Real beginner starting out


(adam smee) #1

Hi all, ok so I’m about 80% through my smarthome build. I’m at the point to choose the system to control everything. I was looking at fibaro equipment running on the zwave protocol but I’ve heard more and more people going away from the home centre server due to the 3rd part control over your home. I want to have full control with zero outside influences. I have come across the openHAB system and thought I’d ask your opinions for a newbie. A little about my knowledge - I haven’t really written any code before. I can write logic on PLCs (function block) I can set up basic IP networks. I’m looking at going wireless using the zwave protocol. Lighting, rainwater harvesting, irrigation,ventilation, blinds, home audio and video, security, fire detection I’m looking to control. I have a Honeywell evohome heating system I’m hoping to see on the automation server via a gateway. I also have a sienens PLC controlling thr rainwater system i wouldnt mind seeing aswell. I’m looking at setting a GUI on a web based system so I can set a tablet up anywhere as control screens. I would like to set up fairly complex logic functions for my velux/ventilation systems etc. Is this something that would be good for me? I can go into more detail if needed. Many thanks


(Garry McCandless) #2

Hi Adam,

I’m not really sure what your asking here.

openHAB is a great tool that is extremely flexible and should be thought of as the middle component of any smart home project. Before you plough ahead and buy a load of modules, firstly work out what you want to achieve. When it comes to creating rules, you’ll find loads of examples on the forum along with loads of people willing to help you along. Take your time reading the available documentation, it may save you asking a question or two.

Read up on all of the different protocols that are available, openHAB has a binding for most. There a pros and cons with them all, so you may find that to complete your entire smart home solution it’s not going to be a one size fits all.

As with all flexible systems, they are never easy to learn and understand. Take your time and focus on breaking things down into small chunks.

Good luck in your adventure.


(anonymous.one) #3

You have listed quite a bit of things you want to control, as @Maximo has stated reading the doco and if you have the option to setup a VM you could easily test out if OH is the ‘brain’ you want for your automation.

In my own experience (which I think you are asking for?), my house was already built out when I purchased it so I had little input and it was over a decade ago before the wave of IoT was a hot topic.
So I made purchases for hardware every two weeks on payday to avoid sinking a large amount of money at one time; this allowed me to focus on that new piece of hardware. When you just have 1 light switch it doesn’t take a lot of time to create the rules for it; throw in about 20 more (some of which are dimmers) and electrical outlets that control lamps and things become a bit more complex and rules can take more time depending on your goal.

Experience number 2 for me, the spouse…aka my largest and difficult variable to try and account for in the automation. I don’t know if you will have to contend with this or not, it was only after I applied a door sensor to the door that leads to our garage and by opening the door it is set to flip on the lights in the garage (as some genius thought it would be smart to be that light switch in the garage vs inside the house [and my spouse was notorious for always leaving the garage lights on]). I have had to revisit some of my work as I put hallway lights in with the expire binding, which work great until she told me she wanted to clean some hallway and the light kept turning off (and by told me, I mean she was quite…lets say upset). So I’m having to add in ways on Habpanel to have virtual items that can bypass having the expire binding executed.

Final words of wisdom, test as much as you can before slapping together something you think should work; on more than one occasion the logic in my mind doesn’t jive with OH and I have to re-think how to achieve the goal (three times now I’ve had my sunrise dim scenario start at 40% vs 0% dim, and literally the wake up call was a rough learning experience).
Also take the rule creation at a slow pace, such as setup a cron rule to just turn on a device; once you have that figured out added in a condition like only if the sun has set. Having too many state checks or variables can frustrate you and generate a lot of troubleshooting.


(YvesHanoulle) #4

what does

so I’m about 80% through my smarthome build.

mean ?

I’m asking because for me it could mean different things and they would all result in different answers to your question.


(Russell Wong) #5

I’ll add to what @Maximo and @anonymous.one said from the perspective of someone who’s relatively new to openHAB. I just got started two weeks ago, but I have a collection of equipment dating back to my first Belkin Wemo around six years ago. I previously used an Android-based automation manager, but wanted to expand the capabilities of my system. openHAB has definitely done that for me.

It’s important to determine if openHAB supports your existing equipment, but it’s more than just “does this device work?” You also have to ask “what can openHAB do with it?” I’ve seen other systems in which a device might be “supported”, but you can’t actually do much with it. You need to know two things for every device you have: (a) what info can openHAB get from it, and (b) what can openHAB tell it to do. I would start there with your existing equipment.

Now that I have my existing tech controlled by openHAB, I’m buying new equipment based on “works with openHAB” as a base requirement. Since I’m not a developer, I only want to bring something into the mix if there’s already support or if someone is working on it.

Good luck!


(adam smee) #6

All, thank you so much for all your help. What’s really causing me a little confusion is how much is code based when setting all the devices up? I’ve had a look around the forums and internet and it seems that everyone is speaking a tech language that’s beyond me. Im going to really dig around and get myself up to speed on the basics of setting this up. Thank you all so much again


(anonymous.one) #7

If you list a piece of equipment specifically, we may be able to provide info on how much code may or may not be required, I have close to 40 zwave devices and none of them required me to “code”. However if you are trying to achieve automation, learning how rules (which could be considered “coding”) behave can be a project and a half by itself.
However if you start with small rules and get things “working”, try to find better ways to write the rules. I created a rule to trigger based on my spouse’s phone or mine to flip on a noise machine in the bedroom as we both go to bed at different times; worked great, but as time continued I discovered my spouse had a habit to leave all the lights turned on and I would come up from the basement and annoyed…SO I snapped and added on to the rule that if an outlet I use in the basement is on when the spouse goes to bed, all lights on the first floor turn off via a group. When I turn off the outlet it will flip on a single light and when I plug my phone in all lights in the basement and first floor will turn off.

My drive is to reduce stress with variables I deal with daily! :smiley: