Beginner starting to set up smart home

Hey guys,

as I’m moving into a nice new home in a few months I want to start building my home automation including music, light, heating, and so on. Well, I can’t afford everything at once but want to extend piece by piece.
So what I’ve found out is that the Philips Hue bridge seems to be a good start for the lighting, but don’t know if its even necessary. I already bought a nice smart home lamp on Kickstarter ( which will be compatible with the Hue, openHAB and IFTTT.
I’m sorry but I still don’t understand the concept of openHAB totally. My problem is: The VARA lamp comes with an own App to control the lamp (for example wake-up function, connected to the alarm of my phone which slightly starts to enlighten the lamp 30 minutes before the alarm). Would it be possible to also enlighten other lamps in the room together with VARA for wakeup through openHAB? And then set the alarm for example to my favorite internet radio, then playing at my HIFI-system? As far is I know, I could do that with IFTTT, is it possible with openHAB aswell? Is the Hue the right hardware or should I search for something different, more inclusive?

Sorry for all these beginner-questions :wink:

At a top level a HA system works using a hub and node pattern. You have one or more central hubs which contains the rules that defines your automation behavior and the nodes are your devices (e.g. you actual lights, sensors, HVAC control, etc).

Unfortunately there is a huge number of technologies/APIs/protocols that the nodes use to communicate so one of the biggest things that a hub must do is be able to communicate with lots of different devices using their native APIs and protocols.

So given the technologies you described, openHAB, IFTTT, and the Hue Bridge would be considered Hubs and the individual lights, the VARA, and your audio system would be the nodes.

Therefore, when approaching a HA design one of the major things that will drive your choices in technology will be whether your chosen Hub can support it. With OH there are more than 150 supported technologies so it is a pretty good choice. However, some of the bindings have to be a little cludgy by necessity (e.g. the nodes use a proprietary protocol). For example, OH cannot talk to Hue lights directly and can only control them through the Hue Bridge.

To answer a lot of your questions you need to review the list of supported bindings on the wiki and before choosing a technology review that binding’s wiki page for how OH works with it. It will provide a lot of answers.

For specific answers to your questions:

You still need the bridge. OH cannot talk to Hue bulbs directly.

Maybe, it depends on whether the VARA binding tells OH that the light is turned on. If the VARA can tell OH when it is doing this then sure, no problem. You could also do it other ways such as using Tasker on your phone to send the command to OH when the alarm goes off or something.

OH can integrate with IFTTT but as to whether OH can replace IFTTT depends on the make and model of your HIFI-system and whether there is a binding that supports it, or whether it has an open web based API you can use through one of the generic bindings like the HTTP binding or the Socket binding or the Serial binding.

It depends on your use cases and requirements. For example, I find it unacceptable to not be able to control my lights at the source (e.g. flip the light switch on the wall) so any of the smart light bulb solutions are unacceptable so I use zwave switches and outlets to control my lights.

I’ve read the list of available bindings here:
and looked at the compatible technology list here:

But it still remains hard to determine what hardware will be a good fit for what I would like to achieve. For example, I need to look at the second link to see which hardware/technology/brand will support the feature I want (lighting for example). But then it is very difficult to determine what products (bulb, hub, relay, surfboard, …) I need to actually accomplish my goal.

For example: I want to use OpenHAB to put a light on a timer, but to also be controllable using the physical light switch.

From the second link above I can see which products/brands have lighting support and read up on the binding for that technology. I can go to the company website to look at their products, but it is hard to determine what (if anything) OpenHAB needs to communicate with the products.

I know OH can interact with Philips Hue lights, but that you need the Philips hub. How do I know if other products/technologies/… require a hub or other extra hardware to interact with OH?

If I look at amazon and see this light switch (WeMo Light Switch, Wi-Fi Enabled, Control Your Lights from Anywhere, Compatible with Amazon Echo) I can see that Belkin WeMo is a supported technology, but its not entirely clear if I need any bridge/hub/… to interact with it.

You read the wiki page for that binding.

As the Wemo wiki page says

The integration happens either through the WeMo-Link bridge (feature still to come), which acts as an IP gateway to the ZigBee devices or through WiFi connection to standalone devices.

Each binding will list at the top what additional requirements there are to use that binding.