How to get started (there is no step-by-step tutorial)

I’ve seen a number of “I’m a noob, can you give me a step-by-step tutorial for building my home automation with [insert very specific technology or device here]?” I’m writing this article to provide an answer to these sorts of questions so we don’t have to keep typing less useful answers.


Hello new user of openHAB and welcome! Please do not be offended if the only answer you got was a link to this article or some other article. Would you rather someone type out a half answer to your question that may or may not be thorough, or would you rather get an answer that someone spent some time writing to make sure that it is complete and thorough?

If you were presented with the dreaded How to ask a good question / Help Us Help You article, that means that you have not provided us with nearly enough information to answer your question or give you useful information. openHAB runs on seven major platforms in a near infinite combination of potential configurations. Each one has a different installation method and potentially different quirks. It’s hard to help if we don’t know the specifics of the environment you are running in and how you installed it. openHAB supports around 350 different technologies/APIs with thousands to tens/of thousands of devices. Which specific ones you are running/want to run is critical to help answer your question. openHAB is under continuous development with new features (and bugs) being introduced almost daily. We need to know what version you are running so we can understand which features and known bugs we might be dealing with.

We don’t ask for all this information because we are lazy or mean. We literally are just guessing without this information. So please provide as much information as you can whether you think it’s relevant or not.

If you don’t tell us, we don’t know. Have you read the docs? Have you watched a YouTube tutorial? Have you tried stuff and run into trouble? Then tell us! We only know what you’ve told us and if you don’t tell us, we have no choice but to assume you didn’t do it. And if you think about it, with holding this information is kind of rude because it is asking us to spend time explaining something you may already know and understand. So please, even if it becomes a novel length post, tell us what you’ve done or we will assume you were too lazy to try a search on your own.


OK, now where is that step-by-step tutorial to make openHAB work with [super specific techology x]?

It doesn’t exist.

Everyone’s home automation system is unique. There is no tutorial that will cover everything you need from start to finish for that specific device or technology. It doesn’t exist and it’s never going to exist.

Instead, you will find a series of tutorials which address individual piece parts of OH in depth. For example, InfluxDB+Grafana persistence and graphing is one of the most heavily used tutorial on this forum. But it only addresses a tiny part of OH’s capabilities. And this tutorial, like most tutorials, require you to have a basic understanding of the openHAB basics.

So to get started, you my dear user, will have to do the following:

  1. get an understanding of the openHAB basics
  2. read up on the specific technology(ies) you want to integrate with openHAB so you understand the basics of how they work
  3. read the biding documents for the technologies you want to integreate
  4. look for and follow any tutorial you can find covering that specific technology/binding
  5. if you run into problems, come and ask for help (providing all the details mentioned above).

The Basics
How do you get the basics? Start with the openHAB docs, especially the Concepts section. Next move on to the New User Tutorial.

There are a number of postings here on this forum and elsewhere that also provide a good overview of openHAB and help you get started.

Specific Techologies
To be successful with openHAB or any home automation hub, you must have a basic understanding of technologies you intend to use. You must know the basics of the technology in order to understand how to set up and use the binding that supports that technology. Often a quick read of the wikipedia article for the technology will be more than enough, but if you encounter a word or phrase in the binding docs, look it up and make sure you know what it means.

The Binding Docs
This will be your go to source for all the most recent and correct information for setting up the binding to support a technology. What is in the binding docs will overrule anything you find in a tutorial or forum posting. These docs get updated, most everything else does not. Since things change over time, what you are reading may no longer be relevant.

If you are not using the most recent versions of openHAB (SNAPSHOT), make sure to select the version of OH you are using in the drop down in the top right to get the docs for the version of the binding that matches what you have installed.

I’ll be honest, we will get annoyed if you ask a question that is plainly answered in the docs. It’s OK if you don’t understand the docs. We are happy to help clarify it for you. But if you ask a question that is plainly answered in the docs and do not explain what you don’t understand, you will get a link to the docs as your answer.

Find Relevant Tutorials
OK, you know the basics. You know the technology. And you know the binding at least a little bit. But you are still stuck. Now use your searching skills to see if someone has written a tutorial to do what you want to do. openHAB has been around for a long time and we have a tutorial writing culture here on this forum. You will likely find more than one that is relevant. You should now have the knowledge and skills necessary to follow it.

Still stuck?

It’s OK if you run into trouble following the tutorial. Ask for help. Just remember to show the work you’ve already done and be specific in your questions. If you show that you’ve at least tried to do it yourself we will rush to help you.

Good luck!


Comments, additions, and suggestions welcomed.

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