Dimmable lights connected to hub, button switches

I am totally new here (IT background). I am doing plans for a newly built apartment, and I have to decide exactly the system to use for smart lighting (also smart blinds).

What I want is a setup like I think is typical with KNX systems:

  • button switches (that are not connected to the lights themselves) on the wall (like normal light switches, or a group of multiple buttons) - not touch-operated (should be physical buttons)
  • connect all the lights to a central location (main electrical box)
  • I want the lights to be dimmable and I don’t want to use smart bulbs

For example: 6 switches (buttons) at 2 locations in the room, and I want to be able to decide and in the future change my mind which lights/blinds/whatever these buttons control. For this reason I don’t want switches that are wired directly to the light.

I was considering a few options:

  • Zigbee buttons (I would like them to be powered by wire, not battery), and connect lights through Dali?
  • KNX system + Dali and connect that to OpenHab?
  • Are there other options?

I was leaning to Zigbee simply because it seems like I will have more choice, more open/open-source solutions, and it’s also cheaper (although this is not the main factor at this point for me). But I would consider KNX too.

I wasn’t clear if I can connect many lights using a single Dali controller? If I understand correctly it’s a bus, so which hardware would I need? Dali device, some kind of adaptor to connect it to OpenHab (or Zigbee?), and then some device for each light? I plan to have 1 (long) rgbww led strip, a few shorter led strips, 4 normal light bulbs (dimmable), one LED panel light (not dimmable, but I still want to turn on/off with a configurable button switch). The apartment will also have electric blinds and a smart wall outlet.

Since I only researched the basics, I would appreciate advice on this. I will have a plan made by electricians, but I have to tell them which system I will use (and preferably exactly which device, especially the buttons). As I am a programmer I don’t mind getting a little dirty for this, although I don’t want a year-long project either.

  1. If you’re “only” the brain (sorry bout that), go for that, what your electrician opts for and what they’re experienced with - it’ll be cheaper, too.
  2. if you’re “doing the hard work” (again, sorry! :wink: ) I’d opt always for a wired solution. Not because wireless devices are bad or unreliable, but the basics should be wired in my opinion (lights, blinds, heating, …)
    Bonus: You can always change the devices at the end of the wires. But KNX is here to stay! :wink:

From my experience living in a KNX-wired home since 10 years: it was the best solution, as it has a high WAF (hihi) and just works. So all our lights, external blinds, heating works with KNX. Yes, it’s not the cheapest, but you’ve got a broad eco system with everything you’ll need.
The not-so-basic appliances are what comes to mind and is connected to openHAB (as is KNX).
For example:

  • wireless weatherstation (KNX-ones are incredibly expensive and - at least four years ago - not state-of-the-art
  • smart key turner (as I messed up the order for a built-in KNX-driven motor in the door itself)
  • bunch of presence detectors, tilt detectors, …

But all are “intranet”-appliances, which I deliberately bought, because they’re not dependend on whatever cloud.

So, tl:>dr;

  • basic installation: wired KNX
  • “nice-to-have” add-ons: wired/wireless - but locally available

binderth thanks for your input. Besides what the electrician would plan, what would I need to add for OpenHab? I’m guessing I need some interface between KNX and OpenHab. Or well, what kind of equipment do I need different as opposed to a normal (“full bundle” by some installer company) KNX installation?
I’m thinking about running OpenHab on my server I have in the basement, but the KNX stuff will be on the 2nd floor. What kind of cable do I need to run, would it just be a LAN cable?


Your electrician will know! :wink:
They mostly use USB Interfaces, which connect to the KNX bus. Recommended is an IP Interface/Router. So you’ll only need a LAN connection in between.

What you’ll need is either a licence of “ETS”-Software, which programs the devices on the KNX bus. With that you’ll be able to change configs in KNX afterwards like new switch configurations or new hardware. That’ll be a few extra bucks, but worth it over time.

Either that or?

Seems like $200-$350. Not saying it’s not worth it, but that’s probably the cost of a whole Zigbee system with all the hardware :wink:

Sorry. Telling your electrician to come over for small changes like reordering buttons on the switch. If your installation is small enough it could work with the free version.

Yes. That could be true. Didn’t say, is easy. But worth it in my eyes. KNX is stable and just works for years without a hassle. And yes, I even bought my license for €500 over ten years ago. Still, it’s worth it.

At least here in Germany you’ll find more electricians more experienced in KNX than Zigbee. So if you’ll ever try to sell your home, that could be a factor, too.