Showing posts with label Sensor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sensor. Show all posts

Battery Life of Insteon Battery Powered Sensors - Door Open / Close Sensor, Water Leak Sensor, Hidden Door Sensor

I have a good number of sensors that have been running in my house for almost a year - 7 of the 2852-222 Water Leak Sensors, 5 of the 2845-222 Hidden Door Sensors, and 6 of the 2843-222 Wireless Open Close Sensors.

In my other posts I've detailed my difficulties with the failures and replacement of the 2412S / 2413S Insteon Power Line Modem which allows my ISY994i to communicate with my Insteon system. Last week I had to replace a defective PLM for the second time - and - in order to reinstall the new PLM in the system, you have to systematically relink all your battery powered Insteon sensors one at a time to the new PLM. So - I spent an evening doing so.

While doing the rounds relinking these sensors to the new PLM, I had to replace batteries in a a few cases. I have some Hidden Door Sensors whose original supplied AAA alkaline battery failed in about 8 months, I have some Wireless Open Close Sensors whose original supplied AA alkaline batteries failed in about 8 months, and I even have one of the Water Leak Sensor batteries fail in less than one year - and these are rated to last 5 years or more.

Battery from the Insteon Wireless Water Leak Detector - a 2700mAh 1.5V Lithium Battery
The batteries in the Wireless Water Leak Sensors are an "LFS" unbranded 1.5V 2700mAh battery. A little research on the interweb indicates that the LFS probably refers to Lithium/Iron Disulfide  (Li-FeS2) batteries. This is the same battery as the Energizer branded Ultimate Lithium batteries - link to the datasheet here. To get this sensor running again, I just installed a regular alkaline AA battery - I'll report how long that battery lasts. But - I also got onto eBay this morning and ordered up several packages of both the AA and AAA sizes of the Energizer Ultimate Lithium battery for future hidden door sensor and open close sensor battery replacements. There are also vendors selling unbranded versions of the Li-FeS2 battery - although I'm not sure how you can be assured you're getting a quality product.

Brother P-Touch Labelling - Installation Date on Batteries
Just because of the time it takes to replace a battery in one of these sensor - I'm going to do some tests on battery life using the Lithium batteries. My aim with this is to try to reduce and minimize the time it takes to maintain my Insteon system. Replacing batteries, relinking and restoring failed devices, replacing PLMs, are all "overhead" to owning and maintaining an Insteon installation. I'd rather be doing other things than tinkering with the system - so hopefully the lithium batteries will perform better - particularly on my deadbolt sensors which are subject to cold temperatures based on where they are installed.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. . My go-to place in Canada for Insteon automation components is


Leak Sensor and Open / Close Sensor Heartbeat Monitoring, Low Battery Monitoring

In the last week I finally got the programming done for heartbeat monitoring and low battery monitoring. I based my programming on an excellent post on the Universal Devices forum by Belias here. I won't reproduce the programming here - it is very well discussed on the forum, but I will add some information about how I integrated it into my system.

Once I had the heartbeat programs operating, with the system variables programmed for each leak sensor and door sensor, I added a line to the notification program that notifies the user of a system fault or leak. This line controls an "Alert Notfication" keypad key scene, a "Water Leak" detected keypad key scene, or a "System Fault" keypad key scene, as appropriate.

For example, when a low battery status is received, or a missed heartbeat is received, an email notification is sent to my email address. In addition, I have an visual indication on my 8 button keypads at my entrance doors and bedroom keypad of the fault.

System Fault Indicator activated - Signals a Missed Heartbeat, Low Battery Indication on a Battery Powered Wireless Insteon Sensor. By pressing the system fault key, you can cancel the fault indication on all keypads where this signal is activated.
Check out my post on custom labelling Insteon Keypad buttons here.

I have set up these keys as controllers for the Alert scene - so that I can cancel the fault or alert on all keypads by toggling any keypad key. With the way the programs are written, they will update the notification every 12 hours - so you would have to cancel the fault indication on the keypad every 12 hours (or allow it to stay lit) until you correct the issue with the wireless device causing the fault.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions.. My go-to place in Canada for Insteon automation components is


Using the Insteon Hidden Door Sensor to Detect Deadbolt Lock Position - Doors Locked / Unlocked

Our house has four exterior doors, all with standard deadbolt locks. I haven't seen the need yet for automatic keypad locks, so we still have the standard deadbolts. Two doors are in the garage, and two in the house. When locking up when leaving the house, or when retiring for the night, it takes a minute or two to check all the doors to ensure they are locked. So, I've been thinking about how to automate the process for some time now.

