Need help in finding the right HW for my new smart home

Dear Community,

Our new house is getting built and I’d like to make it an automated smart home.
I’ve been reading posts and watching YT videos for about a week and now i have a basic idea what could be the options and solutions for home automatisation, but more articles i read the more questions i have.
This is the reason I’m asking your help.

So my basic concept is to build a smart home where I can automate the indoor / outdoor lights, install sensors into the system and control windows roller shutters via a dashboard/app or automate according to the daytime. Later add Alexa or Google home voice control function.

I’ve searched for complete solutions but those either will be super expensive or does not have “everything” included which i’ll want in my system.

I’ve decided to use OH instead of HA and Domoticz. So that one is settled :slight_smile:

The thinks I’m not 100% sure are:

  • I’d like to use dimmable wifi light bulbs (downlights or celing spots).
  • Can I use the dimming function from HA/Yeelight app if the light switch is not a dimmer one?
  • Can I use the Yeelights if there is no internet? ON/OFF function only from the wall light switch itself. (I’ve read some strange things about this on the net…)
  • If I install the Yeelight bulbs into OH, does it still communicates with the MI cloud? Or with that I can eliminate it?
  • I was searching on the net for wifi bulbs which are dimmable and maybe rgbw, but only found a few brands. lifx and hue are really expensive. China brands could be good, but I’d need any reference which one to chose? Can you give me any hints?

So to summarize the needs: I need to figure out which HW to use. I’d prefer Wifi products, normal switches with dimmable bulbs. I’ve seen that sonoff switches can be flashed with tasmota which can operate with HA. Then I’d be able to control normal lights when only the switch is a smart one and the bulbs are normal led bulbs.

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the long 1st post :slight_smile:

Hi Kardos,

Milight/Easybulb/Limitless is a poor solution to control your lights.

There is a openHAB integration (



Most all Wi-Fi smart home products require Internet access to phone home unless flashed with custom firmware.
Zwave mesh would do what you want but it can be costly. I have ordered some things from aliexpress in China that appear to work well.
I am getting ready to try a Zooz smart switch. I am working on improving our zwave database entry for mine now since they seem to have added some new configuration settings.

I’ll once again use a quote I’ve made many times on this forum.

“You should never see an escalator out of order sign. Only escalator temporarily stairs, sorry for the convenience.” - Mitch Hedberg

As you start to design your home automation, endeavor to build escalators instead of elevators. When escalators break, they are usually still fit for purpose, just a little less convenient. When an elevator breaks it’s completely unusable.

What does this mean practically? Favor smart switches over smart bulbs. Favor devices with built in smarts that can operate somewhat autonomously over those that require OH to make every little decision or requires OH to be online for it to go on carrying out it’s purpose. Over all, you want the house to still be usable even if everything but the power goes off. It’s also handy when you have children and hose guests. Everyone knows how to flip a wall switch. Not everyone is going to get how to use a tablet to turn on the lights.

Why limit your choices to WiFi? Zigbee and Zwave are both viable options. Since you are building your house as opposed to retrofitting a house, wired solutions should also be considered, though those (e.g. KNX) are more prevalent in Europe than the US.

You can only dim a bulb if it is dimmable. If it’s a smart bulb, it has to support dimming. If you have a smart dimmer switch, the bulb has to support dimming, but luckily most of them do these days.

The binding indicates there is a way to turn on local control of the supported bulbs and it is in fact required to work with OH. What isn’t clear is if you enable local control whether the app will still work.

Things to realize about WiFi products include:

  • most of them will require interacting with them through the cloud, no local control
  • not all WiFi bulbs will be supported by OH; each brand is usually a closed system unto itself and many do not publish an API and their private API has not been reverse engineered
  • as mentioned above, smart bulbs will have significant limitations for usability (e.g. flip off the wall switch and you won’t be able to turn them back on except through the wall switch).

This is why many of us focus on Zwave or Zigbee (note Hue is Zigbee) for wireless control which are well defined standards (no walled gardens) that only permit local control (within wireless range) instead of requiring a cloud service.

But you can do WiFi and “dumb” switches. Both Sonoff (with Tasmota) and Shelly have devices you ca wire in with regular old switches to make them smart. But I don’t know if these support dimming.

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I’d disagree to a certain extent.

Philips Hue lamps (other brands such as those from Ikea are available), if fitted in a circuit with a conventional wall switch, will function as normal on/off lamp bulbs if either the HA or Philips Hue bridge (or both goes down).

But what happens when someone flips the dumb wall switch off and then you want to turn it back on through the Hue app or openHAB or some other automation? Nothing because the Hue bulb has no power.

The only way to handle this case is if the wall switch is also smart, in which case, if you don’t care about color, why not save some money and just use the smart switch?

Remember, I’m talking about failure cases. Someone flipping a physical wall switch to off despite your little sign that says to never turn off the switch is a failure case.

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I try to avoid both Wi-Fi & Zigbee because both use the crowded & interference-prone 2.4GHz frequency band.
There are standards for 5GHz Wi-Fi and 900MHZ Zigbee but manufacturers are not making devices to those standards.

