OpenHAB vs Home Assistant: What is the Best For Smart home?

There are technological geeks who love to do the thing themselves in their own way. Open source hub is for them. It is their passion to write their own codes to monitor and control the house. When you are in a dilemma of which one will suit you, the openHAB or Home Assistant, then this writes up is perfect to guide you. This article is based on extensive research to show a comparison between openHAB vs Home Assistant.

This is for experienced consumers who know how to talk to the device, write to the device and make them work like they want them to be. Advanced knowledge of coding and programming language and device handling capability is needed to use these devices.

Comparison of openHAB vs Home Assistant based on the following criteria

Let us look at the comparison table to get a brief understanding of the differences.

Image
openHAB
openHAB
Home Assistant
Home Assistant
Installation & setup
Can be confusing or difficult to do
Quite easier &simple with discovery button
Supported protocol
Zigbee, Z-Wave
Zigbee, Z-Wave
Supported no. of devices
More than 2000
Approx.. 1400 (july’19)
Flexibility
better
Best
Online community
Vastly growing & helpful
They are still improving
Updates in community
~ 200 topics in 7 categories/week
~ 500 topics in 10 categories/week
Updates
slow
Faster, almost every week
Automation
good
Better, because of YAML
User interface
Moderate to use
Very easy to use
App
Has app even for Android users
Has app, not for Android users
Notifications
moderate
better
Available documents
Many material available
Still improving
Remote access
yes
Yes, difficult installation
openHAB
Image
openHAB
Installation & setup
Can be confusing or difficult to do
Supported protocol
Zigbee, Z-Wave
Supported no. of devices
More than 2000
Flexibility
better
Online community
Vastly growing & helpful
Updates in community
~ 200 topics in 7 categories/week
Updates
slow
Automation
good
User interface
Moderate to use
App
Has app even for Android users
Notifications
moderate
Available documents
Many material available
Remote access
yes
Home Assistant
Image
Home Assistant
Installation & setup
Quite easier &simple with discovery button
Supported protocol
Zigbee, Z-Wave
Supported no. of devices
Approx.. 1400 (july’19)
Flexibility
Best
Online community
They are still improving
Updates in community
~ 500 topics in 10 categories/week
Updates
Faster, almost every week
Automation
Better, because of YAML
User interface
Very easy to use
App
Has app, not for Android users
Notifications
better
Available documents
Still improving
Remote access
Yes, difficult installation

There are several factors on which differentiation between the controllers can be made.

Based on the installation process and maintenance:

The configuration of openHAB is done in the web interface. Although the process is very easy which only takes a maximum of 40 minutes, it still can be a bit challenging to some.

On the other hand, in Home Assitant, the “integration” in the web user interface does the initial configuration. It can do many things itself by the use of the discovery button.

The updates of Home Assistant are done in web-interface for Hass.io by a simple click. For openHAB, the procedure is way more complex and time-consuming.

This is a very important feature for both of them. In Home Assistant, the add-ons can extend the functionalities by adding features like Duck DNS, Let’s Encrypt and Google Assistant. In openHAB, the add-ons can be installed using Paper UI.

Based on Flexibility:

openHAB is quite versatile and easy to use. Although the web user interface does quite a lot of things, several other issues depend on the configuration. And the accumulation of various configurations is challenging for some users.

For Home Assistant, the innovative and intelligent auto-discovery button does quite a lot of tasks. Also the system can guess the need of users and act accordingly. As a result, it is well known for its flexibility and simplicity to use.

Based on compatible products and pairing process:

For Home Assistant, it is clearly stated that it is compatible with around 1400 devices. It has a built-in Z-wave control panel which is not very desirable for Zigbee.

Although openHAB supports many devices, the actual number is unknown. It has Bindings as an integrated part of Z-wave products. However, it is known to be less flexible and complicated.

Based on developing Automation Rules:

YAML (YAML Ain’t Mark-up Language) I, a user-friendly programming language is used in Home Assistants to develop automation rules. There is an automation editor for inexperienced people to use. Node-RED and App-daemon are also well-known automation editor that helps to create automation rules.

For openHAB, it can be developed using Xtend, Blocky or Node-RED. The former two are quite user-friendly and flexible to use.

Based on user community:

There are many home controllers in the market providing confusing user manuals with not enough information for users to follow. The users also do not get any assistance from the online forum

Home Assistants and openHAB are an exception.

The openHAB already has a well- established group with intelligent and knowledgeable people ready to help. If you look for any assistance in the online community it is very likely that you will get help or relevant topic.

