Planning out automation project

Hello all!
New to automation. Looking to setup some basic stuff first then slowly get more and more involved over time. I’m not familiar with proper terminology yet despite some research but I’ll try my best. Just looking for suggestions, ideas, and criticism on my plan. My short term goal is to control 4 outside lights (3 areas also on motion), 2 inside lights set to motion between 12am-6am. 4 cameras also will need to be integrated. All I have so far is the hardware for the openhab server. I do have a few zavio cameras but it doesn’t seem compatible with openhab. Any suggestions would be appreciated but I figured I’d start out with 3 smart switches for the the outside lights (I want to replace the crappy timers that are currently in place anyway). And an inside switch. The inside is for my father. He uses a walker and is up in the dark and I’d like to assist him with getting from his room to the kitchen. The kitchen light would be on motion when he leaves his room between 12am and 6am the kitchen light clicks on so he can see.

Welcome and be ready for frustrations =D

For your Zavio cameras have you looked into zone minder? It is a camera/DVR platform and there is a binding for OH to zoneminder. What are you trying to accomplish with the Zavio cameras with automation?

The 3 smart switches you have for the outside lights, are they already in OH and controllable? Out of curiosity what technology did you go with for the smart switches?

To help with your time restrictions, you will want to look into the Astro binding as that will define daytime or night time in OH and allows you to create rules to not turn on your outside lights if its day time. This would also help with your father moving between the rooms as you could have the inside lights turn on after sunset times (aka night time).

As for lights turning off automatically you can look into the ‘expire’ binding which allows you to configure a special command after a set amount of time on the item. You may run into situations though where you need to over ride the expire (for example I had to disable one of mine as I needed to shovel snow and needed more than 5 mins on my outside lights). It is possible to setup virtual/proxy items with the expire and then leveraging rules to control when the expire is processed and conditions to trigger it or bypass it.

And finally, this is a plug n’ play platform! Take your time, read the forums/doco/your logs!

I don’t really need automation for the cameras, just want them integrated into whatever app I use to control everything.

Like I said, I haven’t bought anything yet, all I have is the openhab server. That’s kinda what I was looking for.

If that’s your idea of basic, I look forward to what you’ll do over time. :wink:

I totally agree with starting small with the light switches. You’ll learn a lot in the process, which will make it much easier to add pieces later. Too often (not just in OH), people try to run before they can walk.

Since you haven’t bought anything yet, then I would take the time to research the different options available to you for switches, plugs, and motion sensors (wifi, ZWave, ZigBee, etc.), thinking from a long-term perspective. Personally, I use TP-Link Kasa wifi switches and plugs, because I find them to be reliable and inexpensive. I’ve since added ZWave sensors and door locks.

In my opinion, setting up ZWave the first time is challenging. It’s relatively easy to understand after you set up a couple of devices, but I personally wouldn’t want to learn OH and ZWave at the same time.

In contrast, if you install a wifi light switch and it works with its own app, it’s very likely going to work in OH (so long as there’s a binding). So, you can spend less time trying to get devices to work and more time learning how to use your system. I had my wifi switches and plugs working less than an hour after installing openHABian. It took much longer (and many more forum searches) to get ZWave working properly.

I don’t know anything about ZigBee or other standards, so hopefully some others will chime in.

I also agree with the Astro binding being very useful in rules. But again, I’d start by setting your rules based on time frames, get everything working, and then add Astro.

Here’s a recent discussion about zwave sensors.

One more thing: you don’t have to have any hardware installed to learn about OH. You can set up the system and create virtual items that can be used to test your rules.

Good luck!

Welcome Vincent to the OpenHAB community!!!

Understand that OpenHAB is made to work with many technologies. It can function as the central control of all your smart home items. OpenHAB can take care of things like creating timers to turn things on and off, it can know when it is daylight or dark. Your devices can interact with each other and you can create rules to automate just about anything you desire.

Where you live is going to make a difference what products are available

The outside lights may need different technology depending on the size of the monitored area and the distance things need detected from. Zwave type devices are mostly for indoors and range limits might not work for outside. Microwave motion sensors work good for long driveways I heard for instance.

You also need to consider how robust your set up needs to be. What if something fails?, power loss or internet disconnect ect. If security or someones well being is involved, think hard about avoiding failures and building a robust system

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