Your OH / Home Automation Goals

Hi all,

Just wanted to start a bit of a conversation really…I have OH and am ploughing through all of my day to day needs but I’m struggling to work out exactly where I want to go with it all.

I moved to OH originally because (1) I was getting annoyed at the sheer number of apps I needed to control everything (2) I didn’t want to publish my personal details to them all and (3) the final push was Stringify closing down and me having a whole host of rules running of it so I needed an alternative.

While I like the ideal of everything running locally from my OH install and home automation just ‘being there’ and working I’m realising that it’s more of a compromise. Alexa for example, just works and the time and effort to program completely and correctly everything it can do with Sonos speakers for example, I’m thinking why bother investing masses of time and effort on HABPanel, the app, Alexa skill when they have done it, and done it very well, but then I’m back to giving Amazon control and personal details etc.

Same goes for my famly outlook calendar, I’d love for it to be all local but ‘Alexa, whats on today’ just works…I suppose it’s trying not to reinvent the wheel…

So, my long winded question is, where do you all draw the line? Are you aiming for 100% local home automation or are you happy / comfortable / accepting of cloud service integration and if so, where do you draw the line??? What is your aim?

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I wanted to keep as much out of the cloud as possible as well, but Alexa became too useful. I use Node-Red for my rules and the Alexa Local Node helped me get almost everything I wanted (with a few small work arounds).

I used to have reliability issues with my home internet, so I didn’t want anything to completely rely on a cloud service. I usually make sure I can control it still conveniently without a cloud. Since I replace my home internet with a 4G modem I haven’t had to restart my modem, but 2 times in 2 years… so the reliability isn’t so much an issue now.

I also don’t want to use any service that would require me to put my Amazon credentials in.

Wow, that does look pretty useful. :+1: I’ll give it a look…

My goal is to not be limited in any way. I want to be able to integrate devices from every provider that may provide something that I may want, up to and including self built DIY sensors and actuators. I’m also on a limited budget so flexibility and the broadness of the support is going to be more important to me than ease of integration.

Working on this stuff is also fun to me so the time I spend is time I enjoy spending.

I’m mostly OK with cloud services, though Nest burned me really bad on that front. But I do have Google Homes in the house.

Also, my aim is for home automation not home control. Devices like Alexa and Google Assistant are nice ways to control your devices. But you can’t for example, turn on the house fan when the average of three temperature sensors on the top floor are higher than the temps on the main floor or the basement but only if the outside temperature is higher than your target temperature.

It just works for that small subset of devices and technologies that Alexa happens to support working with. It doesn’t support even half of the APIs and technologies that openHAB supports.

But can Alexa, for example, turn on the sprinkler based on an entry in that calendar, but only if there is no rain in the forecast and the temperature is above a certain threshold?

If your goal is home control then yes, Alexa or Google Assistant are probably all you need. But if you want home automation, you need something more. And if your goal is automation, you won’t be spending much time at all on HABPanel because there won’t be much to control and that interface won’t be used much. You will be spending your time on Rules, which is something that Alexa and Google Assistant are exceptionally weak on.

tl;dr: Whether or not the cloud is involved isn’t even a concern. It’s the ability to integrate them all and build true automatons that matter.


I tend to agree with the above. But there might be cases where a mix of controle and automation would make sense I believe.

My orgiginal goal was to try and combine my IHC system with other systems in all ways openhab allow me to. I started off having focus on combining IHC with z-wave and then zigbee, as well as Philips Hue. But my goals changed fast as I suddenly realised that openhab is so much more.
Today I have succeeded with z-wave and Hue, and partly with zigbee. But I also have our Nilan HVAC (ventilation) system added, as well as our Velux windows. This makes it a highly advance climate controle system.
When I discovered what Google Assistant was able to provide to the control part, I´d put alot of focus into this part. So today we´re able to control all light and climate devices in our house by the use of voice speaking. And it works fine, for controlling. I´ve have also started to use voice speech for the automation… Like, when someone is at the front door, a voice message is send to one of the Google Home devices. And if noone is at home, a message is pushed to my mobile as well.