For Home Assistant, the group is building already with all users and contributors to provide support to other users. Anyone can search for a topic online and get help from other users.

Based on the user interface:

In openHAB there are Paper UI, Basic UI as well as HABmin acting as the user interface. The users can choose one from the three as per their requirements and ability to understand.

In Home Assistant, the user interfaces are Lovelace and Home Assistant Control Panel. The UI provides flexibility and ease of use for clients with its features.

Based on the mobile application:

There is Home Assistant app for iOS users that includes push notifications, location tracking, control of all Home Assistant units and involvement with 3rd party. However, they don’t have any official app for Andriod.

As for openHAB, there is an iPhone app and well-developed Android Application with innovative options. So the openHAB app is more easy and friendly to use. The user can fully control the server as well as get alerts and notifications.

Based on notifications and remote access:

Both of the hubs use several notification methods to alert users including Telegram, SMS, push bullet, etc. However Home Assistant (HA) has better use of notification than openHAB.Its notification services are compatible with more than 30 supported platforms.

It is very easy and user-friendly to configure those integrations using simple command lines in .yaml files. And it supports advanced notification service including actionable notification and chatbots.

Based on voice assistants:

Both HA and openHABcan work with AmazonAlexa and Google Assistant. If you are at the confusion on how to install Google Assistant, you are just some clicks away. All you need to go is google what you want; there will be websites that guide you step by step along with the coding language.

A brief discussion on openHAB:

Specifications:

  • openHAB is an opensource home automation hub.
  • It is developed in Java that allows users to run the system in many devices and depends on the Eclipse SmartHome framework.
  • openHAB can be installed in Raspberry Pi (Version 4 with 2 or 4 GB or RPi 2 or 3
  • It works with Apache Karaf along with Eclipse Equinox resulting in the Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi) runtime situation.
  • It has an HTTP server called Jetty. It can work on Linux, Windows and Mac OSx.
  • Raspberry Pi can be used to experience the openHAB features easily, as a result, the whole home can be controlled.
  • Uses Xtend in Blocky to configure automation rules
  • Add-ons can be installed using Paper UI
  • The user interface is Paper UI, Basic UIand HABmin

Benefits and Drawbacks of openHAB:

Benefits:
  • Add-ons extend the capabilities of openHAB
  • Setup and installation procedure is quite easy
  • Automation rules allow users to use their imagination to control the house
  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • User-friendly and effective for newbies
  • User-friendly UI
  • The online community gets around 200 topics in 7 categories in each week
Drawbacks:
  • Updates need to command line whereas the hassle update in Home Assistant
  • Raspberry Pis: RPi 3 or older version may cause a problem due to limited RAM
  • The updated topics published per week is less than in Home Assistant

A brief discussion on Home Assistant:

Specifications

  • Home Assistant is the opensource controller based on Python 3 for the backend and Polymer for the frontend components.
  • It is licensed under Apache 2.0.
  • One of the features of it is Hass.io that helps in installation and update.
  • Uses YAML in Blocky to configure automation rules
  • The user interface is Lovelace. The instructions are available on their website. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Home Assistant:

Benefits:
  • It doesn’t have to store data in cloud which ensures user privacy
  • Step by step instruction for setup in website
  • Automation rules allow users to customize as they like
  • All codes and other solutions can be found in Github
  • Supports both Alexa and Google Assistant
  • It is more stable in terms of notifications
  • Huge topics are published in the community, around 500 topics in 10 categories per week
Drawbacks:
  • The use of YAML can be difficult for some users, the indentation part can be complex
  • Upper and lower case issue can cause users to make more errors
  • It can be difficult to use and comprehend for new users

OpenHAB vs Home Assistant add-ons:

Home Assistant add-ons

  • Almond
  • CEC Scanner
  • Configurator
  • deConz
  • Git pull
  • DHCP Server

OpenHAB add-ons

  • Binding- Astro, hue, ZigBee, IKEA
  • System integration- Google, HomeKit, openHAB cloud connector
  • Action-MQTT, Telegram, Twitter, XMPP
  • Data persistence- InfluxDB, Jdbc, MySQL, mongoDB
  • Data transformation- Exec, JavaScript, Map, XPath
  • Voice- Pico, Voice, macOS, Google Cloud Text-to-speech

Basic Troubleshooting of OpenHAB vs Home Assistant

Issues with “integration do not show up” in HA:

If any such case occurs, before digging deep into it, it is suggested to look into the home assistant. logwhich will show any error in the integration. If any error is noticed, use the check_config script to help and correct it,hass –script check_config.

Issues with pip3 command not found:

This should be downloaded while installing Python 3. You can see if it is installed by the command python3 –version.

