Taking the lead from Paul Braren during the BYOB show 125, I decided to pursue installing some additions to my home automation system. My house has smoke detectors that are hardwired and as it turns out no longer work. Armed with the knowledge that I need to replace these smoke detectors, I took Paul’s recommendation and bought 4 of the First Alert voice smoke alarms. Two with Carbon Monoxide sensors and two without. In addition, I was intrigued by the prospect of also adding water leak detection as these are two very high concerns in total home protection.
Insteon Smoke Hub
Setting up the smoke detector is pretty easy. As I have an ISY 994i controller, all I had to do was to “Add and Insteon Device” from the menu and add the device address, obviously, if you have a different controller you will need to just add this device. Once it is added, it configures the device with independent states such Smoke, Carbon Monoxide, Test etc., This allows you to create custom programs/scenes using one or more of the states such as taking an action when smoke is detected, or notifying you when you are testing the unit, or when there is a malfunction. After I configured the initial First Alert Smoke detector by pairing it to the Insteon Smoke Hub, all I had to do was to connect all the other smoke alarms to the master unit (first device that got paired). What you end up with is all the smoke detectors are attached to one another, and the first unit is attached to the Smoke Hub, which of course is linked to your controller. Sounds more complicated than it really is.
Insteon Leak detectors
These are pretty interesting devices that are extremely easy to setup. They use conductivity sensors at the bottom of the unit to determine when a leak has taken place. Once you have detected a leak condition, it sends a signal to your home automation controller to trigger events such as email/text, sounding alarms, and in more sophisticated installations, shutting off a valve. What you do with the signal is left entirely to the imagination and creativity. For me, I choose the simple approach to start with and had it notify me via email as soon as leak is detected. In my testing, it was very quick at responding to a small amount of water and within about 2 second of spilling water on the floor I had an email that indicated a leak (similar to the one below from the smoke detector). As you can see from the picture below, the leak detector sets up in three states, Wet, Dry, and Heartbeat where you can have it trigger on a wet state, verify when it is dry, or just check that it is working correctly.
Alerts to my Mobile Phone
In closing, I must say that I am pretty impressed with all three of these devices. They obviously do not replace monitored systems but for me they allow me to breathe better when I am gone, Knowing that I will get an early warning of an undesirable condition makes feel better. I can just quickly log and view my cameras to see if there is anything in hopes that I or someone can respond to the problem before major damage happens. If I get a smoke alarm trigger, I can check and call 911 faster than if I just wait for a neighbor to call the fire department or to call me. If is not an end all solution but it sure takes you allot further to it. Now that I have set it up, I really ask myself why I did not do it sooner.
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