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Automation with openHAB, Z-Wave, and MQTT

With the rapid growth of home automation industry, there has been increased information documented on it in books, journals, websites, blogs, etc. Many people have learnt a lot of info about actuators from the blog they have come across and inspired them to embark on similar projects. This article is also aimed to inspire anyone with home automation project to consider using openHAB, MQTT and Z-wave in their project. It also describes how Z-wave, openHAB and MQTT and some programming knowledge can lead to an incredible journey of automating some of the home appliances. This article is a summative account of the journey you can go through when building your home automation system.

In this project, you can use openHAB. It is a software for home automation developed and maintained by the open source community. OpenHAB is comparatively better than its close substitutes and runs on small hardware. Z-wave, which is a wireless protocol used to control various home automated appliances was extensively used and covered in the creation of the system. Z-wave consists of controllers and slaves. Sensors can be actuators which execute an action or sensors which transmit information.

To create this system, use Domotiga with its Z-Wave Commander to scan the Z-Wave network. A temporary configuration of the Z-wave and openHAB configuration using three wall plugs can work perfectly. If you manage to connect them successfully, it is a major milestone in the quest to automate your home. OpenHAB has to be configured beyond its base-level configuration of the bindings for advanced usage. The configuration changed can be directly made through a text editor or Designer software. Configuration changes can be made through Dropbox when en-route and loaded instantly. You can use MQTT as the transport protocol for the project to implement inter-device communication system.

OpenHAB provides a platform to set rules whether for switching off kitchen lights after 10:00 PM or the garden lights if no one is around it. You can write some few programming code snippets about how to set various rules for switching off kitchen lights. You can also use KFOB, which can be a little frustrating to set up. KFOB can turn Fibaro wall switch directly on and off without openHAB’s intervention. KFOB can work bypassing the openHAB configurations by using a Fibaro Relay switch. After writing the code and configuring the devices, you will finally have the system up and running with the capability of controlling it from your devices i.e. phone.

For communication, you can use MQTT. You can easily talk to or listen to openHAB without going into specific configurations. MQTT allows the home automation system to notify parties on alerts from openHAB. MQTT can use its inbound messages in openHAB update items. RESTAPI for openHAB allows access to sitemaps and extends the limits of the application by allowing the system to show their states and submitting commands to items. Since openHAB features a provision for remote access using TLS, you can opt not to have that feature though it is a nice-to-have feature.

Succinctly, this article describes a detailed account of how you can automate some functions in your home using openHAB, MQTT, and Z-Wave.  Upon completion of this project, you can manage and control some of the appliances in his home using the aforementioned home automation technologies. This may not be an easy project, but it is worth the effort. However, extensive research and wide reading on home automation can give you leverage on a similar project.

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