Two weeks ago I tried my first Insteon Hidden Door Open / Close Sensor to control the lights in our utility room when the door at the bottom of the garage stairs is opened. I was quite impressed with how small, simple and effective this sensor is. The sensor is 3/4" in diameter (body), and the mounting flange on the head is 1" in diameter. I checked, and the mounting flange would fit in the 1" hole drilled behind my deadbolt strike plates.

Deadbolt recess behind the strike plate - already has a 1" hole bored for the deadbolt. 
The hidden door sensor is 3 1/8" deep, behind the flange. I did some carefull measurements and calculations to determine how deep the 3/4" hole would need to be for proper engagement with the end of the deadbolt. I then drilled the 3/4" holes behind the strike plates to EXACTLY THIS DEPTH, so that once installed, the Hidden door sensor will sit at the correct depth, without having to rely on the engagement of the flange on the head.

I also decided to drill the 3/4" holes BEFORE ORDERING the hidden door sensors - this way, in case I hit an obstruction - nail, screw, electrical wire, etc. I would know that I have the installation space available. 3 of my 4 doors had enough space for installation of the Hidden Door Module.
I simply drilled a 3/4" hole centered behind the deadbolt hole. 
 I then ordered and received my Hidden Door Sensors. I did my standard routine of labelling them, and linking them to my ISY-994i, and testing their functionality.

Labelled and ready for installation

Hidden Door Sensor Mounting Flange, with Screw Tab

Remove the screw tab with a set of side cutters

The hidden door sensor inserted in the door, sitting at the correct depth.

With the door strike installed, the sensor virtually disappears. 
Using the ISY-994i "options" tab for the device, I made some small changes to try to optimize the battery life of these units. I deselected the "LED" box (no need for LED indication of operation once buried in the door frame), and I also extended the heartbeat interval from 1 hour to 21 hours - this should greatly reduce the number of wireless communications daily.

I'll report on the actual battery life in the next year, when I have to change the first set of batteries.

I then created a simple scene and ISY-994i program, which illuminates one of my Keypad LEDs if one of the three deadbolts are "open". This gives me instant indication when locking up the house that one of the back or side doors are unlocked.
The yellow LED indicated an open deadbolt on the side or back of the house. 
UPDATE - AFTER ONE MONTH OF USE - This is turning out to be one of my favourite features of my Insteon system. Before going to bed, a quick glance at the keypad in my Master Bedroom indicates whether one of the exterior doors is unlocked. Very useful, and comforting.

Installing the Insteon Hidden Door Sensor - Automatically Controlling Utility Room Lights when the Door is Opened

Quite often I have an armload of stuff when I'm going downstairs to the utility room in my basement - tools, material, whatever. I recently changed the standard doorknob to a lever passage set - makes it quite a bit easier to get the door open, now I've installed the Insteon Wireless Hidden Door Sensor to automatically switch the lights on whenever the door is opened.

Insteon Wireless Hidden Door Sensor
This is a slick little device - 3/4" in diameter, battery powered with a standard AAA battery, and a small plunger switch to detect when the door is open or closed.

You need a 3/4 hole drilled in the hinge side of the jamb - about 3" deep. A spade bit works well for this. 

Once you have the Sensor linked in to your automation network, you are ready to install it in the hole with the screw to hold it in place.
Switchlinc On/Off Relay to control the utility room lights
When I originally linked and programmed the Hidden Door Sensor, I decided against creating a scene because I only wanted the lights to switch on when the door was opened, and remain on even with the door closed. So I created a short program in my ISY-994i controller - whenever the door is opened, it switches on the light. When the door is closed, there is no action taken. The delay with having the program perform this control was about 1 to 2 seconds - quite noticeable and a bit annoying. I received a good suggestion from Eric in the comments below, and changed the hidden door sensor mode to "Two Nodes" in the ISY options menu for the hidden door sensor as follows:

That gives you one node in the ISY for the door opening, and a separate node in the ISY for the door closing. I linked the door open node as a controller for the Switchlinc relay. It works perfectly - only turning the light on when the door is opened, with an almost instantaneous response, much quicker than the ISY program control. Many thanks to Eric for the suggestion.


Installing the Insteon Wireless Open/Close Sensor on Bifold Doors

The pantry in our new house has bifold doors. When I renovated the pantry and added cabinet modules and drawers, I also added LED strip lighting all around the perimeter of the door opening. The LED lighting is a dramatic upgrade - it's really bright, white, and it illuminates all the shelves in the pantry.

