Home Security With Openhab

Is there a preferred or recommended way that users handle security inegration with openhab? Is it done by integrating to a separate stand-alone alarm system or by integrating with sensors etc as part of the HA setup to effectively turn openhab itself into an home alarm system?

And if it’s the latter how do insurance companies react to that?


If you are really interested in an alarm system there are two parts:

  1. The home sensors
  2. Someone to monitor and dispatch emergency responders

If you build your own system you will not have that second part. Furthermore, you need to check with your local law enforcement as well to see if a DIY alarm system is something they will respond to. They get dispatched to so many false alarms that many will not respond to any alarms except for those from professionally installed systems.

Given this, I would expect that the insurance companies will treat a DIY alarm system as if you had no alarm system. Even if you take on the role of monitor and the police will respond, I’m not sure I would accept a DIY system as an insurer because should the alarm system fail I have no one I can go after to recoup losses incurred by the failure (i.e. I the insurer cannot sue the alarm manufacturer).

Given all of this, I would go with a professionally installed system or something like SimpliSafe.

This is all just my opinion though.


You really need to check your local regulations for this. Here (NL) police will not respond, even to a professional installed system, unless there is an independent validation done. So unless the response center dispatches someone to confirm the burglary police won’t come. The subscriptions fee for such service is here quite significant. If you have the skills, it is much more economical to hang a webcam in each room and validate yourself than to pay for such a service.

Also to factor in, purpose-built alarms include hardware to manage power failures, detect tampering, etc. and offer features like sensor testing, zone omissions, user access at varying levels, blah blah.
These things can also be done with OH but you’d be re-inventing wheels.

Yeah I’d agree it’s easier to get a “normal” alarm system installed and then link it up to openHAB. I have a DSC alarm with the Envisalink ethernet interface… Works great and using the DSC binding you get pretty much full control of the alarm including the status of each motion sensor etc etc… So while the alarm is not armed I can still use the sensors to detect movement and switch on the passage way light at night for example.

Ok, this is interesting. I’m based in the UK and have had an ADT system previously but am moving to a new home. Am wondering what the options are in the UK or are these alarm system providers multi-national?

And, i presume not all alarm systems are equal when it comes to integrating with a home automation system?

+1 for the DSC/Envisalink suggestion.

For proper security, you do need to go with professional-grade hardware. Alarms are too mission critical to have any room for failure. In the best-case scenario, with a poorly working installation, you’ll wind up with a high number of false trips which means you’ll just wind up ignoring your alarm. In the worst case, you won’t have a working system. The suggestions made by @rossko57 are very good.

If you go with the suggestion above, you can integrate your alarm system into openHAB. Functionally, this means you can use openHAB to monitor/arm/disarm your alarm and you would be able to use your alarm system sensors for home automation.

Here in the US, Honeywell and DSC hardware are the easiest alarm hardware to find. Both systems are also used by ADT installers here. As of right now, DSC + Envisalink is one of the easiest systems to integrate to most HA systems.

There are now many alarm-monitoring companies which will support self-installed hardware (google “self installed alarm monitoring”). If you go with this option, they will provide a certificate which you can submit to your home insurance provider, but of course, it’d be best to check with your insurer first to make sure they will accept this type of arrangement.

1 Like

Thanks all for the info…very helpful :slight_smile:

I spoke with my insurance company about a DIY type alarm and their response was it covers all the same things that ADT and Brinks does it is the same. Mainly they only ask if you have an alarm and if it is monitored or unmonitored. I live in rural place so they know that Police, Fire, and EMT take a bit longer to get to a location in the mountains, however it is protected so they still give the discount for having it. It is like if you tell you have daytime running lights and alarm on your car they just have to believe you, since there is really no way to even check unless they come to your house, which would be sort of creepy on the insurance company’s part. Now being a threat analyst for the gov an alarm for the most part is a deterrent, like putting a beware of dog sign up. In most cases unless the police have a call that an alarm goes off they do not respond to them. Making it more difficult for a threat to get into your home is the key, camera are good because no one wants to be seen, alarm is good because they do not want to be heard, and dog is good because no one wants to be bitten. Other things to consider too is avenues of approach detection which I have seen many really easy to build sensors for doing that for driveway, walkways, and perimeters around a house. Personally why pay someone else to watch your stuff when with the IoT you have it all at your finger tips. Just my take on it.

1 Like

“I spoke with my insurance company about a DIY type alarm and their response was it covers all the same things that ADT and Brinks does it is the same. Mainly they only ask if you have an alarm and if it is monitored or unmonitored.”

Have you got this in writing? If you make a claim they’ll be looking for ways to avoid paying out. Your alarm system will be one of the escape hatches they will likely try to use…

As someone who just passed the CISSP yesterday I completely understand.

Mountains, threat analyst for the gov… I wonder if we live in the same area.

The big question to answer was whether the insurance company would accept it and whether the police/fire/et al would respond to alarms. You have confirmed the first and are not as concerned about the second so a DIY system sounds perfect.


I’ve just been reading about Canary’s security products:

,quite impressive. I’ll be having a chat with my insurance company about this and these cameras seem like a good candidate for integration into a diy setup if i were to go that way.

