What is a reliable lighting system for new construction

HI guys, new to openhab so im looking forward to interacting with the community and contributing where i can. im a residential building contractor so i understand to inner working of the houses but home automation is new for me. we’re building my personal house so i’m excited to learn openhab and automate my home.
first of all we’re starting at studs so everything that can be wired will be wired.
my goal is to have all the lights, hvac, speakers, alarm, and cameras automated.

  1. whats the best/cheapest/most reliable switches, dimmers and hub?
  2. ive kinda jumped the gun and ordered (2) Monoprice 6 Zone Home Audio Multizone with rs232. will that audio choice play well with OH?
    3.what other controllers and hubs will i need?
    thanks in advance

With OH almost anything can be made to work.:grinning: I would recommend talking to @MDAR to get a good idea of whats available as a building contractor. He know’s a good bit about the current automation trend when it comes to hardware.

Best of Luck

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I would look to Zwave if you are looking for a reliable hardware, I went with GE switches/dimmers and Leviton outlets. It does get pricey, but I went with buying one or two on pay day; helped with not draining the bank account and also provides time with creating your rules to automate these devices.

Thanks @H102 Kind words indeed.

Hi Josh @10to1

If you’re looking for a commercial grade installation solution, I’d strongly recommend a totally cabled solution.

There are plenty of hardwired technology out there.

As a UK importer of Velbus, I can really only talk about that.
A Velbus solution will cover everything from lighting to HVAC, ventilation to motor control and door release.
I’ve even linked some alarm panels to Velbus systems via multi IO units.

While offering your customers a really elegant finish to their property.


Especially if you look at the new flag ship edge lit panels.


If you’re looking at providing a base system to your clients that they can easily change and adapt (aka reprogram) as their needs evolve, I would suggest you focus on getting a rock solid hardware partner, who offers an excellent warranty and tech support.

What I can tell you is that openHAB2 has given my business a new lease of life.

If you need any more general information, please just ask here.

Or if you want to start a specific B2B conversation, please feel free to message me directly.

Good luck.



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I totally agree with @MDAR having a fully cabled solution, I also agree having a solid partner when dealing with relatively complicated equipment.

I would suggest having an open standard type of communication and avoid proprietary standards (there are many on the market right now).
I will list a few open standards:

  • lighting control (DALI, DMX, KNX)
  • HVAC (Modbus, BacNet, KNX)
  • audio control (any RS232 interfaced system, IP based with open communication, or KNX)
  • alarm systems (any system that has IP based open communication- as a suggestion look on the forum for the already integrated systems)
  • cameras (any IP based system with open communication)

The standards written above give you the choice of having an enormous choice of producers/products, subsequently design.

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thanks guys for the responses. im doing this for myself in my own house not offering it as a service to new clients. just taking it as a challenge.

could someone explain the setup for all the switches? do you have one wifi switch on each light zone and maybe hide them and have the 8 button switch on the corner where all the switches would have been? trying to get a grasp on schematic

I can only advise on / advocate totally wired solutions.

Please take a look at this generic wiring plan (PDF) to give you an idea.


In theory you could adopt the same principle for a wireless solution, but I strongly advise you to consider the reliability of wireless solutions.

By asking yourself a simply question.

Why are there so many questions on forums about help for wireless hardware, whereas with totally wired solutions they just work.


how much are switches and relays? is it pretty much one 4 channel relay per room? is there one location in the house with all the relays or are they spread out in the house?

i did some more research and wired is the only way to go if one has the option to. now to figure out where to start

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I would suggest zwave. I have a client that located her switches remotely, to keep the walls uncluttered, but personally I believe in keeping actual switches where, 1…they can be used by anyone, even without the need for app, 2…they will still work if the automation goes down. I also have another install in our showroom with 70 zwave controlled devices, and have no issues with communication ever, especially since zwave is a mesh network…the more devices you have, the better the network will be. Personally I use zwave products ZWD-100. They are inexpensive as compared to other options out there such as GE…

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I’ve replied to your direct message regarding prices.

You can deploy the modules however you like, in a manner that best suits your property.

As long as you comply with any local regulations, there really aren’t any rules which dictate where you should install hardware.

I believe this is true for all the options out there.

