Low Temperature Sensors

I remember a number of years ago a friend of mine was heading away over the Christmas holidays, and thinking I might get something extra in my stocking, I had volunteered to water his plants while he was away. Aaron agreed that I would visit his house every other day until he got back. He made arrangements for snow removal in the event of snow, gave me a key and a code for the alarm system, and we had done the walk around the house so I knew where all the plants were located. He had an average-size house and only a few plants so this should be easy right? Well for the most part it was OK; I visited the house every two days, watered the plants, took a general look around, and left.

This routine went on for about a week until Christmas Eve, and as Murphy’s Law would have it, if something is going to happen it’s always going to be at the most inconvenient time. I arrived at the house planning on a 15-minute stop, but when I opened the door it hit me: COLD. I mean the house was really cold and the tile floor under my feet was making my feet numb. I went to the thermostat and the needle was buried below the lowest setting on the dial. To make matters worse, we were experiencing a cold snap and that night was forecast to be -16, so I knew that if I didn’t discover what was going on the next thing I would be dealing with is frozen pipes. It turns out that my friend had forgotten to call for automatic delivery from his oil company and the tank had run out, but thanks to an oil delivery company with the Christmas spirit, the day was saved. All too often the story doesn’t end happily, but rather with a flooded house and an insurance claim in the middle of the Christmas holidays. By the way, that was a true story.

My friend was fortunate that he didn’t get a call in the middle of his vacation telling him his house was flooded. I would dare say if that had not been the day I was scheduled to water his plants, the story would have been different. However, the story could have been very different if he had only installed a low temperature sensor on his alarm system.

A low temperature sensor is a device that can detect when the ambient temperature in the area of the sensor drops below a normal threshold that can be fixed or variable – meaning you can set that temperature.

Fixed Low Temperature Sensors

A fixed sensor’s threshold temperature is what it is, and cannot be changed. They are usually the most inexpensive to have installed and can be either hardwired or wireless. As an example, Honeywell has a fixed low temperature sensor that will activate if the temperature in the room drops and stays below 7C or 45F and stays there for more than ten minutes. If it does, the sensor will activate. Once activated the alarm system treats it like any other type of alarm and sends it into the Central Monitoring Station, as a low temperature alarm condition. The sensor is adjustable by your installer to monitor for other conditions as well, like a hot temperature condition, which is when the temperature rises above 35C or 95F for more than ten minutes, or, with the use of an optional water probe, to protect against flooding.

Variable Low Temperature Sensors

A variable temperature sensor allows the end user to adjust the temperature threshold in which the sensor will trigger. Usually these type of sensors cost a bit more, but they typically have more features available to the customer such as the storage of alarm events, or an LED screen. Similar to the fixed sensor described above, it’s common for a variable temperature sensor to have settings for both high and low temperature conditions, but may have more intelligent firmware built in to discriminate between real or a false low temperature condition depending on the manufacturer.

If you would like more information on protecting your property with a Low Temperature device contact Wilsons Security at (902) 453-3388

Bad WiFi. How do I fix it?

Let’s talk about  bad WiFi.

Have you ever had to hold your smartphone high above your head in order to get a strong WiFi signal, in your own home? Does it take forever to load a webpage on your laptop? Does Netflix freeze on you mid-movie, or appear grainy on your TV?

I hear these complaints, and more, from people all the time. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way!

But first – why are so many people having issues with their WiFi?

To get a better understanding of this, we have to think about where WiFi has been heading over the years. Not long ago, the only thing we needed WiFi for was to surf the Internet and send emails, so routers were fairly basic. Now we’re demanding more and more of our Internet service (streaming TV shows, playing high-definition online games, connecting tons of new WiFi-enabled devices all over the house), but many peoples’ home WiFi haven’t been able to keep up.

I strongly believe that any device that can be hardwired to the Internet, should be hardwired, and that WiFi should be left for mobile devices. I also think that we need to change the way we think about WiFi in the home. With so many new WiFi-enabled devices, we are now expecting WiFi service all over the home, rather than just one or two rooms. Plus, with piping inside walls, such as with heat pumps, and other factors, the WiFi signal in most homes is not consistent. Often, a single router can no longer provide enough strength and speed for all the activities we like to use Internet for.

The best way to deal with these problems is with Wireless Access Points (WAP). These devices are hardwired back to your router or Ethernet switch, and receive Internet just as strongly as any other hardwired device in your home. You can have them strategically placed in multiple locations in your home, where you tend to require WiFi. This is so that your laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices only have to reach the nearest WAP to get WiFi, instead of reaching the router all the way in the basement.

  • It’s often optimal to have one WAP on each level of the home
  • Normally, you would want to install WAPs while your house is being built, but many houses already have telephone outlets that are wired with standard Cat5e cable, which can be used for this purpose
  • Your WAPs are encrypted and share the same password, so that it only appears once on your mobile device

A quick note on other solutions – Many people set up “repeaters” throughout their homes to try to tackle the problem of bad WiFi. Compared with Wireless Access Points, they tend to be slower because the repeater has to “repeat” everything, both ways. For example, your laptop sends signals to the repeater, and the repeater repeats that to your router, and back again.

