Need advice for a completely new setup for an automated room for an MS patient

Hello everybody,

I am Chris in Germany and completely new here. Thanks for the resources and the work!

I am male, 54 years old and I have been in IT since the late 1980s, when I was a games developer. Now I am more of an IT architect and partner consultant.
…and I have progressive MS, using a wheelchair. There will be a time in the future when I will mostly be in bed and it is quite conceivable that I won’t be able to use my arms.
I would like to prepare for that eventuality while I still can and create a room for me to live in. I will have years to do my preparations.

So, I don’t mind having to program an add on or whatever is needed, create configuration files or a specific network setup. But I will not be able to solder or create my own Raspi setups, my hands just don’t work well enough for fine work.
I am by no means rich, but I don’t have to turn every penny.
I do have a server running 24/7, my Wifi and router are Ubiquiti and there will be 2,4+5Ghz Wifi and/or ethernet where ever I need it. We own this place so I can change the house as required. We have a 230V/50Hz mains setup. The room I will be using is ca. 6m by 5m.

What do I want to automate and how do I intend to control it?

  • There will be Alexa/Siri/Google/Whatever to control by speech
  • There will be a client PC or Mac I can control with an eye tracker - or a mouse if that’s still possible
  • I will do this in 2 or more steps


  • a lighting setup: Bright, dimmable LED panels on the ceiling, think of the lighting levels in a patient’s room in a hospital. Light color changeability is optional. Additionally a couple of spot lights and maybe ambient light strips. So, if I understand it correctly, I would need the light panels, a controller and a power supply for the ceiling lights. I don’t really need “smart” switches, I won’t be using them =)
  • a split A/C setup that can be automated
  • I have standard radiators in the room. I will need controllable heating valves / thermostats
  • There are manual external window roller shutters. I will need to automate these

There will be add ons, of course:

  • A setup that lets me control the entrance door, with a bidirectional audio and unidirectional video feed and a way to lock and open the entrance door (I have euro cylinders)
  • A couple of IP cameras around the house
  • An automated hospital bed
  • fire alarms / other probes
  • whatever silly things I can come up with =)

So I am asking for advice. Am I looking in the right place? Should I be using an OpenHAB setup for this at all? What protocols should I be looking at? Zigbee, ZWave, simple cabling, something proprietary, ???

I am aware that I could just ask a home automation company to do the work for me, but knowing myself I couldn’t help but interfere with their planning and reverse engineer the stuff they did =)

In the very first step I would like to implement the lighting as that appears to be quite straightforward. What would I need for the ceiling lights? What are proven products that work? Dimmable light panels? Controllers? Power supplies?

Thank you for your time reading and thinking about this.


I know @sihui is located somewhere in Germany. He may have some good ideas based on his experiences. It is always good if you can avoid repeating the mistakes of others.

Hey Chris. A very warm welcome at the community.

A good contact is @onesmarthome (Thomas Schwarz). He already had some experience with the idea to support disbaled people with smarthome technology.

Here is one of his blog articles:

Not having specific equipment in mind all your topic are possible to solve, only the automated hospital bed is a little bit uncommen. One of the benefits of openHAB ist that it i spossible to combine different technologies.


Maybe your are willing to tell us where in germany you are located. Sometimes a personal contact is woth a 1000 mails.

In the Northwestern part of Germany, close to the Dutch border.

I second that.

@cscholz, feel free to contact us any time with specific questions.

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I believe yes. I’m very sorry about your disease. You will want to have a high degree of customization and for sure will want to change larger or smaller bits of the system once the initial setup is working.
That you likely won’t get from any home automation company or consultant, or not for an acceptable price and even more important: not in time.

On the technical part, well. openHAB for sure is the best choice because of its openness and number of supported systems so you have come to the right place.
If you did build from scratch you would go for a wired solution such as KNX but in retrofitting you are probably better off with ZWave or WiFi actuators. They’ll also work for lighting if you want to keep your installed lights. There’s a fair amount of ZigBee controlled lights available, too, but that for the most part means to fully exchange your lamps.
Take your time to browse this forum before deciding on one or more technologies.
Have a look at HABot early as you will want to focus on voice input to run your home. That’ll work without a cloud and in privacy.

Thanks for the warm welcome - yay for community =)
I am near 65589 - Hadamar, Limburg, a bit north of Frankfurt

  • I will be looking into HABot, but I don’t really mind using the cloud solutions for speech. I avoid them in professional setups but privately there isn’t much to lose for me.
  • Thanks for the link to the blog, I will check into it.

