Chris Thistlethwaite via plug on 16 Mar 2020 08:56:19 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Open Source Home Automation

I'll offer the other point of view, I've been running Home Assistant for a long time and it's still my home automation hub/bridge of choice. OpenHAB and HA both have learning curves to get over, especially if you're coming from another bridge/system, like Smartthings. While not FOSS, Vera makes some very good systems that don't require internet access, just worth checking out.

So is HA better than OpenHAB? idk, it really depends on how much you care. Either one will likely do 100% of what you want to do, specifically the outside light at sunrise/sunset. The HA UI has made HUGE improvements in the last 6 to 8 months since the released the Lovelace interface for grouping and organizing devices. That being said, I've had people (like me) totally love it and conform to their workflow and I've had people completely hate it and end up using something else. Like Rich said, with HA or OpenHAB, it's not about what type of device you choose (z-wave, zigbee, wifi, insteon, etc) as the software will let you control all of them.

Also like Rich mentioned, each home automation technology has it's pain points. Zigbee is an open standard, but vendors like to build their own devices that only work with their hub. It's also 2.4Ghz, so it interferes with wifi. Z-Wave is closed, but generally speaking any z-wave device will work with any z-wave hub. Both zigbee and z-wave mesh, so you can reach the very end of your house with proper placement of devices. Wifi/network devices are a crapshoot, some are great, some are total garbage that require an active network connection to phone home. I used insteon a while back and while it was reliable, it's pricey and there aren't a lot of devices that use it.

I've been thinking about doing a yard sale to get crap out of my basement, which includes 50 or so z-wave devices, various switches, sensors, plug in modules, etc. I might be able to get my hands on some more. If you or any one else on list wants some, send me an offlist messages and we can figure something out.

-Chris T.

On Mon, Mar 16, 2020 at 12:01 AM Keith C. Perry via plug <> wrote:
I took a large plunge into device connectivity and automation last fall.  I'd had TP-Link smart bulbs and smart switches for quite awhile but I've since integrated products from Aeotec, Inovelli, GE (and soon Qubino for a mini-blinds control system) onto a OpenHAB 2.5.1 system that runs surprisingly well on a BeagleBone Black.  I've got some security products integrated that I'm waiting to deploy later this year too.  I use both the OH android app and the Basic UI web client though, most of the time, its the android app or the hardware switches / scene controllers.  Eventually the I'll get to the slicker HAB Panel interface but I'm in not rush.

As Rich pointed out, OH has a lot of configuration but once you wrap your brain around OpenHAB's methodology I don't think its that bad.  Everything does require a lot of syntax but that is true for all devices- so while it might hurt for "simple" things, it hurts less for more complex things.  In OH 2.x they've made some things easier to deal with and a lot of the initial setup is cutting and pasting in text files.

Where OpenHAB shines is in the programmability.  Once I started using the rule system, that's when I really started solving the human problems- it's what makes your system "smart".  Having software control of your device is fine but being able to also have hardware control of your devices and have tasks automatically triggered by sensors you install, is when you will feel all the effort has been worth it.  An event based programming paradigm maybe be awkward at first (especially since the programming syntax is Java based) but the OH community is pretty large and there are lot of examples and people sharing their installations.  The test of success for me is can someone who doesn't have the app still use my devices and fixtures.  If not, perhaps its not that "smart" and I have more work to do.

The other FOSS contender is definitely Home Assistant (  I decided against it for myself but if you don't want the depth (my not hugely informed impression) of OH, that's what I would recommend.  There is no reason you can't run both systems.  Your devices are not "slaved" to one particular system or another.  For example, my TP-Link Kasa bulbs report the same status in the TP-Link app as they do in the OpenHAB app.  That is all local communication too (and I would strongly caution people to greatly minimize cloud services for this work.  TP-Link is dual-mode and the only thing that uses cloud resources in my environment).  Another example...  The Inovelli Dimmers (which are also scene controllers) will track the brightness of their primary bulbs regards of where the changes come from.

