Starting from scratch

Hi there!

I’m looking at starting to finally integrate some home automation and I’m looking for some recommendations on hardware and technologies to use these days. I should preface that I’ve been a software engineer for 20+ years and have worked from the web down to embedded and am currently working in the robotics field. I don’t expect to need much technical hand-holding.

Here’s what I’m looking for in a system:

  1. Programmable/open APIs as much as possible
  2. The most reliable, yet cost-effective hardware for operation
  3. Avoid any vendor lock-in or vendor-hosted cloud solutions
  4. Web/Smartphone App access (I can host my own cloud services for this)
  5. Voice control like Google Home or Alexa might be nice as an option, but I have privacy concerns
  6. Might play with IFTTT integrations at some point

I’m thinking of starting with a Raspberry Pi with a RaZberry hat to experiment with some z-wave outlets and switches to start off with. Is that a good setup these days? Z-Wave seems pretty solid, but the RaZberry hat looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2017. Are there other better technologies than Z-Wave I should look at?



Hello Kevin and welcome to the OpenHAB community
If all the things in your list are important, they can all be realized with OpenHAB. In order to help you pick a zwave device, we need to know what region in the world you live


Z-Wave is pretty solid but expensive. We have a to[p notch developer who also develops the Zigbee binding. It too is based on a local mesh network.

Z-Wave frequencies are world region specific. Zigbee uses the 2.4GHz band worldwide. It seeks to fit between Wi-Fi traffic by using narrow bands.

Some people hare also use 2.4GHz Wi-Fi based devices that can be flashed with Tasmota to give local control.

Personally, I chose Z-Wave to start because of my Wi-Fi engineering experiences and interference in the 2.4GHz band. You do not want a microwave oven killing device access. I understand Zigbee may be more tolerant ahd the devices are generally cheaper than Z-Wave ones.

I also initially bought some cheap Chinese devices initially. I realize notw that they have quality & performance issues.

Where in the world are you located? I am in the eastern US.

I have similar needs and background and once I took the time to understand and learn OpenHab and what it can do, I have had a rock solid setup and have never looked elsewhere as all of my needs are met). The only issue I had was SDCard failure after about 10-12 months, but solved by connecting a SSD to my raspberryPi and that has been flawless since.

I have ran my setup for 2-3 years now on a raspberryPI 3b. I am in the process of upgrading to a pi4 (2GB) as I run some other services (Pi-hole DNS blocking) and have pretty much maxed out the 1GB ram. It works just fine.

Here in North America, I have gone with a USB stick for Z-Wave and it has been rock solid (AEOTEC Z-Stick Gen5) and I use various Leviton Z-wave switches/dimmers/outlets. (These are the things I want to work 100% of the time and look just like regular switches). I’ve been extremely pleased.

I’ve also setup some SONOFF external wall sockets (which I flashed Tasmota firmware on) and use MQTT to command on and off. The latest ones Are the S31 which was super easy to disassemble and flash.

There is some great support and examples on the forums here and you should have lots of fun once you get up to speed. (do yourself a favor and write yourself some notes/documentation, because, when you come back to it in 6 months, you might not remember everything :slight_smile:

Take a look at Zooz. They have been very helpful in getting their devices supported in OH. Their store site is

Fantastic - Thank you - Lots of good stuff here. The wall switches are a better price than the Leviton’s i bought.

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Their support is first class too! If there are issues they are willing to replace and have sent us samples to get included in OH.

Welcome Kevin

I babysit Robots for a crust and Home Automation for a hobby.

With OH3 being released soon I would advise to install that. In saying that it is a new peace of open source software that has not got mature documentation.

The REST api in openHAB is how the UI connects. You can do anything you like

I bought a smart kettle when it was on special (cheap) It is controlled by a ESP8266 and a TUYA MCU. I just changed the software on the ESP to TASMOTA so I can control it however I like. “Hey google turn the kettle on”

Ok do what I tell you PIC

If you want to know if it may work with tasmota look here

Openhab 2 Intergration for Kettle VScode

Openhab 3 MQTT intergration using fancy new main UI

I have a SENSIBO for my air conditioners because I bought them years ago an they just work, they are locked in to vendor. Google is my only other locked in cloud that I use for voice and voice commands. Everything in the house can be done by voice.
I made a custom widget for it in OH3

You can utilise the Google Home app to control everything even your DIY home front door lock with a pin number. But your door should unlock when you walk up to it right.

IFTTT integrations :nauseated_face: :-1: Just use openHAB rules.

Razberry is a no from me because I use bluetooth

Note: On the Raspberry Pi 3 you cannot use Bluetooth together with the Razberry Z-Wave module since both require a real hardware UART, but the Raspberry Pi 3 only has one UART.

Get a RPI 4 4gig and stick openHABian on it, just put it on a UPS because Zram is used.

Buy a spare sd card reader and do automated full backups.
I have one of these plugged in so if I need to restore backup I just take the sd card out of reader and put it in PI

You will encounter a problem at some stage and go looking for answers in forum at others that have had the same issues on different versions of openHAB. Read the Docs search the form but when you get stuck and post on the forum put some effort in to asking a good question with enough information for us to help.

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Sort of. I think adding users for the new authentication is outside the API.

Indeed, users can only be added via console.

and, initially, the UI.

Nope, that‘s only the admin.

I thought that is he only authorization role defined currently. User level is currently without authentication.

You can add additional users via console command, but have no clue what you can achieve with them…