Going the open source way

Hi People,

I long term open source advocate, I’ve recently started taking interest in home automation. I have OH2 installed (OpenHABian on Pi) and I am impressed by its potential. I now face the dilemma of choosing the hardware solutions. I know KNX is a good way to go but I want to start slowly and at the same time not regret choices. I’m keen on open source software, protocols and hardware. At least open protocols and open source software. I know for example that Philips Hue bridge connects to Philips Servers. But can this be avoided if I use OH2? I don’t like Philips or anyone else knowing when I switch on a light. Does this matter? Probably not, but I want to start with high expectations at least :slight_smile: I would like to start with things such as:

  1. smoke detectors
  2. CCTV (Going down the MotionEye solution)
  3. lights (Philips Hue sounds the obvious solution but as above …)
  4. alarm system (similar consideration here, i don’t want this communicating e with foreign servers)

Going down the Arduino solution is overkill for me, at least now that I’m starting. Any thoughts bearing in mind my strong desire to go down the open route?

Thanks for your advice and support.

Personally, I like Z-wave. Multitude of device choices, mesh networking (bigger=stronger) and plenty of support from various controllers. If in the future OH no longer works for me I can just pick another controller and all my hardware is still viable. I already did this once moving from Vera to OH.

It may not be open source, but it is a lot more open than Zigbee (what I think Hue, Wemo, ect are based on) or Insteon that is a single source provider. And it’s not DIY as there are plenty of manufactured solutions for most people’s needs. To me it’s the best of both worlds.

Too many focus on controller when starting out. I always tell my friends that are looking to start in home automation to spend a lot of time thinking about protocols and what will work best for them. You (correctly) don’t want to spend a lot of money only to find out the protocol you choose isn’t going to serve your needs long term.

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You are right, the controller is not the starting point, its the protocol and hardware. I do like the flexibility of OH2 though … and seems to have big community.

Z-Wave is based on a proprietary design and a sole chip vendor? Zigbee is open standard I believe although doesn’t seem to be as widely implemented at Z-Wave. Tricky, isn’t it. I can see how this can become a difficult choice.

The HW controller usually is the starting point, but in fact the control unit (i.e. OH) should be. Long term, it’s determining much more what you can do than the transmission tech does.
I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on whether ZigBee or ZWave (or BTLE or whatever) is the most ‘open’ protocol.
You can’t compare electric hardware to software standards anyway.
There’s no open source HW, so unless you want to fiddle with Arduinos (you said you don’t), being pragmatic means to choose commercially available products for devices.
Fortunately, with OH, you can have it all, i.e. you can put a Z-Wave stick next to a ZigBee stick (or Hue bridge) and handle both of your device sets as if they were a single one.
I’d start with Z-Wave because it’s more mature, and there’s more and cheaper devices available.

I believe the only open part of Zigbee is the wireless transmission protocol (i.e. xbee). I believe Zigbee itself:

  1. isn’t just one protocol/API which is why the upcoming Zigbee binding will only support one controller dongle
  2. isn’t all that open (as mentioned, Phillips Hue uses Zigbee) given some of the uproar that occurred awhile back when Phillips briefly decided not to support other Zigbee devices on their Hub.

If you really want open source you unfortunately will have to go down the Arduino/ESP route. If you want off the shelf, I’ll second and third the recommendation for Zwave.

Are you sure that the lights ping home even if you do not specifically create an account at the Hue website first (that allows you to remote control the lights)?