However, if python is working correctly but pip3 is not working, it is suggested to install HA using the command, $ python3 -m pip install homeassistant

To install python3 in Debianfollow  sudo apt-get install python3 and for pip3 follow sudo apt-get install python3-pip.

Issues with SD card in HA:

Some of the clients complain about the SD card being damaged in Home Assistant and hence the blame falls on the whole device. Other expert users try to reason up with the user providing solutions according to them. Since it is an open-source product, solutions are also different. There have been recommendations not to use NodeRED, saying it might burn SD card while writing frequently. Another issue is the power supply or problem in the configuration of the user or the poor quality. Some users suggest the use of small SSD (40G or 60G) with the PI.

Another solution was to avoid the SD card version and use the method to install Hassi.o in Raspberry Lite, then using the manual install it in Debian or Ubuntu . If the instructions are followed it will work successfully without any hassle.

Issues with locally working HA:

Some users were confused about whether the HA will work locally. The answer is a straight yes.  The HA and its daily work can be done locally. However, an internet connection will be needed for updates.

Issues with not able to connect openHAB to Google Home.

Even after following the details step by step in the openHAB website, some usual problems are not being able to connect it to Google Home.

The solutions are also found on the website. It is recommended to check and recheck the items you are looking for. The things you want in Google Assistant must have the correct assigned metadata.

For example, if the device is thermostat then it should have a metadata value, {ga=”Thermostat” }.

Groupg_HK_Basement_TSTAT”Basement Thermostat”{ga=”Thermostat”[useFahrenheit=true]}

NumberHK_Basement_Mode”Basement Heating/Cooling Mode” (g_HK_Basement_TSTAT){ga=”thermostatMode”}

NumberHK_Basement_Setpoint”Basement Setpoint” (g_HK_Basement_TSTAT){ga=”thermostatTemperatureSetpoint”}

NumberHK_Basement_Temp”Basement Temperature” (g_HK_Basement_TSTAT){ga=”thermostatTemperatureAmbient”}

However if it still does not work, it is suggested to delete all the metadata and create a new .item file with only 1 item

SwitchTestLight”Test Light”{ga=”Switch”}

And finally reconnect to your own account

Issues with LastVoiceCommand not receiving updates in openHAB:

These kinds of problems are solved by checking the configuration and codes, also without working with manual files go with the auto discovery option.

Issues with Zigbee stick not get recognized:

The user using more than one USB complains his Zigbee stick cannot be identified after a reboot. With each reboot, it gets a new port.

This has an easy solution for configuring correctly by creating a symlink. The problem occurred in the first place due to nonstandard serial ports.

SUBSYSTEM==”tty”, ATTRS{idVendor}==”0403″, ATTRS{idProduct}==”6001″, ATTRS{serial}==”AE01F0PD”, SYMLINK+=”ttyMySensors”SUBSYSTEM==”tty”, ATTRS{idVendor}==”10c4″, ATTRS{idProduct}==”ea60″, ATTRS{serial}==”0001″, SYMLINK+=”ttyCulStick”

For more details, the openHAB website can always help.

Issues with openHAB after reboot:

Users sometimes face errors after rebooting openHAB. The solutions were suggested by other successful and expert users of the device.

It is recommended to do the following:

-change the name of *.rules file to something else

– startover your openHAB

– once it is completely started, you can again rename the file to *.rules

-rename your *.rules files to something different than *.rules

Shortcuts to the emergency of openHAB vs Home Assistant

Support of HA:

In Github:

Support of openHAB:

The community of this hub is still growing.

All assistance can be found in:

In Github:

Recommendation: Home Assistant vs OpenHAB What Is Best

This part is always critical. This is because it varies from person to person. It is needless to say both the open-source smart home is running successfully, each popular in its own way. But it will depend on user flexibility to use specific coding or OS.

Some users feel python to have more potential than Java, thus they recommend using HA. Others feel the storing and retrieving data in HA to be a big disadvantage, thus does not prefer it. On the other hand, openHAB is well known for its user-friendly mobile applications, automation rules.

However, more people tend to incline on home assistant due to its compatibility of devices, YAML and extend the comparison, installation ease, user-friendly UI, useful integrations and huge community always providing updates and assistance. HA also has a clear-cut installation procedure with simple clicks and enormous information for any problem.

It will always come down to the user, their area of interest, knowledge, and specialization to select the open-source hub, where everything will be in your hand. The only limitation is your imagination.

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I am very much enthusiastic about Home Automation and actively developing open-source software to extend its capabilities so this is going to all be biased by my own experiences.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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