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Instruction, save money, Sub Metering

If you are a property manager or a superintendent, you may be asking yourself: how does a flood prevention system help me?

Let’s take a look at how flood prevention systems can help you, the building manager.

Prevention is easier to manage than floods

With a Connected Sensors system, we make prevention simple. Our dashboard gives you access to an overview of all the systems, and you’ll receive text and email alerts as soon as a flood is detected.

Without flood prevention, a flood can be a difficult event for a property manager or superintendent to deal with. The source of the flood needs to be found, valves need to be shut off, and tenants in affected areas need to be alerted. Once the flood has been stopped, the source requires repair, and then any damaged infrastructure needs to be repaired. Repairing damaged infrastructure can be a lengthy and costly process.

Flood prevention systems also provide water insights

In addition to providing you with water alerts, our flood prevention system is also able to give you an overview of your total building water consumption. 

First, our product line includes items such as our Water Streamer, which can connect directly to water meters to provide you with live readings of your water. This can help you as the property manager monitor your water usage, helping you find improvements to lower your water bill. 

Secondly, monitoring your water assists in determining future infrastructure upgrades, helping you prepare budgets for your condo board.

Thirdly, with our systems you can consider implementing submetering in your tenant’s spaces. With submetering, you can closely monitor the water usage of each tenant, and encourage responsible water usage by charging each tenant individually for their water. 

Our dashboard also provides you with a full overview of your building at all times, giving property managers a high-level overview at your fingertips. 

Happier tenants lead to a happier property manager

By preventing floods, you increase tenant satisfaction by ensuring there are no disruptions to either their workplace or living space. By utilizing early prevention over shutoffs, you also reduce the chances of shutting down water supply, which is highly disruptive to tenants. 

Preventing floods is important for property management, building owners, and tenants. For building owners, it helps reduce the chances of costly repairs associated with floods, and for tenants, it reduces the chances of inconvenient interruptions. If you want to learn more about how a flood prevention system can help you, contact us today!
Sincerely,
The Connected Sensors Team
0

Instruction

As a building manager or property owner, it is important to learn about high-rise water distribution systems.

High-rise buildings have more complicated methods of water distribution than residential systems, since pressure needs to be consistent across all floors. There must be sufficient surplus pressure to cover resistance in riser pipes, single components such as shower heads, toilets, and cooling towers. Furthermore, the peak load flow might be greater than what is possible to supply from the mains.

First, let us look at the components of high-rise water distribution systems. The basic booster system consists of several basic hydraulic elements that can be combined

-Break tanks, or underground tanks, provide backup supply in case the mains cannot keep up with the demand or in case the main supply is unstable. However, contamination is a potential issue when the break tank is connected directly to the incoming main supply.

-Booster Pumps ensure water pressure and supply are reliable and consistent.

-Risers and branches are the main method of distribution within a building, where the risers distribute to different floors and the branches to individual tap points. 

-Pressure reduction valves equalize the pressure on all floors. However, if a PRV fails, it can let higher pressure water into a lower grade pipe, potentially causing a flood. 

Booster systems may be designed in several different ways using the elements described above. 

There are four basic methods of distribution of water to multi-story buildings: direct pumping systems, hydro-pneumatic systems, overhead tank distribution, and direct supply from mains to ablutionary taps and kitchen with bathrooms and urinals supplied by overhead tanks.

Below we will explain in more depth the four distribution systems.

Direct Pumping

With a direct pumping system, water is pumped directly into the distribution system without the aid of any overhead tank, except for flushing purposes. Water can be pumped from a ground level or basement gravity tank to a gravity roof tank, through a set of booster pumps that can have multiple stages and speeds that draw water directly from a gravity storage tank or the public water main, or through a gravity storage tank or public water main into a hydropneumatic pressure tank that uses captive air pressure to provide adequate drinking-water supply pressure (see the hydro-pneumatic system below). The direct pumping systems available are single booster system, zone-divided system, roof tanks, or series-connected systems. 

The pumps are controlled by a pressure switch installed on the line. Normally a jockey pump of smaller capacity is installed which meets the demand of water during low consumption and the main pump starts when the demand is greater. The start and stop operations are accomplished by a set of pressure switches installed directly on the line. In some installations, a timer switch is installed to restrict the operating cycle of the pump.

Direct Supply

The most basic type of system, this system is adopted when adequate pressure can be available round the clock at the topmost floor through the city main power supply. With limited pressure available in most city mains, water from direct supply is normally not available above two or three floors.

Hydro-Pneumatic System

Hydro-pneumatic systems are a variation of direct pumping systems consisting of a pressure pump and a pressure tank.

With a hydro-pneumatic system, an air-tight pressure vessel is installed on the line to regulate the operation of the pumps. The vessel capacity is based on the cut-in and cut-out pressure of the pumping system, depending on allowable start/stops of the pumping system. As pumps operate, the incoming water compresses the air on top. When a predetermined pressure is reached in the vessel, a pressure switch installed on the vessel switches off the pumps. As water is drawn into the system, pressure falls into the vessel starting the pump at preset pressure. The air in the pressure tank slowly reduces the volume due to dissolution in water and leakages from pipe lines. An air compressor is also necessary to feed air into the vessel so as to maintain the required air-water ratio. The system is automatic, but requires reliable power supply to avoid breakdown in the water supply.

