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  • Advice Corner: Temperature@lert Sensors and High-Voltage Wiring

    Temperature@lert recently encountered a situation with one of their best customers, a well-known and respected entertainment company. This particular company is the largest provider of family entertainment in the world with more than 3000 employees, and hosts a variety of productions for more than 30 million people annually. The specific circumstances and resulting solution can benefit other customers in similar predicaments.

     Temperature@lert Cellular Device

    The Setup:

    The customer has several Temperature@lert Cellular Edition devices deployed around the world for their operations, and each device hosts approximately 3-4 wired temperature sensors. These sensors range from 6’ to 150’ in length.  Many of the longer sensors were mounted alongside a conduit that housed electrical wiring for a motor. The sensors were attached to the side of the conduit housing with zipties.

    Temperature@lert Cellular Device + Sensor Cloud Service: How it works graphic

    The Problem:

    The customer uses the PRO Sensor Cloud Plan, which allows constant temperature readings for every five minutes. They noticed that the Temperature@lert sensors (alongside the conduit) were only recording readings 3-5 times per day. This error was not related to the Temperature@lert Cellular Edition.

    The Cause and Solution

    After trying several creative strategies to rectify the situation, Temperature@lert Technical Support was able to identify the cause of the reading disruption. The conduit housing contained several wires that transmitted high voltage electricity to the stated motor, some as high as 220 volts. Ultimately, the electromagnetic field (EMF) of these wires was causing interference and thereby preventing the temperature sensors from transmitting readings to the Cellular Edition. With this in mind, Temperature@lert advised the customer to situate the sensors away from the high voltage conduit. Once this was completed, the customer reported that the sensors were effectively transmitting readings every five minutes as originally intended, and thus indicating that the problem had been resolved.

    Free EBook on Temperature Monitoring

    Temperature@lert would like to open this discovery to all customers and potential prospects as a statement of best installation practices. Whenever possible, ensure that Temperature@lert sensors are not placed alongside (or near) high voltage electrical wiring as stated in the above example. For more information on installation best practices and troubleshooting your device, please contact Temperature@lert technical support for assistance.

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  • Temperature Sensor Vendors: Innovation or Stagnation?

    Temperature Sensor Vendors: Innovation or Stagnation?

    The sensor market has been discussed in a variety of innovation circles, mostly focused around the future of measurement and big data. The global environmental sensor and monitoring market was valued at $11.1 billion in 2010. This market is expected to reach $11.3 billion in 2011 and $15.3 billion in 2016, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5% between 2011 and 2016. 

    Many people are asking the same question, "what can I measure (with new sensor technology), and how can I benefit from it?". Whether the benefit is financial (driving down energy costs to save money, for example), or simply informational (measurement of processes and efficiency), the sensor market now boasts a variety of sensor types and options for buyers.

    And yet, the news of innovation often seems to come from the hardware side. Temperature sensor vendors, in particular, are highlighting their innovations from this angle. As an example, Monnit, a large player in the wireless sensor market, has unveiled two new hardware products to add alongside their comprehensive product lineup. And while these product innovations are significant, there's still something missing, something to be desired.

     What's missing? Let's back up a bit. In the environmental sensor market, cloud-based online dashboards are invaluable to remote viewers (or those offsite that wish to see the device status). These dashboards can consolidate the information from the sensor hardware into a digestible and user-friendly interface. The software can also spin graphs, charts, and reports for demonstrating compliance. Still, the software seems to dwell in stagnation behind the hardware announcements for many sensor vendors. In general, software upgrades seem to be low on the priority list, and product flexibility can run stale. After all, you can't have smart hardware coupled with dumb software, imagine an iPhone 5 running iPhone OS 1.0 as its base operating system. On the flip side, imagine if iOS 7 was not compatible with existing iPhone 4S models. Both sound silly, right? The question is, can hardware innovation be released without supplemental software upgrades or updates? 

    The answer is, plainly, no.  New sensor and device hardware is a newsworthy announcement, but software upgrades can be equally as important. Apple seems to understand this; hardware updates (usually in the Fall) are often followed by software upgrades soon after. The understanding is that new hardware is best optimized for use by supplemental, upgraded software (that isn't years old). 

    Temperature sensor vendors (as a whole) rely upon these software updates and upgrades to keep new devices up to speed with legacy systems and programs, but also for development of enhanced capabilities. A vendor cannot simply introduce a new product with the same smorgasbord of offerings and features in the software.  New software features, such as escalation alerts (establishing an alert hierarchy) and corrective action notation (for compliance purposes), are two particular software updates that can really expand the flexibility of new (and legacy) hardware. Current customers may feel alienated or "locked in" if the new software isn't compatible with an older device. New features are great, but if they're only for new purchasers, they're virtually meaningless (and perhaps insulting) to established customers.