I wanted to add automatic control of the LED strip lighting. I decided to use the Insteon Wireless Open/Close Sensor as my Insteon scene controller, and a standard 2477S Switchlinc On/Off Switch to control the light circuit. When I purchased the sensors, I initially planned to put two in - one for each of the matching bifold doors, left and right. When I went to install them, I found that it would be much easier just to add the sensor with battery on one door, and the magnet on the other door. As soon as one door or the other is opened, it opens the reed switch in the sensor, and the controller issues it's on command. This is what the installation looks like:

Sensor screws to the left bifold door, near the edge close to the top of the door.  Note the label on the battery with the installation date - I've gotten into that habit with my smoke detector batteries - makes it very easy when troubleshooting to identify old batteries that may need replacing. I use a Brother P-Touch for doing all my labels. 

Measure from the top of the door frame to the center of the sensor, in order to place the magnet at the same height. 

Installation of the magnet. The kit comes with good quality 3M double sided tape, but I prefer screwing the sensor and magnet down. The kit comes with the screws.
It took about 5 minutes to link the Insteon Wireless Open/Close Module to my Switchlinc On/Off Wall Switch, using my ISY-994i interface. The Open/Close Module is the controller, the Switchlinc switch is the responder. Now the LED light strips illuminate as soon as the doors are cracked open, and shut off as soon as the doors are completely shut. I also wrote a simple program in my ISY-99i to shut the LED lights off if 10 minutes passes with the doors left open. It's a very convenient upgrade.

Here's some photos of the strip lighting installation. I ripped some angled strips of plywood to direct the LEDs output towards the center of the vertical shelves on the sides, and almost directly down for the strips installed across the top. I then fastened the strip lights to the plywood using the supplied adhesive backing tape. I used kits from Costco - quite inexpensive, but I exceeded the maximum number of strips on a single power adapter, so I had to arrange two power adapters to power the setup.

The completed pantry with the strip lighting on. 

I removed the old light fixture, replaced it with a standard outlet plug and lighting box cover for power outlets. Then, I just plugged in the supplied power adapters. Notice the cable tie bases - self adhesive, and the zip ties. They help make a neat, inconspicuous installation.

The top LED strip light mounted on a ripped piece of plywood. I used one side of the plywood strip to mount the low voltage electrical lead using self adhesive cable tie bases. The top portion of the side strip is also visible. 

Lots of clean white light when illuminated. 


Inexpensive Water Leak Detection using a Dry Contact Input

When I installed my automated water shutoff valve, I used three of Smarthome's battery powered, wireless leak detectors. They work quite well and are simple and easy to install and setup without wires. There is a less expensive way to add leak detection, if you have dry contact inputs to your home automation system, such as the Insteon Smarthome I/O Lincs or the Smartenit EZIO series. You can purchase a spare Floodstop water sensor, pictured below:
Floodstop Water Sensor
The Floodstop water sensor is basically a simple circuit board with a series of intertwining contacts that don't make contact on the board. If water touches the board, it will allow current to flow between the two outputs. All you need to do is some wiring from this board to your dry contact into your automation system, set it up with a current source, and when current flows through the circuit it will change the state of your contact.

Installing an Automated Water Main Shutoff Valve with Water Leak Detectors

One of our family members recently had a dishwasher fail while they were away from their house, and they suffered water damage to their entire kitchen and finished basement. Insurance will cover the damage, but they are now going through the hassle of the reconstruction of their kitchen. I had been thinking for some time about installing an automated main water shutoff valve, and this was the motivation for me to get started on this project.
The Smarthome Select Water Valve - 12V Operated
Smarthome has a new product - the "Smarthome Select Electronic Water Shutoff Valve". It is available in two sizes - 3/4" and 1". My main water entry pipe is 3/4" copper nominal pipe size (NPS), so I ordered the 3/4" valve. I followed Smarthome's suggestions for the recommended accessories - and I/O Linc to control the valve, a power adapter to power the valve, and some of Smarthome's battery powered water detectors - the Insteon Leak Sensor (2852-222). As usual, shipping was quick and within a few days I had all the components to begin the project.

First step to installing the valve - shutoff the manual valve and cut the pipe
 I started with the installation of the valve. The valve body is made from stainless steel, with female national pipe thread connections (NPT). Since space is limited in my wall, and to facilitate servicing in the future, I decided to install the valve with two brass unions. Installation of the valve took about 2 hours - shut the water off and drain the water, cut the water supply pipe about 3" after the manual shutoff valve (so that when soldering the new union fitting, I won't be overheating the manual shutoff valve), create the adapters to install the automated shutoff valve (male NPT / solder adapter, short section of 3/4" copper pipe, one half of the solder union fitting).