Another solution people choose is to get multiple routers, but this can cause IP address problems if they’re not properly configured. If you’re looking to improve your WiFi experience at home, Wireless Access Points are the way to go.

If you have any questions about WiFi, feel free to send me a message!

What is Z-Wave?

Everyone’s toting the latest Home Automation products, but what makes them work?

Whether it’s a new electronic door lock or light switch, we often see references to technologies such as Z-Wave, Zigbee, or Insteon. The simplest explanation would be to say that these are technologies designed to allow regular household items to work together. It is important to note that these technologies do not work with each other (Z-Wave will not work with Zigbee, and so on). At Wilsons Security, we work with Z-Wave devices, so that’s what we’ll focus on in this blog post.

Wireless: Z-Wave is a wireless protocol, meaning that it doesn’t require running any wires to connect your devices to each other. It operates in the 908.42 MHz range.

Customizable: There are now over 1000 compatible devices, according to the Z-Wave Alliance, giving you a broad range of options when setting up your home automation system.

Strong, expandable network: One of the main features of the Z-Wave protocol is that it uses a ‘Mesh Network’. This means that one Z-Wave device passes along a signal to the next device until it reaches its intended destination. Essentially, this means that the more devices you have installed, the larger and stronger the network becomes.

Efficient: Another benefit of Z-Wave is that it uses very little power, making it great for door locks and other battery-powered devices.

Centrally controlled: At Wilsons Security, your security panel is typically your home automation control centre. Your alarm system will send out and receive signals from your Z-Wave devices. For example, when you arm or disarm your system, it can cause your lights to turn off or on, or even change the heat setting.

Cohesive communication: All products that include Z-Wave technology are licensed through Sigma Designs in Milpitas, California. This means there is tight control over the implementation of the technology, and ensures better compatibility between devices. Some protocols like Zigbee are ‘open source’, which increases the possibility of communication difficulties between Zigbee devices.

The quick facts:

  • Compatible: Any Z-Wave product works with any other Z-Wave product
  • Affordable: Get started with minimum investment then easily add more devices
  • Reliable: Over ten years in the market with 20 million products in homes worldwide
  • Secure: Systems use the same level of encryption as online banking
  • Trusted: Used by 9/10 security companies, along with biggest brand names

Why Smart Connect is Smarter

So, you’ve heard about TechReady, but what makes a Wilsons Smart Connect TechReady system so amazing? Let me explain!

The Two-Cabinet Design

Regardless of what anyone tells you, here’s a fact: You simply cannot use a single cabinet-designed system and maintain the neatness of the panel. By the time your Internet service provider finishes their part of the installation, the cabinet usually becomes a mess of wires – sometimes to the point where customers cannot get the door back on the cabinet! This is where Wilsons Smart Connect’s two-cabinet design comes in. Splitters and power bars are reserved to the lower cabinet, maintaining the neatness of the upper cabinet, giving the customer a much better user experience.

Hinged Door on the Upper Cabinet

All Wilsons Smart Connect systems have a hinged door on the upper cabinet, making it easier than ever to access your equipment. No more having to remove multiple screws and fumble with a heavy door to get access to your system.

Adaptable Outlets

For a true “plug and play” system, we design all of our outlets to be flexible. Many TechReady installers set up the cabinet in a way that leaves the home owner without freedom to make changes. A great example is a telephone outlet; you cannot use this outlet for anything other than the phone without calling a technician to make the changes for you. With our flexible outlets, if you want to turn a phone outlet into an Internet outlet, just unplug the outlet from the phone module and plug it into your Internet module, right inside your Smart Connect cabinet (another reason you’ll love the two-cabinet design). It’s that easy!

Colour Coding Wires

It only adds to the confusion of sorting through your home’s wiring when you discover that the same colour wire is used for everything. We help our customers keep it simple by colour-coding the wires we use, so the patch cords in your cabinet match their corresponding Cat5e cable in the wall.

Pre-wiring for a Wireless Access Point

For a superior WiFi experience at home, nothing provides better coverage than Wireless Access Points (WAP). They put the wireless Internet closer to where you use it, as opposed to the signal only coming from the modem. Unlike a WiFi extender or repeater, WAP is actually hardwired to your main Internet connection, in a similar way to how a desktop computer would be. Most TechReady companies don’t offer this as a standard item, but the pre-wiring for one of these units comes with the Wilsons Smart Connect system, so it’s already there if you ever wish to install a WAP.

Dual Data in the Family Room

Not using a Wireless Access Point? Wilsons Smart Connect hasn’t forgotten about you! The optimal location of your WiFi modem is near your Smart Connect cabinet, but we understand that this could very well be under a stairwell or in a utility room, potentially meaning a less-than-stellar WiFi signal. We provide an additional data outlet on the main floor so you can still get all the benefits of your Smart Connect system, while keep your modem in a central location.

You would be hard-pressed to find any other TechReady installing company that looks after you better than Wilsons Smart Connect does!