Some Beginner questions

Hello community,

my name is Stefan and I’m from Germany.
I’m totally new to OpenHAB and to smart home / home automation but willing to try some new ideas, hardware, software and pieces of coding.

I’ve already read lots of articles at newspaper, tests at internet magazines, descriptions from different vendors, manufacturers and so on,
and what I actually know:
There isn’t a commercial solution for all my needs (and I think I don’t have so very special ones…).

So my goal is:
1 master-software to control lot’s of different pieces of home automation from different manufacturers.

And I think that’s what OpenHAB stands for - and that’s why I’m here.

First I have for question:

  • OpenHAB v1 or v2? v2 is in beta mode, but I am too :wink: I think till my plans are done OH2 will be stable, or should I start with OH1?
  • every manufactor of wifi and 433mhz modules uses his own bridge/hub/whatever they call. Do I have to buy every hub so I can use their modules with OpenHAB?
  • hardware: I’m not familiar with Linux, but I’ve read several times that the Raspi is a very fitting hardware basis for OH, mostly because of it’s GPIO. But: there is a Windows 7 machine running 24/7 at the living room (HTPC with Kodi + downloader). My goals for hardware: power-saving, easy to use (no Linux skills), flexibel / customisable and powerfull enough for different automation parts. So what do you recommend? My feeling: separate machine for the home automation part because of stability and because a few years I want to build an own house and then the control has to move to the basement
  • speech control: I’m loving the appearance and size of the amazon echo dot (small, nearfield microfons + loudspeaker in one device), but I hat the way of implementation (cloud-based / sending all my action at my home to a commercial company). Question: is there an option to use the echo dots just as I/O devices for local speech engine like AutoVoice or Jasper? And in a second step, for loudspeaker to play music (maybe that’s just a thing for the “big” echos, not the dot’s). Or: are there some similar devices on the marked which combine microfones, loudspeaker and wifi in one small device which can be used by OH?

Thank’s for helping me getting started with OpenHAB.

maybe I should give you a summary of the functions I’d like to realize step by step:

  • control the light (ceiling light and some led stripes for deko)
  • as I wrote above: speech control in every room
  • loudspeaker in some rooms, music via Kodi
  • control the roller shutters
  • control some 433 mhz plug sockets (for existing devices without wifi ability like my “oldschool” hi-fi system, christmas lights, lava lamp, …)
  • presence recognition for my girlfriend and me, maybe with a “early-warning system” to start the heater at home when leaving work
  • connect fritz box to check the build-in answering machine via speech command
  • check the weather from local weather station at the balcony and the forcast from internet
  • power-on the samsung TV (actually I control all my media stuff with one remote control via HTPC. Music, TV shows via satellite, videos from harddisc or disc drive, local radio or streaming - just all. Except for power-on and off the TV, therefore I need to use the original samsung remote - and that’s pretty annoying…)
  • later on (when own house is ready): camera and display near the door bell, alarm system with ip camera and so on.

Many things I know, but I’m not in a hurry and I know this can only work step by step.
First I’d likle to startup with setting up right version of OpenHAB on a future-proof hardware and maybe starting with the lighting.

If new to openHAB, I would prefer openHAB2. Beta in openHAB2 stands for ‘work in progress’, but not for ‘software will crash now and then’.

The home automation hardware should be as economical as possible, so an embedded system would be nice. Raspberry (2/3) is a nice pice of hardware and it’s easy enough to earn some skills in Linux. :wink:
In fact, if planning to build a house, I would definitely try to get some skills in Linux, I have done so.
I’ve built 3 yavdr systems and a file server, home automation, asterisk, ipfire router… it’s really nice to understand, what’s going on at home :slight_smile:

Hello Stefan

At first. Welcome to the OH Community :smiley:

As Udo pointed out already: If you new with OH. Start with OH2, otherwise you have to learn some things twice.

Yes… you have to buy them. Most of the bindings use some API’s of the Bridge/hub/whatever :wink: so you Need to have These Units.

Don’t worry about Linux skills. Since @ThomDietrich have build “openHABian”, an Linux Installer with openHAB for RPI, you don’t Need to know Linux in deep. What you Need, you will learn by doing. You can find Information about this installer here
I recommend you an seperate machine, because the longer, the more you Need it up ‘n’ running… Please take a look at the recommendations reagrding SD Cards at RPI.

It sounds like you are an perfect candidate for zwave. You’ll find presence sensors, RGBW Controllers, Dimmers, Switches and much more, which will fit your Needs.

Such Projects could get very complicated very fast. I recommend you to start with some Basics, build up your skills and extend your Project step by step.

you’ll find many bindings for your Needs (Samsung, Fritzbox, Geofancing <== your early-warning-system, Kodi)

Actually, I plan my own house renovation, so I can feel with you…



hey Udo,

when building a house… I’m very undecided which technology to choose.
Currently in my rent apartment I took Zwave which works pretty good.

