My OH server currently has an uptime of over a year… For backup of OH I recommend looking at the openhab-cli command which nicely backs up everything OH related to a single neat file that you can copy to some secure location.

This is how I backup and it works good for me. You may also want to look at using a SSD hard drive and remove the SD card. I have the RPI 3 B+ with 128G SSD and its works great, plus you can get the SSD for less than $30.:grinning:

Make a Backup
openhab-cli backup
Move the backup zip file to PC or other device.

To restore the backup:

Place the backup zip file into the backups folder 
sudo systemctl stop openhab2.service
openhab-cli restore /path/to/zipped/backup (var/lib/openhab2/backups)
sudo systemctl start openhab2.service

EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention is you may need to change permissions of the backup file when transferring the zip file to your PC. I use FileZilla for this and to change the permissions use this ```
sudo chmod a+rw backups

and to change permissions back this
sudo chmod a-rw backups

Well maybe in stable environnement, but when you’re a noob, dealing with backup in Linux is everything but user friendly. And when you need to restore … here comes the thrill .

I’ve no idea what I need to backup.

  • I mean system + openhab + everyting else I picked up on github

I don’t know how to do it:

  • Amanda, come on, I’m sure you can print labels for 5’25 floppy with it …
  • dd script to USB seems to work except when it crashes (and killed my system once), and now for some reason my PI is USB dependant : no USB plugged -> no boot

And more important, what ever the method always failed when trying to restore


Sorry to hear your having issues with making and restoring backups. Have you tried a backup like I posted above? I used this when moving my OH from RPI2 to RPI3 and it works great.

One thing I forgot to mention is you may need to change permissions of the backup file when transferring the zip file to your PC. I use FileZilla for this and to change the permissions use this ```
sudo chmod a+rw backups

and to change permissions back this
sudo chmod a-rw backups

So. I think z-Wave is the best and stable option, but how I see, the devices that are using this protocol are more expansive and fewer?

Later edit: I like Xiaomi as a brand, but I did not find what protocol they use.

As was said earlier, you can mix devices. I have a mixture of Zwave devices, and Sonoff switches, and a Broadlink controller for IR devices. I too am running on a Rasperry Pi 3, with the original Razberry board, and all works very well.

Xiaomi use Zigbee.
There’s a binding in openhab if you have the gateway (not tested by me, look on the forum)

If it works, it is the easiest I suppose.

More advanced :
There’s also a zigbee binding if you replace the gateway by an usb dongle (not tested also, not sure it works with xiaomi stuff)

Personnally, I installed on my PI a small daemon named zigbee2mqtt and a dongle.I use with xiaomi thermometer and without the gateway, working perfectly.

Amanda will backup a full server while it is up and running. You just need to mount an external file system (USB SSD/HDD or network shared folder) for Amanda to put the backups. Amanda comes with openHABian or you can install it separately. Linux, Windows, and Mac are all supported I believe.

I found Amanda to be easy to set up and use. The hard part is figuring out how to mount the external file system which is operating system dependent and can be challenging for non-Linux users on a headless RPi.

More expensive yes. Fewer no. I think there are more zwave devices than any other similar technology with zigbee being a close second. Though zigbee doesn’t yet have a good support in OH directly as zwave.

It works with some xiamoi stuff but not all. Be sure to check the zigbee readme for the list of devices known to work. Not listed devices may work but have not been shown to work. Unfortunately Zigbee is a little more open of a standard than Zwave meaning just because it says Zigbee doesn’t mean it is compatible with all other Zigbee devices/hub/coordinators.

I’m not sure … switching both account (root and backup) is not quite intuitive.The whole system of slots or whatever named it is like, changing tape on a server.
And as always what is backed up when installing via openhabian-config ? Everything ?
Amanda IS powerful for sure, but too linux ‘admin’ for me …