Let’s get into the details:

I understand openHAB is a possible great solution for my automation server. I’ll set up a VM and look into it or just throw it on the server.
Let’s talk Hardware. LED panel, controller, power supply if needed. Any hints where to look for a prototype setup?

you can use sonoff touch or sonoff t1/t2/t3 EU switches if you want to use your existing lights/wiring. It’s pretty nice solution if you don’t want to redo all wirings in your house.
I’m using bunch of those with Tasmota, OH, nodered etc. which I can help you with.

Only thing you need to check is you have L N in each of your existing switch box.

Another good solution is sonoff basic which is simple switch for lamps and so on.


Sorry I could not be much help directly but I brought in one of our experienced users. I personally think Z-Wave is the best platform choice. Wi-Fi & Zigbee both use the crowded 2.4 GHz RF space. The Zigbee standard is to vague to insure device compatibility. Z-Wave was designed for the smart home with a focus on compatibility, range, & battery life. The developer of our binding here is a dedicated, talented Euro Space engineer,

Do not get discouraged with OpenHAB. It is complex, but flexible and stable. Other solutions such as Home Assistant aim to be more new user friendly. They are not very stable at all, in my experience. Sometimes they need to release a patch fix the same day as their release!
Here, the stable version 2.4 is a little old and there have been many changes between it & the upcoming 2.5. The latest unstable release of that is 2.5M3 (Milestone 3). I have been running 2.5M2 for a couple of months quite stably.
There were major software architecture & build system changes between Milestone 1 & 2, delaying the normal 6 month release cycle.

I am looking for a new setup, the room is empty except for a single bulb-on-a-wire and I will have to do wiring anyway.

Don’t worry, won’t happen unless it gets really crummy.
Z-Wave. Check. Thanks.

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I tend to forget that some Z-Wave devices are still available in Europe. If possible you want Z-Wave Plus. They have better range & battery life if not mains connected. Z-Wave devices work in a Z-Wave Plus network.

Z-Wave devices are region-specific so, I believe, you want the ones for Europe. Radio frequency varies depending on the region of the world.

I would go with a smart switch anyway for the lights. (sonoff or Shelly or whatever) forget the physical switch that you will not use but this way you can choose any light you want, any panel/bulb in the market with any power/lumens/light color you want…you will not be forced to choose only from the “smart world”.

Agreed. There are many Z-Wave solutions for this. I have one I like but it is not available for your region.

I think this is the right place for you. My advice would be to buy into most systems a little bit and try them out. That is what I did last year and I just finished building my house (in Switzerland) with the systems that survived my testing. I actually started with all Z-wave (plus, where possible) but did not have a good experience there with many devices, but ymmv. The system is designed so I have lots of capacity (I actually ran into issues on Philips and IKEA hubs) and don’t have to change much later. The server is massively overdimensioned but allows for very fast restart times if something goes wrong or when developing.
My dream setup would be all things on WiFi-6 with TWT using local MQTT, plus a direct link of them to Google, but I did not have the time to wait for those gadgets ;-).
When programming, you might want to look at the Python way of scripting.

My current setup has (just as an example of a kind of geeky setup that actually works):

  • NUC8i5BEK2, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
  • 3x Asus ax88u in wired mesh configuration on fixed wifi band to not interfere too much with zigbee bands (direct (former ikea) 11, xiaomi 25, hue 20)
  • Z-Wave USB stick
  • ZigBee USB stick
  • 10x Shelly2.5 for roller-shutters and some lighting
  • ZigBee IKEA lighting (ca. 70 bulbs, 15 remotes)
  • Some outdoor Philips / Gledopto floodlights
  • 2x Danalock V3 Z-Wave locks, which are mounted on standard cylinders on the inside
  • some Z-Wave motion sensors
  • Google Hello door bell / cam
  • Google Hub
  • 2x Xiaomi gateway (phasing it out to direct zigbee)
  • 1x Hue hub (phasing this out to direct zigbee)
  • 1x IKEA hub (phased this out to direct zigbee, only for FW updates if needed in the future)
  • 24x Xiaomi temp / humidity sensors
  • Nibe F2120 heat pump via NIBE Uplink
  • 12x 24v heating valves controlled by Sonoff Pro (would use Shelly2.5 now, just had them as leftovers)

What is TWT? Google did not turn up anything reasonable.

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Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is very new. Since all current Smart Home Wi-Fi devices are 2.4GHz only, I doubt they will get Wi-Fi 6 certified.

Agreed, this will take some time to design / produce new HW. But once there is a drop-in replacement for an ESP8266 or similar it could take off.

TWT is just an improved version of the existing UAPSD that has been in the standard for years.