Just dipping my toes in

  • Platform information:
    • Hardware: raspberry pi 2b
    • OS: flexible
    • Java Runtime Environment: don’t know yet
    • openHAB version: don’t know yet
  • Issue of the topic: Couple of question just to get me started on home automation

Hi all,
I’m just trying to get myself started into home automation, the primary reason is to make the home heating system more efficient. But, while I’m at it, I want to make the system extensible for (eventually) adding lighting, motion detection, gate & door locking & unlocking, security cameras, etc.

So I’m thinking of getting something like the Conbee II zigbee adapter, and connecting just one or two smart TRVs to begin with, and taking it from there once I get that bit figured out.

So my questions are pretty basic, really just looking to learn:

  1. Once I install OpenHAB, will it more-or-less automatically recognize the conbee adapter, and then go on to recognize the TRVs I buy?
  2. Is the Conbee II good for zigbee version 3 and backward compatible with earlier devices?
  3. I’m looking at these TRVs to keep costs down. Does anyone know if they are compatible as they both seem to want their own manufacturer’s hub for pairing.
  4. From what I read, OpenHAB seems to be the most user configurable platform. But is there any specific advantages or disadvantages over e.g. mozilla Things or Home Assistant?
  5. I’ve looked online, but can’t find a tutorial to get me started with these items. Any links or pointers?

Thanks for any help.

Welcome!

I am not sure about Zigbee but one of the reasons I moved here from Home Assistant was due to the better Z-Wave device support. The same Euro Space Engineer is responsible for the Zigbee binding.

@chris should be able to provide good Zigbee suggestions. I do not believe we support Zigbee version 3 but Chris can gove any details.

  1. No, you’ll have a few minor manual steps to take. The adapter plugs into your computer and will appear at a serial port (e.g. /dev/ttyAMA0 on Linux or COM1 on Windows). You’ll have to configure openHAB by creating a Thingand telling it what the path to that serial port it. And then the devices need to be paired with the coordinator. You’ll have to read the manual of the device to see how this is done. Typically you will scan for new Zigbee devices from the openHAB inbox and then you’ll need to perform some operation on the device (e.g. press a button).

  2. It’s hard to say. I don’t know that there are many people on this forum who have experience with all three and you will have a negative bias against HomeAssistant as those users here that do have experience with it have left it for one reason or another. For the most part the decision on which one to use is driven by what devices are supported. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses in that respect. What I can say about Mozilla Things though is it’s more a standard unto itself and less a hub that works with lots of different standards like HA and OH. Their audience is people who want to build their own IoT devices whereas OH and HA’s audience are those who want to integrate IoT devices that use multiple different technologies and standards.

For OH 2.5 see How to get started (there is no step-by-step tutorial) .

For OH 3 see [wiki] Getting Started with OH3: rewriting the tutorial - 1. Introduction which is currently being moved to the official docs.

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Thanks both for the responses.
One (hopefully) last question if I may, before I go off and start purchasing.
I guess I’ll need a zigbee relay as well - something to open/close the zone’s call-for-heat.
Do you have any recommendations for one?

I looked but couldn’t find something that seemed easily plug-n-play into the existing system (which has zones currently controlled by normal wired wall-mounted thermostat-timers). i.e. just a relay that will close the circuit and send the call-for-heat to open the zone valve, switch on the pump, and activate the boiler.

Thanks again.

Not really. I have some Peanut Plugs around but don’t know it those would work (probably not as they appear to be north america only).

Outside of Zigbee there are lots of options ranging from DIY to Shelly to Zwave. I’m sure there are Zigbee relays though.

But one thing you will learn very quickly with home automation. Plug and play is a myth. It’s always way more work than you expect.

Plug and play is a myth.
:slight_smile: I guess I meant that I can simply replace the existing wall unit that currently does the call-for-heat to activate valve/pump/boiler together.

So I thought some more, and in reality all I need is a zigbee switch that is rated for the required load. So I found this which is rated for 10A (higher than the existing unit’s 8A rating).

So I found this sonoff:

My idea then is a RPi with OH installed, the Conbee II hub, the zigbee TRVs telling the hub that they need heat, and the hub telling the sonoff to activate the boiler etc.

In… principle… it… should… work…???

I don’t see why that won’t work. The devil is in the details though.

Zigbee is an umbrella term for many communication layers. Many devices will work, but some manufacturers tend to implement vendor specific clusters, so not everything might work in OH3.

The Conbee II has a good range and comes with a own deconz REST API: https://dresden-elektronik.github.io/deconz-rest-doc/ This API supports a wide range of devices, see: https://github.com/dresden-elektronik/deconz-rest-plugin/wiki/Supported-Devices

You can use the deconz binding in openhab to access the devices.

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Yes, ZB3 is supported in the binding, so long as the dongle firmware supports it. This generally requires a new Ember with latest firmware (well - not latest, but newish). Note though that most ZB3 devices will work fine with ZHA.

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I stand corrected.