Overhead Tank Distribution

This is the most common of the distribution systems adopted by various types of buildings. Overhead tanks have been used for over a century since reliable pumps and pressurized systems were not available at the time. The overhead tank setup allows gravity to do the work of bringing the water down and ensuring sufficient pressure. The system comprises pumping water to one or more overhead tanks placed at the top most location of the hydraulic zone. Water collected in the overhead tank is distributed to the various parts of the building by a set of pipes located generally on the terrace. Water is then distributed down to various fixtures. The simple construction basically entails a tank, inlet and discharge piping, a float switch, and a pump. When the water level in the tank drops below a certain level, the float switch engages the pump, refilling the tank.

However, the downsides of overhead tanks are higher capital costs during set-up, greater structural requirements, and a lack of pressure control. There are also potential sanitation issues with overhead tanks.

We hope that this article is able to provide you with further insights as to how high-rise water distribution systems work. If you have any questions or want to learn how we can help protect your high-rise water distribution systems, contact us today.
Sincerely,
The Connected Sensors Team
0

Instruction, Save the Planet

Fresh water is a finite resource.


Only 3% of the water on the planet is freshwater, and less than 1% of this is ready for human use.

Yet, of this small amount available for use, we use over 10 billion tons of water daily.

Our demand for water is only growing; it’s estimated that by 2050, our demand for water will grow by another one-third. With 1.4 billion people already living in areas that are running out of water, our need to reduce our overall water consumption is vital.

The good news is, water sector technological innovation is working to prevent a global water crisis.

What are some of the water challenges we currently face?


Demand outpacing supply of water is one of our main water concerns, but other challenges are exacerbating this issue.

 

Production and manufacturing use large amounts of water for many of our commonly used items. For example, manufacturing a car uses 67,500 litres, a smart phone uses 12,100 litres, and one t-shirt uses 2,500 litres. Many of our staple food products also use large amounts of water. 1 kilogram of coffee beans uses 21,000 litres, 1 kilogram of chocolate uses 24,000 litres, and 1 kilogram of beef uses 15,500 litres. Together, global water use, storage and distribution – and the lack of wastewater treatment – contributes 10% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Climate change is also affecting our water supply. With weather patterns changing, we are experiencing more extreme weather patterns such as droughts and wildfires, which is contaminating or using up our water supply. 

 

Improving our water conditions are important to both reducing GHGs, and providing water to billions of people.

How can technological innovation help the situation?


There are multiple sectors across the supply chain that can be improved to reduce our overall water usage. During the process, we can work to improve:

 

  • Water Collection

  • Desalination/purification

  • Pumping

  • Repairing/replacing ageing infrastructure

  • Logistics and distribution

  • Monitoring water usage


Monitoring water usage alone can have a large impact, both on the environment and fiscally. Some $301 billion of business value is at risk because of water stewardship challenges, yet it would take corporations just $55 billion to deliver appropriate mitigation and adaptation initiatives. Beyond risk management, there are an estimated $711 billion US dollars in business opportunities when investing in water security.


What steps are big businesses taking?


Some big businesses are stepping up their goals for decreasing water usage – in the 2020 CDP Global Water Report, major players such as Ford and L’Oreal reported reaching net zero withdrawals by replenishing the water they withdrew. Others, such as Mars and Samsung, are increasing investments into innovations that reduce water usage. 

 

However, overall, the CDP report shows that only 4.4% of businesses are reporting progress against water pollution reduction targets. 

 

In conclusion, taking action on water risks through water sector technological innovation is essential for climate action, and it makes business sense. It can stimulate economic development and create jobs. Implementing a water risk mitigation solution is a great way to begin the process of taking action on water in your business. Contact us today to learn more!
 
Sincerely,
 
Your Connected Sensors Team

 

 

 

0

Instruction, Power

In a previous blog post, we discussed the highest risk areas in high-rise buildings that require the most attention during the installation of a water risk mitigation system.

But which type of sensors are best for each type of application?

Rope Sensors
best type of sensor

Rope sensors attachments are 1.5m long, and have sensor capabilities along the length of the rope. This means that if any water touches any point of the rope at all, it will alert the water management system.

 

They are best used in areas where water should not occur at all, such as at the top of elevators, around cooling tower trays, or in mechanical or electrical rooms. They can also be used to wrap around areas of concern. 

 

Due to their sensitivity to water, rope sensors aren’t recommended for use in areas where moisture could come in contact without a flood, such as in bathrooms or in elevator pits.

Flood Sensors
best type of sensor


Flood sensors attachments come with shorter 30cm cables. They are the more commonly used type of sensor attachment, and while they provide an equal level of protection to the rope sensor, the water detector receptor must be submerged to alert the water management system. 

 

Because of the design of the sensor, they are well-suited for all areas where you require flood prevention. This can include bathrooms and in tenant units under kitchen sinks or near washers & dryers.

Water Streamer

 
The Water Streamer is designed to clamp on to water meters. It  works with most mechanical meters. The Water Streamer is embedded with a pulse sensor that detects the volume of water going through the meter. As such, with some back end  software AI/logic it can determine unusual flows from typical consumption, it can identify continuous consumption thus detect leaks and or major floods. The Water Streamer is designed to give our clients a holistic view of their water consumption and provide water insight at a building level.

Jumbo Water Stopper
best type of sensor


The Water Stopper  is a high/low contact that can actuate valves 1 inch or less and or send commands to large actuators for 2” and greater. It can be used with powered shut-off valves or booster pumps to isolate the flow of water in the event of a flood. 