Soldering the Valve adapters - Male NPT (top) to Union threaded side
Once I had the valve adapters soldered - I installed the adapters on the valve using pipe dope to ensure a good seal.

Screw on the adapters to the valve with some pipe dope on the NPT Threads

I then did a test fit of the valve to the water pipe - and measured where to cut the water pipe for a perfect fit between the two union fittings.

Prepare the water main pipe for soldering the union connector - clean with sandpaper
Test fit the valve to measure where to cut off the distribution pipe at the correct length
Then I installed the valve, tightened the union fittings, and did a leak test. No leaks, then on to wiring and programming the I/O link and the valve.

Valve installed, water turned back on, no leaks
I was fortunate when my house was built that the builder ran a 14/2 electrical cable to the main water shutoff - so all I did was install an outlet box next to the main water valve, an outlet, and connect the line to my UPS. In my home automation design, I've tried to put all my mission critical controls on UPS circuits - network switches and routers, ISY-99i, and now this water shutoff valve and its I/O Linc. Once I had power to the I/O Linc, I wired up the valve per the wiring diagram provided by Smarthome on the product page. One drawback to this valve is that there is no installation and operation manual provide - online or in the box. The only information available is a wiring diagram, a dimensional diagram and override instructions. So - I wired up the valve per the wiring diagram - Power to the common connector, red wire to the N/O connector,  and green wire to the N/C connector.

Outlet moved next to valve, I/O Linc Installed with Power Adapter and wired to Valve control
Then I linked up the I/O Linc to my ISY-99i, and tried cycling the valve on and off. The valve would open when powered up, but it wouldn't close. I checked the I/O Linc settings on my ISY-99i page, and found that the I/O Linc was set to "Momentary A". So I switched that to Latching, and then the valve worked properly, opening on "off" command, and closing on "on" command. I decided that I would like the water supply "on" with the "on" command, and water supply "off" with the "off" command - so I reversed the red and green wires - red to "N/C", and green to "N/O". Now - when I control the I/O Link "Off" - the water supply shuts "Off". When I control the I/O Link "On" - the water supply turns "On".

One thing that I discovered once everything was installed and wired is that the LED on the I/O link provides the status of the valve control (and if everything is working well - the status of the valve). When the status LED is bright, the I/O Link is "On" and the Valve is open (water is On). When the status LED is dim - the I/O Link is "Off" and the Valve is closed (water is Off). I was fortunate that I oriented the outlet and the I/O Link to have the status LED facing away from the wall, towards the opening. This is a good visual status indication.

Next step was linking the Insteon Leak Sensors (2852-222) to the ISY-99i. These are interesting little sensors - battery powered, works over wireless, and up to 10 year battery life (according to Smarthome). They linked up quickly and reliably to the ISY-99i using the instructions on the ISY wiki. When linked to the ISY - they give you two inputs per device - a "Wet" input (On or Off), and a "Dry" input (On or Off). The normal state has the Wet input Off, and the Dry input On. If there is water bridging the two contacts on the bottom of the device, the Wet input goes On, and the Dry input goes Off. I wrote a very simple program for the ISY that has three "or" conditions for my three leak sensors - if any of the leak sensors - Wet input - goes to "On", it then shuts the water valve "off", and sends a notification to my smartphone by SMS text message, and an email to my personal email address.

I then did a quick test - placed a sensor in a plate of shallow water - and tested to see how quickly everything responded. It seems the leak sensor sent it's message to the ISY almost instantaneously - and a fraction of a second later the automated water valve closed. About 2 seconds later I received the notification on my smartphone. This seems to be perfectly acceptable performance.

I did not set up a program to automatically turn the water back on. My thinking is that I'll keep that a manual control - to force me to inspect why a sensor detected a leak before resetting the water valve.

My final test will be do a water test at each installed leak sensor location - this will tell me whether I have a good wireless connection from each leak sensor to my Insteon network.

Update - 6 years of Usage

The system has been running fine for 6 years now. I've found that I need to do periodic testing - because every once in a while some bug appears which causes a problem between the link sensors and the automated water valve control. I solved program issues by direct linking the individual water sensors with the I/O Linc - which takes the ISY 994i out of the chain of communication for actuating the water valve. 

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. . My go-to place in Canada for Insteon automation components is