Another Use for ConnectSense Sensors: Power Outage Monitoring

A few months ago we received an email from one of our ConnectSense Temperature Sensor customers with the subject line: "Another great use for your sensors."

In the email, Greg explains how his wife, Nancy, told him that they should reconsider going to their cottage that weekend. When Greg asked why, Nancy explained that the power was out.

How did she know the power was out without being at the cottage?

Nancy had received a text message saying that their Temperature Sensor was offline. The only reason the sensor would be offline would be if there was no power for the Wi-Fi router to run on.

Because it was a nice day and Greg and Nancy were not concerned about the temperature at their cottage, they chose not to take action, but rather to just wait until the power came back on. In other cases, such as inclement weather, they would have known about the power outage immediately and could have made a quick decision to check up on the cottage or call neighbors to make sure power lines weren't down or that there was no damage to the house.

 Greg and Nancy's Temperature Readings

Greg and Nancy's Temperature Readings

Greg then got online and began monitoring the power outage using the recorded temperatures (or lack thereof) from the Temperature Sensor at their cottage.

In the graph to the right, you can see no temperature recorded from about 9pm to 12am. From this, Greg was easily able to see that the power had been out for about three hours. In addition, he was able to determine when the power came back on so that him and Nancy would know when it made more sense to go visit the cottage.

Thanks for the email and sharing another use for the ConnectSense Temperature Sensor, Greg!

Cold Tech: 8 Smart Things to Keep You Warm

Chicago winters are full of wonder when you realize there’s an endless list of places that feel cold when you step out. The obvious ones are your ears, hands, and toes (no thanks to you, “wool” socks), and the less obvious ones like your nose hairs, eyelids, and quads. With forecasts in the low 20's by next weekend, the chilliest of us have turned to tech to solve our frostbite fears. High tech or the highway: layers just got a little old school.

Read more at ChicagoInno or download the PDF now.

How to Prevent Freezing Pipes this Winter

frozen pipes

When the temperature drops and pipes freeze, the result can be disastrous.  A 1/8th inch crack in a pipe can leak up to 250 gallons of water a day! Leaks like this can result in flooding, major structural damage to your home and leave you at a huge risk for mold.  According to State Farm, the average cost of a claim for broken pipes due to freezing is $15,000.  Pipes that burst when no one is home are much more devastating. When the basement and other areas of the home unknowingly flood, costs in damage can rise to as much as $70,000.

Traditionally, people try and prevent pipes from freezing by leaving cabinets open and letting the water run from their faucets at a slow trickle.  Neither of these methods are foolproof or ideal.  

Leaving the cabinets open in some homes is fine, but for parents of small children (like myself), it poses a huge risk.  There are cleaners and other toxic substances inside of my kitchen cabinets that I would not want my kids to gain possession of out of concern for their health.

 He may be cute... but he gets into everything!

He may be cute... but he gets into everything!

Leaving the water running does not always prevent frozen pipes and can be a costly decision. A quick check of the USGS Water calculator shows that 2 faucets left running at a trickle will waste 22 gallons of water or more per day.  After a few weeks of cold weather, the cost to your water bill is sure to add up.

temperature sensor

The ConnectSense wireless Temperature Sensor is a better solution for preventing frozen pipes in your home. This sensor can monitor the temperature of your pipes and alert you only when the temperature gets low enough and you should take action. This eliminates the need to waste water or leave cabinets open unnecessarily.

I set up my own wireless Temperature Sensor in my home last year as the temperature started to drop into the teens on a regular basis.  I am always particularly concerned about the sink in my kitchen since it is right on an outside wall.  If underneath your sink is anything like mine, there are no open power sockets to plug into, so ConnectSense's long-lasting battery power works perfectly for this application.  I set my sensor to record at every hour, as I felt that would be satisfactory for catching any drops in temperature.  If you are concerned about rapidly dropping temperatures, you can set the sensor to record the temperature even more regularly, but note that it will drain the batteries in the unit faster.

I then set up my rules in the ConnectSense cloud application for my wireless temperature sensor.

ConnectSense rules

First I created a rule to send a text message to both my wife and me if the temperature drops below 40°.  Should it get that low, we would take some of the traditional precautions of running the water, wrapping the pipes, or opening the cabinets.  The nice part about having this alert is that none of those methods are necessary until the temperature actually gets to that point.  This allows us to save money by not running the water and not have the hassle of having the cabinets open.

The second rule I created for the more urgent scenario is a rule that would result in a phone call to my wife and me should the temperature below the sink drop below 35°.  This would be close to freezing temperatures, and immediate action would be needed.  Having the phone call option for notification is also particularly important because a text message would likely not wake either of us while sleeping, while a phone call would.

water sensor

For added protection, I also installed a ConnectSense Water Sensor under my sink.  In the event of a leak or flood from a burt pipe, I will receive a phone call so I can deal with the water before it becomes a huge problem.  

After a few days of having the wireless Temperature Sensor installed under my sink, I can attest that it definitely gave me the peace of mind to not worry about having my pipes burst while I am at work or away from the house.  Checking the data, I saw that even when it was around 0° outside, I could easily monitor the temperature under our sink and make sure our our pipes—and our home—were not in danger.

How to Create a Completely Smart Home with Internet of Things Devices All from Chicago

With the Data Portal3D-printed street sensors, the WindyGrid,  and a commitment to democratizing open city data, Chicago is distinguishing itself as a leader in 'Smart Cities.' (This reputation was solidified when the city was chosen as the host for the 'Internet of Things World Forum,' a global gathering of industry thought-leaders, this summer).

On a more micro-level, Chicago is also a leader in the 'Smart Home,' with several startups and companies developing connected devices for individual environments. In fact, a consumer can monitor, control, and secure their entire home - from heat to lighting to energy to alarms - with Internet of Things products built in Chicago. Here's how...

Read more at ChicagoInno or download the PDF now.