How to use HA to monitor six unit rental property for temp/humidity and flood detection?

May be a bit more expensive, but… why not a HA on an RPi for each building, and a smartthings hub + smarthings temp / humidity sensors as needed. Then you can join all the HAs into a single UI if I’m mistaken using GitHub - custom-components/remote_homeassistant: Links multiple home-assistant instances together

I could do this if needed. We are adding a small wall-mounted network rack in the middle building with a NVR for some security cameras. It would be easy to throw in a small 1U fanless system of some sort to run HAOS on. That’s what I am doing at my house to play around with it, it’s just one of three lightweight VMs running on an ESXi box.

Question: Can HA handle more than one Z-Wave or Zigbee dongle at a time?

What if I used one plugged directly into the system, and then two of something like this to connect a dongle from each of the other buildings over the network?

I have a z-wave dongle running on my home assistant server with home assistant running a a virtual machine on ubuntu 20.04. With zwave-js the system just works. I have about 14 battery operated water sensors spread all over the house.

Z-wave is generally slightly more expensive than zigbee as z-wave is proprietary.

I use fibaro leak sensors. They can be run by a 12vdc power supply. They also can have extension wires so the puck can be mounted on the wall near power and the extension run to the potential leak zone.

here is a link to the manual.

Edit - I was wondering why you think you need multiple systems? If the renters are not going to interact with the system then creating areas such as Unit1 - Bathroom, Unit1 - kitchen, unit 2 - kitchen would let you have them all in one system. You might need z-wave or zigbee boosters in each unit but manage via single unit. just a brain fart on my part. The extenders can reach about 300 ft

Get an Elk M1. It will work reliably regardless of the state of your HA controller and there is an excellent HA module for it.

The only question is controlling the mini-split, if it will take a normal thermostat then the Elk should work. There are wired and wireless sensors for everything else on your list. Also using a UL listed alarm system can bring discounts on your insurance, so it may pay for itself.

Can’t speak about Zwave… but there can only exist one Zigbee Coordinator in your config… Maybe two if you use different integrations for each one (one with ZHA, another with Zigbee2MQTT), but the setup and maintenance for that would be a hassle.

You can have single coordinator, but a lot of “routers” scattered to increase the range of the network, I tried a CC2351 USB dongle (first use as coordinator, then flashed as a router), but ultimately the Hue Bulbs where the big winners there.

You could do BLE also, there is several models of sensors available inkbird, qingping, xiaomi with even the possibility to update the sensor firmware (lywsd03mmc).
The gateway could be an esp32 with an external antenna to get a good range (one per building).

Also you could consider Lorawan (for the range) with a single gateway, we can find a variety of sensors now. But we are a little bit at the limit of the world of home automation and more on the iot/professional side.

I had looked at this, but not into it too much. Is there a robust integration for this in HA yet? Any experience with or advice on where to start looking at sensors?

You would need to go through MQTT locally (prefered) :
Sensors ->LORAWAN GATEWAY with internal LORAWAN SERVER → MQTT broker → HA

or use the things network

You will need to decode the payload coming from the sensors (hexadecimal to value)
Once done the integration will be robust, but it requires some time and a learning curve to set up.

Here is a good list of sensors

The advantage with Lorawan is that you can forget your sensors for years.

Also mysensors have a good range, but may be a bit more DIY than you want.

If you don’t mind diy, you can build your own lora sensors and gateway for a fraction of the price.

LoRaWan or LoRa? I’ve looked into LoRaWan over TTN for a project and rejected it because TTN only works one-way. Sensor to Gateway. I can’t send data to the sensor over TTN.

Both enables to have low power consumption and bidirectionnal communications.
Lorawan specification have class C devices that can listen continuously for commands.
TTN public network doesn’t support indeed class C devices
A Lorawan gateway with embedded Lorawan server can support class C devices. This would be my preferred suggestion here.

TTN supports class A devices also, they open a reception window after each sending, so if the sensor send a data packet every 15min it will also be able to receive a command every 15min. So it may be OK for some use cases.

Hope this brings some details.

Are there any free networks that allow Class C?
The problem I saw with TTN was the remarkably low data count:
10 bytes of payload, this translates to 20 messages per day at SF12.

One thing I am not sure of is- are these limitations regulatory or network imposed?
If regulatory, does that also apply to Amateur Radio licensees on 433 mHz?

You can have an embedded LORAWAN server into the gateway.
The gateway will connect to an MQTT broker and you even don’t need internet for your automation to work (if you have a local single-board computer).

You can take a look to duty cycle to have more information about this.
It is a combination of:

  • Government regulation
  • Lorawan spec
  • Network policy when using a third party network

I’m using Zigbee with CC2531 dongle and Zigbee2Mqtt. Initial setup gave me some headaches as documentation was not at all up to date. But after initial setup and plugging in some Zigbee range extenders it has been running flawlessly for more than a year.

Here are my devices:

In usage for about 14 months with original batteries, no sign of running out. I here that it is expected for these Zigbee sensors to have the battery replaced after about 2 years or even 3.

You can check MClimate’s LoRaWAN products:

All have 10+ years of battery life.

Now that TTN and Helium have so many gateways, you might not even need to install your own. Although as @1technophile has suggested, having your own gateway with local LoRaWAN Network Server and using MQTT is better for your security. But LoRaWAN’s security is pretty good already.

I have been doing a lot of reading on Helium and don’t quite understand the user side of it. I think I have an understanding of setting up a node, but let’s say I want to use sensors like the ones you linked to with Helium network and not have my own internet connection on site (we have internet at these duplexes, but they do not have it at some other locations, which makes Helium more scalable).

How does one actually use Helium with sensors?

Totally wrong !! TTN or TTS accepts both uplink and downlink so long end node supports it :wink:

From TTN:
" If you use The Things Network (free public community LoRaWAN network), the following fair use policy applies:

  • The uplink airtime is limited to 30 seconds per day (24 hours) per node.
  • The downlink messages are limited to 10 messages per day (24 hours) per node.

My project would send 24 bytes every minute. so I can’t use LoRaWan. People have been kicked off LoRaWan for violating Fair Use Policies.