Beside that, I´m a kind of control-freak. I want to have a monitor/overview of everything as well. So I have this idea of making a total overview of everything in a panel-like display. This monitor is for monitoring only, meaning there will be no controle of light, climate or anything. It also means, that it probably wont be used much, but as long as it´s there and it gives me the option, it makes me happy. I´m not finished on that part, but for now I use it to overview the climate in our house. I have a visual overview of the hole house, where I can see the temperature on each room. There is no visual temperature display beside this, in our house. I can see the actual state of the ventilation system as well, and I can see the state of our 8 skyline Velux windows as well. On another layer, I can activate the visual of all PIR´s as well as door/window sensors. And on the default layer, I can see the state of all lights in out house. Whenever I´m finished, there will be a layer for alarm as well as ip cams showing as well. Lately I have played around with the openweather binding. It´s not for the need of showing actual weather outside or forecast… It´s to combine this with the climate controle… Fx. skyline windows open, but not if the windspeed is too heavy, or if the wind direction is coming from a specific side, then only open the opposite side… and stuff like that… This is all work in progress, and it takes a hell of a time to do all these kinds of stuff. But it´s fun and I enjoy it, except when things aren´t working, or when it gets too complicated for me… Then it´s becoming a challenge. My biggest problem is to limit myself… I hate limits! :smiley:

I did say “much time” and “used much.” There will always be cases where something cannot be fully automated. But if your focus is primarily on automation instead of control, there won’t be too many of those cases over all.

And that is perfectly fine. The above post of mine, as with all of my posts, is my personal opinion. I’m not closed minded enough to think my opinion is the only one or the only good one. OP asked for personal opinions and I provided mine.

For those who do want to spend the time on control panels or other UIs to see and/or control their home automation, OH has the tools to support that.

Alexa and Google Assistant do not.

Definitely approach home automation, or home control, in what ever way you are comfortable and in a way that makes you happy.

My major point in replying to the OP was that for some of us choosing openHAB over just using Alexa or Google Assistant may have absolutely nothing to do with wanting to be local only.

For me, it’s the combination of the power of OH and the ease of Alexa that really opens things up. My family are at easy saying ‘alexa do something’ and it happening, so being able to get a trigger phrase with alexa to set a variable to then trigger a rule(s) in OH to do a multitude of things is where it’s at.

I’m the only real techie in the house and my wife and daughter don’t want to have to open an app and push a randomly named switch in a work in progress style sitemap…perfect for me but for me to get to the level of polish and ease that Alexa, (and the like), can provide suddenly takes OH into the realms of proper home integration, not just automation…

Sorry Rich…
It wasn´t to question your opinion or ways of doing it. It was to give OP my opinion on how I mix having focus on both control and automation.

So, in this case do you connect your smart things to GA and use their available UI and commands, ie give them your details in return for a much quicker, possibly slicker UI, or do you have GA pass a dummy variable to OH and then spend a lot more time and effort making rules and sequences in perhaps a not quite so easy to use way?

Or is the reality somewhere in a combination of the two? Do you have a family that are technically minded or is your OH UI pretty slick, if so how long did it take to get there?

I totally get what OH is capable of and the massive variations of things you can do with it - that’s why I chose to come here - I’m just wondering to what level I need to reinvent the wheel with using trigger systems such as Alexa / GH and the like.

My main example is my Sonos, I have 5 speakers, and all work perfectly with Alexa at the moment, to have to recreate that in OH with the same ease of use for all the family would take me ages.

Actually, it´s the last option. But it´s probably a bit different than many others due to my IHC system, (IHC - Intelligent House Controle). In short - It´s a controller with logic which can handle 128 input and 128 outputs, plus 64 wireless in and outputs). It is already a smart home system itself. And most logic is already done in the IHC controller. The limit is, it cant communicate with any other exernal devices which is why I combine it with openhab. In that way openhab (IHC binding) becomes a gateway between external devices and IHC. Then I can use everything back and forth. Pass on values from one sensor to IHC, or the other way around.
All logic for ligthing, heating and alarm system is build into IHC. I have added voice controle, Hvac overview and controle, skyline windows controle, extra present detection (WiFi, extra motion sensors etc) by using openhab as a gateway.
Still have several things to add, such as be security (door/window sensors), eletronic locks, security cameras as well as a highly advance combination of motion detectors for our outside lighting, which turn the light sections on/off, on the move (follow movement). Because of the way our house is build, that part requires quite a lot of advance motion detectors, which I havn´t found yet, placed in strategic places and a complicated (i think) logic.

When I started this path, I had to take into account… What if one day I get tired of openhab, or for some reason have to sell the house etc… This in mind I have to keep all orginal logic inside the IHC system, and just add logic from external devices through openhab.

As for Google home it self… No devices except Philips Hue, is connected to Google Home. (Hue was just to test), cause I have chosen openhab to be the gateway, it wouldn´t make much sense adding devices to Google Home. If openhab havnt got support for a specific device, then I dont need that device :slight_smile:

My family is far from technically minded. If fact, they dont understand much of what I´m doing, and dont share the same enthusiasme either, except for the voice controle… That part is something they seem to understand and try to make use of and getting used to. It will take quite sometime for something like voice control to become a “normal” way to controle stuff in general. I guess that goes for most people.