    Ultimately, an innovative sensor vendor will couple new hardware with a software package that integrates new features and capabilities for the new device, but also allows integration with existing products and services. Software changes should be focused on the entire product lineup and not solely for the product-of-the-week. It's easy to be distracted by the press releases and the general enthusiasm behind the product launches, but upgrades and expanded device capabilities (software based) are the real drivers of innovation in the sensor market. 

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  • FSIS Appliance Monitoring: Ovens, Microwaves, and Freezers

    The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an arm of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has maintained 'best practices' for measuring temperature in different refrigerated/heated environments. These tests will tell you if your equipment is in correct working order. For food safety and equipment accuracy, temperature sensors/probes have a range of applications for different storage/cooking methods.


    Oven Sensors:

    An average oven (for cooking meat and poultry) should be set for 325°F or higher. To maintain accuracy, a temperature sensor/thermometer should be used to ensure that the oven is functioning properly. Misleading oven temperatures can comprise both food quality and safety. The FSIS suggests that oven thermometers/sensors should be hung from a rack in the center of the oven. Be sure to test multiple temperatures (apart from 325°F) to ensure continued accuracy with increased/decreased heat. As per the FSIS advice, some ovens may "run hot" and any normal "variation" should be accounted for when measuring the overall temperature. 


    Microwave Probes:

    Albeit a bit tricky, microwave temperatures can be monitored using specialized probes or with built-in hardware. Consumer-grade microwaves often have this feature built-in, highlighted by this ehow.com article on Frigidaire Microwaves. Other consumer brands allow similar measurements. For commercial uses, however, there are more specialized probes for microwave ovens. These probes are typically immune to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI), Radio Frequencies (RF), and microwaves, and have an expanded temperature range (from 10°C to over 950°C). These probes, while often costly, give both accurate and precise readings of temperature for commercial microwaves. For these applications, ensure that yoursensor/thermometer can withstand the various types of interference to maintain accurate readings. 


    Freezer Sensors:

    Borrowing a few tips from our article "Where to place a Temperature Sensor: Vaccine Refrigeration", the same applies forFreezers. Each section of the Freezer has some temperature variation, and this must be taken into account when using a sensor/thermometer. The FSIS recommends placement between frozen food packages in the center of the freezer, with a 5-8 hour waiting period. After the waiting period, the temperature should read between 0-2°F. These "packaged" buffers are a useful variable, as they represent a common occurrence in freezer storage. The presence of the buffers and temperature readout will indicate if the Freezer is within a functional range (based on the controlled variable).

    If you missed it, See our article "Buffer Vials for Temperature Monitoring: Propylene Glycol vs Sand" for an accuracy comparison of buffer substances for temperature sensors and probes.

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  • Temperature@lert Surpasses Over $1 Billion in Assets Protected

    Temperature@lert, a leading provider of low-cost, high-performance temperature monitoring products, is now protecting over $1 Billion of customer assets.  Temperature@lert's mission is to provide companies and individuals with remote monitoring and alerting of temperature and other environmental conditions to alleviate customer worries about system malfunctions or product damage due to changes in temperature or other environmental conditions. 

    Temperature@lert was founded and funded in 2005 by CEO Harry Schechter in Washington, D.C. with the USB Edition as their first temperature-monitoring device developed. Currently Temperature@lert’s central office is located in Boston, MA and their current product and service offerings include: USB Edition, WiFi Edition, Cellular Edition, Solar Cellular Edition, and Sensor Cloud. Several of their products and services have won awards ranging from the MITX Innovation Awards to the American Business Awards’ Gold Stevie.

    Temperature@lert’s award-winning devices have aided users in major industries spanning from Information Technology (IT) to Biopharmaceuticals and Medical to Commercial Refrigeration.  Clients include Abbott Laboratories, Microsoft, Apple, Heil Environmental, Merck Corporation, University of Connecticut, Vanderbilt University, and University of Pennsylvania to name a few.

    “By giving 110% personally and having established a talented team willing to do the same, Temperature@lert has successfully grown in both research & development and users over the past eight years,” says CEO & President, Harry Schechter. “We now protect over $1 Billion of customer assets with over 40,000 devices in 50 countries with the world’s easiest to use solution. Temperature@lert’s mission to monitor environmental conditions and prevent problems related to such conditions is truly being realized and fulfilled. We strive to keep innovating and alleviating environmental conditions related disasters globally.”

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  • It's Hot! It's Cold! Oh No... It's Your Fluctuating Server Room Temperature Again...

    We know that every room, especially a server room, has its own microclimate. Even sensors that are inches apart can read different values! Although similar applications might share the same temperature threshold range, every sensor placement location is unique. It sounds strange; that there would be such fluctuations in temperature within inches, but this happens because your server room has its own minature weather pattern!

