Technical Tip: Approaches to Temperature Control with HAI

The time is upon us where many of us north of Route 80 start to fear our upcoming heating bills. Like many other HAI enthusiasts I am reviewing my programs to figure out how to squeak every ounce of efficiency out of my system. As I started reading my program from last year, I started thinking about the sheer number of programming approaches you can use to set temperatures with an HAI controller. I thought it would be helpful if I explain several of them and the benefits associated with each one.

Use the schedule in the thermostat:
Omnistats have a built in time schedule. Typically this is disabled when connected to a controller; however, if you want to use an Omnistat stand-alone or if your customer is used to the schedule being in the thermostat, it is an option. This is probably the least efficient approach because you are not taking advantage of the HAI controller. When setting the schedules remember that, “Whatever happens last wins” so if you send a command from the controller, and a time schedule comes up in the thermostat, the thermostat is going to follow the time schedule. It is my recommendation to turn off the Omnistat internal scheduler when using an Omni or Lumina controller.

Use the Occupancy mode in the thermostat:
Starting in the RC1000 and RC2000 HAI added a great alternative to the time schedule. Instead of using a time scheduler in the Omnistat, you can store the setpoints for the arming levels (or modes in a Lumina). Now the setpoints stay in the thermostat and the correct setting is chosen each time the system is armed. This new feature is called Occupancy Mode. We have many dealers that love this approach because it keeps the temperatures in the thermostat which is a logical place. It is easy to teach and understand. There are a couple drawbacks to consider. First, the settings can’t be read or stored in a PC Access file so a customer can make changes that can only be modified at the thermostat. Secondly, Occupancy Mode is only going to be effective if the system is armed on a regular basis. Personally, I really like this approach because it places the settings in a logical place for the homeowner. It is especially effective if a customer regularly arms their system. Just remember, like the thermostat scheduler, “Whatever happens last wins” so it is not good to mix controller programming with Occupancy Mode. It is best to choose one way or the other.

Send setpoints to the thermostats based on time or arming status:
The most traditional approach to energy management is to use the automation programming in the controller to send setpoints based on time and/or arming status. This by far is the most flexible and powerful approach to controlling thermostats. The thing to remember is that you should turn off the scheduler and Occupancy Mode in the thermostat. When you don’t, troubleshooting can be confusing because you will not find the answers in your program. Again, “Whatever happens last wins” so the scheduler can often cause temperature settings to inexplicably change. In reality, it is just the schedule running, so we always recommend turning the schedule and Occupancy Mode off.

Use user variables to adjust temperature setting:
As of 3.0 firmware, HAI cured the biggest hurdle in temperature control. Back in the old days (2.16 and earlier) all of the temperature settings were stored in the system programming. That is fine if you know how to program and HAI, but for non-programmers, it was a challenge. Now things are MUCH better. If you don’t use user settings, it is time to give them a try. Simply put, User Settings move values that are often changed from the system program to the top level interfaces like touch screens and Snap Link. This is the way I control my house. Instead of saying “WHEN 6:00 AM Upstairs Thermostat HEAT 68 DEGREES” it is better to use User Settings. Now the program looks like “WHEN Wake-up Time Upstairs Thermostat HEAT Wake-up Heat”. “Wake-up Time” would be created as a User Setting ‘time’ and “Wake-up Heat” would be a ‘temperature.’ It does add a couple steps the first time the program is written but there is a huge advantage. I can change the settings from my iPhone, iPad, PC, or Touchscreen in a second! You can also review all of the settings on one screen. Better yet, so can your customers. If you have not used User Settings, you should check them out. Once you use them, you will not place hard values in any of your HAI programs anymore.

Temperature Setback:
While writing this article, I spoke with some of my colleagues to learn how they approach temperature control and the one that I have not played with in my own home is temperature setback. It certainly is worth consideration and may be the best approach for heat pumps and radiant heat. The way it works is that you manually control the thermostat when you are home. You then use programming the set the thermostat back based on arming or a late night time. For systems that should remain a steady temperature, consider small setbacks like 2 or 3 degrees. You then push the setting forward on disarm and a morning time. One of the big advantages of this approach is that it is based on the user’s perceived comfortable temperature which can vary throughout the year.

One thing is for certain, HAI offers installers and users more approaches towards temperature control then any other system on the market. By knowing each one of these approaches you can better serve your customers to determine an approach that works with their lifestyle. With that said, I have got some more programming to do…..the snow has started flying in the Pocono’s (I’m not kidding!).

2 GIG TS1 Release Date Announced

We received the following exciting news today!

