- Home Improvement
Home Automation via Smartphone – Freeze Alarm
Home Automation – Freeze Alarm
It’s freezing outside! You are away from home on a long mid-winter trip. Before you left home you turned down the thermostat to your energy-saving temperature and turned out the lights.
Your heating system was working just fine when you left home. But you have a nagging worry -- what if the furnace were to fail allowing the temperature inside your home to drop below freezing. Your pipes might freeze causing water damage
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could check the temperature in your home via the Internet? Or you could be automatically notified by phone, with a temperature alert, when the inside temperature dropped down below 40 degrees? Or if the temperature dropped below your own pre-set temperature?
Smart home technology now offers user-friendly systems to check your home temperature via Internet and to receive a freeze alert via phone.
Before I show you how to set up your freeze alarm system, I want to warn you about another freeze danger in your home, and what to do to prevent it. This is based on my own personal experience in bitter cold weather lasting many days.
Install a Valve and Pipe Heating Cable
Let's suppose that it's bitter cold outside. You haven't experienced any freeze alarms because the rooms where you set the sensors are still warm. Your furnace is working ok. You're ready to relax with a good book and a cup of coffee. You go into the kitchen and turn the water on. No water! No water is coming out of your spigot! What happened? Was water service in your neighborhood interrupted? Or did one of your pipes freeze up?
The most likely place for a pipe freeze is where your water service enters your house. There should be a cutoff valve there where you can turn off the water to your home. That is exactly where I found a pipe freeze. Fortunately I was able to fix it before the pipe burst by using heat lamps to warm the pipe.
Then I went to Lowe's and bought a pipe and valve heating cable. It came with a built-in thermostat that turns the heating cable on when the temperature reaches freezing. It warms your service valve and pipe by emitting just enough heat along the length of the cable taped to your valve and pipe.
Now I want to show you two ways to set up a freeze alert system in your house.
Insteon Starter Kit -- Lamp Dimming
Freeze Alert Method #1 – Remote Thermostat Control via Smartphone
Let’s say you have already installed an INSTEON Starter Kit -- light dimming . This basic system allows you to use your PC or Smartphone to check on the status of your controlled appliances and turn them on and off if necessary.
You may have added Internet thermostat control so you can check on the status of your heating system and turn the temperature up or down as necessary.
Freeze Alert Method #2 – A Temperature Sensor Triggers a Temperature eMail at Your Pre-Set Temperature
You may want to set the freeze alert temperature setting yourself. Instead of installing a pre-set 40 degree sensor, install an INSTEON High and Low Temperature Threshold Kit. You set your own temperature alert. This device will provide INSTEON notification when the low (freeze alert) temperature is reached. The sensor has an adjustable temperature range from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to +130 degrees. You can also set it to send a signal when a high temperature has been reached.
If you want an alert phone call you'll also need an INSTEON Remote Control Telephone Alert Kit.
INSTEON Home Automation Technology
INSTEON has become the choice for many do-it-yourselfers. It sends powerline signals over your existing house wiring and, at the same time, sends wireless radio frequency signals on a designated RF frequency.
This makes INSTEON robust and reliable.
It's a modular system -- you can start small and add to it as you want.
A compelling argument this technology is made in Insteon: Smarthomes For Everyone: The Do-It-Yourself Home Automation Technology (Paperback) by Matthew Strebe (2009) 324 pages, available from Amazon.
"INSTEON is well positioned to become the "Ethernet" of home control. It is the lowest cost among reliable options, it has more types of devices available, it is backward compatible with older X10 control network devices, it requires no special planning or equipment to use, and it has the largest market share amongst modern distributed home control technologies. It was exactly these attributes that allowed Ethernet to dominate data networking, and it's a safe bet that INSTEON will dominate home control." (page 5)
DIY home automation -- for safety, convenience and peace of mind
If you have not automated some of the essential tasks you do on a daily basis, you’re missing out on the safety, convenience, and fun of home automation.
Several years ago I began with an IINSTEON starter set-up for controlling my lights. I gradually expanded it to do toer tasks. I am very satisfied. INSTEON has been doing home automation for a long time, not like many of the newcomers. They have kept up-to-date with new products, but retained the same basic dual-mesh technology for maximum reliability.
Home automation with INSTEON is fun! It's convenient! And it's reliable.
Insteon back-up power requirements
What happens when there is a power outage in your house?
Since there is no electricity, your Insteon home automation network will not work without a power backup. Not just any power backup will do -- it must be a pure sine wave generator because Insteon commands that are sent over your existing house wiring work only on pure sine wave power -- the kind you receive from your power supplier.
Even with this limitation, Insteon home automation is an excellent way to add convenience, safety, energy management and fun to home living.