Is the openHAB platform suitable to be used for a boat?

I am new to openHAB and I apologize if my question is not in the right place.

I would like to know if instead of controlling a house, I could use openHab to manage the devices of a boat.

For example to turn on an engine or a light, or to check the temperature of the engine, or to know the position of the boat.

Thank you in advance for some advice.


People use OH in all sorts of unusual ways including on RVs and even some industrial/agricultural uses.

As long as the devices you want to control and get sensor readings for are supported by OH through add-ons there should be nothing stopping you from doing so. I suspect that will be the deciding factor though. I suspect there are not too many boat based devices with an API that works with openHAB.

This sounds like a case where OH could do the task but it is probably not the best tool. A while back there was a thread about having OH running in an RV which is probably similar to what your use case would be. That said, how easy this would be depends on many factors including how all these systems would be connected.

OH is just the software messaging bus that can communicate with and orchestrate many different IOT protocols. So, you would not only need a device which OH installed (a rpi would be sufficient) but all the things you want monitored would need to be connected in some way to a system that OH can communicate with.

Several questions you probably want to be able to answer before you try this:

  1. Can the OH installation be on all the time? Does it need to be? If not, does it even makes sense to only have it on when there is someone on the boat?
  2. What devices/protocols are available for the items you want controlled/monitored?
  3. Can these devices/protocols be secured (especially when no one is on the boat)?
  4. Are these particular devices/protocols compatible with OH?
  5. Are you prepared to spend the extra time that will probably be required on custom solutions because you are working so far outside the standard use cases?

Comment; because openHAB was not designed with mobility in mind, there are one or two minor snags. Changing timezones, for an example. Another might be weather and astro bindings, where change of location is not so easy, but those are not insurmountable problems.

Hmm… I could think of these two issues in terms of two core services OH has. The TimeZoneProvider currently does rely on static configuration but it could be based on present GPS location. Same thing applies to Astro stuff which should be based on LocationService or location pointed by it.

One thing which worries me is how much energy would be taken by device which runs openHAB.

Fulltime RV’er here. It’s more or less the same problem, really. GPS/timezone stuff is pretty easy with some simple scripts and a GPS dongle, and that’s probably the only issue. Do realize that you’re not going to find as many ‘off the shelf’ home automation solutions, going to be doing a lot of DIY, especially to keep power usage down. But there’s plenty of 12V or USB (or battery, but that gets annoying) ZWave/Zigbee stuff out there. Plus a great deal of RV/Marine stuff (inverters, tank management stuff, etc etc etc) either doesn’t have any external interfaces, or it’s designed to solely work with stuff from THAT company and nobody else, with no documentation. But it’s very doable and a lot of fun.


I also wonder about that.

If you wanted to monitor the boat when it’s docked, then you could plug in and fire up OH before you leave and avoid any risk of draining the batteries. Z-Wave/Zigbee flood sensors could tell you if the boat is taking on water while you’re not there (though I’d guess that this already exists as a commercial solution). You could also monitor ventilation fans.

Of course, then your OH server also needs to have Internet access.

sounds like the best reason to start a project :joy:

If you don’t have comfortable battery storage/solar generation to run a 5W Raspberry Pi 24/7, you should not be considering OpenHAB on your boat. Power usage is key, for sure – any Watt that can be trimmed, should be – but if a few watts/H is a problem then no automation system will work for you.

I am heavily automated with a lot of stuff that I can turn off if I must, but my ‘house computer’ (OpenHAB, plus internet routing+VPN, NAS, and some other things) is a OCdroid-XU4 that burns about 30W (disks, LTE, etc. The bare board itself, doing nothing, only runs about 8-9W). My inverter kills 10W even if nothing is using AC.

If I’m not running my main PC (Yes, I have 16U of 19" rackspace in my RV, don’t judge me :D), and merely on the bare minimum, I run about 60-70W. I have 800Ah@12V of LiFEpo battery and can basically run forever on minimum, no matter how cloudy the day. Minimum is no fun, I like lights and surround sound and my big TVs… but OpenHAB can handle it. And OpenHAB 3 is so much more efficient than OpenHAB 2.

very interesting

Hi all!

At first I want to say that I am really impressed with the liveliness of this forum.
In my long career in IT I have never received such a warm welcome to my first post as a novice.

This is a great honor to this Open Source community and I thank you very much.

Having said that, I think I understand that OpenHAB is not suitable for installation on a boat.

In the meantime I have taken a deeper look at OpenHAB and to my great pleasure I have seen that it is based on OSGi technology and therefore is a great platform that lends itself to many integrations.

It is my intention to dedicate myself to this platform to explore the possibility of including it in another hospitality project of mine.


This sounds like a case where OH could do the task but it is probably not the best tool.
Please could you suggest me a similar tool but more suitable to be installed on a boat?

Thank you very much again for the support I have immediately received.



I live in Arizona, not a lot of call for boat projects around here, sorry :wink:. What you are asking about doesn’t seem too far fetched, and surely there are others who want a similar product. My guess is that, as others have also suggested in this thread, there exists some system that covers what you want and is already designed for installation on a boat. This is just a guess. It is possible that, although OH is not the most well-adapted tool for this, it is closer than other options, but I doubt it.

I would recomend you use something more boat like as a boat. Depending on the case and how water tight you make OpenHab I would think it might float, but I don’t think it would function as a very good boat for very long. Salt water or fresh water would also need to be taken into account when building the case. /s

But on a serious note. I would love to see how this unfolds. Is this going to be 100% local, will it have a cellular internet connection, what devices are in use. I would think a small foot print like a boat would allow you to use a bank of relays and direct runs for all low power items. Then OH can use that relay bank to handle all the lighting and similar devices. I would try and stray from as much wireless devices as possible, I would think alot of the higher power com and navigation equipment found on and near vessals would cause a fair amount of interfearence. But I am very intersted in seeing the outcome.

Just to clarify, when I said “when it’s docked, then you could plug in”, I meant plugging into onshore AC power. In that scenario, I think OH could be a very good monitoring system if the boat owner didn’t want a commercial solution. I also wouldn’t run OH and its peripherals off of a boat’s onboard batteries.

Check the SignalK project, integrates with NMEA protocols to start with. However far less developped as OH, so we decided to go for OH in our prototype yacht ( We are using MQTT and MODbusTCP for the main part.

When we are in a more progressed fase this summer I will post about this project here in the forum.

Dear @Rene_Mullie thank you very much for your comment.

I saw the prototype yacht web site and there are a lot of interesting things that coincide with my project also.

I asked to connect with you in LikedIn and I hope we can exchange some messages between us. Anyway, my LinkedIn profile is

Thank you in advance.