Environmental sensors for a changing climate

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

Minco provides a free guide to temperature sensing requirements. The Sensors & Instruments Solutions Guide explains solutions for process control, building automation, defense, aerospace, machinery and industrial and commercial equipment. The guide has complete technical data on sensor assemblies, probes, miniature sensors, sanitary sensors, stator RTDs, HVAC temperature and humidity sensors, flexible sensors, elements, instruments, transmitters and accessories.

Visonic Americas' environmental sensors satisfy recurring revenue needs and create new business opportunities while providing end-users with a valuable way to prevent disasters. New technology which measures changes in an environment such as low/high temperature, gas sensing and water leaks is a growing market opportunity in residential properties, hotels, farms, fuel depots and any location where the end user's property and inventory is at risk. Certainly more and more sensors are being installed in a variety of locations. For many years, dealers and integrators have installed temperature monitoring in greenhouses, poultry farms, food processing, restaurants and the like. We see an increase of temperature monitoring especially in elder care. The major selling point for end-users is the value of knowing what is happening without being present. In commercial scenarios it translates to less head count. Let the devices be there when people can't. Certainly wireless technology has come of age and is reliable and stable. And it gets better all the time with more and more research and development being devoted to the technology. - Mark Ingram, vice president Sales, Visonic Americas

Winland Electronics environmental sensors offer integrators the opportunity to be a "valued consultant" to their customers. As a valued consultant, they provide more protection to their clients by monitoring conditions not usually thought of in the intrusion market. Claims from environmental damage total more than $4 billion dollars per year in the U.S., with the average loss claim being $3,000. Environmental monitoring gives integrators the opportunity to increase their content per sale. Knowing they can alert a customer before extensive damage occurs; environmental monitoring is a perfect add-on to both existing and new customers. With new customers, environmental monitoring is door-opening technology to get new accounts and provide complete security solutions. Integrators partnered with a monitoring station look to environmental monitoring to increase their RMR. The Winland EnviroAlert EA800 covers up to 8 zones per single console. Additional monitoring fees for eight zones significantly increase any integrators bottom line. Environmental monitoring applies to many of the same markets as intrusion products. For a complete solution, integrators should be aware of critical environments where asset protection is a must. One example is locations where temperature fluctuations could be dangerous such as coolers in pharmacies, blood banks, restaurants, c-stores, schools and commercial kitchens. Additional critical environments include industrial factories/refineries, warehouses, remote cell tower sites, greenhouses, and livestock buildings, as well as residential and vacation or second homes.- Paul Machacek, international sales manager, Winland Electronics

What to Sell and Where

Put on your thinking cap and go back to all those customers with the possibility of upgrading and including environmental sensors. Temperature and humidity devices and water detection are top of mind but environmental sensors can also include carbon monoxide detectors and even duct and damper devices.