 

Depending on the requirements, it can be either battery-powered or plugged in.

Mini Water Stopper


The Mini Water Stopper is a valve body and actuator combo that is combined in one product. It can be used in conjunction with water meters to offer water logic information and or water submetering data to the end user. This product is best suited for in suite water management. It is available in sizes ranging from ½ inch to 1 ½ inches.

Rope sensors, flood sensors, and water streamers all provide flood detection, temperature detection, and tamper prevention in one. All of the above options are designed to secure to the wall to prevent tampering.

At Connected Sensors, we offer a robust product line so that we can offer the best type of sensor for every type of building, and we are always working to develop more products to diversify our solutions. Contact us today to learn more about our full product line!
Sincerely, 
The Connected Sensors Team

 

1

Instruction, Power, utility costs

A client of ours, who is getting ready to deploy hundreds if not thousands of sensors across their portfolio, came to us with this very valid question: 

“What’s the life expectancy of your products and solutions both from a maintenance and product replacement stand point?”

What the client was looking for is to understand what they were committing to in the long run and what implications this would have on their operating budget annually for the foreseeable future.

To better understand the different elements to be factored in to the life cycle cost of our solution we’ve broken it down in two categories: maintenance and product replacement cost.

Maintenance Cost:


When it comes to the maintenance cost of our solutions, there are two factors to be considered.

Battery replacement:

Rest assured that we thought of you building operators and managers and built a suite of products that work with three 3.6V batteries to give the best possible battery performance. Now what does that mean? It means our battery operated products, depending on the use case, have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. We estimate that the battery replacement cost per device will be in the range of $15 to $20, assuming the batteries don’t come down in price over time. We invite you to also review this other blog we’ve written to better understand the implications of choosing the right product so that you are not constantly worrying about replacing batteries.

General maintenance cost:

Outside of the obvious battery replacement cost, the only other factor to consider is the maintenance cost of the solution in the event the communication system goes down locally or on premises. Here is what we’ve done on the backend to ensure the system goes un-interrupted:

  • Our devices will dynamically change their data rate to reduce the amount of airtime and transmit smaller data packets. The smaller the message packet, the less data that must be transmitted via LTE. Which means less chances of issues occurring.

  • From a gateway perspective, the gateway has a functionality that allows us to submit a so-called “whitelist” to the local memory on the gateway. This avoids other LoRaWAN compliant devices to use your gateway as a generic bridge to get out. In a normal system, the server decides if the node/sensor that is received belongs to the application or not. Having a whitelist means the rejection of unwanted devices happens on the gateway, so there is no need to forward the packet in the first place. Once again, less interference and interruption means better reliability of the network.

  • Our gateway also has a memory and backup battery. These gateways are time sync enabled, meaning they can store messages locally and forward them if network coverage is interrupted for a period. This feature is aimed at removing any blank gaps in the history of the system.

  • Once the network is running and LTE communication is established, we use a network monitoring tool called “The Pinger” . This software polls the gateways via the LTE network to make sure it is running reliably. This allows for real time intervention when a gateway no longer responds, and automated messages get sent to the person responsible for that building/gateway.

  • The “Pinger” software is currently used on over 4500 live LTE connections and is manned 24/7 by a team in South Africa. We can make this option available to you, the customer, for the most responsive system possible.

    To conclude, we don’t envision many communication problems as we’ve done extensive work to mitigate that risk for you; however, it would be prudent to allocate a small budget for a few contractor truck rolls per annum to be on the safe side of things.

     

    Product replacement cost:

     

We will break this section down in 2 segments, the first being our warranty versus what we expect from the product.

Product warranty:

Like most electronic products sold, we have a 2 year/24 months warranty on the product. This means if, for any reason, a product would require replacement after that period of time, the client would be responsible for its replacement cost.

Product expectation:

While we advertise a 2 year or 24 months warranty, the product was built and designed to last the test of time. We believe that the lifespan of this hardware will extend the span of the software agreement several times over. Before making it to you, the end user, the product is tested 3 times in the factory, and depending on the installation package you’ve selected, the product will have been tested a 4th time on site before it’s handed over to you. 

We hope that our perspective can help you make a better informed decision as it relates to the long term capital commitment involved in owning a water management solution. If you have any questions or if you think we’ve missed something you would have appreciated us touching on, please do not hesitate to send us a message and we would be happy to discuss with you and your team.
 
Sincerely,
The Connected Sensors team
0

Instruction, Power

We received this question from a client and thought it might be worth sharing our perspective:


Client: My understanding is that battery powered IoT devices have traditionally avoided using lithium because of the potential fire risk if damaged or improperly packaged. Can battery powered IoT devices cause a fire?

 

A couple of things to note about batteries in general. There are 3 different situations that can cause a battery related fire: 

Short Circuit

  1. Short Circuit is the most common way fires are started and applies to both alkaline and lithium.

  2. This generally happens when batteries are installed the wrong way or when the devices are tampered/damaged with.

  3. Both these are avoidable by electronic design via thermal fuses and reverse voltage protection circuitry.

Piercing

  1. Piercing occurs when a device is crushed or when sharp objects puncture through them. This is applicable to both types of batteries and is highly unlikely to occur.

Overloading

  1. When too much current is drawn from the batteries, this breaches the battery’s maximum continuous pulse.

  2. These batteries are designed to provide power to electric motors and the IoT devices we use them in does not draw 1/10th of the amount of power they are typically used for.

