Starting out: simple questions

I’m very interested in the OpenHAB universe but after trying to read-up find myself more confused. I have a Smartthings system with 20 lights, numerous plugs, half a dozen door sensors, etc. I’ve never liked the dependency on the cloud.

What I’m trying to establish is, can OpenHAB incorporate various Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Wifi smart devices. I’ve searched for examples on, for instance, how to set up your first smart light. Some kind of simplified walk-through. All the examples I’ve found dig deep into technicalities, but I can’t seem to find anything for absolute beginners in this universe.

Is there any “OpenHAB for Dummies” that give step-by-step, simple examples for getting started?

Greatly appreciated any suggestions! Thank you.


What types of Smartthings devices do you have? SmaetThings supports standard Z-Wave, standard Zigbee and, I think some proprietary Wi-Fi devices.

Z-Wave & Zigbee can definitely be supported by openHAB, usually using usb radio sticks. A different path might be to use MQTT with your existing Smartthings hub, if it supports that. I have not used MQTT, though.

There is a tutorial on the openHAB website but it uses simple mode which causes other long term issues. I see one of our experts is replying with his advice.

Yes, depending on the specifics of “various”. Zwave is very well supported. True Zigbee (i.e. those devices that bear the Zigbee logo) are very well supported. Stuff that use Zigbee with extra stuff like Xiaomi and Tradfri have growing support. Wifi depends on whether the maker provides an API or the device can be flashed to use different firmware that does support something OH can talk (e.g Tasmota talking MQTT).

I’ve collected a number of resources to get started at How to get started (there is no step-by-step tutorial).

There is a problem that is hard to overcome. Everyone’s home automation requirements and resultant end system is bespoke. Given an estimate of 300 supported bindings on openHAB (way under the real number) there is 3.060575122 E+614 possible combinations of just bindings. Each of those bindings could individually support hundreds or thousands of different types of devices alone.

So which of those 3 with 614 zeros after it combinations should be the focus of a step-by-step tutorial? We could choose Zwave but that would leave out the equally large group of KNX users. We could use Zigbee but that would leave out all the users who focus on Insteon.

So instead of an end-to-end tutorial that would be useful for probably no-one, we provide highly detailed tutorials that explain how to do very specific things. The beginner’s tutorial is supposed to give you a general overview of how to string it all together but it’s not very good and will be completely rewritten relatively soon as OH 3 matures. But it’s only going to show you openHAB concepts, not specific technologies. Put another way, it will show how to install bindings, discover and/or create Things, etc. It’s not going to show a step-by-step to getting a Zigbee light bulb talking to openHAB.

But in addition to the beginne’s tutorial, there are a number of third party you tube videos and such linked to at the post linked to above.

Definitely watch the videos and read the links at the post I linked to above which should help you get the basics of openHAB. Then you should be able to figure out how to string together the various openHAB concepts (bindings, Things, Channels, Links, Items, Rules, Sitemaps, persistence) to create your bespoke home automation system. Start small, and come back when you run into trouble. We are happy to help where we can. But we won’t do it all for you. We want to teach you to become self sufficient.


Hi @Geewiz,

In addition to what Rich said, I would start out by listing specifics (more for yourself at this time) about what you wish to accomplish with Z-Wave, Zigbee, and WiFi devices, and prioritize that list. Then start implementing those specifics with one of those technologies and see how it goes. Perhaps a good starting point is replicating your existing setup into OpenHAB-- at least those parts that you think are well implemented. Then you can Google or search the forum for how others have addresses specific problems. I should add that there are a number of “design patterns” that folks have put into describing. Those along with the setup documentation for OpenHAB ( are very helpful in my opinion.

I’ve found OpenHAB to be very powerful and flexible, but you do need to invest time into getting something out of it. Start small and in bite sized pieces. Good luck.


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Thank you all for your replies. I know my questions where very vague so you’ve been quite accommodating! :slight_smile: I understand the integrations requirements of Z-Wave/Zigbee a little better now.

My intention is to start out doing a “proof of concept” using R-Pi 4. I have a few Philips Wifi bulbs that I’d like to use and wonder if anyone has any experience using them?

I’ve been reading the docs and trying to familiarize myself with the concepts. I’m sure I’ll have more questions! Thank you so much!!

HI @Geewiz,

Try searching the forums. I think you may have to do a bit of digging, but I did find a reference to Phillips WiFi (not Hue/Zigbee) bulbs, and the suggestion was to use the WiFi LED Binding. ( That post was from 2019, so there might be something better to use, but I think you may be able to use the above to aid in your research.

Good luck.