Environmental sensors for a changing climate

A look at the growing need for environmental sensors across a variety of markets

Our environment is full of data just waiting to be captured and put to good use. Environmental sensors are a great add-on or up sell for existing or new customers and a fantastic way to add recurring revenue through monitoring services. It's also a good reason to get back to your current customer base.

"We see a lot of different applications for environmental sensors, computer rooms, bathrooms and attics," said Scott McMurray, director of Sales and Marketing, GRI, Kimball, Neb. The technology provides peace of mind to users concerned with the impact of changing environments, in any setting. "There is a need for environmental monitoring by the end-user to protect their assets. Too much humidity in a warehouse can destroy valuable artwork. Likewise, humidity can destroy a residential attic or a corporate warehouse," said Paul Machacek, international sales manager, Winland Electronics, Mankato, Minn.

Not only have the devices and technology changed to meet a growing off-site need to monitor conditions, reliability has paced forward as well. "Certainly wireless technology has come of age and is reliable and stable, getting better all the time with comprehensive research and development being devoted to the technology," said Mark Ingram, vice president Sales, Visonic Americas, Bloomfield, Conn.

Over the years, according to Machacek, the devices evolved from mechanical to digital circuitry that has paved the way for more applications for environmental monitoring products. "Today, enhancements in technology are the force behind microprocessor-driven environmental sensing devices," said John Kovach, global market leader for sensors, Honeywell. "These devices digitally assess the current threat situation and gather more detailed information. Overall, the devices increase the end-user's awareness of conditions that they may want to take action on," he added.

Here's a rundown of some of what you'll see on the market today:

GRI's first environmental sensor was a simple two wire 5 to 24VDC water sensor, circa. 1997. Since then, it has evolved its products into a line of water sensors which include a four-wire powered device (2600), wireless device (2826FS), 24VAC (2650) to its WVS which is a complete water valve shutoff system. The GRI line was broadened with programmable temperature sensors, fixed temperature sensors and humidity sensors. Environmental sensors are a great add-on or upsell for existing or new customers and they are effective in residential (single and multi-family), commercial and industrial settings. Since the most common water damage comes from broken or leaking pipes, spending a few dollars to a few hundred dollars on environmental protection can save thousands in property damage. The possibilities are endless.- Scott McMurray, director of Sales and Marketing, George Risk Industries

Honeywell's advances in wireless sensor technology has allowed security systems to track more than intruders. With enhancements to environmental detection, Honeywell provides dealers with new types of sensing capabilities for customers to defend against intrusion and protect assets through environmental monitoring. Among these capabilities are flood and temperature sensing. Homeowners and commercial users are looking to flood detection technology because basements, water heaters and sump pumps are high risk areas for leaks and damage. Due to the ease of wireless installation, dealers can prescribe flood sensors that can detect water in its specific location with an indoor motion detector. Wireless temperature sensors can protect valuable items in both home and commercial environments by detecting significant temperature fluctuations. These devices are suited for a wide range of applications, including bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements. Devices such as Honeywell's 5821 Wireless Temperature Sensor and Flood Detector help avert costly structural damages caused by floods and other environmental conditions. The device detects conditions through a wireless sensor capable of monitoring flood detection and temperatures simultaneously. - John Kovach, global market leader for sensors, Honeywell

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