Primary cells vs Rechargeable cells

  1. Primary cells are batteries that cannot be recharged and can only discharge once, which is the case with both alkaline and Lisoc Batteries (Lithium thionyl chloride Battery).

  2. Rechargeable battery cells are the problem and account for 90% of Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer related fires due to the fact that they often get overcharged or are not properly monitored by the design circuitry.

Our devices do not use Lithium Ion or Lithium polymer batteries but Lithium Thionyl Chloride so we do not consider Lithium to be a bigger risk then alkaline in the question of can battery powered IoT devices cause a fire.
If you have any questions about our batteries, do not hesitate to contact us.
Sincerely,
Your Connected Sensors Team
1

Instruction, Safety

When installing a water risk mitigation system in a building, there are a few key areas that we focus on during the risk prevention process. 

These areas are either more prone to flooding, or contain sensitive equipment that requires an additional level of protection. 

Electrical & Mechanical Rooms

Electrical and mechanical rooms are filled with sensitive equipment. Some contain booster pumps and other essential equipment for your water system. It’s highly important to protect the equipment within these rooms to avoid costly repairs or potential equipment replacement. 

Bathrooms

Between sinks, toilets, and showers, bathrooms are a vulnerable area for floods in any building. It’s important to ensure that there are flood sensors in these areas on every floor to provide protection for lower levels. 

Risers

Risers contain many of the piping systems that bring water, air, and storm drainage to higher or lower floors within a high-rise as needed.

Specific attention should be paid to risers as part of flood management since they:

-Carry water at high volumes & high pressures

-Are difficult to access, and therefore difficult to repair

-Are expensive to repair

During the water management system installation process, protecting risers requires access to them which can be a challenge during some installs. 

Cooling Towers

Often located at the roof of a high-rise building, cooling towers reject heat from a building as part of the HVAC system. They produce high amounts of condensation, and leaks can occur if there is overrun in the drip trays. Due to their central position on the roof, it’s vital to monitor these drip trays to prevent any potential roof damage. 

Elevators



One of the most potentially costly areas for flood damage is elevators. Since the pits of the elevators tend to be one of the lowest parts of a building, they are highly susceptible to flooding due to broken pipes or storm water.

Once the flood has started, the water can contaminate the fluid needed to operate the hydraulic components of the elevator. There is also a risk that the hydraulic system itself can begin to leak. If this leak goes unattended, the system can fail and cause a massive flood. Although elevator pits are equipped with drains at the bottom, in the case of severe flooding, there is a chance the drain will be unable to keep up with the speed at which the hydraulic system is draining into the elevator cavity.

If the elevator cart itself is damaged by water, specifically the electrical components, the cost of repair ramps up quickly – they can cost up to $500k! Not only that, but any downtime in such a vital component of a high-rise building can decrease customer or tenant satisfaction. 

We cater our flood mitigation systems for each client to ensure that you have full coverage that fits your building’s unique needs. Contact us today to learn how we can assess what are the highest risk areas in my building and protect those areas.
Sincerely,
Your Connected Sensors Team

 

 
2

Instruction, utility costs

If you are reading this, then I suspect that you’ve been the victim of a leak or flood that was the result of a faulty Fan Coil System. Let’s take a few minutes to explain what a Fan Coil System is, why they are such a high risk in your building, and what you can do to reduce your risk and exposure.


What’s a Fan Coil Unit System?

Fan Coil Units (FCU) are used to condition the local air to match the temperature requirements for an area in all types of buildings including commercial and multi-unit residential spaces. An FCU can contain an Air Handling Unit system (AHU) that supplies and returns fresh air around the building to all the rooms/units. The FCUs are connected to either a heating coil, a cooling coil, or both a heating and a cooling coil which will condition the air. A fan within the fan coil will then push the air out into some smaller localized ducts to strategically distribute the air within the room. Fresh air from the AHU is pushed into the back side, the inlet, of the fan coil unit, and a fan will suck the fresh air into the FCU. The fan will force the air across the heating and/or cooling coils before forcing it out into the area. The air will then take one of two routes: 1. It will be sucked into the return grille and be sucked back into the AHU via the return duct 2. It will be pulled back into the fan coil unit through a grille.

To learn more about the differences between Fan Coil Units and Water Source Heat Pumps, read our article here

Why are Fan Coil Units such high risk?

The coil heat exchangers will typically utilize a hot and/or chilled water supply which is distributed from the building’s boilers and chillers. That said, electrical heaters can be used for heating purposes and some coils use a direct expansion coil fed by a refrigeration system for cooling. If your system utilizes hot and cold water supply, this is where the risk comes into place.

Summer risk: You should keep an eye out if a cooling coil is used, as it can generate a lot of condensation where the warm moist air is condensing onto the cold surface of the coil. The cooling coil will remove the moisture from the air. This condensed liquid will run off the coil and collect in the drip tray at the bottom. The problem here is that in some cases the condensation (water) finds its way out of the drip pan and causes a leak that often goes unnoticed for long periods of time. In addition, a drain line from the pan is supposed to be connected to a nearby drain in theory; however, in many cases the drain line does not lead to a safe location that prevents potential damage.

Winter risk: You must keep an eye out for pipe bursts. In older buildings, the fan coil units were placed on the exterior walls. What we often see happening when a cold front settles in is some pipes burst as a result of a frosted line, which can cause significant damages. Pipe burst usually causes one of the largest losses from a dollar amount as it relates to leaks in the built environment.  In addition, older buildings and the hot water lines coming from the boiler over time erode and we have also seen pin holes occur.

