Might as well start with the big guns! Probably the most important decision of Quadomated and for any home automation project is which security/automation panel will be the central brains of your system?
I researched this question for several months and found the folks at Cocoontech, AVS Forums, and Automated Outlet to be a wealth of information. I started by trolling the forums, then wrote a few really newbie threads (to great response I might add), and then had several in-depth phone calls with Paul at Automated Outlet. What did I learn? There is really no easy, straightforward choice to which controller is the best. It’s all about finding the one that meets your needs in the best overall sort of way. Since I was on a tight budget and have always enjoyed getting my hands dirty in a do it yourself sort of way the expensive turnkey options like Crestron and AMX were instantly out of the picture. Not only would they cost far more than I could imagine paying, they are also based around a proprietary dealer only installation/service which would make it very difficult/expensive if I ever wanted to tinker and change things up in the future. So what did that leave me? Control 4, HAI, and Elk… three of the big players in the more reasonably priced/do-it-yourself home automation field. I was initially impressed with the overall marketing, look, and integration of Control 4’s product line, but after more digging found that there framework was more locked down and the company as a whole more close lipped to the do-it-yourself user than I could handle. So my decision was quite narrowed down… Elk or HAI?
Which controller? Elk M1 Pro or an HAI OmniPro II
This decision was even more challenging. After reading through several Elk or HAI threads at Cocoontech I more or less came to the understanding that they can both do the same things for about the same price, but that Elk is more do-it-yourself friendly and HAI maybe a little more integrated together, as in with the Elk M1 Pro you need several modules to get the same functionality you get with an HAI OmniPro II out-of-the-box. Maybe this is overly simplified, but the overall jist of what I gathered from my research. Then after talking with the folks at Automated Outlet and digging more into the different product lines, I felt like overall the HAI OmniPro II best met my overall integration needs.
Further, looking at the progression of the two companies over the past 2 years it seems to me that HAI has further moved forward their product line and integration, and now overall offer a better solution then Elk. I think this is even further reconfirmed by their recent acquisition by Leviton, one of the larger manufacturers of electrical wiring devices. I’m crossing my fingers that this will only push HAI and home automation further into the future.
So an HAI OmniPro II… What About It?
“The OmniPro II is HAI’s flagship home control and security system… the largest feature set and can control the maximum number of devices… OmniPro II is HAI’s most connectable system… security devices, thermostats, light switches, telephone and backup battery… five built-in serial ports for connection to additional control devices… ethernet port that allows connection to your home network.”
– Paraphrased drastically, from HAI’s Omni Overview Page
Basically, what I can say from this, is the OmniPro II is HAI’s big daddy controller with significant expansion and integration possibilities. I can install the main controller in my centralized media room where the majority of the wiring is all home run back into one place. With the 5 on board serial ports I can connect in with different subsystems including access control, UPB lighting, automated shades, pretty much anything that can be controlled through a serial port, and with the onboard ethernet I can easily connect to/communicate with my OmniPro using a separate home automation software run on top of my server or direct through my computer, touchscreens, cell phone, pretty much anything connected into my wireless network. Really, just lots of expansion possibilities right out of the box.
For those of you that maybe take more from a visual picture, a product specifications wiring diagram:
The main controller above has 5 serial ports at the top left, immediately to the right of that an ethernet port. Then the top row of terminals below has a place for 24 V AC input power, 12 V DC battery backup, switched/auxiliary 12 VDC terminals, connections for consoles, interior/exterior sounder horn, 8 outputs, and a connection for a phone. Below that, the bottom terminals are for 16 inputs.
For my system because I was independently inputting each window/door/motion sensors separately, and controlling a vast array of relay outputs I needed an additional two expansion enclosures. One expansion enclosure was installed in the 42 inch enclosure right below my OmniPro, and the other out in a closet near the garage. This gave me an additional 16 inputs and 16 outputs near my media room and at the opposite end of the house. The remote expansion enclosure saved me a bunch of wiring because everything in that proximity could be wired back to my expansion enclosure, and then a couple wires run back from it to my main controller. All in all, a pretty slick/effective way to distribute wiring throughout the house.
I could probably keep going on and on but this post is probably getting long enough, so I’ll just rounded up with all the technical documents related to the HAI OmniPro I’ve found useful over the years.
HAI Marketing/Technical Documents
- Omn iPro II Owners Manual 3-2
- OmniPro II Installation Manual 3-2
- Omni Pro II Firmware Release 3-2
- Omni Pro II Technical Sheet
- OmniPro II Product Specifications
- Omni Pro II Quick Start Guide
- Omni Pro II Quick Reference Command Summary
- Omni Pro II Diagram
One more thing, and something I must say is majorly lame, and has been a major bone of contention for me since I bought this controller is HAI is 3 years behind on most of there available documentation. I mean come on guys, I’ve been in the whole engineering / developing products / creating documents to describe them and I know it’s way more fun to be developing the cool stuff than writing about it, but how the heck do you expect us to use it and take you seriously when you’re so far behind? I mean right now I’m running my controller on firmware 3-10B and really have no idea of the additional functionality that has happened since August 2009 when the revision 3-2 documents came out. Hate to rant on and on about this, but if somebody from HAI or Leviton is reading this you should take note, because I doubt I’m the only one taking issue with it.