Looking to replace Smartthings with openHAB, need advice

I’ve looking to replace my Smartthings HUB with openHAB. I’m tired of the outages and slow response having to go to the cloud and back for commands. Not to mention the added security of having everything local.

I initially entertained the idea of running openHAB in a Docker container on my NAS, however it seems to me, as a newbie, openHABian might be the easier way to go. That and I can locate a Pi higher up for reception.

I read up on booting off an SD card then moving/running openHAB off a USB flash drive. I assume a 32GB SD and USB are more then enough to run OpenHab?

This will be my first Raspberry Pi 3 B+, is there any reason to get a case with a fan or will the average kit with a plastic case and heat sinks be enough?

I want to be able to use both my Zigbee and Z-Wave devices and from what I can tell the
GoControl CECOMINOD016164 HUSBZB-1 USB Hub is the only combo USB stick. What I haven’t been able to figure out is whether or not it works properly with openHAB?

I have several Smartthings sensors and a wall plug that use Zigbee and several GE Wall light switches that use Z-Wave +.

Last but not least, I can’t find a binding for my Meross garage door opener, looks like I might have to use a MyQ?

Comments/suggestions? Best practices?



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There is nothing wrong with running openhab in docker, if you want better reception there are examples in this forum how to connect a usb stick through ethernet. Docker is great actually, you can spin up a HABApp container alongside and use easy and flexible rules.
If you are going to buy a new device however, I’d recommend at least a Pi4 or a used HP T620.

Why not get two sticks that are well documented and tested? Also if one fails, the other one will still be working.

That being said, I’d try to setup openhab on my local (main) machine and make some first steps with it before offloading to a dedicated machine. Tinkering with both the hardware and software can get overwhelming quite quickly - especially if you are new to openhab and linux.
If your actors and sensors are working you can just move the existing configuration.

Is there any specific reason to get a Pi4 over the Pi 3 B+, the Pi4 is double the price.

Can you recommend make/models for both Zigbee and Z-Wave + sticks?

Any comments on SD/USB sizes or the garage door openers?



With the same ram it’s the same price. You are propably comapring different models.

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I’ve been running openHAB on a Pi 3B+ in the standard plastic case for a couple of years now - not had any issues with heat or performance.

I’m using a 32GB SD card, and it’s actually the same SD card that I started with two years ago. Currently only using 7GB of the available space on it. To reduce wear I initially turned off all logging (well, set everything to only report ERROR), but I’ve started to tinker more with it in the past months so am now saving the logs to a USB stick.

Absolutely agree with this!

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That stick works well. I started OpenHAB using that for Z-Wave. Although I have no Zigbee devices I have successfully set that up too. Many people here use that device for Zigbee. I assume you are located in North America. Otherwise that is the wrong Z-Wave frequency for your region.

The developer for both those bindings @chris is very helpful and dedicated.

Welcome to OpenHAB. To transition you may be able to use your existing hub with MQTT to interface with OpenHAB.

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Depends on what you want it to look like and what sort of environment you are putting it into. I have one mounted to the wall in my garage in a flimsy PET plastic case with no heat sink and it’s worked like a champ for years. YMMV.

Yes, that’s what I use. However it’s worth mentioning that GoControl no longer manufactures them, they are US frequencies (if you are in Europe it doesn’t support the right Zwave frequencies), getting old and doesn’t support firmware updates so as the Zwave and Zigbee protocols advance the dongle will be left behind.

That being said, I’m happy with mine and have no plans to upgrade it in the near future.

Start small and gradually build up. Spend a lot of time with the documentation. Tiny details really do matter. Don’t be afraid to go back and rework stuff as you learn. Don’t spend hours spinning your wheels; ask questions on the forum here and you will usually get an answer within hours. When you do ask for help, please provide lots of detail (OH version, how installed, logs, configs, what your end goal is).

HUSBZB-1 is well documented and tested. Search the forum and you will find lots and lots of users who are using it. It may not be the best choice for other reasons (see above) but it is well supported. The Zigbee chip is actually an Ember chip which Chris has had good things to say about.

It depends on your end goal. If you plan on hosting a bunch of other stuff on this machine you will find the amount of RAM on an RPi 3 too little. But if it’s going to be dedicated to openHABian, a Pi 3 should be more than adequate. Adequate doesn’t be great though. OH will be snappier on an RPi 4 or something with a heftier processor.

Aeotech zwave controllers are popular. I’ve seen Chris (the binding developer for both bindings) mention that when there is a choice, those Zigbee coordinators that use Ember chips are preferable. The binding README has a list of know to work coordinators.


I agree.