Good luck.

I wouldn’t jump the “wire only” bandwagon as quickly as @MDAR and @george.erhan do. They’re representing a home automation equipment vendor’s or integrator’s point of view which isn’t 100% the same as a home owner’s because you’re paying for it while they don’t and you’re living in there and want to be able to change things over time while they’re happy they sold their stuff and finished their integration project.
Wiring is inflexible and more expensive to deploy than wireless, particularly in retrofit scenarios but also in newly built houses.
Also remind you as it’s your own home you must look forward, too, taking future changes into account (you won’t have put proper wires where your wife wants to place a lamp in 3 years). And you’re unexperienced with home automation - as experience grows, you’ll want to change, move and expand your HA setup + coverage.
Wiring works are costly because they also come with a need to redecorate a room (which the building or HA contractors will not be paying for but the home owner will). Wiring is often incompatible with advanced further use cases. Think color lighting or cabling you’ll need for audio-visual applications (beamer, AVR, cameras, TV, NAS, computers) to converge. There’ll be more and more ‘intelligent’ household appliances from mobile lamps to kitchen and heating related equipment you will want to integrate, and most will have a wireless interface only.

So where to go now ?
First and foremost, I’d take care of having a star or multi-star topology wiring for important ‘immobile’ appliances such as ceiling lights, heating related equipment and roller shutters. This will allow you to change or even replace your HA equipment in the future and it allows for running multiple subsystems in parallel such as say a KNX bus and some ZWave devices. Once you build control wiring for a specific technology such as say KNX you will be locked into that technology which in the end always means to pay more than necessary.
Second, I second @george.erhan in going for standards based solutions only, but I wouldn’t limit it to wired solutions. I’d go for a mix of wired and wireless devices, probably KNX plus ZWave.
For modern lighting (LED, color) there’s more and cheaper devices/appliances available using ZWave, ZigBee or WiFi.
HVAC is a tricky and complicated world on its own you better don’t touch in the first place unless you have grown significant knowledge in that area. Watch out for devices to provide open interfaces (Ethernet/WiFi, OpenTherm, …) as general advice but as said it’s complicated so covering that is out of scope here.
Drop your idea of audio control over RS232 - that is ancient tech. Go for a solid IP network in your house with a combination of Ethernet where possible and Mesh WiFi and run all Audio+Video over IP instead, including all audio, cameras and TV. (If your multizone receiver can’t do IP then I’m sure you can connect it to some gateway so you can do the control over IP.)

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Yeah, it’s an opinion, which is the wonder of the whole building control world.

I think most people, even the most experienced get overwhelmed by the choices at the start of a project.

I’m 30+ years down the line and I’m still learning.
If I were to do my own home again, I’d still chose a wired solution for most of it, but I would run in a more empty flexible conduits to key areas.

But where does the “future proofing” stop?

The only thing I would absolutely enforce is this simple rule.

“If it’s mission critical, put it on a bit of wire”.

Heating control - mission critical
One light per room - mission critical
Thermostats - mission critical
Simple control - mission critical

Extra lights - non-essential
Architectural lighting - non-essential
AV devices - non-essential
Ad-hoc control points - non-essential

In summary;

Somewhere in all of the above information is an amazing control system, just waiting to be of service.

What form that takes ?

That’s the hardest decision to make.

Just one tiny technology point…

Most of the wired solutions use a 2 pair cable, so while it’s true that two protocols can’t exist on the same cable.

It’s not true to say that someone is locked into a protocol forever.

Should someone want to rip out one type of tech and replace it with another, the same cable will (very probably) support it.

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Completely not true! You can install wiring that supports all the protocols! For example, if you have Ethernet wiring, this can be very well used (with the help of a proper professional) for RS485, DALI, and so on! And even more, cabled systems as TCO are again much cheaper than any other RF solution you can install. Now, to go even further, if expandability is a total must, most of the open standards offer RF based communication.
In terms of cost, yes this was a problem 10-15 years ago, nowadays the competitive market we are living with got the cost to a very reasonable level (on par if we are comparing apples to apples). :wink:

As for WiFi (doesn’t even matter if it is mesh or not) I would avoid it forever if it were possible (especially the 2.4GHz band, due to huge congestions in some areas and in the future in all).

