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Is HAI Omni Pro II right for me?

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  • Is HAI Omni Pro II right for me?

    I'm building a new house (3200 Sq Ft), the walls are open for another two weeks, and I've got two weeks of vacation. I'm doing the electrical and low voltage work myself.

    I played with X-10 5 years ago and used Homeseer then (great software) but eventually something changed in my environment and the X-10 got completely flakey (lights coming on a going off), plus constant frustration with trying to get the computer to know what was actually going on in the house (no message integrity or ability to get status).

    So, new house, new chance to have fun with Home Automation. The HAI panel looks kind of interesting, because it would seem to have the ability to deliver the status of all the alarm sensors to the computer (through the HAI RS232 Interface).

    I'm looking for tiered control. I want the alarm system to work even if the HA Computer has crashed, and of course I want the basic light switches to work as well. When the HA computer (which I assume would be running Homeseer) is fully functional, it would add new levels of functionality (timers, seens, and integration of sensors and environmental situations).

    I have a wiring closet, and all CAT5e, RG6, alarm sensor and audio wires are star wired to the closet. That's where the HAI panel, Whole House Audio components and HA computer will reside.

    So here are the newbee questions...

    1. Is the HAI panel a good base to build around. If not, what is?

    2. Wall switches. There are ALC (expensive), ZWave and Leviton X-10. What's a good standard dimmer switch to purchase? Can I use a mix of all three?

    3. Should I string microphone drops around the house for future voice control options?

    4. Anyone doing video (property monitoring) applications integrated into Homeseer?

    5. Whole house audio - I have all my CDs ripped into MP3s, and I would like an easy selection and play interface. Suggestions?

    6. Anything else I should do in the two weeks while the walls are open?

  • #2
    I think that HAI and HomeSeer really are a good pair. The Omni offers all the I/O you need and is really reliable. HomeSeer can do the fancy things, and if it conks out, you still have the Omni working. I wish the two companies would cooperate a bit more, though, so HomeSeer could access everything that the Omni knows.

    1. Is the HAI panel a good base to build around. If not, what is?

    Its a great middle-of-the-road system. Offers much more than a vanilla security system, yet you don't waste money with fancy features that HomeSeer will do anyway.

    2. Wall switches. There are ALC (expensive), ZWave and Leviton X-10. What's a good standard dimmer switch to purchase? Can I use a mix of all three?

    HAI doesn't support ZWave yet, but it does do X-10 and ALC. I'm happy with X-10, but you could always use HomeSeer to handle any or all of these. HomeSeer handles device control better than HAI, so I'd keep most on HomeSeer.

    3. Should I string microphone drops around the house for future voice control options?

    It can't hurt, but Voice Control is much more complex than you think. I have a special HomeSeer mic but haven't got it fully to work yet.

    6. Anything else I should do in the two weeks while the walls are open?

    Put as many wires in as the contractors will let you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Anogee.

      <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I wish the two companies would cooperate a bit more, though, so HomeSeer could access everything that the Omni knows.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

      This was an interesting statement. I was making a huge assumption that HomeSeer could query Omni, and obtain the state of all alarm sensors (the door is open, the windows is closed, etc.). I was also hoping I could program the Omni to notify Homeseer of events (the door just opened, the windows just closed, etc.). So, is this too much to expect?

      Just how rich is the exchange between Omni and HomeSeer, and where are the shortfalls?

      Comment


      • #4
        You can have a good solid solution to do both Lighting,Security,AV etc with the HAI Omni and Homeseer. Good choices. with good addon products

        Run lots and lots and lots of wire and when you think you are done run some more.

        Then run some conduit from the wire closit to the attic and bacement. You will be glad you did.

        ------------------------------------------------------------
        A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
        Sir Winston Churchill
        ------------------------------------------------------------

        Comment


        • #5
          The interface between HAI and HomeSeer is as good or better than most others. The shortcomings are that HAI uses a polling based protocol, and they are damn inconsistent about what they put in the event log that you need to poll very frequently on. THEN there are the things that you have to poll as well because they are never put in the event log, such as thermostat status and a bunch of the unit types. The protocol does not give you access to panel configuration information, so the plug-in has to ask which zones are fire zones. HAI promised a DLL for over a year now to help with the Ethernet interface, but they have yet to deliver. There are some functions that you can do with a thermostat connected directly to the PC that you can't do if it is connected through the panel.

          So it sounds like I am complaining about it a lot doesn't it? Well you asked. Nonetheless, I have one in my home and it is a very good system. I am trying with my copious spare time to make improvements to the plug-in. I have a long list of features and fixes that I want to put into it.

          What it does today though seems to work for most people - there are no "show stoppers" at least as far as I know. Everybody has their wishes and inconveniences with it though.

          It does provide more options than HAI's internal automation language and of course being integrated with HomeSeer, you have the power of all of the other devices and technology connected to HomeSeer. The plug-in gives you a trigger based upon the zone analog value, a feature that HAI does not advertise as a typical zone feature. You can also trigger off of thermostat events, although it does take a few minutes for the plug-in to notice since it has to poll it.

          If there is anything specific you want to know about it, ask and yee shall answer.

          Regards,

          Rick Tinker (a.k.a. "Tink")
          HomeSeer Technologies

          Regards,

          Rick Tinker (a.k.a. "Tink")

          Comment


          • #6
            I think they communicate well, but you can't get to or set everything in the Omni, and sometimes there are delays, and this tends to vary with what you are doing. Some items, like zone changes, get reported to the Omni immediately. Others, like variable changes don't get reported, and, in theory, HomeSeer can read these. (Hasn't really worked well for me.)

