What Software Proficiency Is Required?

I plan on using openHABian on a Raspberry Pi4 to monitor door and window contacts, sound an alarm, send a notification to my phone, and turn lights on and off to give the home a “lived in” look; and maybe monitor refrigerator energy consumption and operate roller shades. What software should I learn to complete this project?

You don’t really need any extra software really. Tho Maybe the question is what skills do you need?

Some questions to ask first are.

What smarthome products are you own already? And/or plan to use to do this?
How complicated rules do you want to write?

Have you imaged a Raspberry Pi before? Do you have basic Linux skills?

I have no experience with the Raspberry Pi, don’t own any smarthome products, just have a basic idea of what products I will need, and my rules may be simple, but, due to my lack of experience I could be wrong. The only thing I have an abundance of, as my user name implies, is time.

Welcome! I took one year of electrical engineering in the 90’s, and then got an English degree. According to your profile, you have multiple engineering degrees and designed nuclear control systems. So, I think you’ll be fine. :wink:

If you’re just experimenting, you can start by putting openHAB on an old laptop that you’ve got sitting around, whether it’s running Windows, MacOS or Linux. But if you’re not bothered by the cost, pick up an RPi4 with 4GB of RAM (you don’t need 8GB) and put the openHABian image on it. That’s the easiest way to get started with openHAB.

You have a nice advantage, which is that you haven’t started a collection of home-automation gear yet. That means you can choose products that you know will work well with openHAB and benefit from the discussions that have already taken place in the community.

The great thing about openHAB is that you don’t need to limit yourself to one type of product–you can choose the ones that are best for specific applications and your budget. For example, you might find that the rollershutter you want is Z-Wave, but that you want to use WiFi light switches because they’re less expensive.

I’ll leave recommendations on programming rules to others. I have minimal programming expertise, so I learned the older “DSL” way of writing rules for OH, and I’m sticking with it for the time being. But I wouldn’t recommend it for new users. Now you can get away with doing rules entirely in the GUI or choose other programming languages if you want to get more complex.

Good luck!

Well then, welcome to the Smarthome Adventure.

Getting started requires a pretty minimal investment fiscally, however depending on how fancy and/or crazy you want to go can become pretty expensive.

To start off, You just need a Raspberry Pi3 or Pi4. Don’t bother with the 8gb model it’s overkill. If just starting I would recommend the 4gb Pi4, and a good 16gb or larger SD Card.

A basic install of OpenHabian just requires you have an image program like Etchar. Follow the tutorial under getting started and a little bit of time. If you plan on going the full GUI method, you don’t need any extra software. However if you want to get more advanced and use the text configs, I highly recommend installing Microsoft VS Code (Free), and adding both OpenHab extensions. A way to SSH into the Pi is also recommended, if you are on Linux or OSX ssh should already exist, windows you can use putty.

Once you get the basics up you can start researching what you want to automate first, ask questions and read the forums, there will be lots of brands and options. I Personally prefer Zwave and Zigbee devices over the cheaper Wifi options. You spend a bit more upfront but will never end up with paper weights when the Wifi manufacture suddenly decides to kill it’s cloud servers that run them.

Simple rules can be built in the GUI with no need of external programs.

Welcome, OpenHab is very powerful and very flexible, but it can seam a bit overwhelming at first.

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When I started with openhab my programming and Linux skills where basically zero.
I even needed to google how to connect with via ssh.
But the community here is great, you will probably find an answer to any question you will face in the first time. Now I use openhab with rules, floorplans, own icons etc. It is not that hard to learn.

I don’t know if you use apple devices, but in case you do, take a look at HomeKit.
I started there too. Just install HomeKit binding, add your thing and item in openhab, add meta data to the item and you are ready to go with HomeKit.
For the start it is much more easy to create rules and automations based on time, trigger, your location, push notifications when door or window open… everything is there with a very easy interface. No need to touch a config file or similar.

Parallel to HomeKit you can further set up and tweak your items and config in openhab to get a even more complex system with rules, data sheets etc.