Looking to get started in openhab - need direction

Hello all,

New to openhab and I have been playing with openhab on a Pi and some simple python code for led’s and relays. So far so good.

Looking to expand to my garage doors to start with. But I am not sure what I should purchase.
I am interested in MQTT stuff but not sure how it all fits together. Does anyone have any recommendations or “kits” that might be available to get me started in the right direction. So far I have a Pi, and some 5v relays.

Not sure what other questions I should be asking but I think I have a ton. Any help would be appreciated.

These doors already powered? Is there an existing controller, does it have any remote access? Or are you looking to simulate wired pushbutton controls? Is there any feedback you can get from the door position(s)?

The doors are already powered, I have remote access (A fob with 3 buttons on it) I would like to simulate push button controls via the openhab app, and keep the existing push buttons in the garage still working. The doors do not give any feed back, they are at least 15+ year old garage doors.

Are there any terminals on the garage door opener that you can connect a relay to? Otherwise you’ll be trying to replicate the remote keyfob

Okay, it’s probably worth revealing your control gear make and model.

I’d be looking to simulate the internal pushbuttons. That’s to say, some kind of gizmo with two(?) relay outputs, each of which is wired into your box across a button.
Are these press-and-hold kind of buttons? You can use a timed “press” from OH.

Can you steal any DC power from the door control? (for your new equip)

Pi is a bit over the top just to provide two relays at this location. WiFi twin relay boards are dirt cheap on eBay, is this within range?

If you have plans on zwave, I installed this into the housing of my garage door and it replicates the push button on the wall…been meaning to write up my experiences with it but other things are keeping me from doing so at the moment.

I basically tapped into the power blocks that get split out when it goes into the housing and then trial and error’ed the sensors wires from the push button wires. Also recommend some type of tilt sensor regardless of the solution you decide upon as I had some rule logic back fire until I included the state of the tilt sensor.

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I would use MQTT - Broker and buy a Shelly. It is less expensive and works very well. In my Opinion in Longterm MQTT is the best choice because of the very cheap ESP8266 with ESPEasy or Tasmota on it. I switched completely from Z-Wave to MQTT. I have to say, that I use the 1.0 Binding because for me I find Textual Implementations much easier.

There are many ways to do this, including creating it using an ESP8266 (e.g. wemos, nodemcu). If you go this route, you’ll need to detect whether the door is open or not, and some people use ultrasonic distance measuring, and some use a reed switch. I weighed all the options and decided to just get a Garadget. I bought a refurb one for about $70. A new one costs about $100 I think. It works great and it has its door closed detection mechanism using a laser / reflector. I am not affiliated with Garadget. Just a relatively new and happy user.

I have heard that zwave has a very limited distance for most devices and needs repeaters or wall switches and other things to repeat the signal around to get it to the control unit, my ultimate goal would be to add more and more items to the openhab and using zwave I think I would need to buy extra repeaters to get the signal to the control unit. But for just a garage door with a Pi nearby it might work good.

I think I am mostly looking to keep it all openhab and DIY stuff as much as I can. For the garage door I am trying to find a way if I can just have a push button on the openhab dashboard that trips the relay for a half second.

I was able to make a small python script that trips the GPIO for a half second and back off which would work, except I cannot get Openhab to run the script from the dashboard for some reason. I do not really need or want any door sensors that detect where the door is, trying the KISS method first. (Keep It Simple Stupid) or at least that is what my wife always tells me.

I don’t think you have read correctly or have a misunderstanding of how Zwave works.

First of all, the range of a Zwave device is pretty good. In open air the Z-wave folks claim 100 meters (328 ft) though recommend having a mains powered device every 9 meters (30 ft). (https://www.z-wave.com/faq) because of walls and other interference in a home environment.

And indeed, Zwave does set up a mesh network. But it is important to realize that all mains powered devices are Zwave repeaters. You only have to buy extra repeaters if most of your devices are battery powered and you have devices that are more than 9 meters from the controller.

This is a good first project for DIY.

It was my first DIY electronics project. I built it on an RPi using a dual relay and some reed sensors based on a tutorial I found on AdaFruit. I wrote and published the initial version of https://github.com/rkoshak/sensorReporter as a result (feel free to use it). Were I to do it over again I’d use a NodeMCU or some other ESP8266 micro controller running Tasmota or ESPEasy. In fact, I’m about to indeed do it over again, hopefully this weekend.

