Recommendations on everything from the ground up - hardware devices?

I’m relatively new to home automation, but work with industrial automation so I decided on this platform and have it running on my Raspberry pi. I just moved into a new house and am excited to start from the ground up. My plan is to put in a lot of standard automation, then add some custom stuff later.

For the standard stuff, I’d like to have a system that can know when individuals are home so their areas of the house can be environmentally set for them. A geofence would be ideal for that. I’m thinking the door lock with codes may handle who comes in, and perhaps RFID chips on our phones or something. I really don’t care about home security, but am not opposed to putting cameras or motion sensors around to make my life easier if that was an issue. I’d like the door lock to notify me when someone enters.

For lighting, I’d like a combination of color changing bulbs and white dimmable ones. I have a bunch of ceiling fans and would like to automate them too, which I think I got a solution for. Based on what I’ve read, zwave is the way to go, but I’m totally open to any and all advice.

For my entertainment system, I have ROKU, and I like it, although if I could get OpenHAB or another thing to coordinate so I can turn on Pandora or access my music library of a connected computer or phone that would be awesome, but that may be a bit advanced for me.

I’d also like a thermostat that I can turn on the A/C and vent separately.

Lastly, my router is 2.4Ghz and is the one I got from my provider. I am not opposed to getting a different one if it will help reduce issues in the future.

If you have any advice on what to buy, where to buy, what not to buy, or any personal experience to share whatsoever, I will appreciate it. I am in Florida, USA and if you are too, I’ll take you out for a beer and pick your brain.


Congratulations on the purchase of your new home.

May I ask, do you intend to get your home completely rewired to accommodate the required infrastructure, or are you looking for purely retro fit suggestions?

I advocate wired solutions were possible, specifically the range of hardware.

Please be aware that (all) the beautiful glass panels contain full HVAC thermostats, as well as various timers.

Good luck finding a combination of hardware that fully suits your needs.

Best wishes,



I use Locative for geofenced presence detection. They have an iPhone and Android app. It works really well for me. I tried using other presence detection methods such as wifi detection and door lock codes but couldn’t get an acceptable level of detection. iPhones sleep the wifi after a timeout period and door codes didn’t work if someone is already home and the door is unlocked.

I use a combination of zwave and insteon wall switches to control existing lighting. I like this one from Innovelli
I don’t like the wall plugs because of the extra effort involved in turning it on manually. I’m kinda lazy that way.

I can’t offer any advice on the entertainment system.

I can comment on the thermostat. Avoid Honeywell and any other manufacturer that requires a cloud based solution (that’s also good advice for everything else). The Insteon thermostat may meet your requirements if you have the Insteon hub. It doesn’t support my dual fuel system so I can’t comment on it, but the binding does support it. I use Venstar t7850. It does not have a native binding but can be controlled using http get and put commands like these

Good luck and have fun! You will find the Openhab community to be very helpful and welcoming.

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I’m not opposed to making wiring changes, but I don’t think I will add local control panels like those unless I need them. We have our smartphones around at all times and we can use those. I like the sensor part of those though, and perhaps I’ll try one out and see how much they get used.

What is required to make that work? A DC circuit?

Wow, thanks so much for the advice. I was thinking RFID chips and there is a samsung lock that supports them, however, I agree I would have issues, but the geofence thing should work well especially because I can cool down an area before I arrive home automatically.

I was also thinking that I may have to get some kind of hub just to make things easier and use OpenHab as the controller.

I really want to make a doorbell that can play audio files of my choosing because its an inside joke in my family. I was thinking just make that come out of the soundbar or whatever…


You’re not alone in that thinking :slight_smile:

There are a couple of posts on here about using something like a Google Chromecast and a pair of cheap speakers :smile:


The whole control side of the Velbus system operates on a 15v supply, with a data pair.

(Actually between 12v and 18v)

Something like this Belsen 8723 cable is perfect.

Belden 8723 - 28469.pdf (24.9 KB)

As long as it starts at your control cabinet and pops up at every point where you want a Velbus module. (Input or output)

Obviously, you’ll still need at the mains voltage radials to deliver power to fixtures.

Please DM me if you want more refined comments, particular to your specific needs.



