Building management with OpenHab

I am managing a small complex with 2 buildings. Each building has 7 floors with 4 houses on each levels. I am thinking of implementing a smart building management with OpenHab with the following features primarily:

  1. Connect wifi (nodemcu) or Zwave/Zigbee based relays to the common area lights (parking/hallways etc) to remotely switch them on/off. Maybe add ultrasonic sensors in the common areas to automate the process as well.
  2. Install energy consumption monitoring devices to the electric 3 phase meters and monitor usage to common utilities like lights, water pumps etc. Would like to measure daily energy usage throughout complex.
  3. Remotely trigger the water pump and electrical generator via relays.
    and build from there.
  4. Monitor water level in the storage tanks and automatically trigger the pumps when water level is low (preset)

Planning to configure everything on a Rasberry Pi and keep connected to a monitor for easy control.
The relays shouldn’t be relatively easy to implement.
Can someone suggest regarding reliable energy consumption devices which work with OpenHab and can monitor usage from preexisting 3 phase meters already installed on premise?

I know commercial systems would probably be existing but they are expensive.


If I were attempting something like that I would implement on something other than a Pi. Likely I would prefer a small server with redundant power and mirrored disks.

For something important like that, I would use some kind of self-contained subsystem. By all means, have it able to report to and maybe controlled by a remote system.

There are any number of remote readable power meters that can be fitted in DIN electrical boxes.
Dealing with 3-phase will probably lead you to a Modbus solution, that’s fine OH works with modbus.

Although, the tasks outlined are not that demanding really.
Having said that, I would myself tend to a “proper” mini server with hard disc or SSD storage. Someone’s bound to want extensive graphics, add-on enviromental monitor/control etc. :wink:

Redundant power may not be needed if the system can’t do anything useful with the mains power off - on the other hand, it might be wanted to report the disaster!

If it is being managed commercially, it is incumbent on them to do everything possible to insure contracted service availability.

Sure; but keeping alive a management system that is turning on lights and reading meters is of absolutely no value during a mains power cut.
Ensuring the water supply still works would be a Good Idea, but doesn’t necessarily involve openHAB servers.
Just having a good chance of a full tank when the power fails would cover it.

Disaster planning is great, but that is not about making everything bulletproof. It’s just thinking about what are reasonable precautions and acceptable risks.

Contracts never say “everything possible”, the magic word is reasonable.

Commercial power (even in the US) is far less reliable than you might think. I found that out the hard way developing plant floor automation in 2000 locations across the US. :open_mouth:

Hence the need for a UPS to sanely shutdown the system to reduce corruption possibilities.

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Ok, I’m not gonna ask if there’s a chance to deploy a wired solution. I guess you checked for that and concluded it would be too much efforts. But I guess you’re aware that professional commercial solutions all are wired.

Going wireless is ok for a smallish setup like this. Make sure to go for a commercial solution so you have a vendor or better a standard to back your deployment.
Nodemcu is ok in private deployments but it’s way too much DIY for a professional deployment.
WiFi, while cheap, comes at a price (security, frequency cluttering, lack of standards API, …).
I’d go ZWave so you will be able to choose from a number of vendors without a need to adapt your server side to each of them (in WiFi, for comparison, you would need to configure a custom binding for each vendor) - that’s a no-go in the professional space as an eventual need for replacement will bring huge efforts to reconfigure your devices and server side, and this in operations.

If it’s a professional deployment, a RPi in fact is not unreasonable.
Get 2 or 3 and at least as many ZWave controllers of the same type.
“Professional” means:

  • on UPS
  • using a reliable storage medium (SSD) or other means (like this patch) to avoid SD corruption
  • release management of config and automation rules
  • daily backup
  • spare HW, production + development system
  • …

Yes, that would be more feasible.
Can we use PI 4 with SSD disks for storage?

It won’t replace humans obviously :slight_smile:
Just meant to make it easier to manage the complex.

Can you share what worked for you? What hardware/software combo? Did you use OpenHab at all?

Yes, UPS will be used in the system

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Nodemcu with EasyEsp firmware? I think thats supported by OH.

Thanks for the other suggestions!

Yes it works but it is DoItYourself. You mustn’t deploy DIY HW in professional deployments.

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Can’t get into specifics. It was a custom built software solution running on several large Intel servers supporting dozens of scanning stations. There was one of these in each of the 2000 locations.

Any reason(s) why? Havent’ these DIY hardware become robust enough now especially if deployed with safe, secure and robust software?

Views appreciated

view provided:

  • DIY solution depends on the only person in the know to deploy it - you.
    Noone will be able to take over any of your tasks or substitute you.
  • No repair or maintenance
  • no vendor support, no documentation
  • no warranty
  • not accepted by 3rd party such as e.g. insurances, home owners, landlords etc.
  • no ready to use replacement kits/parts available
  • not tested by any independent party
  • not certified to match any automation standard whatsoever
    … and many more.

As I said DIY HW is ok for personal use but you must not use that in professional deployments.

Any suggestions for professional deployment hardware like Nodemcu + relays?

Many: All ZWave, ZigBee, KNX, Enocean devices. A number of proprietary systems and Programmable Logic Controllers. There’s even WiFi devices coming up such as the Shelly line of devices.
But this forum is not on general discussion of Home Automation technology.

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