The UI is/have been a very slow work in progress situation. I had to test and try alot of stuff first, before putting too much time and focus on the UI. I use basicUI for testing stuff. But the last few weeks I have turned focus onto using a SVG floorplan in Habpanel, cause I really want a easy overview of every part of the part. Knowing very little (read- nothing) about vector design as well as html/css, this is very complicated for me. So atm it is very far for beeing slick in anyway. It´s quite basic actually. But I´m getting there, slowly and struggle by learning.

Bad question :slight_smile: It feels like forever. I have actually only used openhab for aprox 1½ year, spending alot of time learning openhab, experimenting and dealing with all kinds of stuff, some working others not working. But I enjoy it, as it has become my hobby. My worse problem is to limit myself, and get one thing done before starting another. But often I get stuck on something, then leave it for a while doing something else, and then return to the deal with problem… This kind of aproach do cost quite some extra time I´ll say. The positive part is, I learn alot of different things, only need to figure out, which I dont want to use :smile:

This is as far as it has come. Not fancy looking, not slick, but it´s working. I can turn on/off layers on the floorplan, I do not wish to look at, from the not so fancy looking buttons on the down left corner.
Atm I can switch off any climate info incl the very silly looking Hvac, which I added last night, as well as all the PIR´s. PIR´s are off by default… My main plan is to have the be security and ligthing showen as default only. Outside ligthing is yet to be added.

I havn´t got much experience with the speakers yet, (neither Sonos or others). To my understanding it should be pretty easy in Google Home to define speakers and groups. I did try with my HiFi receiver (chromecast support) and my Google Home devices (speakers), which seems to work fine, beside there seem to be a problem with my HiFi receiver, I have yet to investigate. But others are mentioning that speakers are working just fine. I have no idea if it´s better or worse than using Alexa.

You might not think it’s fancy looking but that looks great, lots of info all in one place and pretty much self explanatory…:+1:

So, if you use GA and expose a yes / no type dummy variable to it so that when you say ‘GA lights on’ it sets the value to ON and so OH runs the required rules…

How many dummy variable and GA trigger phrases do you have? I already have 6 and thats just to do some basic things, I’m going to need at least 4 for each speaker, (play, pause, next, previous), so that’s another 20, (5 speakers, 4 commands), and then there is the thermometer, lights, cameras etc…

It seems like overkill to me I suppose to have so many dummy variables and Alexa routines but I guess that is what is ‘under the hood’ of Alexa anyway…

Sonos have invested heavenly in polishing there application and product range, why would you want to try and recreate that? As you’ve pointed out it would take you a good while to do so and your can find better things to do with your time. No point in reinventing the wheel unless you can make it better.

In terms of Alexa and Google Home, you need to think of them as input devices. They offer you no automation at all, remove your access to the Internet and they can’t work. Both devices are being sold as “smart” a phrase that I find annoying, because they aren’t clever on there own. They certainly can’t think for themselves.

OH doesn’t focus on having pretty UI’s, that’s just a nice to have. The main focus is on integration with as many devices as possible and to be able to make them work together.

I also have a number of Sonos speakers around the house along with a few Echo Dot’s and a whole host of devices. Using a number of rules I have created a solution that works for me and my family. Each morning when someone goes down stairs and into the Kitchen, they are greeted with light if it’s still dark outside. In addition the Sonos speaker will greet them with the present weather conditions and today’s forecast. As the next person enters the kitchen, usually myself, the greeting changes and provides the latest travel time to the train station and the status of the next four trains that can get me to work. On the weekends or when my wife has a day off (the same day each week) the Sonos switches on the local radio station.

I hope the above example gives you something to think about. Oh and I’m only just getting started with my home automation, I have far to many ideas of what to do and either don’t have the coding skills at present or the device I’d like doesn’t exist yet. So it’s a constant learning curve, for me at least.

I agree, it’s what I’m thinking but you’ve put it more elequently. My struggle currently is I’ve got so many ideas and OH offers almost complete freedom to achieve it, I just don’t want to be redoing something that has already been done by someone cleverer than me, (or with more time and money).

My problem is having too many apps / inputs to control everything and I was hoping to use OH to do it, but I realise OH is more the engineroom behind things happening. The interaction needs to be family friendly and easy to do, hence my current thoughts on using Alexa.

That then leads to the issue of things like Sonos, I can connect my sonos to the alexa skill and everything I need is already there, ‘Alexa play playlist 1 onin the living room’ etc etc etc, but this comes at a cost of giving Amazon my sonos log in details etc…and I came to OH to have a ‘local’ home automation solution.

