Multiple panel, Ethernet dedicated router, server setup

(Michael Miller) #1

I apologize. Lets get that out of the way because I am certain there must be posts covering this somewhere, but I am to the point now where I have searched multiple times over the last few months and have not found what I am looking for.
If this belongs somewhere else please feel free to point me there.

My wife and I just purchased our first home and privacy and security are a premium for us (wife might be expecting oO)
I will be gutting the majority of the home for renovations over the next couple months and now would be the time to integrate any systems. So here are my priorities

*I would like to tie in a security system with sensors and camera feed with data storage. (up-gradable as I will have a gate at some point)

*I would like to tie in a zone controlled HVAC(I am running the ducts and buying all the parts)

*Sound system control. Not as important and could be any system that is reasonable in price

*Intercom - basic functionality

*Up-gradable - I know there will be other items down the road that become important to us(Solar panel control, landscape control, etc) So I would like to make the system as modular as possible.

Is there a reason I can not/should not have a multiple touch panel system (1 up stairs, 1 in kitchen, 1 in master bedroom, and 1 in living room), connected to a central server, or multiple arduino setups connected via eithernet to a dedicated router, and somehow, connected to a main server?

I understand I am complicating the issue by not going WiFi, however, I was in IT for 12 years, I am a game designer and web designer by trade now and WiFi is a huge potential for a weak point in the system for multiple reasons. I am incredibly hesitant to tie this system to the internet due to industry knowledge of what can be accessed and by whom. If I am wrong in this way of thinking I welcome a discussion as to why that is wrong. I am open minded and willing and ready to learn.
I am starting the gut out process tomorrow. I would be happy to create a wiki or whathave-you for this process, but I need a jumping off point.
Thank you !!


(Markus Storm) #2

What’s your point ?

1 Like

(Hakan Tandogan) #3

No :smile:

The only issue into which you might run is that you either:

  • put money and effort into a wired touchpanel setup (maybe something with a Pi, and a touchscreen, or a dedicated mini-pc)
  • bite the bullet, use an android tablet as a panel like so many people here do, and accept that you have to use Wifi for that

No matter which way you go for your user interface, the main server should be on Ethernet, and on a seperate VLAN if you know how to set that up and are comfortable supporting the setup.


(Crispin) #4

If you’re going to do renovations, changes, plan in accessibility. Put blind trunking or conduit to where you want things like wall panels.
Run conduit for where you might end up putting your main servers, wireless access points (WiFi, correctly set up is secure enough)

Plan ahead, spend a little money now for that and it allows you to build it up over time.
Wifi - get a proper system such as UniFi kit. Very active plugin for OH which will help.

Start small and build up. Or, pay someone to do it professionally :slight_smile:


(Michael Miller) #5

My point was


Based on the information I gave above.

Also, I read that twice before posting.

  1. Yes I searched
  2. Yes I read the docs: Everything I found dealt with single panel integration. Nothing so far has mentioned multiple panels.
    3.This is the beginner section, thus I chose it…
  3. My title is concise and to the point.
  4. I described my goal.
  5. I described my environment.
  6. The other items do not fit with my quandary because I do not have a previous issue as I would like to eliminate possible future issues by planning ahead; thus this post.

(Michael Miller) #6

I suppose I could do a purely internal wifi setup without a internet connection while using tablets, but my concern is do they all talk to each other. Nothing I have found says they talk to each other on a moment by moment basis. (IE; Tablet/panel in the kitchen updates the volume control as someone upstairs changes it)


(Michael Miller) #7

Because it seems like something was lost in translation I will try to reiterate.

I have seen nothing so far that indicates that openhab can communicate across multiple independent wireless or wired panels of any kind.

Which is why I thought of using a main server as hub.

All I am looking for is:
Can it work, if so what are my limitations.


(Stuart Hanlon) #8

If I’m understanding you correctly, you might have slightly the wrong idea of how openHAB2 works.

Your ‘panels’, assuming they are only for user interfaces, will do little more than pull content from your openHAB2 server, which in turn pulls data from the various bits of hardware that are actually controlling your home’s devices.

So yes, you need a main server.

(Which can have multiple LAN / WiFi devices if you wish)

A raspberry pi would be the absolute minimum and a $1m mainframe would be a massive waste of computing power. :slight_smile:

If you want your Tablets / touch panels to provide environment data (HVAC etc) then you could consider a POE Android Tablet running HabPanelViewer and report back status to openHAB2.

However, ( Who won the sweepstake on me this time?) I would recommend you look at a multi function user interface like maybe a Velbus Glass panel?

Other brands of hardwired panels are available, but I just can’t think of any right now… :walking_man:

1 Like

(Michael Miller) #9

Absolutely perfect. Thank you. This was the information I needed. I can take it from here : )

Edit If anyone else has information I am open to more ideas. :+1:


( #10

You stated you may be expecting new members into your home, as I also started with OH with young ones and a spouse who is illiterate in the ways of technology; you should limit how many panels/tablets you put into place. While yes I agree they would be “out of reach”, I woke up one morning and found a kitchen table chair in front of the fridge and toys that were taken away due to behaviour were missing…if there is something that lights up on a wall and it can make other things light up or do stuff, Heartbreak ridge style “improvise, adapt, overcome”.