All year round risk: You should always make sure to retain a qualified and reputable water treatment company that can offer a long term program where they test, track, and produce monthly records of your water and the glycol levels within your heating and cooling system to ensure longevity and integrity of your pipes. We’ve often found builds where the glycol levels were left unattended for long periods of time, corrosion was created within the system which created major infrastructure problems that resulted in leaks of all sizes. Following these, the necessary replacement of risers becomes inevitable.

How to reduce risk:
  1. For new buildings, start by ensuring the fan coil units are closer to the center of the building than the exterior walls.

  2. Install leak sensors in the drip pan to detect accumulation of water in the drip pan before it’s too late.

  3. If you are in an older building or newer building where the fan coil units are near the exterior wall, ensure that your leak detection system can also monitor temperature and give you early warnings of frost so you can install temporary heaters or add insulation where possible.

  4. In addition to leak detection sensors in the fan coil units, we also recommend installing leak detection sensors that come with a rope around the risers of the two pipe systems to detect pinholes or pipe burst.

  5. As discussed, retain a reputable water treatment partner that will ensure the integrity of your heating and cooling system.

  6. If you want to go the extra mile consider installing powered shut off valves to compliment the leak detection so that the water can be turned off if a leak within your system is detected.

 

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions as it relates to fan coil unit systems and the risks that are involved with them.
 
Sincerely,
Your Connected Sensors Team.


1

Instruction

In multi-residential high-rise buildings, there are two types of HVAC systems: Water Source Heat Pumps, and Fan Coil Unit Systems. Read on to learn more about these two systems, and which option we believe is the best HVAC system for multi-residential high-rise buildings.

Water Source Heat Pumps vs. Fan Coil Unit System

 

When selecting the best HVAC system for multi-residential high-rise residential buildings, there are essentially two options for modern systems. The first option is the WSHP system and the alternative is the fan coil system. Both of these designs have benefits and challenges, but when making a decision one must consider how the decision affects all the interested parties over the life of the building, including the developer, contractors, building management, the owner, or the dwelling owner in the case of a condominium.  Ultimately, all these groups have common goals, but how they prioritize these goals may differ.  The developer is concerned with return on investment, the contractor is concerned with ease of installation and reduced call backs, the building management wants to reduce maintenance, and the owner wants a reliable and comfortable space.

Water Source Heat Pumps:

From our perspective, the choice is easy: a WSHP system meets all the stakeholders’ requirements.

How does a WSHP system work?

WSHP systems have individual packaged units that transfer heat via a single- or dual-pipe water loop. Each unit can be used in either heating or cooling mode year-round and loop temperature is maintained via a boiler/tower combination, where boilers are used for heating and towers for cooling. Each zone has complete control of its heating/cooling mode and each unit is independent from the others. This means if one unit goes down, the whole system is not affected. Controls can be as simple as one unit and one thermostat. WSHP systems are the most energy, cost, and space efficient of any system in the industry.

Why is this the best option?

From a developer standpoint the WSHP system provides a lower up-front cost than the traditional chilled water system.  For the contractor a WSHP system is less complex and easier to install.  Without the need for insulated pipes there are no worries of condensation causing leak issues and recalls. Generally, the modular design of WSHP makes it easy to service which makes the building management team happy and the added bonus for a condominium is that it can be relatively easy for each unit to be responsible for these costs. Finally, for the owner the WSHP system is efficient, reliable, quiet, and is more cost effective to operate. 

Fan Coil System:

How does a fan coil system work?

Fan coil systems are used to condition the local air to match the temperature requirements for areas as large as 150 cubic meters. As part of the fan coil system you can also find an air handling unit system (AHU) that supplies and returns fresh air around the building to all the rooms/units. In many cases, coming off the supply duct is a round duct supplying the fan coil units. The fan coil units are connected to either a heating coil, a cooling coil, or both a heating and a cooling coil. These will condition the air. A fan within the fan coil will then push the air out into some smaller localized ducts to strategically distribute the air within the room. Since each room needs a certain amount of fresh air supply, the AHU which we touched upon earlier, is designed to feed fresh air into each room. This fresh air is pushed into the inlet of the fan coil unit. A fan will suck the fresh air into the fan coil unit. The fan will force the air across the heating and/or cooling coils before forcing it out into the area. The air will then take one of two routes: 1. It will be sucked into the return grille and be sucked back into the AHU via the return duct, or 2.  It will be pulled back into the fan coil unit via a grille.

Why is this not the best option?

As you can tell from the description above, the fan coil system is rather complex. These systems require complex chillers and boilers to provide a water loop in a particular temperature range. With complexity also comes additional maintenance cost. Besides, to compete with the WSHP you should stick to a two-pipe fan coils but they have a major disadvantage as control is substantially limited to whatever mode the system is currently in (i.e. cooling or heating). Alternatively, a four-pipe version requires both chilled and heated water to be available at the same time. The four-pipe systems also require twice the piping and twice the circulation equipment of a two-pipe system, which makes a four-pipe system one of the most expensive systems to install. Furthermore, with more pipes comes a greater risk of leaks which is one of the many reasons why we recommend the WHSP system.