Generic wired building control wiring suggestion PDF

That would be pretty difficult in this house because of limited access to wiring due to it being two stories. And its not my forever home… if it were, I think I’d put in a low voltage DC for LED lights too.

And I think I can effectively get the same thing with some wireless tech.


It all comes down to personal preference.

I’m a massive fan of completely wired solutions, while others will favour wireless.

Professionally speaking, I don’t think you’ll ever get an exact like for like between wireless and wired, but you’re not comparing apples with apples :slight_smile:

I do totally wish you every success with your new home and I hope it gives you and your family many years of joy.

Look into FIND, reelyActive, and any of the many many presence detection postings on this forum. Unfortunately this is one area that is hard in home automation.

Most of us end up using a combination of sensors and events to determine if someone is home. I think most of us have been unhappy with geofencing because the updates don’t happen frequently enough to be timely (e.g. doesn’t report you are home until several minutes after you get home.

Consider usability here. An important requirement for me is I shall be able to turn on and off the lights manually even when OH is down. That one requirement eliminates a whole host of options. But it also ensures that in failure cases or when I have guests my house is still intuitively usable. Consider the failure cases.

A binding was started but I don’t think it was ever finished. But the API is pretty straight forward and there are several examples for controlling Rokus through OH Rules.

Ecobees are popular as are Nest and Zwave.

Hard to say. It depends on what technologies you want to run. Stuff like Zwave and Zigbee don’t use WiFi.

Honestly, such open ended questions are really hard to answer. Everyone’s home automation is bespoke. Everyone has different requirements, tolerances, and limitations. So without going way deep down into your specific requirements all we can really offer is “this worked for me”.

My recommendation would be to start small. Find a pain point and solve it, learn from that and expand. Don’t feel you need to standardize on any technologies to start. You will learn as you go and probably end up with a bunch of different types of technologies. That is one of the main purposes of OH.

It’s hard to go wrong with Zwave. If cost is a concern, Sonoff is pretty popular. I’m really liking what I see with the Shelly 2 (they seem to really get this problem space).

Consider usability, particularly usability for guests. If you have to grab your phone, open the app, browse to the lights control and tap the button to turn on the light I’d call that a home automation failure. Either the light should just know to turn on based on events, or turning it on should take no more steps then flipping the wall switch. Home automation is supposed to make your life easier.

This is a project I’m researching right now. I ran across this tutorial: I’m going to probably adapt it to use a NodeMCU since I have some of those on hand. The biggest problem to solve is converting from the 16V in the doorbell to 5v or 3.5v needed by the microcontroller. Eventually I plan on getting a 3D printer or CNC machine and at that time I’ll probably build my own Ring (note, Ring is not currently supported by OH as far as I’m aware).

Good luck!

Thanks so much. If you want to keep using the existing doorbell circuit, a simple relay should close a contact that you can effectively use the doorbell voltage to throw a switch connected to zwave or wireless. I was thinking to just get a button connected to openhab and use that as the input. The output I don’t know how to do because I’m new at this stuff.

My biggest problem with doorbells is to find a wireless button (outside part) beeing compatible with OpenHab. Wired button is not an option in my situation due to the bulding and door.

Aeotec has a new doorbell coming (z-wave) which include the internal part as well. It looks really good, except the outside part (button) looks rather big, in my opinion.

The big thing I need is to power the microcontroller/sensor off of the 16V coming to the doorbell. Not many commercial sensors run off of 16V and none of the DIY microcontrollers/SBCs run off of 16V. Once I have that part powered there are all sorts of ways to detect the button push. This can include a sound sensor, a reed sensor (since the bell is chimed by an electro magnet), or as described in the instructable, step down the voltage to 3.5v and I can just wire it up to the GPIO of the microcontroller.

Ah… I see. So playing audio files… can I store those in my raspberry pi? How do I get the output?

There are lots of topics about this here :slight_smile:

Just search the forum for keywords that you think are relevant.

For example :- Chromecast / Google Home - automatic start playing a stream when motion is detected in a room

But reading this will help you…

Take away information is that Sonos, ChromeCast, onboard audio & WebAudio are all potential AudioSinks.

You can push URLs into most AudioSinks, as well as TTS commands.

And if you want to host sound files on your server, they are best placed in the sounds/ folder.

On Linux, that is normally…