Civil engineer student from Belgium wants to start a home automatistation project

Hello, I am a belgian final year student Civil Engineer-Architect (Master in building techniques)

I would like to develop an home automation system, but do not know if I
best work with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, OpenHAB or rather another system like
z-wave, nest,….

Anyhow I want my input to be efficient so I’ll
need many sensors, and the z-wave sensors for this are far too
expensive, via arduino/RPi/OpenHAB I could use cheaper sensors, and in principle the
thing I want to do is ‘If This Happens Then That’-principle, is this possible with openhab?
I programmed already earlier in arduino, but I like the fact of openhab that it’s connectible with the other brands

I’ll eplain a bit more my case I want to focus on:
With our insulation requirements for the government here in Europe becoming
more and more killing for a good architectural design, I want some more
freedom, the calculation of heat loss is always based on static data, I
was thinking to start a little project to reduce the heat loss in a home
through automation.
I would like therefore this applied to my own apartment.
I attached a small example of how the input should look like

For example:
Motion sensor can record the pattern of occupant and we can obtain optimum
operation of the heater with these values. The system registers that on a
business day the last person leaves the house at 8:30 am every morning,
and the first person returns home on Mon / Tue / Thu / Fri at 17h,
Wednesday at 16h.

The same principle with humidity sensors and humidity in bathrooms or air quality.

For output then we could get:

heating can therefore be off 80% of the day, and must be set to x
degrees when the first person returns home. Sensor detects that the last
person goes to sleep 22h30, so 21h45 the heating may be switched off
until morning.

When the last person has left in the morning, the
heating shuts off again, and windows may be opened by an automated rod
so that fresh air can enter, without the heater still turned on, and
therefore no heat is lost.

This is a further state, and I’ll probably need to start with only 1 sensor -> one action and expand it step by step,
But to do this i have to know what system is better for me to work this system out

If somewhere here in the forum or
anywhere else has already written such a small project is, do not
hesitate to share this moment here with me to let me go start. This is a
big issue here in Europe and it would be great if we could find good
programmable options to solve these problems.

Thanks for your answer!
Gratz Jonas


I am new to openhab and learning alot as I go. It can certainly achieve the tasks you have described and SO much more when you scratch the surface.

Yes zwave gear can be a bit pricey, perhaps you might like to have a look at the site for some cheaper alternatives. Combined with a MQTT gateway this might help get you moving, I am heading down this path at the moment but for me I will likely stick with zwave gear to switch mains power as it has been certified for the job, I don’t really want to risk burning my place down with home made actuators.

There are quite a few examples here on the forum and heaps of interaction if you need it.

Good luck.


It will probably work best with a combination of all of the above. That is one of the great strengths with OH, it connects to (at last count) 130+ technologies, protocols, APIs and services).

They are until you take into account the value of your time. If one of your goals is to learn how to create sensors with Arduinos then that is a great approach. However, if your goal is Home Automation going with a DIY Arduino based approach could set you back months worth of labor learning, building, and debugging. From that perspective zwave isn’t so expensive after all. Also, I would not trust anything DIY to control mains power, definitely go with something commercial like zwave for that.

This is THE minimum requirement for any HA system. OH’s rules engine is built around event based processing. So you can write logic that gets executed when events occur (e.g. a switch is thrown, a device is detected off the network, a sensor reports movement, a thermometer reports and change in temperature, etc).

I’ve seen this approach before. Personally I find a more simple approach that triggers off of occupancy works better in practice. So rather than depending on learning you just set up a state machine and when the house is in a certain state you set the devices accordingly. With this sort of approach you don’t have to do anything special for weekends, holidays, or other unusual days. There are some people who have hooked OH up to a learning engine so a learning system is not out of the question.

Very doable and a pretty common use case actually. What most people struggle with is how to determine when someone leaves or is home and when everyone is asleep. Personally I just assume the house will be in bed by 11 so just go to night mode then. Someone else posted an approach where they apply weights to their states and only switch to a new state (e.g. asleep) when the weights exceed a threshold.

Very good approach. Start small and work your way to the more complex.

As you may have guessed from my previous answers, pretty much everyone’s HA configuration is unique. There are lots of general approaches and examples all over the wiki and these forums, but eventually you will have to figure your own setup on your own.

Just for an example, the seemingly simple problem of detecting whether someone is home or not has been solved by different people using:

  • A location tracking binding which runs on their phones
  • Motion sensors with a timeout
  • Weighted weights on several sensors
  • On when a device joins or leaves the network
  • Detecting when the Bluetooth in your phone is near by