    So how do you figure out the correct temperature range for monitoring your server room? Or where to place your sensor? As many conditions as there are for the actual ourdoor weather patterns, there are many variables for sensor placement and operational range because of the changing indoor microclimate.

    Essentially, in order to determine the right thresholds for your server room "environment", you need to acquire adequate baseline knowledge. This process is called "baselining", which involves monitoring your server room first to establish a history of normal conditions. Temperature is a significant threat to your equipment and in order to battle this, you need to discover and establish your server room's microclimate (i.e. baselining)!

    Baselining is basically achieved through studying the space of your server room while considering the components within it. Thic can be done to determine the proper ranges for both temperature and humiditySo what spots are the most critical for consideration when it comes to sensor placement?

    1. Hot Spots
    At the bare minimum, place at least one sensor in a central location in the room. Note: every room has its own mini weather pattern, and conditions from one part to another can vary based on what the room contains and where vents/returns are located. The simplest rule of thumb is that heat rises. So, the higher the sensor placement, the warmer the temperature

    2. Cooling Vent Locations
    Whether it is an air conditioner, economized cooler, or another chilling device, it will affect the sensor reading depending on proximity of the sensor to the vent. If you want to monitor whether your cooling unit may be going out at different times,place a sensor in the air duct and you can determine when the cooling unit is off. Placement of a sensor in close proximity to the cooling unit may cause the sensor to pick up cooling unit "cycles", sending you false alerts in the process.

    3. Exhausts
    Besides cooling vents, you need to also consider hot vents from server cabinets or compressors. Placing a sensor near or in between these areas is crucial as high temperatures can cause damage to hardware. The exhaust-based alerts will draw attention to the high temperatures within the servers, allowing you to prevent loss of hardware (and revenue!)

    4. Ancillary Humidification Systems
    These systems help control humidity. Too much humidity can cause condensation, which leads to electrical shorts. Not enough humidity causes one to have quite the mini-electrifying experience with static electricity at its peak. Place your humidity sensor in a location seperate from the ancillary humidification system in order to prevent the sensor from getting shorted and to avoid false humidity readings.

    By monitoring temperature and humidity, one can have early warning of any disasters looming in your server room. It is always better to prevent a disaster rather than mop up after it (speaking of, flood sensors are great too!). If you need assistance in determining the best practices and routines for your server room, please feel free to shoot me an email:diane@temperaturealert.com.

    Happy Monitoring!

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  • The Concerning Environmental Conditions in Your Server Room

    Scorching temperatures, flooding, and humid conditions all come together to form the perfect storm. However, this doesn't occur in just nature. This can also occur in your server room! Servers are expensive pieces of equipment and the last thing you want to have is a server meltdown.

    Last week we discussed how temperature plays a significant factor in maintaining the lifespan of your server. When monitoring your server room, you need to be aware of the various conditions from temperature to humidity to flooding. Reason being that any of these environmental hazards can seriously damage your servers.

    Power outages, air conditioner failures, water leaks, or high humidity can cause an array of problems. Together, these conditions can shutdown or even melt server room equipment. Flooding and high humidity can cause electrical shorts as well.

    Air conditioners and cooling units are neccesary to prevent your server room temperatures from reaching scorching temperatures. Nevertheless, power failure can happen to anyone. When the power fails, the cooling units stop cooling. Without fully-operational cooling units, server temperatures can reach catastrophic extremes. According to ASHRAE, you have about 15 minutes before a temperature problem arises, mostly due to the high rate of change. In summary, Proper cooling systems, air conditioning units, and solid monitoring practices are important for any server room.

    Tune in next week to learn more about how to effectively monitor your server room or learn more now from our free E-Book.

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  • Floodwatch: Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and Flood Sensors

    The Story

    For Hurricane Sandy victims, deterrance against mother nature was largely impossible. Large manmade structures were washed away, countless citizens were displaced, businesses suffered catastrophic damage. Even after a few weeks removed from the disaster, there are already many forgotten stories.


    The Damaged

    Take this story from the Huffington Post; in a small slice of life, a man returns to his Mochi ice cream factory to find thousands of dollars in melting ice cream in his freezers. Once a business with $1.5 million in yearly revenue, Yoshiaki Yuyama found himself surrendering to the realities of mother nature. Countless other businesses have been forced to rebuild, shut their doors, and in most cases, are squeezed into a legal battle with the insurance companies. Flood insurance is a tricky and complicated legal issue, and is the next unfortunate step for many of these business owners as they attempt to recoup their losses.


