Building a smart home in the Rainforest

Hi guys

I hope everyone is having a great day. I figured this might be the place to get answers regarding our ‘Fusion home’. In a nutshell, my partner and I left the ‘real world’ and have been volunteering in the rainforest for the last 3 years at a place called ‘Finca Bellavista’. It’s a beautiful jungle paradise were we all live in trees - thats the short version.

During that time we have been designing our dream home, again I will keep it short. It’s designed to be completely off grid and to never cost us money (this is the short dream scenario version of the story). It is built of long lasting products, photovoltaic solar system. home biogas, superscreen, wood composite etc etc. Imagine the best of both worlds - the modern infused with the jungle, outside is paradise while inside is techy and comfortable. You can view more of it on the ‘Fusion Home blog6’

I’m going to get to the point here…HGTV is filming the construction of the home, woohoo!!! We start construction in 2 weeks and are estimating the build to take 4 months. During that time we have to find the coolest smart home system that is going to work seamlessly.

This is what I have sourced so far (but I have heard openHAB might have a better solution)

I’m going to pre-apologise for my ignorance once again when it comes to this tech stuff. I am finally coming terms with the INSTEON and Z-wave stuff and have made some great connections leading to some great solutions.

So far I have confirmed that the ISY994iz. will work as our hub and do so off-line, which is great news! I’ve also confirmed that the MobiLinc app will allow us to control the INSTEON (I think thats what we are leaning towards) products via a standard router and again we will not have to be online.

My plan (to date) is to install the INSTEON products during construction, meaning it will be hard wired into the mains. I’m still looking into it but it seems I can do this with some of their products. The house will be lived in by myself and partner and when we are away it will go in a home exchange so I’m not worried about checking in online (although if possible one day I will). I do want to pick up the wifi but from what I have read I need an Ethernet cable to plug into the hub. For now I just plan to pick up the wifi and use the smart home system internally.

Does anyone know if this means I can still use the cameras over the local network? Does anyone know if I’m limited to anything other than push notification, online access etc?

We hope to have motion lights for the bathrooms, ability to make sure all the appliances are off, control the blinds (So far I have decided on these guys -, cameras for wildlife (if they work - night vision would be cool), door sensors etc (I’m still researching).

I think we are making headway, we still have time to perfect it before its time to put it on the show.

Thank you everyone for you input, any advice, tips are greatly appreciated!

Pura Vida!

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Nice place for OH application :slight_smile:

I’d suggest a Raspberry Pi as the central, with a Wifi USB stick. Put it on a smartphone battery pack. Run openHAB there.
You can use it to control the Insteon hub, or you can connect a zwave USB stick to control zwave devices, and you can do both in parallel.
I don’t know enough to comment on using Insteon, but in general, it’s a bad idea to rely on a single company to supply everything. Using zwave gives you more choices and less dependencies.
You can access the openHAB interface via Wifi or via Internet, both will work, no dependency on any gateway, specific app or cloud service. Yes, cameras will still work (I’ve got a Foscam 9800P which is waterproof, night vision, Wifi, and cheap), locally and even remote.


Hello Markus

Thanks for the suggestion, just when you think you have this smart stuff all figured out another option that I no nothing about pops up. Maybe if people with experience are willing to offer suggestions then I’ll write down what I have put together with help from other forums I’m looking for the best

Can someone who has used this Raspberry Pi as the central and all those suggestions help me understand a little better :)stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

A high gain 2.4g antenna to pick up the wifi from 1 - 1.5km away (at this time we do not need the smart home system to be online - this is just for us to get online!)

Indigo pro with a macbook or ISY994iz with MobiLinc app

A local router (no idea which one but I imagine one with good range)

INSTEON and Z-wave products (I would prefer to have them hardwired into the mains during construction but I have also been warned about solely relying on INSTEON)

  • we would like cameras to catch the wildlife (night vision) and view it on the TV inside
  • door sensors
  • the ability to dim and control the lights
  • smart locks
  • smart tv
  • the ability to turn appliances off and on

For the blinds we are using MOVE from Teptron and for guest experience other than using the app, we would like to use this remote - … nav_search

Wishlist - projector than comes down from the ceiling as well as screen for the outside lounge.

The HGTV film crew will be here on the 28th of this month filming some of the construction materials arriving, getting a back story etc. We are estimating 4 - 5 months to complete the home so I still have time to perfect the system. I just need to make sure I get the products while I am in the US at the end of April.

I’m still trying to find the best possible solution for solar power, its tough as options are limited in Costa Rica (surprisingly). Ideally we would want something modern like the powerwall. It will probably just be a combination of outback, midnight and Rolls batteries that we use.

Thanks again everyone for your help, if you know of any tried, and tested INSTEON/Z-wave products that you would recommend then please let me know!

Pura Vida

Err, you were asking this on a OH forum, so probably everybody reading this believes you want to deploy OH as your central controlling entity, don’t you ? Not sure what you believe openhab to be, but it’s software to be THE central of your smarthome, and it has software modules to communicate with various smart home systems either directly (via IP or radio) or indirect via some gateway/hub such as the Insteon hub you mention.
So you need a always-on server to run OH on. Raspberry Pi is a ~50$ mini (size of a credit card) computer running Linux. Most people around here use a RPi for the purpose of running the OH software instance (where did you intend to run it?)
And you can equip RPis with USB sticks or daughterboards to directly talk to zwave or zigbee devices, so you wouldn’t need any gateway/hub for that purpose.

Hi guys. Have any of you gotten around to test the Teptron MOVE with openHAB/linux yet? Is it working?

I’ve had some success in integrating the Bluetooth version of the Teptron Move with openHAB, I’ve written about how I did it here

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This excellent writeup would get more exposure if you posted a separate new topic in the Tutorials and Examples category.