The classic 2.4GHz interfering device most everybody uses is a microwave oven.There are only 3 non-overlapping 2,4GHz Wi-Fi channels in the US. That adds to the interference, especially when a neighbor chooses a channel other than 1, 6, or 11. (Hello, channel 7 neighbor, interfering with 6 & 11)

Like Rich, I find it important to have systems that will fall back gracefully should either the Internet or Openhab itself be down. I have reached the same conclusion that I prefer to use ordinary light bulbs with smart switches, instead of individually addressable bulbs.

In general, I have way more light bulbs than switches, too, so replacing a switch with an expensive smart switch is less costly for me than replacing six light bulbs with six smart bulbs, and then just ignoring the switch on the wall.

With a smart switch, you can use the switch to control the lights, and the HA system can still also control them, and even get feedback from them.

If the Internet goes down, if openhab goes down, my light switches still work; they turn the lights on and off. Even the ones where I have more complex mappings of three way switches (which aren’t actually three way in my system, but controlling each other via the smart switches), those are set up on the switches and work independently of any other system. The lights keep working.

Many here have said “zwave”, and it should meet all these goals. I had trouble with it - I may know what trouble now, and might have fixed it, had I to do it over - but I am using Insteon, which I am very pleased with and find reliable and powerful.

I have made other choices, too, where I use a pretty standard device that manages itself just fine, but then I add interaction with OpenHab. Complex rules and interactions between multiple systems are handled by OpenHab, but the basic operation of the device is handled by a well established, tried and true standalone piece of hardware. My alarm system is this way. When I finally replace the thermostats, they’ll be this way. At this time, I don’t yet trust any of the common security hardware, so my doors will continue to open with an ordinary key.

Choose the tools you want, but do be aware of what happens to those tools when some component is missing. Companies who run clouds go out of business. Wifi gets crowded or interfered with. The Internet does go down.

Will your lights still work?

Will your heat?

Will your door locks?

Will your alarm system?

Integration is cool, and can let you do some shiny things… but it’s gotta work, and a lot of the cool solutions we read about don’t think that fallback situation through very well.


I am getting ready to put in a Zooz ZWave swith in a 3-way switch circuit.
Unlike many other brands, you only need one and can use one of the existing 3-way switches.

For smart switches, you usually need hot & neutral wires in the switch box.

Not wanting to start an argument but I don’t see someone turning off a wall switch as a failure case. It might not matter that much if it’s not a rocker or toggle switch but a push-switch (all ours are like that).
If someone presses the switch and nothing happens, they just press it again.

If a smart light bulb fails, my wife, for example, could just change the bulb (for another smart bulb or indeed any bulb) and we’ve got light again.

If a smart switch fails, we’ve got no light and there’s no way she’s going to start messing about with potentially live wires and modules hidden behind switch boxes.

Having written all that, I do agree that from a cost perspective, it’s cheaper to fix or replace one smart switch rather than a load of smart bulbs on the same circuit.

A failure case is any time your system enters a state where it has degraded capability.

With that definition, removing power from a smart light bulb with a “dumb” switch means you can no longer control that smart bulb until someone physically resupplies power to the bulb (press the button, flip the switch, etc). openHAB can’t control it. The Hue app can’t control it. No other home automation can control it until power is restored.

This is a degraded state. Therefore it is a failure state. The smart bulb is offline and uncontrollable until power is restored to the bulb.

There is a near infinity of ways a home automation system can enter a failure state. The fact that something broke is only a tiny percentage of them. But since you went there, light bulbs have on average far shorter useful lives than switches. LEDs last far longer than incandescent or CF bulbs, but no where near as long as solid state relays and integrated circuits.

@rlkoshak I believe you need to define, what a smart switch is… (I cant tell what it is).
If it´s what I think it is, the failure will be the same for the bulb or for the switch, if power fail.

It´s important to understand, there isn´t such a thing as a fail safe device. One way or another, everything can fail. But one can limit the chances of fails, by using devices which makes it more safe. I believe this is the advantage of the smart switch you were refering to, right?
And I agree - More failures can happen with a bulb than with a switch. But a wired switch is even more safer than a wireless smart switch. Infact, staying away from smart home at all, would make it alot more safer :slight_smile:


A way to make things a little more safe, is using devices like haseman´s DIN rail z-wave devices. They support both z-wave and wired switches at the same time. So if zwave for some reason fail, one can still controle the device from a wired switch.

Here is the smart switch I bought. They have dimmer models too.

My definition is the switch MUST be able to tell Openhab when asked if the switch is on or off AND also be able to be controlled by Openhab.

That’s a little harsh. The Milight globes do work well BUT their is an achilleas heal in their design that you MUST consider. This is to sync and unsync the globes Milight stupidly choose to use power on and power off commands which are very common to be sent in the air with an automation system. If someone turns the globes on with any type of power switch right as Openhab is sending an power on command then the globe will sync to the message and now multiple lights will be controlled by the same set of controls.

