Home Automation with openHAB

Getting Started with Home Automation

Welcome to the Home Automation Guide with openHAB!

Since I started blogging I have published quite a lot of content about openHAB…but it was all over the place. The openHAB 101 tutorial is a way to showcase the content on a way that is easier to consume for new openHAB users. 

This is an introductory guide to openHAB and not a replacement of the official documentation. Once you are acquainted with the platform you will want to continue advancing your knowledge using the official docs. 

I want this guide to continue growing so please, email me with new topics that you would like me to cover. 

First Steps With openHAB

Every journey has to start somewhere and on this particular case, the beginning of the path is installing openHAB  and getting yourself acquainted with it. 

Follow the steps on these tutorials to install openHAB on a Raspberry Pi and learn the basics about the platform.

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to install openHAB is using a Raspberry Pi and the openHABian image. This tutorial shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes and it will get the brain of your Home Automation System up and running. 

You have just installed openHAB but you are rather clueless…Do not worry, I got you covered. Check this post to bring yourself up to speed in the basics of the openHAB platform. 

openHAB Remote Access

A Home Automation system isn’t very useful if you can’t access it from the outside. Opening external access to your home network brings up a number of security concerns and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

This section will walk you through the different options along with some pros and cons associated with them.  

If you want to access openHAB from outside of your network but don´t know where to start, this post will help you with that. 

This post will help make a decision on the best way to gain access to your openHAB instance. 

The openHAB cloud is the quickest and most featured way to access openHAB outside of your network.  It comes with several advantages like connecting to external services (IFTTT, Alexa…) or sending push notifications to smartphones. 

It is a must-read!

If you don´t want to get into the complexity of setting up a VPN, a reverse proxy could be a good solution for you. 

Check it out!

A VPN is an incredibly powerful tool on your home network and it is also one the most secure ways to access your openHAB instance. 

Automate your Lights

You have an awesome Home Automation Controller that doesn’t control anything. I see a problem here that we need to resolve…

For most of us, the introductory gadget to the Smart Home world is a smart light of some sort.

If you haven’t heard about them, Mi-Light is a Chinese brand that manufactures smart bulbs. I use them heavily becuase they are affordable and work well. 

If you want to start adding Smart Bulbs but don’t want to invest a lot of money, this could be a great option. 

User Interfaces

It is time to add user interfaces to enhance your Home Automation System. Here you have different options to interface with openHAB.

Voice is by far my preferred method of interaction. It is natural, quick and kind of built-in our brain. This tutorial will walk you through the steps to configure Amazon Alexa with your openHAB controller. 

Voice is very powerful but sometimes you need an interface that provides visual information and the ability to specify more complex parameters. 

This is where a Dashboard comes into play and this tutorial walks you through the process of building one from scratch. 

Presence Detection

One of the trickiest things to get right in Home Automation is the ability to detect when somebody is home and who that person is. 

The path to success is often a combination of different methods and that is what you will find in this section. 

Using the network binding is possibly one of the easiest ways to implement presence detection and my personal recommendation if you want to get started. 

This tutorial will take you through the process step by step. 

Another method to detect presence, either in combination or as the only presence detection strategy is using your GPS location. 

Owntracks is a great tool that does just that!

Persistence

At this point, your Smart Home has some entity already and it is time to step up your game. Persistence gives you the ability to store the state of your items over time so you can use it in your rules or even to build cool charts. 

Persistence on its simplest form allows you to store and restore the value of your items when you reboot your Raspberry Pi or if it loses power. It is a pretty basic step but a must for any stable Home Automation System.

When you want to implement more complex behaviors, the implementation on the prior post won’t cut it. You need something that can store values in time series so you can use them to build cool charts and leverage the power of history on your rules. 

InfluxDB and Grafana are a killing combination that will take reporting to the next level. 

Persistence is also incredibly useful to improve your rules. Do you want to know how?

Check this post 🙂

openHAB Integration

I wanted to close this guide with a section to integrate openHAB with external services. It gives you the kind of reach that the platform can’t get locally and opens a new world of possibilities. 

I am sure you have heard about IFTTT, it is a service that allows you to connect different services together and create rules. If you haven’t used it yet you are definitely missing out on this one. 

MQTT is a pretty much a standard for Open Source IoT communications and it opens the door to build your own IoT devices. 

Needless to say that this provides the ultimate level of flexibility!

What Now?

The journey doesn’t stop here, I would like to keep growing this resource but I need your help with that. Here you can find a form to submit topics that you are interested in, I will do my best to include them. 

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