I only retired mine to a test system because I received a newer Z-Wave only stick. That stick lets me do come Zigbee testing even though I do not use Zigbee in my Production system. Chris said I did not need to do that,

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I’m all about the path of least resistance, if it works and it’s cheaper, I think it will be a good starting point. I looked at the Zigbee binding readme and found none of the standalone USB sticks on Amazon. Which just shows how unpopular they are apparently. Moving forward I think all of my devices will be Z-Wave +.

Based on your and @Spaceman_Spiff comments I took another look at the Pi4. Comparing apples to apples the Pi4 Kit with 4GB of memory, a case with a fan and a 32GB SD card is only a $20 difference and that doesn’t take in to consideration that the Pi4 case has a fan. My only question, I heard they had a power connector issue, did they fix it?

I can appreciate the start small and use an existing PC, however I’m OK with picking up a Pi, I’ve been wanting one for a while. I’d rather play on it then muddy up my desktop as it’s dedicated to other work.

The other reason, and correct me if I’m wrong, my understanding is that openHABian has a lot of things pre-installed, including the menu system for updates, changes, and moving the file system to a USB drive.

I installed openHAB in a Docker container on my NAS (OMV) and the first thing I noticed was how vanilla it was and said to myself “Now what?”. It also seems most video examples are geared towards openHABian.

As I mentioned earlier the Pi would give me more flexibility to move it around and if I have to do maintenance on my NAS I don’t have to worry about killing my Docker setup. I won’t have all my eggs in one basket…

Thanks in advance for your comments, that goes for anyone else I didn’t specifically name in my response.


There was an issue with 3rd party USB power supplies. I believe they fixed that hardware error.
Some USB sticks have an issue where they need to be connected to a USB2 hub and then plugged into a USB3 port. I have not heard of that issue with the HUSBZB-1.

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openHABian comes with most of the non-openHAB stuff that almost everyone also installs on their system pre-installed, or at least install-able as an option. It is a huge time saver for you and for us as you can just say “openHABian” and we know exactly how everything is installed and configured. And it saves you a lot of learning that is required if you were to install and configure everything yourself. It’s a great way to get started.

Also note, with the zram option in openHABian, it’s not nearly as vital to move stuff off of the SD card as most of the stuff that has lots of writes from openHAB gets moved to a RAM disk.

Hence my advice to spend some time with the docs. You kind of need an idea of what you want to do and that will direct the “now what” part. In general though, the first thing to do is install one or two relevant bindings (or if you just want to play a binding that doesn’t require hardware like Network, OpenWeatherMap, Astro, MQTT, Mail, etc.). Then create or discover some Things. Create some Items to link to those Things. Finally, create a Rule or two to react to events from one source and cause an action on another one.

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Sounds like a plan.

Is there a way to setup openHABian to control my Smartthings controlled devices so I can play and test before moving everything over and abandoning the Smartthings Hub? Is this were MQTT comes in?



Start at SmartThings and OH2? and search the forum for more.


With revision 1.2 they fix that nasty problem, but that’s just nasty ones. Rpi3 had extremely low IO and v4 remains among slowest boards. There is no reliable storage options - USB3 is just a crutch.

Before moving on, check:

This will only replace one low level problems for another - there are many reports, google … also check storage experts forums what do they think about.

But once again I’d be back to a vanilla install of openHAB vs. openHABian?

I assume your referring to something like the following?



He was referring to competitors to the Pi.

Openhabian is here that also “I am new to Linux” can use OH. I don’t like nor need this additional OS related crap so I use vanilla. I know how to connect to wifi or backup/restore stuff … so its down to personal decision.

IMO that is already an overkill, but for the price, yes. (if we assume Linux just works fine OOB) Could also be ARM based just that it has good sw support (armbian), eMMC and has 1Gb of memory. But you will hardly beat this price …

Welcome to openHAB!

I respect @igorp’s opinions on the RPi (he’s very clear on why he dislikes it), but for me and many other openHAB users it’s perfectly fine. It’s easy to find, easy to work with, and easy to replace if it ever dies. And now that ZRAM is enabled by default, I personally don’t see a need to use an SSD (but can appreciate that others do).

I recently moved up from a 3B to an RPi4 with 2GB of RAM. I don’t perceive a difference in operational speed, but do find that PaperUI is much faster to load. However, I don’t do much with persistence or graphana, so I’m not working my system very hard. I don’t have a fan for either of my RPis, and heat hasn’t been an issue.

Any new RPi4 you buy at this point should have the improved USB-C connector, which was quietly released sometime around December/January. But even with the original release there was only a problem if you didn’t use an official RPi power supply. So, while I think the concerns were overblown, I’m still glad that it was fixed. I bought my RPi4 in March and it had the new connector, so it would be surprising to me if anyone still has the first revision in stock.

Good luck!


Can openHABian be installed in a VM environment for testing?

Sure, while it’s not officially supported, it should work on any Debian based distro. Just follow the manual installation instructions for openHABian and avoid having it set up ZRAM.