While our preference is the WHSP systems, when it comes to residents, a four pipe fan coil system tends to provide a great deal of comfort because they can switch between heating and cooling very easily and the system responds rapidly, even for units located on the top floor but this comes with any other disadvantages as you can tell. 

In conclusion, from our perspective, a water source heat pumps (WSHP) system is the best HVAC system for multi-residential high-rise buildings that is an all-encompassing solution that is most advantageous to all parties involved. 
 
We hope that this article has helped you gain insight into the HVAC options, and which option may be best for your multi-residential high rise. 
 
Thank you,
 
The Connected Sensors Team
1

Instruction, save money, utility costs

This is always one of the first questions a potential client wants to know when they reach out to us. While the question of “how much does a commercial leak detection cost?” is a very challenging one to answer, we will try our best to explain some general pricing guidelines.


The purchase of a Water Risk Mitigation System is much like the purchase of a vehicle or even a home. With so many options available, price ranges can vary significantly.

Just as a car can start around the $20,000 range with just a basic package, that same car can often exceed the $40,000 range if you start to add all the bells and whistles.

Given that most people change cars every 5 years or so, why do people still choose to purchase the extras when purchasing a car? It’s because in general, people understand the value of doing things right the first time and not having to redo things later down the road. People want to make sure their vehicle will provide them quality, longevity, and ease of use and those same principals apply to a Water Risk Mitigation System.

You are going to rely on your Water Risk Mitigation System to provide valuable insight of your water risk every minute of every day for as long as you can foresee. It is therefore critical to ensure you receive maximum value and minimum maintenance from your investment.

However, some companies choose to focus on the initial price of the system with the goal to find the cheapest vendor therefore sacrificing low-maintenance, quality, and warranty which more often than not leads to regrets – especially considering that unlike cars, you cannot trade in your Water Risk Mitigation System.

To simplify the system architecture, we have segmented the project types into 3 main categories: Retro-fit Market, New Buildings & Construction Phase. Under each of these segments we have created sub categories labelled as: Good, Better & Best Option to help our clients understand what and where we perceive value. 

How much does a commercial leak detection system cost
Average Commercial Leak Detection System cost based on a 100 unit Multi-Residential Property over a 5 year period of time:
How much does a commercial leak detection system cost

How the installation affects the cost:

When someone inquires what is our Commercial Leak Detection System cost, the extent of installation is also a key factor. What we mean by this is that as a company, we have four different packages we offer our customers. Unlike most companies, we will do as much or as little as our customers would have us do. This flexibility leads to less stress and more savings for the customer. 

 

The installation packages are as follows with their corresponding price ranges:

1. Self-Install (DIY):

This package includes the system and features to be shipped directly to the property. With our self-install program the property manager or building owner  is responsible for all labor involved with the project, including deployment of the sensors, setting up the gateways, commissioning of the sensors on the platform, installation of electrical outlets as required, installation of valves as required, etc.

Although the concept of installing a Water Risk Mitigation System is not very complex, it does require some attention to detail and there is a small margin for error. We recommend self-install for larger companies with facility managers and/or subject matter experts on staff that can be dedicated to the install of such solutions. 

The average company can expect to spend between 5 -10% of the value of the system on a self-install, based on the scope of the project and the options that come with it.

2. Pre-Configured Install:


This package includes the system and features to be shipped directly to the property, the sensors to be pre-configured on top of our dashboard, and the valve & actuator locations to be labelled and ready for your mechanical contractor to price and install. 

The property manager or building owner is responsible for the labor involved with the project, including deployment of the sensors and gateways, contracting out the installation of electrical outlets as required, installation of valves as required, etc.

The average company can expect to spend between 10 – 15% of the value of the system on a Pre-Configured Install, based on the scope of the project and the options that comes with it.

3. Connected Sensors Tech Install:


This package includes the system and features to be shipped directly to the property, the sensors to be pre-configured on top of our dashboard, the valve & actuators locations to be labelled and ready for your mechanical contractor to install, and the sensors, gateways and actuators (if applicable) to be installed by our team of experts or contractors. 

The property manager or building owner is responsible for the labor and parts cost of 3rd party contractors, such as the electricians and the plumber for outlets and valves etc.

The average company can expect to spend between 15 – 20% of the value of the system on a Connected Sensors Tech install, based on the scope of the project and the options that comes with it.

4. Turn-Key Install:


Many Property Managers would rather work with one company instead of many. We at Connected Sensors are one of the few companies that will offer our clients true “turn-key” installations. This package includes everything found in package #3 as well as the electrical and mechanical costs associated with the project.

The average company can expect to spend between 20 – 30% of the value of the system on a Turn-Key install, based on the scope of the project and the options that comes with it.

We hope that this article has helped you gain insight on the commercial leak detection system cost. You can visit our pricing page for further details or simply reach out to us using the “Request for Information” feature on our website.
 
Thank you,
The Connected Sensors Team
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Instruction, Power

Let me start by telling you, the $1 to $20 sensor COULD happen if produced in quantities of 100,000 units with limited sensing requirements (very basic sensor) and short-range radio.

Unfortunately, at this time the IoT industry is a ways away from achieving the $1 sensor. 


Time and time again we have heard from clients that they thought the $1 sensor was their anticipated price, and at best the sensor would be $20 dollars each.  Hence, this article was written to explain what goes into building a sensor and why we have a lot more work to do before achieving this.

What goes into building a sensor?