            Most exchange can be accomplished one way or another. For example, to have HomeSeer display a message on the Omni panel, you must predefine the message in the Omni, and put code on the Omni that says when you press a certain "button/macro" the message will display. Then on HomeSeer you can trigger that buton.

            For the most part, the limitations are on the HAI side, and most of the issues are that the interface is not fully documented, or the Omni design just doesn't make it easy for external interfaces to communicate.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks, So I guess I'm probably going to buy one of the Omni Pros. I'm a little confused as to what i can poll and quickly obtain info on, and what I cannot. But let's assume I have a floor or door sensor, and when that sensor is tripped when the burgler alarm is armed, it trips the alarm... but when the alarm is not armed, it would turn on a lighting sequence.

              1) Is this best performed inside the Omni, or by Homeseer polling the Omni?
              2) Will I experience an irritating delay?

              Comment


              • #8
                When a zone is triggered, HAI actually sends an event to Homeseer right away. This is something that doesn't have to be polled. It may be a tiny bit quicker to turn on the light within HAI but I've done it both ways and it seems about the same.

                -Shane

                Comment


                • #9
                  There are probably 10,000 opinions on this, but I don't think you'll have any problems. The Omni reports zone changes and security status almost instantly, and that is what you usually use. I have one Omni event to process any security panel status changes, and this sets a bunch of HomeSeer flags. Then I use zone triggers to activate stuff. Overall, you'll probably want to do the majority of processing in HomeSeer because its full-featured. I only process in the Omni if its security or HVAC related.

                  You said you want to buy a Omni Pro, which is fine, but for this setup, the Pro really doesn't have much advantage over a Omni II unless you really have a big system and require over 48 zones. The Omni II has 500 programming lines, but you'll never use most of them anyway because HomeSeer will be doing most of the work.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One major advantage of the Pro II over the basic II, is the Ethernet port. Yes, HAI hasn't developed the port to anywhere near it's full potential, but on the Pro II it's there for future use.

                    HAI is supposed to be adding several protocols in the future, including support for Zwave. No telling when the changes will hit the market though, and if they will require additional hardware beside the ROM upgrade.

                    As far as other things to do, three things come to mind. As Andrew says, run wire, wire, wire, and more wire. I've told that the way to tell if a house has enough wire is to let termites eat all the wood. If you can't still walk around afterward, you didn't have enough wire. Second, since you are doing your own electrical work, use the largest electrical boxes you can find. Third, try to keep lights and receptacles on separate circuits. It will make your x10 a lot more reliable.

                    Do a search on the board for other new house wiring ideas. It's a popular question.

                    My system is described in my profile.
                    My system is described in my profile.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>One major advantage of the Pro II over the basic II, is the Ethernet port. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                      That probably only becomes an advantage if your panel is far away from your computer, or if you connect to your panel over the Internet. Other than that, I really don't see the point, because its not like an Omni has a web server in it or anything. If your like me and only connect to the Omni very occasionally, the serial port is fine. If you want to control your panel on the Internet, connect to HomeSeer and let it control the panel. HomeSeer can control everything, with maybe the exception of downloading Omni programs, but you probably would never do that remotely anyway.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To clarify something Shane wrote, the HAI system NEVER sends information automatically. Using the Omni-Protocol, you MUST ask the HAI system for either the event log or for the direct status of the zone or unit or thermostat you are interested in.

                        Thus, when a zone changes, an event gets written to the event log, and the plug-in polls for this data every half second, so it does appear instantaneous. Items that do not write anything to the event log such as thermostats must be polled directly for their status, and this is done in a loop that catches I think 1/6 of the total items in the system every 12 seconds. Even though zones are in the event log, everything is polled in the big loop per HAI recommendation to keep things in sync.

                        I have found that it is also necessary to poll for everything because HAI cannot keep their protocol in sync! That is, if you turn a unit ON or OFF, then you get an entry in the event log. If you turn it ON or OFF from a console, then you don't! If you dim a unit, then you never get anything in the event log. Consistent eh? Anyway, that is another reason why everything is polled at a slower rate while the 1/2 second polling of the event log is taking place.

                        I am going to change this if I can get some &^^$%% time back on my hands. I have some ideas for beating this bum rap that I am anxious to try.

                        Nonetheless, it has been running my house for must be over a year now!

                        Regards,

                        Rick Tinker (a.k.a. "Tink")
                        HomeSeer Technologies

                        Regards,

                        Rick Tinker (a.k.a. "Tink")

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Sorry for the misinformation. I'd say it'll never happen again but it probably will.

                          -Shane

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm planning my home system and had set on using an Ocelot for IR and general I/O. Next I want to use ALC light switches but it's not clear as to what hardware is required to interface to the switches. It seems that an OmniLT may be the minimum, if I want to continue with the Ocelot. Or should I junk the Ocelot and go with a more poweful Omni? Or can the Ocelot handle the ALC switches some other way?

                            I would be grateful for any clarification,
                            Les

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I wouldn't junk the Ocelot. Putting HS + HAI + Ocelot together gives you a VERY powerful combination. Each unit has it's own strengths.

                              If you go with a HAI panel, I wouldn't bother with the OmniLT. It is limited to only 16 ALC addresses, so you would run out quickly in even a moderate size house. The Omni has 64 addresses and the OPII 248.

                              The only other way to get ALC without using a HAI/OnQ/Aegis panel is to get the new OnQ ALC controller. I don't have the part number handy, but it's basically a stand-alone ALC controller. However, unlike the Ocelot or the HAI panels, it doesn't have a HS plugin. You would have to roll your own.
                              My system is described in my profile.

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