As for RS232, no it’s not ancient tech (it’s still used and will be used for getting access without the need of an OS on all specific critical systems in data centers for example). The only backlash is that it is distance limited and speed is low.

My 2 cents still stay on cabled solution especially as the OP clearly specified that he is starting from scratch with a completely new building!

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I didn’t say ‘forever’, did I ?

@george.erhan note my wording here: wiring for specific tech. If you build 2-wire for KNX (which is what almost every integrator except you will do !) you cannot run anything in addition to KNX. Putting Cat 6 with 8 twisted wires into the walls and to then not use Ethernet but use 2 wires for RS485, another 2 wires for DALI etc is not “wiring for specific tech”. And to run any of these protocols tunneled in IP over Ethernet isn’t either.
Oh, and you’ll need a very patient electrician to do all the fiddling - and very good documentation: costly, prone to error.

Mostly agree with respect to Home Automation communications, I didn’t mean to use WiFi for that.
But you mustn’t forget that sometimes it works the other way 'round: You acquire a new device such as say a coffee machine or TV and it happens to have a WiFi interface so you want to connect it (and there are no KNX coffee makers available to the best of my knowledge ;-)).
But my statement was of more general nature. It was meant you can and should use Mesh WiFi (in addition to Ethernet) to provide the basis for audio and video transmission (TV, audio streaming etc). Definitely better to use modern protocol here rather than RS232 or similar. Again, wiring is reliable but unflexible. And think of the client mobility aspect.


I’ve got a foot in each camp on these topics.

From my experience, audio over WiFi is acceptable (at best)

But for video, especially HD content.

Run it over a cable.

By which I mean steam content from a server over a LAN cable.

Oh and just because we’re on the subject, I’ve been testing HDMI over LAN adapters for a couple of clients (private and commercial).

My advice on the subject is…

Don’t, ever, not even if your life depends on it.

The best are stable, most of the time, but even the best drop out for a second or two.

HDMI over a specialist fibre optic that’s the next solution I’m going to test.

This is a very interesting thread and eveyone’s opinion gives a chance to consider all the different aspects. If I was a potential new home owner I would consider one piece of advise clear. Certain items in your new home are either not going to move or only move with great effort. An example would be windows, which are only going to move in a remodel requiring new construction. As such, if I wanted or thought I ever might want automated window coverings, running some wires to the window locations would make sense.HVAC system, same thing, it is probably not ever going to move. Having hard wire control of such ‘mission critical’ systems (such as HVAC) makes sense. The premise of certain systems being mission critical is important to understand. What happens if a single important network component fails? If the premise losses power or internet connection? What do I need to protect against? What if I want to rent the house out or have house guests ect.

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Well. Same here: yes cable is more reliable but inflexible.
I disagree with your “acceptable audio at best”. It highly depends on the quality of your network.
Sure, I, too, would always use a cable backbone and connect as many devices there as possible. But just like people didn’t have a coaxial TV cable in every corner of their house I don’t want to put multiple Cat 6 to every room. WiFi for the last meters is ideal. As the housing environment doesn’t change, you can rather easily optimize that with mesh, MIMO and more (cable-connected) repeaters and get reliable data rates well beyond 100Mbps so that’s a viable alternative to a cable connection to quite some end devices, let alone mobile ones. Sure there can be hiccups at times but people also watch Netflix in 4K over inet connects with less bandwidth and no QoS and it’s still working great most of the time. And life doesn’t depend on it :smile:

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Stop the bus !!!

Do you mean there are people out there that don’t have coaxial RF outlets everywhere?

Where are these people and why are they still allowed to live among us?

Ok Markus,

Your own experience with your setup has nothing to do with my experience with hundreds of setups! You might be right that some things can be done easier for ONE setup, I am saying something different: time proof practice for a far more general application, just like openHAB is!
It seems to me that you had a really bad experience with the so called electricians/home automation professionals, and this I can clearly understand, you are not the only one (more over, I am still struggling to educate my so called competition)!
Yes, you have found the easy way to solve YOUR setup, but that does not mean it is best practice for the majority of the setups as you advertise all the time! I do not say that my advices are the best, but time will tell us all!