From 2GIG:
2GIG Technologies is pleased to announce the new Wireless Touch Screen Keypad (referred to as the TS1). The TS1 is an excellent addition to any 2GIG system enabling users to more conveniently access and control their home security and home automation devices from any room in their home.

In conjunction with the release of the TS1, the new 900 MHz Transceiver which enables any Go!Control panel to communicate with the TS1 will also be available.

• Easy access to all security and home automation features from any room
• Common and familiar full color touch screen interface
• Excellent range and instantaneous response
• Extends system status, alerts and chime annunciation throughout the house
• Attractive and innovative design
• Install on the wall or place on your nightstand or countertop using the desktop kit (coming soon)
• Display and buttons completely darken at night and instantly illuminate with a single touch
• Add up to four TS1s per system

There will be 3 new part numbers:
• 2GIG-TS1-E – Wireless Touch Screen Keypad
• 2GIG-XCVR2-345 – 900 MHz Transceiver
• 2GIG-TS1-EKIT – Wireless Touch Screen Keypad with XCVR2

System Requirements
Use of the new TS1 requires a Go!Control panel with the 900 MHz Transceiver installed and running system software version 1.8. Detailed 1.8 update instructions and 900 MHz Transceiver installation instructions will be provided with the products. Only one 900 MHz Transceiver is required for each Go!Control panel providing support for up to four TS1s.

Product Availability
The TS1, TS1 kits and the 900 MHz Transceiver are expected to be available for shipment on October 28, 2011. The actual shipment date may be subject to change. Based on these dates, dealers should start seeing product the first week of November.

Effective immediately Worthington Distribution is accepting pre-orders.

HAI: HTX2 – A Sequel to Get Excited About

In case you missed it, last week HAI announced they will be releasing an HTX2 later this month. The original HTX worked with Automation Studio and provided A/V device control from the 5.7e and 10p/e. It made the most sense with the 10p/e because most 5.7e’s are typically mounted on the wall and the 10p/e was portable. That being stated, the 10 p/e’s are no longer available and the portable solution has become the iPad and iPhone. So how are you going to tie in A/V control? The answer – HTX2.

To set the stage, let’s look at the customizable remote market. It nearly disappeared overnight approximately a year ago. The release of the iPad at $499 left customers asking why a high end remote is $1,000+ (installed) when the iPad is only $499. Good question and the results were several product lines disappearing including Nevo and Pronto. Customer’s wanted a solution for control from their existing portable devices. The HTX did not address that change in the market; however, the HTX2 will!

Unlike the movies, product sequels are often much better. It is a chance to reevaluate the market and improve the product solution. Expect HTX2 to do just that. Step one is a major hardware change. The HTX2 experience is targeted to the iPad/iPhone user. While the Automation Studio features will still work, we expect the main interest with the HTX2 will be the integration with the forthcoming HAI iPad app along with an update to the iPhone app. These new software applications feature a new room architecture that allows the installer to assign system hardware to rooms. The user will be able to choose a room and then control only the hardware appropriate to that room. In addition, a new button will be available that will launch to HTX2 rendered customer interfaces. Typically, this will be control of A/V interfaces; however, in reality, these pages could control any device connected to the HTX2! I start to think about that level of integration and things start getting real exciting in a hurry. As well, the HTX2 page design will be done in a free HAI utility. This will make A/V programming and interface development a streamlined process with a number of benefits that makes building interfaces easier.

If the HTX2 sounds a great deal like a Bitwise BC4, it should. It is not a big secret that HAI’s HTX was a modified version of the Bitware BC4 before the Pro version was released with iPhone/iPad integration. The HTX2 is based on the current Pro version of the BC4 and has all of the features that have made Bitwise one of the fastest growing companies in our industry. So why not just buy a BC4? The answer is the HAI iPhone/iPad App integration. Since the release of the HAI iPhone App we have been receiving requests from dealers to integrate with Bitwise. The HTX2 hardware and custom HAI software will contain custom code that will allow integration directly with the HAI iPhone and iPad Apps. This will greatly simplify installation and make full home control easier.

So what about the Bitwise TC4? In many ways, nothing changes. The BC4 remains an excellent theater controller. In addition, nothing prevents Bitwise from writing a driver to control HAI. The big difference between the BC4 and the new HTX2 is that the HTX2 will have all of the capabilities of the BC4 AND integration with the HAI iPhone/iPad Apps.

As I look at the HAI strategy and the current product landscape, the HTX2 makes a ton of sense. Without question, the iPad/iPhone are the hardware of choice for the consumer. This new product provides dealers a plug-and-play solution for control of the home, theater and IP camera viewing when home and away. This should be a sequel we all enjoy.