Step 1: (Creating a sensor)

Once a company decides to build a sensor, they must first start with building the team. This is a significant step and investment as product development cycles are anywhere from 12 to 24 months before a product is viable for resale. Industrial, mechanical, electrical, and firmware engineers have to be employed for that period and paid before work can begin on that sensor. Not to mention the manufacturing and supply chain issues that come with high volume electronic products. These upfront costs are required before you can start to develop a comprehensive sensor that encompasses all the requirements for your intended market. At the minimum, you can expect to pay $200,000 towards the development of your first sensor. 

Step 2: (Injection mold)

The second step is the injection mold, which is a capital-intensive investment depending on the volume of sensors you intend to manufacture. A plastic injection mold can cost between $5,000 to $10,000 and will yield up to 3000 to 5000 units. An injection mold built of metal will cost between $10,000 to $20,000 but it will help you produce north of 30,000 units. The key here is, can you sell enough sensors to recoup your investment?

Step 3: (Choosing the sensing capabilities)

Once a company has agreed on a product design that will be suitable for the marketplace, they must identify what they want to be sensing along with each additional element they wish to measure. Any add-ons will cost more money. For the purpose of this example let’s use our Water Sniffer/Water Sensor. After months of market research, we identified that we want the following from our sensor:

  1. Water detection (This is the primary value of the sensor yet again we needed both the flood contacts and the rope sensing to ensure it would fit all business cases)

  2. Tamper detection (This is as important to identify theft and vandalism which is more common than you think)

  3. Temperature sensing (This was important for clients worried about frozen pipes)

  4. A power button (This was important to simplify the installation process)

  5. A buzzer (This was important to us as a second line of defense to the dashboard and also to ensure we knew if the sensor was “live” once we pressed the power button)


Step 4: (Finding the right network for the product and/or solution)

Once a company has identified what sensing capabilities they want to achieve and what design they like, they will need to consider how the sensor will communicate with their application/dashboard. In this area, there is a range of chipsets and networks with varying limitations. For the purpose of this exercise let’s combine chipsets with networks and assume each network only has one kind of chip. For the record, many other networks exist but this paints a decent picture for the audience.

  1. Bluetooth: Amongst the most cost-effective chip

  2. Sigfox: A great option for certain long-range applications where the network provider manages the network cost for an annual fee. This chipset has a cost double the price of the Bluetooth chip.

  3. LoRa: Another great option depending on its application where the solutions provider must manage his or her own network. This chipset comes in at approximately 3 times the cost of the Bluetooth chip but offers more versatility.

  4. Behrtech: A new up-and-coming option that has many benefits for solutions providers in the proptech business who may not understand networks. The price point here is closer to 5 times the cost of a Bluetooth chip.

This is another important milestone a company needs to surpass as they build their sensor. Many nodes are not designed to be able to change chipsets after the company has landed on a specific chip. This further limits the company’s market segment/opportunity. 

In our case, we’ve chosen to spend a little more in step 1 to ensure we can be agnostic to the network our client wishes to work with however, our most common network and chipset is LoRa.

Stay tuned for another article about network comparisons!

Step 5: (Choosing how long you want the batteries to last and how many you will need)

At this stage, the company must choose if they believe the client will see value in evaluating the total life cycle of the product or if they will air towards the most cost-effective product. 

In many cases, companies will compromise on the power to help reduce costs for the client. However, in our opinion, this is the worst decision. The best products will have the most amount of energy to last as long as humanly possible. This is another additional expense for those who choose to view things the same way we do.

Simultaneously, the company will have to look at offering its sensor with or without batteries. At a minimum, a decent 1.5V battery costs approximately $2 each so you can do the math. 

In our case, we’ve opted for three 3.6V batteries with a cost of approximately $3 each as we see this as a game-changer for product versatility and for the life expectancy of the sensor.

Step 6: (The PCB)

We cannot forget the board that connects the sensors in Step 2 and the batteries identified in Step 4. This is effectively the brain of the sensor and the most capital-intensive piece of the sensor.

Step 7: (Certifications)

After the node has been assembled and has been tested, the certifications come in.  The water sensor then needs to be certified FCC & IC if you want to sell it across North America. The total investment for the certification is approximately $10,000. 

After the hardware development cost comes:

  1. Minimum inventory requirements and the costs to hold this inventory. 

  2. Cost of firmware development and software development where both are vital to the deployment of a comprehensive solution. 

  3. Import charges.

  4. Manufacturing and assembly costs.

As you can tell by now, the capital investment and the recurring inventory cost of producing a sensor is quite significant. Thus, it will require immense market momentum and substantial purchase orders to help drive the market towards the $1 sensor, or even to the to $20 sensor range. 

We hope that you have found this article valuable. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask as we are always looking to learn more from subject matter experts and looking to provide value to our clients.
Sincerely,
Your Connected Sensors Team
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Instruction, Safety

For those of you who have experienced a flood or simply want to reduce your building risk, we have put together a list of commonly asked questions about a leak detection system.

How does a leak detection system work? How do we recommend setting up a leak detection system, or as we call it “Flood Mitigation System”?

Step 1: (How many Gateways do I need?)  

Based on the size of your property, we identify how many gateways are going to be required to transmit and receive messages to and from the deployed solutions/sensors and where they should be installed. 

This is like the foundation of your home; you always want to make sure it’s done right from the start.

Step 2: (How do I connect the Gateways to the Cloud?) 