I can confirm that I have my OH in a different VLAN than my other WiFi devices, do not expect to leverage the network binding if you want phone detection to work for your scenarios as OH will always detect you due to how the arp ping detection works.
Also by having another VLAN with OH and any other WiFi devices if you don’t assign a gateway address the devices have no way to route out of the subnet.


(Michael Miller) #11

Yikes, fair warning received. Good information to consider!

No plan on phone integration, but good to know.

Also good to know thank you!
(More of a reminder to me as it has been almost 10 years since I did IT, but that makes sense and something to consider)


(Markus Storm) #12

To at least me it remained unclear what you mean by a “panel” and what you want to use it for.

You can attach any IP device (smartphone, tablet, PC). They present a user with a full UI such as HABpanel or BasicUI and will talk to your main OH server only. You can have as many of them as you want. Securing your network remains your job. Firewalling, VLANs, …

There’s also “panels” such as in the picture above that are part of a subsystem like KNX, ZWave or ZigBee (and more proprietary ones). In these cases you need a gateway into these technologies which can be a standalone IP device or a HW extension (USB stick et al) of your server. The gateway connects to devices of the same subsystem using wires (KNX) or non-WiFi/IP radio (ZWave, ZigBee).
But of course these panels don’t have full UI capabilities. Eventually they can only control devices of the subsystem as that’s what they’re built to do - using them as a generic input for OH is sort of ‘misuse’ albeit popular among OH users.
So the answer depends on the type of panel and what you want to do with them.

So yes it can work, but your question was misunderstandable.

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(Stuart Hanlon) #13

Just to fill in the blanks, there’s a commercial installer in Belgium who uses the entire Velbus range as ‘dumb’ devices and uses their own software to make ALL of the system decisions, within the Velbus network and across other platforms.

Just like openHAB2 can.

It’s TOTALLY possible to transfer all low level (mission critical) logic into openHAB2.

The only question is… “Why would you do that?” :wink:

1 Like

(Michael Miller) #14

To paraphrase MDAR “You may have the wrong idea about how this works”; which was true.

I apologize for the miscommunication, but it is difficult to communicate in a language you misunderstood.

Every post I read or video i watched showed people using one panel (Input visual device: IE- tablet, phone, etc) UNLESS they were connected to the internet. Most of the beginning informational pages have people, again, connecting to the internet to setup their app for OpenHab. All of this was not what I wanted and I became frustrated with the lack of information regarding a secure, non-internet connected, system. Internet security is a nightmare and I have personally tried to help multiple families who have lost homes, businesses, and marriages because some human with a small inkling of internet security experience thought it was funny. Obviously this is from me working in the field and, as in most cases with humans, personal experience begets paranoia. I understand that my view is not shared among the general, or even some professionals, populace.

To clarify at this point:
I would like to use HabPanel(which I believe is the UI call back to OpenHab which sits on a server) on a few 2in1 11" laptops running Linux in tablet mode.($120 per laptop with r45s, 2 usb ports, bluetooth and of course wifi )
At this point, I thought, I could use the usb ports/BT to connect to any sensors (HVAC with zone control and security etc) and pass that information from each panel to the server. Including something like A bluetooth speaker/mic for intercom and music.

Or go directly to the server through the dedicated system router.

I am getting the sense that wont work for some reason, though I am unclear as to why. If Habpanel cant do that, maybe I will dig into the code (Since I see it is open source) and try to accommodate it, but that is in the future as I am incredibly busy for the next two months.

Is this somehow backwards? I would think that having those systems easily accessible by one UI interface (per location in the home) would be the route most traveled.


(Stuart Hanlon) #15

Actually, I like that idea.

It’s certainly possible to do with Velbus.

Deploy a local Velbus network in a zone, with its own Linux tablet.
Where the tablet UI calls back to openHAB2.

Fit a USB interface into the Linux tablet.

  1. Run VelServ in client mode and connect it via TCP to the main VelServ server, so that openHAB2 can see the whole property as one big network. (And all Velbus hardware can influence all the other Velbus hardware.)


  1. Run VelServ in server mode, and let openHAB2 connect to multiple Velbus networks.
    (With each Velbus zone being isolated)

I’ve seen posts on here about sharing USB dongles (Z-WAVE etc) over a LAN, so it must be possible for other brands?


(Rich Koshak) #16

It’s not super uncommon view here either. But I think the vast majority of users want to be able to control their home automation/get notifications from their home automation where ever they are in the world. And for those who are smart enough to know that they don’t want this, well they probably already know enough or have the skills to discover how to do it on their own.