Don’t know I live in VA and gov part is just gov…if you know what I mean. Yep did that CISSP years ago…sucked. I decided to get Masters in Security and Terrorism Countermeasure so dont have to worry about Certs anymore. Now as a volunteer for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) for my area I know most around here monitor HAM radio for emergency calls there are ways to have a HAM automatically call them but now we are getting a little high the technical side for me. I am more of humble novice at the automation stuff, rekindling my electronics training from years ago, as a hobby. I terms of physical security for the most part you want to make is MORE difficult for the threat to get in. Locks are meant to keep honest people out. You build a better lock someone will build a better lockpick. So you cover your avenues of entry and you are set. In addition, if you have areas that do not require much entrance and exit then use Arm Bar door locks to prevent kick ins.

I have been with two companies (GEICO & USAA) for years when they ask if I had an alarm I said yes I do but it is not monitored. Now when I lived in the city I have four attempts of a home invasion and the alarm ran them off. I had one time they tried to break door an insurance company paid out with no questions asked. Now funny part is I have three very large pit bulls that were just waiting on the other side of the door for their new found friend so it would have been pointless if they did get in. Sadly the world is heading more in this direction of ballzie burglars. And no nothing in writing because they are not going to come to your house to look at it. Heck you can tell them it is ADT since they use a cheap Honeywell system which you can make yourself. An alarm is an alarm you just have to make sure of several things: Do you have your entry points covered (contact sensors or motions sensors)? Is it load enough to scare them away? Can you reset from a distance? Making sure there is backup in case the threat cuts the power (they do this too). Now you can add a push notification to your cell via a G3 board to call the police yourself too… The whole thing is really open to what you can think up.


Ah, THOSE mountains. I’m doing cyber security stuff in Colorado Springs, real mountains. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:My second masters is in Security Engineering but my current employer still wanted me to get CISSP. They paid for it so I figured what the heck.

I have to say, reading that I too immediately thought “escape hatch”. Of course the insurers won’t be creepy and come and check. The obligation is on you to tell them the truth, not on them to check up on you. They’re happy to take your money on your say-so.
Until you make a claim … then they’ll be suddenly interested/creepy enough to find out if you were telling the truth, because profit is at stake.

Insurance (a purely business transaction, compensating for a past event) is different to security (preventing, containing, minimizing an event).
Get clear in your own mind what you want to achieve - get cheap insurance? Get useful insurance? Prevent burglary? Know when you are being burgled? (is that actually helpful?) Reduce the loss from a burglary?

Openhab should be useful in the “prevent” category - as other posters point out, devices detecting approach to a house are useful.
You might send yourself a text; no deterrent there, the intruder is unaware.

You might turn on lights or ring bells or play recorded messages - definitely some deterrent value, though could still be dismissed as just some automaton. The more sophisticated that display, the less sure an intruder will be of what comes next. Don’t just play a dog bark recording. Play it once in that room, then in this room. Then turn on an upstairs light.

Sending yourself a text or CCTV as well, could prompt you to speak into the sound system - “hey you in the red hoody!”. Double edged sword - you’re not on the porch with a shotgun, so probably no-one is at home? But obviously a real person somewhere is aware and interested? Again the real payoff is not being sure what happens next.

And so it goes on.

Yeah know how that is…and yes those are Mountains! Love Colorado Springs just don’t like the politics there.

See my point is the most alarm systems can be purchase and installed so how does any insurance company know what system you have? Heck you can by an ADT sign on Ebay and put it in your yard. Then from the average person they think you have ADT. Now lets look at the threat, the average burglary does not have the intelligence (based on crime stats (my main background is in criminology and law)) to figure out you have an automated system. They see a light come on or hear a dog they tend to not want to stay around. Same thing with signs more criminals will pass up the houses with signs saying they have alarms, camera, and or dogs. I have a “beware of dogs” sign and they sale people will not even come on my property, so win win there. Same thing applies with casing a house you see that it is going to be more difficult to invade it you tend not to want to so not to get caught. I am a former Marine and was trained to break into based and buildings for a living so my background leads me to think that if I saw a building with alarms then we tend to come up with better ways to get into them. Alarms we tended to not try and trip them since the object of the mission is not to get caught, same applies for your home threats. Now I disagree not showing up to front porch with a shotgun would not tell me someone is not home they just maybe scared and already called the police, my thought is to get out of there. Just my view on that…so automation in an irregular pattern would work the best and there are many ways to do that. Philips Hues lights can be programs to come on and off in different locations of the house at different times and change each day so a pattern cannot be noted. This would show the house is occupied. They even make TV simulators (https://www.amazon.com/Hydreon-Corporation-FTV-10-US-Burglar-Deterrent/dp/B003S5SOLG ) that can be programmed to go on and off at times. I am sure with all the geniuses on here it can be made into a more automated device for an OpenHAB item. I think I saw something on Instructables about it. So the skies the limit here to the imagination.

1 Like

The scenery and stuff to do outside more than make up for the politics for us. And Denver isn’t that far away. Plus we can afford a house here and my commute is only 30 minutes. Over all a fair trade for the snow and the politics.

1 Like

Is Canary All-in-One or Piper NV integratabtle with OpenHAB? I want to either of these two but can’t make the final call since there’s no information out there about this integration.