The ideal openHab lighting setup

Hi all,

We will be starting to build our new home soon.
I would like to make it smart ready, and possible make use of openhab.
I would like to control lighting initially, the light should still have a switch in every room which should be able to work with or without the automation system working, and also should still be able to be switched on when the actual switch is switched of.
I was looking at something like insteon, but would really like to wire the lighting setup, and insteon is not supported in South Africa.

Any ideas on how I should approach this, should all the electrical go to 1 central place and control panels put where the light switched should have been.

Will openHab connect to some kind of a hub which will in turn control the lights?

Any advice or ideas would be appreciated!


Welcome to the openHAB forum.
Please note, though, that this is not on general discussion of and advice on home automation - which is what you’re after.
Please check How to ask a good question / Help Us Help You
That being said, there’s already a number of threads on questions like this so please search the forum as a next step.

In general, centralizing cabling is a good idea if you can afford it (and you can since you’re building from scratch). Eventually you can make it not 1 place but maybe one per floor level. Having this in place will allow you for selecting and replacing your actuators / technology at any time, whatever that tech you select may be for now.

Thanks to openHAB you can select any number of technologies. In the long run you’ll end up with a combination of 2 or 3 technologies anyway, so why not start like that from the very beginning. Choose per-actuator whatever fits the use case best.
Tech to choose from I’d suggest would be KNX, ZWave and WiFi.
KNX is wired and good as a general-purpose system but pricey (and not sure about availability in S.Africa), but it isn’t good at lighting (dimmers or even colour)
WiFi is cheapest but comes at a price in terms of security, lack of standards and electrical quality, and the set of vendor/devices to choose from for lighting is very small, particularly when it comes to dimmers and color lighting.
ZWave is radio based. It’s also general-purpose, somewhat similar to but better than Insteon.
At least with KNX and ZWave your “still can switch if automation is down” will work.

If you go down the Zwave route, which is fine, I’m a big fan myself, then you’re going to need either integrated Zwave switches on the wall or regular switches with a “nano” Zwave controller in the box behind the switch. The former will get pricey, real quick and sometimes the switches themselves are not aesthetically pleasing ( to me at least)

Having a separate controller works pretty well and leaves you free to choose whatever regular switch you like. I have an Aeotec Nano dimmer (£56 sterling) and it works well, but as you can already see they can add up too, from a price perspective. Something I would suggest is, since you’re building, have the electrician put in “deep” buttress boxes. This allows you the space needed behind the switch to install the “nano” at a later date, when you have the cash.

Personally I have a mixture of Zwave switches and Philips Hue. Hue is great, available readily, works with Alexa too, very straightforward to setup.

Just my ramblings.

I second this. The hardest thing about installing smart switches is getting the wires to fit.

I have WiFi switches (TP-Link Kasa), which I started using before I installed OH. If I did it over again, I’d consider switching to ZWave switches. However, in Canada a ZWave light switch costs twice as much as a TP-Link switch. That adds up quickly.

I used to find that some of my switches would go offline every once in awhile, but I haven’t seen any of them disconnect since switching to a mesh WiFi router. So, I’m much more confident in WiFi switches now. Speaking to the security issues, any WiFi switches that can be controlled locally by OH can be denied Internet access in your router.

Or if you’re really keen you can go this way;

Follow his videos down the bottom, he’s put relays centrally for each light. Then where light switches would go he runs cat5 cable to these switches and it’s all mqtt controlled.

It’s pretty cool, but would be a big investment.

Wow, that is cool. Can’t say I love the look of the switches, but it’s a great DIY if you’ve got the time/skills/money.

Yeah the only bit I’d be worried about is the fact there’s no physical link between light and switch…it’s all software.

Yeah, there really is no Plan B for turning on the lights.