I use MQTT for the communication. You don’t want to have to put your home automation hub in your garage, so there needs to be a way for OH to communicate with the garage controller. MQTT is the standard for DIY home automation communications, at least over wifi.

Physically, it’s pretty simple to get working. You wire the relays to the wall button for the opener. I don’t think it even matters which wire goes where on the button. You can also wire the relays to the terminals on the opener itself where the wires from the buttons are attached. This might be more convenient if you have better access to a power source at the opener than at the wall button.

The relays need to get wired to the controller (NodeMCU or RPi) so you can trigger the relay.

I would not skip the sensor part though. I’m a strong believer that there should be a reliable way to monitor the operation of any device that can cause loss of life or limb like a garage door opener. In addition to the reed sensors I also have a camera in the garage and I never operate it if I don’t have eyes on the door while it’s moving.

Thanks for the info, yes my misunderstanding from zwave comes from an Alarm company I called, you know one of the big alarm companies that will come out and hook your entire house up with zwave, they insisted on telling me that zwave has a max range of 10ft and I will need an outlet with a repeater every 10ft to get it to my control unit, that being said it would have cost me in the 1000’s to complete the project for a simple home security solution. After reading the whitepapers on Z-wave, it does state 328 meters or 100ft. So I will research that option some more.

In my scenario, I had plans on replacing all the light switches and a few outlets (keep finding new reasons to keep adding more, most recent was to control a dehumidifier as it has a huge draw on power but is needed in my basement…long story short it turns on in the day time when the weather reports low cloud coverage for my solar panels to provide a chunk of the power vs my utility company).

Anyway as I couldn’t afford to do every single replacement in one big bang due to the cost of these items; so if you do go with that dry contact you could start with having OH some what close to avoid distance problems, and as you invest more into zwave you can find a more optimal placement for OH. I lucked out and was able to place mine fairly in the center of my house in the back of the entertainment center; however when I first started I slapped some 3M velcro on the Pi and stuck it to the back of the TV to keep it out of sight but accessible if needed.

I’m too much of a Polly Anna optimist. I’m always shocked when I hear stories like this. And to think they get away with it.

Zwave would be all but useless if what they told you was the case.

Thanks all for the suggestions, I was able to get a Pi and a few relays working in my garage. Both doors open and close with a push button on the OH dashboard, just had to set some .rules and some other settings to .sitemap and .items… I already added the lights, but need a few 3 way switches to wire them up so I can use existing switchs plus relay/OH. Nice and simple so far. 1 Pi, 3 relays and some wire. Ill advance as I get acclimated to this.

I have a widely spread-out home, and have my RPi with RazzBerry hat in one corner, and with initial strategic installation of a handfull of z-wave light switches (aka repeaters), I was able to pull in all the door locks (Schlage connect, z-wave devices, but not repeaters). My next project is to reliably pull in my shop, but that is a bit more challenging given the metal walls of the shop and the distance to it. I have some ideas, though…

The point is, I have a working, spread-out z-wave installation using (initially) only 3 well-placed z-wave switches (wanted them anyway, plans for more) and the varoius client devices (doors, sensors) on the periphery. The more (mains-powered) devices you add, the more robust your mesh network.


If youre looking for a general starting place, I’ve been working an a product called S.A.R.A.H. that is, in essence, a companion product to OpenHAB that allows you to generate a complete working system with speech, mariadb, internet radio, weather/astronomical data, a fully functioning alarm system and tamper alarm system, etc., which will allow you to manage the entire system through a built-in web site. I also have a working soultion for garage door openers using mqtt that I can share with you. I’m looking to launch it initally in June, so it should be ready in a couple of weeks. If nothing else it will give you a set of working config files that you can tailor as you see fit. You can look at the instructions here… https://rpi-ha.com. The site is not yet complete either, but should also be ready in a couple of weeks.


Thanks for the info seeLive, I think I will stick to just openhab for now with the stuff that has a bigger community support behind it, once I am more comfortable with this stuff venturing out sounds like it would be of interest, but I am just getting my feet wet now.

yw… and fair enough… it will be around when you’re ready to take a look.