Whole House Automation Dreams


Really hoping the OH community can help provide some direction and guidance for this project. I’ve been doing much research into a full home automation solution with OH at the centre. We are building a new house and as such have a relatively blank canvas as a starting point. I’m trying to consider all the possible things that could be done to make the house smart in 2019. I’ve compiled a list of ideas, but it’s a hodge podge of thoughts which I’ve put into this google doc:

I’ve enabled commenting so if you have any comments/thoughts I’d appreciate them.

The house will be around 3,200ft over 3 levels, we are in Vancouver Canada. I work in software so am fairly comfortable with technical ideas and I appreciate it’s going to be a lot of time and effort getting this right, but I’m willing to learn. We can’t afford a knx/control4 type solution. I think I can create a similar smart house for far less.

Right now we are at the tail end of the design so I have time to plan this out. We are using regular trades and I don’t know if the next owner of the house is going to appreciate all this so the thinking is leave all the electrical conventional but leave space for future smartening i.e. put ethernet everywhere that makes sense.

Some of the use cases I’m trying to cover are the obvious ones:

  • verbal keyword + lights/blinds off/on
  • auto lights turned on in hallway at night when going for some water using the PIRs and some rules
  • verbal keyword + query which rooms have had movement in the last few minutes
  • verbal keyword + which rooms have windows open etc …
  • audio warning that air con is turning on when window/door is open
  • as the sun comes out and house warns in the summer… the blinds auto close to keep the temperature down

so nothing really fancy… I’m sure I can dream up more stuff but ultimately if the right sensors/controls are available I figure I can code it up… I’m a Java developer by profession. I should mention I’m trying to use open source and try and keep all of this off the internet… no alexa/google etc.

Thanks for any comments/observations or things I’ve not considered, please comment in the doc easier for me to follow :slight_smile:


You look like you’ve put lots of thought into your new home.

I’m happy to tell you that I have a couple of clients with similar systems.

As always, it’s all about getting the infrastructure right from the start.

  • Smart PIRs

  • Window sensors

  • Individual fixture & device control

  • Individual heating zone control

  • Excellent points of control

Then put something excellent like openHAB2 on top of it to bring everything into a UI (or range of UIs) that suit you.

As a professional, I would recommend a fully wired solution, using a single cable bus system, especially if you don’t want to scare your installers.

I would invite you to look at the Velbus range of building control system.

My company can take care of the supply, training and technical support.

There is a fabulous binding for openHAB that will enable you to create all of the UI elements that you have thought of so far.

As an example of how a wired system could be installed, please check out this generic wiring schedule.

With my very best wishes,


MDAR ltd

Then the first trade person you need to talk to is your electrician. You will want a “star” electrical network. Where EVERY light and switch has a wire going to the electrical panel. This way each can be controlled by your system but it can be reversed easily by simble rewiring in ONE location.

Put Ethernet EVERYWHERE, windows, doors, radiators, sockets, switches, lights… In addition to the mains power. The cables have 4 pairs of wires and can be used for other purposes than networking. Power, sensors…

Yes, all these are quite trivial and easily achieved with openHAB

Good luck

I added my input (as comments) to your google doc. Nice method!

As already mentioned, the most important thing to think of now is to get a (multi-)star topology to cover most/ideally all of your sensor and action points. This will allow for postponing the technology choice and to even easily exchange your whole electronics layer for a better technology to eventually become available later. DON’T run a bus wire. It will limit you to using technologies that can run on top which essentially only is KNX and some more or less proprietary descendants.
Include running wires to all windows and doors. Consider getting ones to have the mechanics built into frame or handle. Might turn out to be too expensive but it’s worth asking, else you need to place sensors on top of the frame later.
Also prepare for more wire outlets in places you might want to have them in in the future but remember OH allows for seamlessly integrating various technologies so you can complement an initial wired build with wireless actuators at any later time. I’d suggest ZWave or ZigBee, rather refrain from WiFi because of energy and security. There’s also no WiFi dimmers available (at least I have never found any).
With respect to lighting (at least the immobile part on ceilings and walls), think of going LED right in the first place: select lamps/strips with ‘direct’ low voltage input to avoid the need for 110VAC to 12/24VDC conversion right away. Also prepare for RGBW color (put 4 lines where you would only put one).

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