I like what you have done regarding the sonos rules you have, I have a couple similar based on cron times, but what if you just want to play an album from spotify on them, I guess you have to get your phone and open the sonos app to control it rather than using say Alexa, so as not to invent the wheel, but then you are back to more apps controlling your home…

It’s a real catch 22 for me, the more I see potential the more I see trade offs between time, effort, money and local v cloud services…hence the orignal questions…I just wondered how others deal with this…

Thanks… It will be changed though to a much more decent design :slight_smile: And when I find a decent 15 inch (minimum) touchscreen (monitor) with a lot better resolution than my stupid Huawei tablet, then it will be scaled to a higher resolution as well. But for now, this has to do while Im working towards the final design.
Like you say, the idea is to have all info available gathered on one screen/display only, with an option of swich on/off info I dont need to look at. This is not possible with default Habpanel or BasicUI. (I tried default Habpanel, and I hated it).

No rules required to do simple ON/OFF stuff.
Google Home (Google Assistant) passes on the voice command to openhab´s item, through the Google Assistant connection. Openhab then pass on the ON/OFF (value) to the IHC system, which finally turn on/off the light.
I can open or close the garagedoor from my car (using build in Android Auto, cause it uses Google Assistant). Again the voice command is passed on via Google Assistant to openhab, which then pass on the command to IHC, which will open or close the garagedoor.

It is as simple as that.

As for the rules automation:
I have a IHC PIR outside our main entrance. If this PIR trigger when I´m not at home, IHC will send the trigger info to openhab, which from a rule will send me a pushover message to my mobilephone. If I´m at home, openhab it will send a notification (speech) to one of the Google Home devices.
More rules:
Whenever it gets too hot inside, I have a rule which opens the skyline windows automatic. I can also controle the windows from voice command, if I want to.

These rules are actually rather complicated, for me. But I´m still learning. Thanks to the community and specially Rich, at least I got something to work, sometimes :slight_smile:

This is actually pretty simple but very powerfull stuff. It only require openhab items and tagging. I believe it´s the same for Alexa. So it´s not really dummy variables… It´s just simple items and tagging. I havn´t count, but I guess there are aprox 50-60 items with Google Assistant tags. And there is still a need of more. But it´s easy done.
Whats not easy are the rules for automatic running. Thats the complicated stuff :slight_smile:

@MadFrankie how about you try something that may or may not help you. I’m going to guess you have One Note available to you, if not then a notepad app works just as well.

Write down your ideas and how you think they can be achieved. Once you have a list, pick the top 3 and work on them. Small steps at a time.

Most of the apps you’ll get with “smart” devices need the Internet to work, you don’t need the Internet for OH to work.

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Thats two different issues not related.
OH do offer some automation from rules in some countries. But it´s limited as far as I have been told. We´re still waiting for this in Denmark. But when it gets here, I dont think Im going to use it anyway. I hope openhab will develope much faster on the Google Assistant integration, so we can get a more decent controle. (ie… atm I have to say “turn on the garagedoor” to open or close the door because openhab/Google Assistant can´t understand open/close yet.
The required cloud connection is almost the same issue for all cloud based devices. If the internet goes, the connection to the device often goes as well.

In short - Simply take advantages of whats working and leave whatever isn´t working. I dont think you´ll ever find one system beeing able to do everything. If you have an idea, you either have to try yourself, or ask if someone has already tested the idea with 100% success… Probably some have tried with some success, and others have with poor result. That doesnt necessarily mean, it doesnt work. There can be different ways to accomplish what you may need. The high prize is time, unfortunatly. I know from experience :slight_smile:

I’ve found something that may be of interest @MadFrankie. Have you read this thread?. It’s from someone who’s created solution for their needs around Sonos. Save you reinventing the wheel.

Hi, that’s what I’ve done, I’ve done the ‘automatic / hands free’ rules, if temp is x or if it is a certain time then do that etc - the rules that happen without a user input but now I’m at a point where I’m trying to create a usable home automation system where an input is required, play something, reduce temp, bedtime routines, and so I’m trying to work out the best trigger.

I don’t want to have to open my OH sitemap every time and I know my family don’t want to and so won’t use a tablet or panel so it led me onto Alexa, which is already widely used in my house - remember any success of managing change ususally comes from subtle integrations using something that people are comfortable with already.

The issue I then descovered is that Alexa kind of already does most of what I want with existing skills but at the cost of it obviously being cloud, not local as I had set out for it to be.

I just wanted to weigh up the options from people that have had the same thought / design process.

I think that is the way I am currently thinking. I may leave everything working in the cloud so I don’t lose any abilities and then pick them off one by one and bring them into my local set up…

Thanks, I have something similar to that, (I may have ‘borrowed’ some of the logic from here :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:), but it’s the triggering that I am wrestling with. I know my family won’t use the sitemap so it is just coming up with a way to trigger / interact that they will…