    The New Reality

    The scope of Hurricane Sandy was overwhelming for many small business owners and homeowners, and as the legal processes begin and the fingers begin to extend the blame, what can we learn from this disaster? Temperature@lert recognizes that while news outlets and Weather.com can give us the basic information on a storm; the possible effects, after-effects, and the strength of the system, businesses and homeowners must take both practical and legal steps to protect their assets. While all businesses in potential flood areas should have (at least) standard flood insurance, a legal agreement is not the only step to take. Floodsmart.gov notes that the average flood insurance claim is around $75,000, a testament to the damage that can be caused by flooding. For some smaller businesses and homeowners who are beyond danger zones, the legal option can often feel like an unneccesary extra. Hurricane Sandy's power extinguished that philosophy, as some are witnessing the costly consequences of flooding. 


    What you can do:

    Aside from the insurance question, and beside the massive damage reports of up to $50 billion, how can those in lower-risk areas prevent a disaster in the future? How can we save the businesses and homes that are outside of the sweet spot of a disaster, but within the "strike" zone? 

    -Review all emergency procedures
    -Keep steady communication: Establish means of communication (Phone, E-Mail, Social Media) with family members, employees, and superiors.

    -Use alerting devices to respond quickly.
    -Raise electrical components above projected flood levels.

    As a provider of Flood Sensors, Temperature@lert indeed believes that the value of installing any flood sensor can be invaluable in deterrance of flood damage. Flood Alert devices can provide smaller businesses and those outside the "sweet spot" with an extra level of confidence; reponsive flood sensors will alert owners to a flood problem almost immediately. From there, depending on the situation, owners and individuals can respond to their flooded zone in a timely fashion. In these cases, the difference between instant response and delayed discovery can be a blank check. See the infographic for more information on protecting your home or small business.

    Temperature Alert IG v3


    Depending on the size of your business or home, and the proximity to a disaster, a flood sensor is one way to protect yourself.

    Conventional door alarms work by circuit completion; if an alarmed door is opened, the circuit between the sensors is broken and an alarm is sounded.

    Flood Sensors work in the opposite mechanical fashion. Metal contact points are installed onto the bottom of the sensor.


    Once two of the metal contact points are in contact with water, an electrical circuit is completed and the device sends a flood alert. These devices are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and are typically resistant to distilled water or other non-flood substances. 

    When using a flood sensor, it's important to test the device regularly to ensure that it's functioning properly. Malfunctioning flood sensors can lead to severe damage, especially if there is pump automation involved, as seen in the (still) developing Kempsey situation.

    The Temperature@lert Flood Sensor is a low cost method of ensuring flood protection and alerting. Download our Free E-Book to learn more about Temperature@lert's monitoring solutions and flood sensors.

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  • Protecting properties from frozen water pipe damage with WiFi and cellular technology

    The sun is rising later, setting earlier, and soon the shortest day of the year will be here.  Happy winter season!

    Vacation home owners and property managers in both warmer and colder climates take heed of this time of the year as their buildings can be exposed to freezing temperatures and potential damage to water pipes.

    Temperature@lert's latest White Paper explores the cost of this problem and some possible solutions, from simple, time proven low-cost methods up to the latest wireless communication monitoring systems.  Exploring both WiFi and Cellular based temperature sensor technology, the paper outlines the operation of each, and describes how a browser interface cloud based system can add additional levels of fault tolerant behavior and peace of mind.

    Read this latest Temperature@lert White Paper addition at Link to White Paper

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  • Can temperature sensors be too sensitive? New Temperature@lert White Paper discusses Sensor Sensitivity.

    We often hear the phrase "you're too sensitive" applied to people.  I'm not sure that's really a true assessment; possibly the person saying it is not sensitive enough when it comes to other's feelings. With temperature sensors, "too sensitive" may have real meaning. 

    We may always want things to happen fast, but if they happen too fast sometimes the speed will lead to snap judgments or actions when waiting a few seconds will reveal that nothing unusual is really happening. Environmental monitoring systems that provide alerting functions can sometimes be too sensitive when it comes to changes in temperature.  For example, if a sensor is reading room temperature in a vacation home and someone leaves the door open on a cold day as they unload the week's grocery order, an alert can be sent out when no action is required.  The sensor may be too close to the door, so moving it will help.  In some cases moving the sensor may not be possible, so slowing down the response will be needed.

    Our latest White Paper discusses considerations of sensor sensitivity when selecting and placing temperature sensors.  The White Paper can be viewed in our Resources section, or by clicking on this link. Link to Sensor Sensitivity White Paper

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  • New Temperature@lert Whitepaper: Considerations for Fault Tolerant Environmental Monitoring Strategies

    Ever wonder what happens if there's a problem with your network and your environmental monitoring system can't let you know there's a problem?  Although network reliability has improved significantly over time, problems do occur.  Power outages due to storms or unplanned breaker trips pop up from time to time.  And when they do, sensitive materials, equipment and products are at risk.  Our latest Whitepaper discusses using a Sensor Cloud strategy to provide security even when power and network outages occur.  Read the latest in the Resource section where this and other Whitepapers are found, or to get there more quickly, click on this link:  Link to Whitepaper Page

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