However … when switching to a new house I would like to get things “wired”…
I see 3 options at the moment: KNX, Comexio, Loxone… anything I forgot for a more or less full wired smart home?
any insights you have for this?


Hello Sebastian

I’m at the same Point.
I’ve choosen zWave, because I “only” renovate a house.
When you build a new one go with a wired System (I would choose KNX).

You can find my post here


Thanks for your hints.
btw: fileserver / NAS for the HTPC already exists, running Windows XP 64 :heart_eyes:,
and IPfire / pfsense-based firewall will come too (few years ago I used fli4l and later on IPCop).

So I’ll try OH2 and a PI.

Is there any configuration / special thing to have an eye on or just buying a starter kit with PI 3, power suply, case and 16gig class 10 SD card?
What about extra cooling? Is the Pi powerfull enough for a offline speech engine?

oookkkk. While typing there are 3 new replies.
Either I’m typing very slow or this community is very fast :slight_smile: I think both.

@ Michael:
Thanks for giving me some hope with Linux :slight_smile:Yes I already found the openHABian Thread while reading along.

Another question to the zwave devices: does this mean you need one zwave controller and can control all zwave devices of any manufactors, or still separate controller each manufactor I use a device from?

If you have sockets from different manufactures and want to use just one gateway, maybe Tinkerforge Remote Switch Bricklet is an option. The linked documentation shows which sockets are supported at the moment.

But you will also need some more Tinkerforge components if you don’t have any other Tinkerforge sensors etc.
I think that’s just an option if you like to play a little bit with this kind of hardware.
I would not use it for a brand new house with “professional” home automation. Here is a wired solution like mentioned by @shorty707 a better choice.

It’s the price of the several hubs which scares me.

I’ve done some research in Tinkerforge and I understand what it is, but at my point, the very beginning, I think it’ll be too complex to combine OpenHAB, several vendors + devices, Tinkerforge and all on a (new for me) Linux-based platform :dizzy_face:

Hello and good luck with your project. The Raspberry Pi is an excellent choice and I would agree with your selection. Cooling is not needed. I have no personal experience with speech but it should be. Maybe it would be worth to read up on this topic here in the forum!
Linux is something new but I would also recommend to spend some time with it as it is incredibly flexible and powerful when it comes to server applications. It’s able to do way more than a windows file server :slight_smile:

As for the additionally needed hardware: I would recommend to go with one ecosystem to cover your basis (heating, door sensors, light switches). This will make a lot of things easier for you. I myself am using Homematic and are quite happy with it, nowadays you probably want to choose zWave as way more components are offered. Hardware that comes to mind are the Razberry or the Aeon Labs USB-Stick GEN5. After you got the basis covered and earned some experience with openHAB you can continue with adding the little things still missing. openHAB and it’s many bindings offer a lot of ways to integrate components. You will not always need to buy new transceivers as bindings like Sonos, Kodi or MQTT all communicate via your IP network.

It depends on how much money you are willing to pay :slight_smile:

As I was able to do the complete electric installation by myself (and getting the hardware in wholesale [Großhandel]), I did it with knx, which is very reliable (much more than rf technology). I paid more or less the same as getting an electrician for a standard installation. :slight_smile:

mhh if you ask around a lot of people say a more standard approach by a simple star topology and something like loxone or comexio should be more future proof as you can replace everything at any time in the electrical box (verteilerkasten) and are not limited to the bus system…

that said …no one seems to have loxone or comexio :wink: and no reports if that works with openhab (e.g. just by http / ip)

I stil have some months to decide :wink:

I’ll add to the list of people recommending OH 2. You are just learning now so in the long run it will be less work to start with OH 2. I’ve found OH 2 to be pretty rock solid right now and any problems I’ve experienced are universal (i.e. affect OH 1.8 and OH 2 equally).

Yes. This is why it is best to settle on one or two wireless standards from the start. They also interfere with each other so if you have too many your signal could be shot.

Either approach would be appropriate. I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on the GPIO because it is unlikely that your server will be close enough to what you need to wire it up to to be useful. A more flexible approach would be to use satellite Pis or Arduinos located close to those sensors/actuators and put your server somewhere that makes sense.

NOTE: If you choose wireless technologies placing your server in the basement is a terrible idea. With wireless you want to place it as high and centrally as possible to get the best signal and range.

Thanks for your answer.

