Will Openhab work for me?

I’m just venturing down the home automation road. I’m planning to build a house in a couple years and want to be fully prepped to make it as automated as possible. I’m not a computer scientist by any means, but I’m no dummy either. I built and maintain a VoIP system on CentOS (FreePBX) as well as built several websites on Linux servers. I would look to build Openhab on an Ubuntu server.

I’m gauging whether Openhab will work for some of the stuff I want to do and trying to get an idea of the hardware I need to accomplish certain things. So, some questions:

Can Openhab control/create the following?

  1. Whole house audio (send multiple sources to different zones in the home. I would have an audio amp at a central location for each zone)
  2. Security system (door sensors, motion sensors, alarm [through whole house audio, maybe??])
  3. Camera system, preferably integrated with Blue Iris but can use camera motion triggers from Blue Iris to control other items.
  4. Window Shades, set to open at certain times
  5. Garage door - turn on lights when opened, possibly disarm security when opened with certain PIN or from trusted source (vehicle opener)

In addition to that, I have a few scenarios I’m curious if Openhab can handle.

  1. Sense camera motion from Blue Iris trigger and turn on lights based on that camera motion
  2. Same as above, but only turn on a light when security is armed.
  3. Turn on a light based on a door open trigger (I’d imagine this is easy)
  4. Set a temporary PIN on an outdoor keypad that will Open the garage door and disarm alarm. Or better, set a PIN that is only good on Tuesdays from noon to 4pm (let house cleaner in). Even better, make the PIN only valid during a Google calendar event duration.
  5. Turn on/off landscape lights based on sunset/sunrise times.
  6. Turn on lawn irrigation based on rain forecast

As I said, I’m just getting started. I’m looking for any feedback that you think will help me get going.


You are not asking the right question… if building a house in a few years, what you should ask is what hardware setup you need. Wires in walls are difficult/impossible to change when the house is built, whilst software is easy.

Since you have a few years before building your house, I can only recommend you to try Openhab in your current house/appartment. Even if you buy the wrong hardware (and trust me, in the beginning you will) it’s not a problem. The point is to learn how home automation in general works.

To answer your question, Openhab can’t directly do everything you want it to, but it can integrate into other solutions which do; such that you can use Openhab as the main UI to control all these things. Some of the things you ask are easy to do, others are really hard.

All of these things can be accomplished with OpenHAB relatively easily. But as @Spottyq has correctly pointed out the difficult parts of what you are trying to do lie in the hardware.
Controlling lights and roller shutters in all imaginable combinations is possible. OpenHAB also supports calendar scheduling and all that jazz.
The pincode and watering systems sound like you would want to see if there is hardware that supports OpenHAB or if you need to do your own hardware building.
I would personally assume that there is, at least I have seen plenty of people talking about their sprinkler systems on this forum.

I don’t know about the pin code lock though. There are absolutely lock systems that are compatible to OpenHAB but I ha no clue if you can remotely set the pin code.

Regarding the audio solution: that is absolutely, possible. I do the same thing. There are many solutions but I use the Logitech Mediaserver and raspberry pis distributed around the house connected to amps.

Hope this helps.

The tl;dr is you can do almost anything you can think of in OH. The challenge is choosing the right technologies that provide the right information and/or actuators to control. If the data is available and the actuators are available you can do literally anything you want. But it might take more or less work depending on the technologies chosen.

  1. Supported with certain technologies, particularly Sonos.

  2. Integration with alarm systems from several vendors is supported. Some have built their own system using OH. But it really depends on how much work you are willing to put into it and what your specific requirements are.

  3. Relatively weak. There is a ZoneMinder add-on and a full REST API so if Blue Iris can make HTTP REST calls it can command OH Items.

  4. Depends on the technology chosen but there is full support for rollershade concepts in OH.

  5. There are devices that do much of this and DIY is not that hard either. The challenge will be the PIN entry which, while not impossible, I suspect is not supported in a way you would find user friendly (if the first thing you have to do is get out your phone and enter a pin code to disable the alarm it is not very friendly). But there might be other technologies that would make this better.


  1. If Blue Iris can generate a motion event that gets into OH you can do anything in response.

  2. Whether or not security is armed is just another Item to check. You control everything with Rules which are little programs you write that get triggered by events. So if you can get an event into OH, you can write a Rule to have OH do anything in response.

  3. Ibid

  4. Assuming you can find a PIN pad that will work with OH you can do all of this.

  5. One of the first projects that many do in OH. Assuming you have lighting that works with OH.

  6. Well supported, assuming you have an irrigation system that can work with OH.

As others have mentioned

Thank you everyone for the replies.

To answer some concerns, I do plan to extensively wire the new home with Cat6 wire all back to a centralized patch panel. I’m planning/budgeting on 10,000 feet of Cat6. I’ve even contemplated dropping a Cat6 cable down every other stud. I know I am going to run about 10 extra Cat6 lines up to the attic from the basement so I can drop them later, if needed.

On the whole house audio, I want to stay away from Sonos, it’s seems overpriced to me. I’m leaning more towards putting 6" or 8" speakers in the ceiling for each zone. I’ve been looking at a system like this. Mostly, I’d like to have multiple source inputs and be able to play different sources in different zones at the same time. I want at least one source to be my cable box/TV, one to be a chromecast audio, and possibly have a separate input in each zone. I plan to use wall mounted tablets with HABpanel to control OpenHab. So, maybe I can replace the wall mounted whole house audio controllers with small tablets/phones mounted in the wall. Then I could have a fully functional controller all over the home as well as use the tablet/phone cameras for additional security.

I guess it’s time to find an old computer, install OH, and start playing.


Cat6 is fine (and certainly the most versatile wiring you could use) but there are other, incompatible alternatives. For example KNX or Dali. As long as you try some home automation projects now, you should have a good idea of what you want/need for your new house in a few years.

These seem to be nice amplifiers (and at a reasonable price !)
You might want to look at this github repository to control them. I haven’t tested it, the code may or may not be buggy, some features may or may not be missing. The last commit dates from a year ago, and may not be supported anymore.


It’s the best way to learn and figure out its capabilities.

I am going to guess, perhaps incorrectly, that OP is from North America where KNX has yet to gain much traction. It only became available at all in 2015. I know less about Dali but spending a few minutes of looking I was unable to find anything to indicate whether it is available here also.

Beyond X10 (ugh) I’m not sure what wired home automation solutions have a large market share here. I’d love to here any Americans, Canadians, or Mexicans who could chime in with suggestions.