So Milight works 100% local and it is rock solid with the ESP8266 opensource bridge and the globes are very cheap. You can have full colour for not much more than a dumb globe and this is why I purchased them. The ability to change the colour temperature of the white makes them worth it alone if you decide to stop automating the globes and move to smart switches as the ON and OFF control which would work around the achilleas heal.

Not sure what the other smart globes are like but Phillips hue has a potential issue which is described here in this post…

A smart switch is over you can control through OH. It’s constantly powered by maybe power. A house guest can’t accidentally turn off the power to the switch, short of flipping the circuit breaker.

That’s the distinction. You can accidentally remove power from a smart bulb by flipping the switch on the wall, which of the perfectly natural and intuitive way to turn off a light in a non-smart house. But with smart bulbs, that means the only way to turn the light back on if by physically doing so at the switch.

With a smart switch, even if someone manually flips it off, you can still turn the light back on through OH. That isn’t the case with smart bulbs.

Welcome to the forum, Kardos!

I’d like to affirm the recommendation for Z-Wave. Yes it’s expensive stuff ($40-$60 per light) but it does what you want.

Look at this one, for example:

I don’t have a ton of experience with it, but I bought one, tested it with this non-smart dimmable bulb and was happy and confident enough that I ordered another fifteen of those modules. They’re still in their boxes because just like yours, my house is also being built.

So, does what you want? Yeah. Z-Wave is in no way connected to the cloud, except through openhab (if you want). Local control with a standard switch is a breeze, because z-wave modules have switch inputs!

In fact… when I first moved into this newly built house last year (also a self-built on the same plot as the main house currently being built), I had my electricians install Z-Wave modules into the walls
before I even had my controller up and running! They’ll work just fine that way.

If it’s too much money to begin with, they’re easy to retrofit and install over time.

One thing to note though:

Make sure your electrician runs a neutral wire to each wall switch box. The Z-Wave module needs both hot and neutral to function. As long as you have that, you (assuming you feel qualified) can easily put a Z-Wave module in later.

Surely the distinction which is important is that with a smart switch you are describing, it still ‘appears’ to work as a mechanical ON/OFF switch when the home automation system is not working for any reason (crash, no power, board failure etc).

In that case, I concur that yes, a smart switch is better than a smart bulb.

But shouldn´t a smart switch work without openhab as well?

You can risc the same for your openhab/smart home, and the result will be the same, as if you turn off a smart bulb… Thats my point in this.

Btw… It´s quite easy to rebuild a switch, so you can´t turn off a smart bulb like Philips Hue… At least in Denmark it´s very easy as we´re not having the neutral wire in our switches. But I do not recommend it unless you have made something else, which is working as stable as a wired switch.

I understand what you´re saying, but I dont agree that the way is anything different than a smart bulb as I believe its the same in both situations.

It all comes down to, setting up a system with the main question: What if…
What if openhab/smart switch fails? Can you still control the smart bulb/the smart light? Well probably, from a (stupid) app. Next question is, does everyone in the house know how to deal with a situation like this… Answer - maybe, it depence. A child may not be able to do it, Wife perhaps…

Several years ago when I started using Philips Hue bulbs, I rebuild my wall switches by inserting a small spring in the pad… This way is normal way to rebuild a normal momentary switch into a push-button. This means, that even though my children pushed the button, it will return back as soon as they release it. And the Hue bulb will be powered all the time.
I know, thats nothing to do with openhab/smarthome systems, but it´s a way to avoid troubble from someone flipping/turning off the power to a smart bulb.

Hello everyone,

Thanks for the great comments and the help. It is much appreciated!
First I’d like to thanks you all that you are so helpfull, it is really a great community here :slight_smile:

I’ve been thinking on this think for a few days now, and I’ve decided to let the color bulbs go…

I’ll just stick with a normal cool white dimming ones controlled by a smart switch.
I’ve ran through the smart color+dimmer bulbs and smart switch / “not smart” switch + shelly relay option, but that would cost too much so install.

I’ve been looking at Sonoff dimmer switches with a normal dimming bulbs, so that was if I install tasmota on the Sonoff switches I can control then from OH. I can also use the on/off function if OH has a downtime, and via this smart switch I don’t have to push the switch to ON to control the bulbs from OH. (If I’m right…, am I? :))

The only thing what bothers me is that sonoff only has a 1 gang dimmer switch, and I’d really like to have a 2 or 3 gang dimmer switches. I was able to find some other brands on the net, but those are really ugly…

I assume that if I only install a normal 1-2-3 gang smart wifi Sonoff switch without phisical dimming button on it, I won’t be able to the the dimming bulbs from OH either. Am I right? I mean except the switch is a normal wifi switch not a dimmer one but the bulbs are I won’t be able to use the dimmer function on the bulbs.

Also I have no idea how to solve the problem with the 1 gang dimmer switch as an alternative wall switch. I mean I’ll have 2 switched on the opposite side of the room to control the same lights. I can solve this problem with a standard alternative wall switch, but I’m not sure if this can be achieved with a smart/1 gang model.