Offtopic- Your smart home recommendations

Winter is coming and I am looking for a little project for the next weeks, so I was thinking about getting into home automation.Since my knowledge on this topic is very limited and I know there are surely some smart home ethusiasts here, I wanted to ask for advice :slight_smile: I want to start with some smart radiator valves and temperature sensors. Do you have hardware recommendations for me? I got a Pi4 for controlling laying around aswell.


Hi @nico25

That's a big can of worms you want to open :smile:

IMO I think you should first look at the different technologies that drives these devices.
I wont go into what is better - as that is subjective, but I will layout the pros & cons of each (IMO)

ZigBee Pros

  • Easier learning curve
  • More device selection
  • Faster

ZigBee Cons

  • The protocol is fully open, meaning some manufactures create proprietary systems
    that need to be supported in software
  • Uses the same freq as 2.4g Wifi
  • Requires more middleware (from a Node RED perspective)

ZWave Pros

  • "Just works" - the protocol has strict licensing applied to all devices, so any device will work (usually)
  • Increased focus on security
  • No Interference

ZWave Cons

  • You need to learn the protocol a little
  • Device selection is not as vast
  • Slower

Both Technologies offer pretty much the same types of devices.

Plenty on the forums who can also provide input.


ZWave devices were previously more expensive than ZigBee I think? Is that still true?

I've also a feeling that ZWave might be more popular in the USA not EU? But not sure if that is true.

Certainly Zigbee is well supported by low-cost commercial devices including Ikea, Sonoff and Aquara amongst many others.

A Zigbee dongle and Zigbee2MQTT are pretty much a must if using it with Node-RED. But the entry cost is pretty low.


I think ZWave is still more expensive, at least based on my last shopping spree :grimacing:

And I think your right about it being more popular In the states
A majority of my module users are in the states (at least the ones I chat to)

I think Zigbee is used more in the EU.


Wont both probably have a limited lifetime if matter and thread deliver on what they are supposed to achieve ?

Personally i stick with WIFI devices and BLE devices that can talk to Tasmota ESP32 devices acting as hubs

Back to the OPs post an interesting home automation project that is not too big and will dovetail with your radiators is to look at some of BLuetooth Temperature and Humidity Sensors and pairing those with an ESP32 flashed to Tasmota to then report back over WIFI to Node Red.

The Bluetooth sensor have a high WAF and operates for 6+ months on a single AAA battery and provides a nice easy to read display in each room of the temperature and humidity

Its an easy project to put your toes in the water with and can then dovetail into your radiator control and longer term then boiler monitoring and control


I'm not convinced at the moment at least. They seem far too aligned to big tech requirements and not to use requirements. Also, they don't really replace Zigbee/ZWave, more likely they will layer on top I think.

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Interesting times we live in !


Having some Z-Wave devices still in operation since some years, all working well and stable, I would anyway not take that path for continuation. For a beginner, it is a bit complicated to setup, especially if you later need to make changes and exclude devices etc. In addition, cost is way above my acceptance level, simply not competitive with other alternatives

In addition, I do have some older RF devices controlled by a RFXtrx, still hanging around

Today I go for WiFi based Shelly devices with CE approvals to control various 240V AC consumers, ESP32 devices running ESPHome for other I/O control needs. Simpler to setup, much cheaper and all the benefits you get from using your existing WiFi network

Considering this diversified landscape, the beauty is that everything is nicely integrated in Node-RED, co-existing in total harmony. So it gives time to slowly migrate from one technology to another when needed


Hi @nico25,

Or if you - like me - don't want setup and maintain a second wireless network, you can use the TRV from Shelly. You can find info here about how you can control it from Node-RED. it works via your wifi network.

The disadvantage is that they are bloody expensive. ...


I am with Julian on this.
I won’t be investing in either.

Both ZB, ZW aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, I simply don’t believe they are working on it for the end user, but more an attempt for the big corps to work with each other to make money, and/or to further create lock-in opportunities.

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I am using zwave Thermostats since a few years. They work perfectly with Marcus' zwavejs application.
I decided to go zwave as I did not want to overload my wlan.

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Oh stop it!, you're making me blush :blush:

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Yes, but about in line with the better smart heating ones. The Wiser TRV's on my system are cheaper for sure - one of the reasons I went for them - but I'm not convinced I'd buy the same system again as they can be quite finicky. They are certainly not fit and forget & I've had some fail.

I have to say that investing in smart TRV's without a smart heating controller is something I'm not entirely convinced about. Not sure it would be a cost saving proposition anyway, would be a comfort proposition though.

