SnapAV sent me its first WiFi-enabled WattBox product to try out. We’ve long yearned for the ability to use OvrC power control in rooms where running a data cable wasn’t feasible. The WattBox 150 Series IP Power Controller (Ultra Compact) | 1 Controlled Bank, 2 Outlets (WiFi or Wired) (say that three times fast!) promises to deliver much better remote management for current OvrC dealers trying to improve their ability to service clients and drive down truck rolls. As Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery would say on SNL, “Does it work, man?” I was about to find out.
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I don’t want to ruin this for you, but this is an installer-facing product. It comes in a plain brown cardboard box with a power cord and some drywall anchors. That’s the way we like it! Oddly my controller didn’t come with any paper instructions.
I decided to download installation instructions from the product page on the SnapAV website. I only knew to do this because I’ve installed a lot of OvrC products before. A new installer may have stumbled here without some quick start instructions inside the box. Once I downloaded the manual, I made the power and network connections and waited for the controller to power up.
I launched the OvrC app and navigated to our Livewire Design Center account. Adding OvrC devices is usually pretty straightforward. In this case, I added the controller by typing in the MAC address and a screen popped up letting me know I’d already added it to our system. I’m not sure whether it’s supposed to auto install, but that appears to be what took place (not that I minded!). After that, I navigated to the OvrC device detail page thinking I could tweak the WiFi settings there. No dice. I decided to re-check the directions. There’s actually a separate document on the SnapAV product page detailing how to set up WiFi. This felt a little disjointed. I didn’t really care, but it wasn’t intuitive. Once again, one of our rookie installers might’ve hiccupped here as well.
The separate WiFi document directs the installer to log in to the web interface to configure WiFi. No big deal. I accessed the IP address using the OvrC app as a guide and was challenged with a username/password prompt. I didn’t know the username/password (nor was it included in the installation instructions). I Googled “default WattBox username/password” and soon had what I needed.
Once on the setup screen, I saw immediately how to scan for the SSID and connect it to the right network. A challenge prompt came up prompting me to click “Save” to make the settings permanent. That particular prompt didn’t have a “Save” button, but I intuited maybe it was on the previous setup screen. It was indeed, but that took me two tries to figure out. After clicking “Save” the controller prompted me to unplug the network cable to use WiFi, which I did, but the controller fell off the network. I waited a few minutes, but no joy. I rebooted the controller by unplugging the power cable and it began to boot. The web user interface went away, but the controller showed up in OvrC a minute later along with three satisfactory green LEDs on the controller itself. I guessed that maybe the IP address changed with the handover from wired to wireless. Bingo!
I tested the controller and it performed flawlessly. Both outlets are controlled together and there’s no surge, but we’re going to sell them like hotcakes. All of the master bedrooms, kid rooms, and guest rooms we’ve left off our remote management scopes of work are now going to be covered. Hallelujah! Anytime we can prevent a truck roll is a huge win for both integrator and customer.
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Final Report Card
Once I got the controller configured, it worked like a champ. The setup instructions should flow better to allow less experienced technicians to install them quickly. We’ll have no problem training our technicians to quickly deploy the WiFi controller, but SnapAV could easily tweak its documentation to make the quick start guide process easier.
We are already specifying the WattBox® 150 Series IP Power Controller (Ultra Compact) | 1 Controlled Bank, 2 Outlets (WiFi or Wired) in projects and look forward to more WiFi-enabled OvrC products from SnapAV down the road!
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