But I think it is key to understand that the UIs for OH are just web pages. Even the phone and tablet apps are working through a web based REST API. So the answer to how to not have access over the Internet is t “just don’t do it.” You don’t have to do anything extra to prevent access from the Internet. On the contrary, you have to go out of your way to enable access from the Internet (e.g. create account on and install the Cloud Connector binding, set up OpenVPN, ssh tunnels, reverse proxy with a port forward :grimacing:). It’s hard to write docs which basically say “to prevent X, don’t do anything.”

Absolutely you can do this. But all that will largely be outside of OH, or you will be running OH on each tablet and set up federation between them (that isn’t what I would recommend). These are full computers so they can run any program and they can interact with any hardware they have the ports or antennae to communicate with. But using a laptop as a tablet home automation touch screen is not common and a very key bit of missing information from your OP which probably was the source of some of the confusion. Most Android/iOS tablets or special built panels like MDAR mentioned are far less capable.

But with laptops you can set up SqueezeBox for full house audio, plug in devices to the USB ports, connect to BT, etc. HABPanel can be used as an audio sink so you can use just the web page as a TTS destination. But you will either need to find or write software that pub/sub between these panels and your main server, or actually run OH on these panels directly and federate them with a “master” OH. There are lots of ways to make this happen but the best choice.

HABPanel is just a web page. BasicUI is just a web page. The phone/tablet apps are just an app wrapped around a web page. And it’s a web page served up from one central openHAB server. How are you going to hook up a physical sensor or actuator to a web page? How are you going to get the sensor readings to all the other panels through a web page? You don’t. You do this through the server that is creating the web page.

You can have as many of these web pages as you want. So you can create one HABPanel view for the living room and a different one for the kitchen. But the actual logic, the actual communications to devices, the actual integration of sensors and actuators takes place on the openHAB server, not in the web browsers running on individual UI devices.

Absolutely. See Share Z-wave dongle over IP (USB over IP using ser2net / socat ) guide for one tutorial on how to do this. There are all sorts of other approaches. For example:

  • zigbee2mqtt (Zigbee support)
  • reelyActive (BT presence detection)
  • FIND (WiFi presence detection)
  • NodeRed
  • lots of other technologyx2mqtt services are in work out there on GitHub
  • My own which does BT scanning, executes command line scripts, and lets OH command GPIO pins or subscribe to sensor readings from sensors attached to GPIO on an RPi.

But this is still integrating “remote” devices with a central OH server. OP appears to be under the impression that the UIs for OH are more than what they are.

I would be remiss if I didn’t offer my standard advice for all new users who are looking to tackle a big project like this.

  1. If possible, error on the side of automation without UI rather than automation with a UI. It’s home automation, not control. OH is a big event processor. It should just do what it does based on what it knows at the time and the events it receives. It’s so much better when the lights come up when you enter a room and it’s dark than to walk into a room, walk over to a panel, and turn on the lights.

  2. Consider the failure modes. To paraphrase my favorite joke from Mitch Hedberg, “You should never see an escalator out of order sign. Just escalator temporarily stairs, sorry for the convenience.” Build your home automation so it is intuitive to children and guests and when something fails it’s designed to still be usable in a diminished state for it’s intended purpose. If OH is down, you should still be able to turn the lights on and off. Build escalators, not elevators.

  3. Start small and gradually build up. No one who first gets into home automation has the knowledge necessary to make the correct decisions out of the gate. You want to fail fast and have the flexibility to pivot quickly and the only way to do that is to build your system gradually.


(Michael Miller) #17

Thank you!

Great response and a lot of really good information for me to cogitate on. I do not plan on having lights controlled through the system or window blinds etc, but I see where my logic breakpoints were and now I at least have a path forward. A lot of research ahead of me, if it turns out well I will document it somewhere here so if anyone else approaches this from a similar perspective they wont fall into the same misunderstandings.

Also, I agree and apologize for not indicating the specifics of my desired set up in OP, will make sure to correct going forward.

By nature these one liners boil my blood when I feel I do not deserve them. I am not a forum/community person and have participated in online functions like this a total of once before in my life and do not understand instant aggravation to questions. I will try to remember the adage “when in rome…” in the future.


(Rich Koshak) #18

It is important to realize that native English speakers are in the minority in this forum. Allowances should be made for misunderstandings, missqueues, and a certain degree of bluntness that may come across as rude or aggravating but rarely is intended as such. If you assume the users on the forum have good intentions, which is almost always the case, then statements like Markus’s will be far less aggravating. Markus is one of the top contributors to the forum and like me wants to see OH users succeeded.

I’m pretty sure the question is not rhetorical but a genuine question asking for more information so we can understand what you are really after. There were some misunderstandings and missing info from your initial posts that made it difficult to understand what you were really asking. And with questions like the op, the why (i.e the end goal, the point) is often more important than the technical parts.

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(Michael Miller) #19

That helps me understand this new environment quite a lot actually @rlkoshak Thank you. Definitely not how that would be taken here in america, and it will take a little getting used to.

I will remember that, and for what its worth, I apologize for the confusion and aggressive stance @mstormi

Thanks to everyone for their time and valuable information.