If someone has a Which? subscription, you can see their review here: Which? testing reveals the best smart radiator valves - Which? News

Here is a "review" of several different TRV models - not sure I'd trust the review and, as usual, it doesn't say which can be controlled by Node-RED or some other custom home automation system. If you know, would be good to hear.

The Wiser ones sort-of can be controlled, I created a node.js module (which really needs reworking) and there is a module for Home Assistant but I have to say that the controller seems less stable when trying to access it at a reasonable (e.g. once per minute) rate. There is no published API. The TRV's alone are Zigbee controlled and I think there is a Zigbee2MQTT extension for them but not sure all the features are available.

The Evohome system does have a published API for its controller.

So another reason for you not buy Shelly TRV's?

I think that there isn't a 1-size fits all solution here Bart. Shelly kit is generally pretty home automation friendly, often with built-in MQTT - not sure if that is true for the TRV's but it would certainly be convenient. As I say, using smart TRV's without a corresponding smart boiler controller is probably not going to save much if any and the best systems integrate the TRV's, thermostats and controllers along with OpenTherm boiler controls to squeeze the best possible performance out of the heating system and overlay things like weather compensation and machine learning. And you can expect to pay EUR 1000+ for a full system for a decent sized house.

But if your needs are simpler, then any of the TRV's that could be controlled from Node-RED somehow might still meet your needs if you manage your expectations.

And, of course, you COULD create your own smart heating solution with Node-RED if you have the TRV's and a boiler controller you can control. Be a lot of work and a lot of trial and error but it could be done.

Sorry, I'm wandering off-topic even further now - it is a Friday PM after all. :slight_smile:

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A good heating system based on z-wave is Genius hub. IT is normally a plug and play, just remove time clock and click on their 1 or 2 channel controller in place of existing, no wiring needed. The are comparable in pricing to shelly TVR's. Devices come preprogramed and connect to hub

They have an API also.

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Shelly TRVs do have MQTT.

When I wrote my code, some calls had to be made via HTTP, others used HTTP or MQTT, but responses come back over MQTT. Haven't tried recently, kind of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it!', also been busy with important other stuff (my Wife's words, not mine! :innocent:).

I now have both TRVs in the same room, but it has only been for a few days. We shall see how this experiment goes.

If you want to let yourself in gently and more cheaply, try some ESP/Shelly style devices to switch lights/appliances on and off. Lights going on and off while you are away from home are never a bad thing. You can use HTTP calls, or MQTT. It would gently let you put your toes in the water.

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Indeed. And as others have said, for any device that supports local control via MQTT or REST API's, Wi-Fi is going to be by far the easiest network to integrate with.

I have Wi-Fi, Zigbee and 433MHz and node-red acts as the glue. 433MHz is useful for legacy devices (before Wi-Fi and other controllers got cheap) - I mostly use for our plain old door bell now. Wi-Fi for anything with wired power because it is rather power-hungry. Zigbee mostly for battery operated things (much more recent since cheap Zigbee kit not been available for so long).

If you go for Zigbee those devices you mention are all end devices, which means they are battery powered and won’t work as extenders too. I would add a couple of switches or bulbs just to stengthen the network. You can get away with a well placed hub but it’d be a lot easier if you just build a good network. You can buy small Zigbee switches that go behind light switches if you have a neutral in your light switch. They can be really cheap. Never bought one that doesn’t connect.
Moes House Zigbee TRV are regularly on sale and atleast the “Mini Soft Touch” integrate with Home Assistant as that is what I use. Don’t have opentherm though but nothing with it is anywhere near as cheap.
Devices can be “bridged” to the matter network in theory. They might not be matter themselves but appear on the network. Not sure if Home Assistant does or will ever have the bridging ability though. Might be too too many potential devices to bridge.
RP4 B can be booted from an SSD over USB 3. I had an SD card running home assistant die. It was really annoying. I’d just boot from an SSD. They’re not expensive and only need to be small. Maybe I was just unlucky though and other people have had more luck with SD cards.

Oh: and I forgot to mention. Sonoff Wifi Basic 4th version were recently released and are cheap. Need to check if the Home Assistant can control them over local network using the Sonoff Integration. If they can’t the 3rd Gen are currently on sale and I think they can do. I have lots of the 2nd generation because they are like a gateway drug into Home automation but are a bit dated now. Also the case is crap. You really need to budget a cheap case to put them in.

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I have to admit, I am overwhelmed with the amount of replies here :smiley:
You guys sure gave me a lot to consider. At the moment i tend to get the Shelly TRVs, hoping for a good price on black friday :slight_smile:
I am still not sure which sensors to get. Shelly H&T are overpriced in my opinion and also i am looking for something wall-mountable. Maybe I will just DIY here and combine a d1 mini with a dht22 hat :thinking:
Does somebody have experience with these: