openHAB or Vera?

Hi everybody. I am new to this, but am an IT Dude from way back. I have a friend who has just built a house and wants “Smart house capabilities”. I have decided Z-Wave is probably the way to go since he has not allowed control wiring. Based in Australia.
Basic requirements:
Monitor his elderly Fathers medical device downstairs (as yet no detail on model, capabilities etc.)
Multimedia setup - video/audio to different rooms/tv’s/monitors
Gate control and intercom
Security system
Control ring main hot water recirc pump system - timers and buttons or sensors.
Basic lighting - possibly RGB LED lighting.
Possibly garden watering.

I am prepared to learn but obviously the Vera would be much quicker to get up and running. The question is, can Vera do all this and would I be better to get him up and running then migrate to openHab later, or get straight into it?
I would do a Raspberry Pi as the brain, and probably Razberry.

Thanks in advance,

Vera will indeed have a shorter learning curve.
However the decision is not final. Vera is easily integrateable in Openhab. I use a vera to control my alarm panel and I have integrated my Vera fully in Openhab.

You could use samsung smart hub(or similiar) and stringify, this would probably be the easiest and quickest…

With that many ideas and some specific devices in the pipeline, I doubt that Vera, Smartthings or similar commercial solutions can do it well at all. Yes openHAB is way more complex, but you’ll appreciate that in the long run because you will also actually need its flexibility for a number of your applications (and more to follow once you have those working).

While openHAB can control a number of systems such as the Vera, too, I wouldn’t start with yet another system and migrate later. That’ll be much more work in total. Any migration with a substantial number of devices is painful, particularly with ZWave as you need to migrate them in one go (you cannot really move them one-by-one). Did that when I migrated from OH1 to OH2, and believe me you don’t want to do that.
Now if you started by deploying the openHABian image, that should allow you to get the basics up and running rather fast, giving some time to learn on its rough edges and the rules syntax.

Thanks. I am fairly convinced (if not a little scared) that openHAB is the way to go. I will go Raspberry Pi I think, so Razberry is the way to go for the RF integration?

Yes, just be aware that the RaZberry daughterboard ‘eats’ the expansion slot, so you cannot attach other Pi hats. You could use the USB stick instead. Both will require you to have it connected to the Pi.
If you want a stick to work without the Pi, get the Aeotec gen 5 stick.
Moving around may become a requirement if you have to re-include ZWave devices (but if so, you could run the Pi on battery, too).

I’ld recommend the Aeon-Stick; as it supports backup of your zWave network.

Thats’s a sort of misleading recommendation. Both, RaZberry card and USB stick, support using the ZWay software to backup/restore the ZWave controller, too.

Sorry - was not aware. Just recommend to select a solution that allows for backup/restore. I use the aeon stick & the restore saved my day in the past …

… as did ZWay for me. And watch out for backup in general.

Being from a tech repair background, I tend to think of USB as being for user removable devices, not system critical interfaces. With that in mind, the Pi will be purely for the controller function. What else might I need the interfaces for? I am capable of making an intermediate board to expose the rest of the hardware if needed. Bear in mind this is a greenfield build, is there a better (more professional) way to tackle this?

Backup requirement is noted…


I just re-read and am interested in the comment about having to move the Pi around to “re-include” devices. I was going to use a rack mount something like the “pi-raq” with its nice display. Is that something I should reconsider?


So the issue is most of the time your device needs to be within a pretty close range of the controller in order to include it to the network. This usually means moving the device close to your controller or moving the controller close to the device.

The USB dongles are nice as they have built in power and are simple to remove from your server, take to the device, run the inclusion (flahsy flashy blue lights) and bring the controler back to your server. Once included, the device can utilize the mesh network for further communication and no longer need to be within range of the controller so long as it is in range of the mesh.

Now one gotcha is the Security Command Class. I believe, at least for the Zwave binding, the controller needs to be plugged into your server and OH running and really close to include the device so you will have to either bring your deadbolts to your server or bring your server to the deadbolts. I’m not sure if the Z-way binding has the same requirements and since you are looking at Razberry or you should have a licence to use Z-way.

Finally, you are likely to want to put your controller, no matter what it is, somewhere besides where you put your servers. You will have the best performance if you can put it as close to the middle of your nodes as you can. See Share Z-wave dongle over IP (USB over IP using ser2net / socat ) guide for how you can host your controller on a little Pi Zero or something and put almost anywhere and get access to it over the network from your server. If you are using Z-way, I believe you can do the same but you just have to run the Z-way server software on the remote Pi and use the Zway binding (@mstormi can correct me if I’m mistating how it works).

Yes you can either use the ZWave binding in OH or the ZWay software on a (remote) server plus the ZWay binding on the OH server to operate your ZWave network. But you cannot run them both at the same time, and the direct ZWave binding is better supported than is the ZWay binding, so I’d opt for that one.

You wouldn’t need any console, so yes, you should reconsider that.
And if it’s about getting the Pi (+ attached controller) to a device, you can power the Pi from a smartphone battery pack and use WiFi, so it’s portable in fact.

Thank you all, I think I have a much better idea on how to proceed. The idea of the display is that the owner wants lots of cool looking flashing lights showing through his rack glass door. :slight_smile: I am sure I can come up with something else for that…

Got one of these on my Pi, you can program that LED ring :smile:

I have an old cathedral type tube radio that is not worth fixing that I planned on turning into a voice assistant. I will definitely be looking at that hat. Thanks for posting!

Yes my primary plan also was to turn my Pi into a voice assistant using Mycroft and its OH skill.
But so far, I couldn’t get the audio drivers to work properly. I’m still experimenting with it.
PS: now we’re off-topic I guess - sorry
PPS: there’s also 2-mic and a 8-mic + LED versions of the ReSpeaker
Here is an Instructable I did for my place … I am using openhab to control my heating quite easily … With PiR motion sensors for security … all controlled with 1 raspi3 and 3-4 particles on their own boards

Thanks Jade. I will have a read.