For what its worth, my environment is either wifi or z-wave.  I did have to by a USB Z-Wave interface for the BBB but that was under $50.

One last thing I would leave you with.  Don't try to do everything at once.  One project at a time.  Bulbs and outwall smart outlets (switches) are a great place to start because they don't require you to do any major work.  Think about the actual problem you are trying to solve with the connected device and go after that.  It will easily snowball from there :D

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Keith C. Perry, MS E.E.
Managing Member, DAO Technologies LLC
(O) +1.215.525.4165 x2033
(M) +1.215.432.5167

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rich Freeman via plug" <>
To: "Adam Zion" <>
Cc: "PLUG" <>
Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2020 9:55:35 PM
Subject: Re: [PLUG] Open Source Home Automation

On Sun, Mar 15, 2020 at 9:33 PM Adam Zion via plug
<> wrote:
> So, the question is: have any PLUGgers experimented with a solution like openHAB, Eventghost, or the like? If so, what did you think?

I use OpenHab.  I like that you can do so much with it, but I dislike
that even small tasks end up involving a lot of code.  Something like
home-assistant looks much easier to set up, but I'm not sure I could
really implement all the stuff I do using it as the syntax is just
less flexible than full procedural code (but I'll confess I haven't
spent a ton of time digging into it).

One downside to OpenHab is that I'm running their old v1 code, because
migrating to v2 and doing everything the new way seems to require a
complete rewrite of all my logic/etc.  I just can never get over that
hump for something that basically just works.  It will probably become
a pain eventually when it no longer runs on a supported distro
release.  At that point I'm just as likely to try home-assistant as I
am to redo everything for OpenHab.

But the key to most of these platforms is that they don't care what
vendor gets along with what other vendor.

Oh, one tip I do have is to make sure that you have switches/etc set
to DIRECTLY control lights and so on, and just use the automation to
do value-adds.  If my OpenHab Pi is down then any of my lights can be
controlled with a regular switch of some sort, and likely also with a
Hue wireless switch or something like that.  Now, my lights won't
automatically change color at certain times of day, or come on at
night, and I can't hit one button on a remote to change all the lights
in the house, and when I hit my light switch coming in the door in the
dark all the lights and the heat won't come on.  But I can still turn
on the lights in a dark room the old fashioned way.  That helps
mitigate any potential home IT disasters.

Also, keep in mind that some home automation products require cloud
APIs to interface with 3rd party software like Openhab.  Openhab
itself is perfectly capable of running standalone with no internet
connection.  But if your lights only talk to a cloud server then
Openhab will be forced to use that cloud API to control them.  That
works just fine, but if you have no internet then you lose that
control.  Plenty of stuff doesn't require cloud APIs to work, and for
that stuff OpenHab can control things directly.  For example, my
insteon modem is connected to my Openhab server directly via USB - it
can control all my Insteon devices fine and respond to Insteon
switches and remotes if I shut down the entire house LAN.  You just
need to be aware of how it all works.

Also, be aware of limitations for any products you invest in.  Insteon
is expensive, but all their devices can fully mesh any signal to any
other device, and as I understand it they can expand to networks of
thousands of devices.  Some other protocols can only mesh through
certain types of devices and may not work beyond a dozen or two
devices.  You need to have an idea of your requirements.  While tools
like OpenHab let you have your Insteon light switch control your Hue
bulb and trigger an event on your Ecobee thermostat, and react to what
happens on your Plex TV, most of these things probably can't directly
talk to each other which means you'll get some latency between button
and action, and nothing happens when the server is down.  If you try
to pair switches and lights they directly control so they're from the
same vendor you can get zero-latency reactions with the automation
system just noticing after the fact and triggering any needed events.
If I hit my Hue wireless switch all the lights in the room instantly
come on.  Then half a second later OpenHab adjusts brightness and
color temp to suit the current schedule, but I get the light

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