openHAB with Synology DiskStation - a starting point

Hi guys!

I am a newbie to openHAB and also to home automation in general. I was trying to find a good starting point for my requirements but could not find a proper article on the net to help me. So I decided to post a topic here hoping someone can assist me a little bit or guide me to some existing articles/posts.

But maybe I should start to explain you my initial situation first:
I will soon start moving into a new place (house, actually) and I am already a happy owner of the Synology DiskStation DS920+. Currently, I only use my DiskStation to store personal backups, documents and photos/videos, etc., which is quite underchallenging the hardware (except for the storage, of course). So I was googling a lot what hardware and software is required to find a way to upgrade my future space to be a smart home. That’s how I came across openHAB, which sounds just fantastic with all its flexibility, compatibility and seemingly endless possibilities and also because I can just reuse my existing DiskStation hardware as a very powerful and reliable command center for it. Now I just read through the introduction of openHAB and I can understand the basic concept and how it works in general. Also I checked out the installation guide for the Synology DiskStation, which helped me understand how to get the openHAB working on my DS920+. So far, so good.

Now the hassle starts… There is plenty hardware (wired/wireless), many protocols (Z-Wave, ZigBee, enocean, …) and all with different integration and security approaches. Please god help me! :smiley:
The only thing I have come across several times is that Z-Wave seems to be the most widely used (many devices), most reliable (less interference), most secure, least energy consuming and most future proof protocol. Also, the market seems to offer a lot of hardware that covers most/all of my requirements (list below) and also addresses the most important security aspects when using Z-Wave. But maybe you will prove me wrong. :slight_smile:

So to use Z-Wave devices, whether wired or wireless, do I need a separate controller/hub/gateway hardware or is a “USB stick” enough (read about this in some threads)? My DiskStation will most likely be in the basement, which is probably the worst place to start building a mesh network for Z-Wave. So I think that a USB stick could be a problem or not enough?! :stuck_out_tongue: So what would be the best hardware for use here? A controller? How any of them and in what distance? But I also don’t want an oversized controller that does the same job as my DiskStation, it should just “connect” the devices. I guess the “operation” should be only in openHAB on my DiskStation. Correct? Maybe you can suggest some solutions/scenarios here for the basic setup (enablers).

Now coming to the actual “Things”, I don’t expect you to provide me with a ready-to-buy list, but maybe you can give me some good criteria on how to google proper and compatible devices and what to look for so I don’t make mistakes when buying. Maybe there is already a good overview of the “best choice” devices?

Okay. Just to name a few things that I really want/need, here is my TOP requirements list:

  • Window/door sensors - preferably wireless incl. battery status information
  • Water sensors - preferably wireless incl. battery status information
  • Humidity sensors - preferably wireless incl. battery status information
  • Temperature sensors - preferably wireless incl. battery status information
  • Smoke detector - preferably wireless incl. battery status information
  • Door locks - remote controlled (lock/unlock), unlock by touch (fingerprint / code / …) or by NFC and of course using a real key :upside_down_face:
  • Video cameras - when door bell rings, activate remotely, etc.
  • Roller shutter control - can be wired - remote controlled (e.g. in future depending on light/wind/etc.) and of course a manual switch

I hope to read some good advice from you soon. :slight_smile:

Many thanks in advance!

It’s very highly used. As for the rest I don’t think that’s the case. Zigbee is just as reliable, secure, energy consuming and future proof. Zigbee tends to be a little cheaper too. I’m not saying that Zwave is a bad choice, but it’s not quite so easy of a choice as this makes it sound.

This is going to be the biggest reason to choose one technology over another. But keep in mind that openHAB is designed to bridge different technologies. You are not tied to only one.

The USB controller is sufficient. I’ve seen a lot of people have difficulty exposing the device to openHAB on Synology though so be forewarned it might take a bit to make it work.

Zwave is a mesh network. The more devices you have the better the network is. There are other options as well such as putting the controller on an RPi 0 and setting up ser2net or something like that.

IIRC, the absolutely latest Zwave protocol is not yet supported by the openHAB binding so sticking with an older controller might be a good choice. Hopefully someone like @Bruce_Osborne can chime in with details.

All the USB controllers are the same. There is no such thing as an oversized one.

Everyone’s home automation is bespoke. There is no such thing as a universal “best choice”. Only a best choice for you, and we can’t tell you that. You’ll have to answer that on your own.

I suggest starting small with just a few devices, play around with them a bit and that will inform your next choices.


The newer 700 Series Z-Wave Plus 2 controllers will NOT work with openHAB.

The 700 series devices WILL work because they are backward compatible with Z-Wave Plus

My recommendation is to avoid the cheaper Chinese Neo CoolCam devices or at least their motion sensors. I replaced one for being too power hungry ( 3 batteries in a year) and have 2 others needing replacement because they do not always wake up to detect motion.

Thank you for the fast response @rlkoshak @Bruce_Osborne !

I think I understood what you are trying to point me out to. There is no black and white - so it really depends on the individual requirement and use cases. Then let me ask differently: can it be meaningful buying an “universal” bridge hardware that supports multiple protocols like the Samsung SmartThings series or is it better to build it diy using a RasPi with 1-n USB sticks for the different protocols? I could also imagine introducing an abstraction layer / broker in between like MQTT to normalize the events and to be independent from whatever protocol might be required to be integrated into my future openHAB solution(s). The chain (simplified) would then be: My universal bridge hardware → openHAB (translate) → MQTT → openHAB (process). Would that work?

When you say “newer 700 Series Z-Wave Plus 2 controllers will NOT work with openHAB”: does it mean they currently do not work, because it would require software changes which are not yet available or it is technically impossible?

Thx! :slight_smile:

I have it running on my Synology DiskStation for quite a while but I would recommend to have it running via docker. It’s a little more complex to setup but much more flexible when you want to update / have a seperate test environment, etc.

My understanding is that the standard for that series without Z/IP is not publicly available and there would need to be extensive changes to the binding.

Personally I hope it will be supported in the future

Depending on where you live and what protocols you choose, most likely you will need at most two dongles (Zwave and Zigbee). 433MHz is somewhat popular which might need a dongle but it’s not as popular because it’s one way.

Having said that, openHAB is intended to replace a hub like SmartThings. openHAB is intended to be that normalization layer. IMO adding a new layer is redundant, unless there is some other reason driving it (e.g. maybe the zigbee2mqtt server supports a device the native openHAB Zigbee binding does not). So yes, that would work but in my opinion it would be redundant.

@bl4ck-t1ger where in the world are you?
I can honestly say that I have no issues with z-wave and if I started again, everything would be z-wave.
Yes it’s more expensive, but, reliability is second to none.
I have some zigbee devices - still can’t get them to integrate and I’ve found compatibility hit and miss.
I also have hue/lightwaverf/Sonoff/Drayton/Shelly/hikvision/EZVIZ/Tapo devices, plus echo’s and HomeKit for control.

My system runs on a NAS (qnap) too. Natively for my live environment and docker for tests. I have a Zwave usb stick, and yes it was initially a pain to set up but now I don’t even need to touch it or the drivers and it persists after a restart/update. I’m pretty sure when I last looked synology was pretty much the same (I will be adding openhab to a synology NAS at some point for my office).

I did initially start with a pi but the NAS is far more flexible and powerful.

Thanks for the tip. I will try that! :v:

Hi @delid4ve, thank you for the reply. Any hardware you can recommend for the Z-Wave USB stick? You said:

it was initially a pain to set up but now I don’t even need to touch it or the drivers and it persists after a restart/update

Do you have a guide or “how to” description for the setup of a USB dongle on the Synology NAS? Thanks!