Using openHAB as a User interface

openhab

I have been experimenting with using openHAB to control my home automation devices. I am mainly using it as a user interface to existing capability.

It is very easy to set up, and install, and is very portable. Its default user interfaces for the web and Android are very usable, if a bit limited. Here is the web page I set up for my living room:

living

It was trivial to move it between running on a Windows PC and on a Raspberry Pi.

openHAB supports a huge number of devices, but unfortunately not all the ones I use. It has no support Jeenode devices (other than the OpenEnergyMonitor devices), and no support for my EDF (Current Cost) Individual Appliance monitors.

It does support Wemo plugs, but unfortunately not the Wemo Insight until the next release.

It does, however, have excellent support for MQTT, so I added extra MQTT support to my HouseControl system, including publishing the sensor readings from all my sensors including the Jeenode ones, and I added the ability to control my EDF IAM devices by MQTT.

openHAB does have support for LightwaveRF devices, but only via UDP and the Wifi link, which I do not own. My solution to this was to add LightewaveRF UDP support to HouseControl, so that it emulates the Wifi Link. This works well and lets me control my sockets and lights. There is no support for LightwaveRF contact devices, however. I am probably best supporting those via MQTT. (Althogh they don’t work very well, and I prefer EnOcean ones).

openHAB does have EnOcean support, and I could probably get it to drive my Raspberry Pi EnOcean interface, but it was easier to pick up the sensor values and button presses via MQTT, as I was already publishing them.

I don’t have my TV, TiVO and AV receiver controlled by openHAB yet. The simplest way to do that is probably to add emulation of a supported TV (like Samsung or LG) to HouseControl. These use UDP, and my HouseControl emulation would read the UDP packets and convert them to messages to my Jeenode IR blaster.

openHABs TCP/IP support does not seem to be compatible with the way that HouseControl TCP/IP sockets work, but I am moving away from using the TCP/IP interface so heavily as using MQTT or UDP is more lightweight.

openHAB does support camera streams from my IP camera, but the way I am currently doing is a bit slow.

I am currently configuring openHAB by editing the text files, which is very easy. I have not tried their designer product yet.

openHAB seems to have a good rules system, but I have not used it much yet. Currently I prefer to use node-red for rules.

openHAB lacks a natural language interface that can be used for speech and chat interfaces, so HouseControl remains an essential part of my infrastructure.

Overall, I think I prefer openHAB to OpenRemote, but I am not sure if I will use it much.

I now have a wide variety of user interfaces to control and monitor my house, but none of them is ideal. Getting the combination of immediate accessibility and usability is hard.

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3 Responses to Using openHAB as a User interface

  1. lewisharrisonwood says:

    Looks great, I ended up sending my currentcost data to Xively then back to openHAB. A bit of a long way round and not live data but it works.

  2. David Wilson says:

    Hi,

    We, like you, and currently struggling to find a single UI to control all of the device I’d like to have at home. We really like OpenHAB’s UI but I’m struggling to find a way of incorporating LightwarveRF devices without the need to get (another hub) their Wifi Link.

    Have you found a way of doing this yet? We’re running Ubuntu within an ESXi hype. Haven’t taken the plunge into getting Raspberry Pi’s as we’d like to keep things centralised at home as we don’t have much space and have done well to avoid spaghetti junction… Sometimes I think I should go back to tinkering with my motorcycles I spend so much time muddling through the internet looking for answers.

    A point in the right direction would be greatly appreciated!

    • Lawrie Griffiths says:

      Yes, I have been doing that for years with my software that runs on Arduinos or Raspberry Pis. You would need some way to connect a 434Mhz transmitter. You can put an Arduino and a cheap transmitter in a project box and connect it by USB to a PC running Linux or anything else. That is one of the ways I work.

      You then need a way to connect that to OpenHAB. A direct serial connection might work. Otherwise you would need an MQTT server, or software that emulates the LightwaveRF UDP protocol, or node-red. I have a Java program I use, but it is not currently packaged for other people to use.

      The only off the shelf solution that I have works on Raspberry Pi. It is packaged with the EmponPi, electricity monitoring product.

      I don’t use OpenHAB much. I am mainly using Amazon Alexa on on Echo. I will also make my LightwaveRF devices work with Google Home when that comes out. Both of those need another piece of software, ha-bridge, which I run on a Raspberry Pi, but you could probably run on Ubuntu.

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