Almost every forum I’ve been in, there always seems to be a thread for this. What do you do, or want to do, with Openhab?
First, I’ll start with my story of home automation and finish with what I would like to have as a final product.
My adventure started many, many moon ago with a product called X10. It ran switches and dimmers over house wiring and worked reasonably well. But life happened and I married, family, and career. I had a hard time finding new products and it seems that X10 was a dead end.
After many years, along came the newest crop of home automation and I was then retired. I picked up Smartthings and Philips Hue and they work well. I’ve added Amazon (now defunct) and Google Home Assistant.
In dealing with Smartthings issues with reliability and Hue’s lack of automation, I started using IFTTT for many of the rules. But IFTTT is not that secure and it still lacked the ability to run complex rules. I managed to make smartthings work with using virtual switches and cascade rules, but they were still not great. I wanted something I had more control over and wanted to limit my outside interfaces to the minium.
I found Openhab with a Google search and set it up on a spare Linux box. The learning/setup curve was more than I wanted so put it aside. I then tried it on Windows and still some issues. After a few months of this on/off trial, I tried again on Linux and with only one bulb. I got it working but still not to my liking. Then came the Raspberry Pi 4 and Openhabian. I set it up and got it working quickly. I then played with one bulb and found that my IT career training started to come back. You see, I started using Unix back in the late 1970s, spent a career building automation scripts to ease my work load, and was a system admin for several Unix systems. Using command line and strict syntax was more my style. So now I use Openhab, Philips Hue Bridge, and Harmony Hub for my environment. The Smartthings Hub and Amazon are not used but I have kept Google Home Assistant connected to OpenHab Cloud. I want remote access and voice control and this gives me that. Plus, Google has connectors for many products that either not in Openhab or are not fully supported. At some point, I will have it down to a single environment but not yet.
Now I have over 40 devices, 150-200 items, and 30+ rules. I’m still working on adding all of my smart devices though some do not have bindings available or require extra steps to set up when all I want is a simple solution.This is another reason to keep Google in the system.
What I’ve learned is this. Once one gets the hang of the layout of the application, adding or changing things is easy. Rules are easy too. You don’t get immediate results with a change. I’m finding that it takes patience and any change takes time to migrate through everything. Many times I made a change, tested it, and changed it again only to find that my test failed due to me not waiting.
I will state that I use Nortell’s combo USB dongle for Z-Wave and Zigbee. The Z-Wave works great, but had some issues with Zigbee. I found that I need to restart Openhab every few days and wait for things to rediscover and wake up. Again, patience is key. Once I quit trying to bull my way through, the system is working well with few issues and the reboots are much rarer.
Now for the second part of this post. What would I want as a final product?
Well, have it work like the starships in Star Trek would be great. Short of that, having every day activities work automatically.
Right now, my “man cave” a.k.a. family room is fully automated. The TV and lights come on in the morning as I enter (motion activated and only the first time I enter). They turn off when I leave the house in case I forgot, and will turn on again after I return (just like first thing in the morning). The lights come on when rooms are dark and off when bright (this happens throughout the house). I also have fans coming on when a room is warm or the humidity is high, and off at night or when I go to bed. I’ve set up “breakers” to inhibit some rules as needed. This prevents unwanted activity and adds another level of control. I’m working of having some special lighting effects for holidays based on cron (I.E. red/green for Christmas, red for Valentines Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day, etc.)
I am looking to add cameras, alarms, and other kinds of things. I would greatly appreciate hearing about what YOU are doing and what you want/plan on doing in the future?
I apologize for the long post and poor formatting, but I want to share my environment and challenges in setting it up. I hope this inspires others to stretch themselves and come up with their own solutions.