So I looked a little around and ordered a, I think basic, hardware configuration:

  • Pi 3 starter kit with 16GB class 10
  • Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Z-Stick, Gen5, ZW090 (as recommended in some other threads I’ve found for use with the PI) to control some devices later on
  • a used (nearly new) bundle of 4 Mi-Light RGB Bulbs + wifi -> 433MHz controller

When the stuff arrives I’ll try to set up openhabian

Yes I know, and in my opinion wlan isn’t an option for covering all tech-needs in a household.
I think it’s possible to combine both, cable and wireless. Actually, in my rent-appartement, I’m mixing 3 standards. Wlan for laptop and mobile devices, GBit ethernet to connect HTPC and NAS, and DLan to bring both worlds together :wink:
For a new house something like CAT5e into the walls and one wlan ap at every floor seems ok - but this is a little far away.

And back to my questions (this one is very interesting for me):

  • speech control: I’m loving the appearance and size of the amazon echo
    dot (small, nearfield microfons + loudspeaker in one device), but I hat
    the way of implementation (cloud-based / sending all my action at my
    home to a commercial company). Question: is there an option to use the
    echo dots just as I/O devices for local speech engine like AutoVoice or
    Jasper? And in a second step, for loudspeaker to play music (maybe
    that’s just a thing for the “big” echos, not the dot’s). Or: are there
    some similar devices on the marked which combine microfones, loudspeaker
    and wifi in one small device which can be used by OH?

Ha-ha-ha… :slight_smile: (sorry) I don’t have any connection box besides those to the roller shutters, every socket is connected directly to the distribution box, every light is connected directly to the distribution box, every rollershutter…

So no limits, and knx is an industrial standard for ages (~1983?).
Loxone is close to this, Comexio isn’t (as far as I know).

:smiley: CAT7 in EVERY (!) room (yes, even in the baths), shame on me, too little sockets (e.g. only 4 for music and video in living room) - I built my home 2005/06…

I’ll be no help for voice control. While the wow factor is high for me the practicality is low. I’d much rather discretely flip a wall switch or even better have the lights just know when to turn on and off . If you search the forum thought there are many threads that talk about it using Jenkins, echo and others. And I service @Udo_Hartmann’s comment. At least run cat6, 7 is better.

1 Like

For basic speech control with the Echo you do not need to use the Amazon cloud service. Basically, you can use a Java “bridge” that can emulate a Philips Hue system (link). All the devices that you configure in your bridge (that are the ones you can access through the REST api), will be seen by the echo and you can activate or deactivate them, or set a specific value (i.e. for dimmers).

A typical command to turn on a device is “Alexa, turn on [name given to device]”. A dimmer can be controlled with “Alexa, set [dimmer name] to [value]”.

It works pretty well, and it is particularly handy in certain scenarios.

If you then want to control, for example, KODI with a better set of commands, you will need to use one of the skills already made (there are at least a couple working very well), but for that you will need the Amazon cloud.

That said, they are very nice, in particular if you are like me and forget what episode number of your favourite series you watched last. I just say “Alexa, tell kodi to play the next episode of [put your favourite series here]”.

Mmh, thanks for this infos. So I have to decide between half-functional Echo solution and Habdroid speech engine.
My ordered Pi isn’t arrived yet so I can only test the demo features of Habdroid and I have another question:

Is speech control via habdroid just working by pressing the button for speech commands or can I switch to an always-listening method which reacts to a keyword (similar to “Alexa, [command]”, “OK Google [command]” , … )?

Well, I wouldn’t say it is half-functional. Everything you can do with the OpenHAB app you can do with your voice using Echo. The skills are just the icing on the cake, but in my case, for example, I only use one for controlling KODI in a more advanced way.
But, depending on your hardware/software configuration, you can do much more without having a single packet going through your WAN.

I.e. I can control KODI with OpenHAB directly using MQTT and Eventghost on the KODI machine. I defined some items in OpenHAB that generate outgoing MQTT messages. These messages are intercepted by Eventghost (with the Mosquitto plugin) and corresponding KODI commands are issued. I can voice-activate any function in KODI, from menu navigation to playback control, to advanced functions and activation of macros. Just saying, for example “Alexa, turn on kodi subtitles” it opens up the window with the selection of the available subtitles on the web. With a USB-IRT blaster I can also control the TV and the amplifier.

What you can do with OpenHAB, you can voice control. It is just a matter of mapping the appropriate word(s) to be used with the Echo to the corresponding REST command using the web interface of the HA bridge.

I think I will try this out, both variantes - when the basic configuration is done and the echo dots are available in Germany. Amazon should start shipping these days, but I didn’t get an invitation yet so maybe I have to wait a few weeks.

Other question:
is it possible to run two or more android devices with habdroid, controlling one openhab instance at the same time?
i.e. a tablet in the living room with an extra sitemap just for living room and maybe dining room, smartphone with extra sitemap just for kids room, my smartphone with complete sitemap for all devices…
Or can I just connect one device at same time?