Stopping the Silent Killers

Learn how your integration company can help customers detect hazardous gases, such as carbon monoxide (CO).

Warming Up to Temperature Alerts

Another environmental hazard in need of detection and monitoring is temperature. For the home it could be loss of heating in the winter when away. Commercially, the big temperature danger is the loss of refrigeration in walk-in food freezers, server/clean rooms, laboratory freezers and wine cellars.

Carbon Dioxide Toxicity
Contrary to many views and comments, carbon monoxide (CO) gas is slightly lighter than air and carbon dioxide (CO2) is slightly heavier than air.

Today’s modern wireless and IP technology has allowed for some new and exciting environmental alarm systems, such as the Winland EnviroAlert EA800-IP. The system accepts both wired and wireless sensors with a range up to 1,000 feet. It can accept up to four wires and four wireless sensors that can detect temperature, humidity and presence of water. Because of the IP connectivity, alarm notification can be sent via text, E-mail and locally via dry contact and local sounder. While environmental alarms are important, it is equally important to be able to record and report temperature trends. A good example of this is programming the system to allow for the high temperature spikes from the defrost cycle in freezer units. With today’s controllers this can often be done through programming. Another option is the use of a bottle of glycerin adapted as a temperature probe buffer. This will help to substantially reduce false temperature alarms from the warmer defrost cycling.

Companies such as Winland also offer lower cost temperature detection devices for small businesses and possible residential applications. The economical Temp Alert TA-1 Model is a good example. It is basically a mechanical bi-metallic sensor with mechanically adjustable low and high alarm limit contact arms. It can be directly mounted in the cooler versus wireless electronic units that have to be mounted outside with a probe installed insid
e the cooler.

One word of caution from personal experience; make sure mechanical sensors such as the Temp Alert are mounted in the cooler away from vibration sources such as closing of heavy cooler doors as these devices are sensitive to vibration. This will reduce the possibility of false temperature alarms.

Coming of Multisensors & Robotics

One of the challenges of environmental hazards detection is that it is based on a system of fixed detectors. Detectors are located in the most probable area that a hazard might occur; however, it is hard to anticipate always what direction the air will be flowing from a hazard like a gas leak. This is where robotic security can step in to save the day.

Large facilities can now be economically patrolled by the Vigilant sentry robot from Gamma 2 Robotics, for instance. The robots have a cybernetic brain that features disruptive artificial intelligence. This allows the Vigilant to operate independently without manual supervision or remote control. Besides intrusion, fire and smoke detection, the Vigilant can also monitor for temperature, humidity, water, gas and chemicals while making its tireless security rounds.

The days of testing the environment with a Star Trek Tricorder may be here. A recent startup company called Sensorcon has shown great versatility in providing a single, small multigas sensor called the Sensordrone that interfaces via Bluetooth and operates with open source smartphone apps.

The unit combines 11 sensors in one handheld device. The technology has recently evolved from a consumer device into the Sensordrone core-powered USB climate logger. Expect to see this versatile Sensordrone technology in future environment monitoring systems.

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About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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