Once we have identified the quantity of gateways required, these gateways are then equipped with LTE SIM cards before they are shipped so that the data that the gateways gather can make it to the LoRa Network server in the cloud and then to our Monitoring Station/ Dashboard. 

You can think of this step as the SIM card you put in your cell phone, without a SIM card you won’t get very far.

Step 3: (Where do I install the Gateways in the building?) 

You can then install the LoRa gateways in your property based on our recommended strategic locations identified in Step 1. These locations are important as they ensure that the sensors that are going to be set up in Step 4 transmit and receive data consistently to and from the gateway. We do our best to recommend placements of these gateways in areas where they are not visible to everyone and where a power source is accessible. 

You always want to place the gateways close to a power source and hidden from the public’s eyes. It is also important that the gateways are spaced far from one another to ensure the building has full coverage.

Step 4: (Where should I put sensors) 

You can then install our leak detection system wireless sensors in key strategic areas as per the layout and design agreed upon between you (the client) and us (Connected Sensors). If you don’t know where you want to install them, you can always wait until install day.  Our platform allows for flexibility for when you decide “in the moment” where those sensors should be placed. 

This step always requires either access to drawings, building walkthroughs or someone that knows the building so that the sensors are strategically placed in high-risk areas. 

Step 5: (What sensors do I need? How many do I need and where should I put them? – Be Strategic!) 


5.1 – We have different ways of executing on your vision depending on your area of focus. For example, a BASE building solution will be structured differently than an all-encompassing in-unit and BASE building solution. At the end of the day, it boils down to
being strategic with our water sensors as to where the highest risk of leaks are in your building. For example the areas susceptible to high risk are: Risers, Mechanical areas, Water Closets, Penthouses below Mechanical Penthouse, Fire Suppression System, Fan Coil Units (FCU), Elevator pits, Washing Machine and the list goes on. 

5.2 – In conjunction with 5.1 we can also look at shut off valve options.  Our actuator that sits on top of an electric valve or an electric third-party actuator can operate both via battery or with a 5V adapter plugged into a 120 VAC. We always recommend plugging in the actuator to limit the maintenance/ battery replacements. As for the design and layout of where to shut off the water, there is also a long list of options. Here are a few options/examples: 1. In-unit shutoff is a great option for new or newer buildings as you limit tenant disruption in the event of a flood. 2. Riser shutoff is another great option for base building applications but this will disrupt many tenants/condominium owners in the event that a leak is detected and the water is turned off. 3. As a third option, which we often see in the retro-fit market where the existing infrastructure is getting old, we look for feedback from the facility manager or property manager to identify high risk areas and usually propose shut offs for the FCU’s and the hot water risers, more importantly the shower hot water riser.

5.3 – Finally, the last product we recommend including as part of your solution is what we consider as the “best bang for your buck”, our meter reader. This product provides water consumption data, as it learns the patterns of your water consumption and can help identify major floods. Our meter reader also helps identify slow leaks that go undetected such as toilet leaks, faucet leaks and many other fixtures and building infrastructures as it relates to water waste. The first step here is to identify what kind of check meter you have. Most buildings have what is called a pulse meter which is perfect for our agnostic pulse meter reader product. In the event that you have an ultrasonic meter, please send us a picture of your meter and we will have a custom ultrasonic meter reader built just for you. You may also have a dual head pulse meter reader in which case two of our meter readers can be installed to support you best. 

The above 3 elements are amongst the most controversial in the industry. Many individuals and companies believe that shutoffs are critical to prevent floods and reduce the size of a flood. If this is your case, we will be happy to help you execute on your vision however, it is our opinion that early flood detection generated by our products and software identified 5.1 and 5.3 far exceed the value for money of shut off valves. 

Step 5: (How can I install this myself?)

With the exception of the shut off valves, all other products offered by Connected Sensors do not require a licensed plumber or subject matter expert. We have a few options to help you install our solutions.

  1. You can start by reading our installation manual that is included in the box with each of our products.

  2. You can review our installation videos which goes into detail as to how you can install our product and solution.

  3. If you plan on installing our solutions in multiple buildings, we can prepare a “train the trainer” session for your facility manager.

  4. Finally, as a last resort, we also have the ability to connect you with one of our virtual technicians who will use a platform called ICwhatUC to walk you through the installation.

As for the shut off valve, all our products come with an installation manual so that the plumber is able to activate the actuator that sits on top of the valve.

All of our products come with a unique QR Code that you will use in conjunction with our app to activate the devices onto our dashboard as you start deploying the solution. In addition, depending on what adapter you’ve connected to our sensor the device will self assess if its purpose is to actuate a valve, detect water or read a meter. All of which will have pre-determined settings on our dashboard.

We’ve spent countless hours ensuring the simplicity of the installation process, so that we can help clients such as yourself install our solutions all across North America. If for whatever reason you are still having difficulty installing our solution, our support team will be at your disposal to help solve your problems. 

Step 6: (How will I know when there is a leak and who will be notified)

Our leak detection system solutions come with a dashboard, a mobile application and/or an automated robot that will send you a text message in the event there is a warning you should be made aware of. The communication can be relayed to many individuals simultaneously which we recommend for backup purposes. 

If you happen to be a client who wants the solution to be monitored by a third-party, we are happy to relay our warnings to a monitoring station of your choice.

At Connected Sensors, we understand that we cannot be everything to every client. With that in mind, we deliberately wrote this article using generic terminology such as sensor, meter reader and gateway because our vision is that by educating individuals to understand how these systems work, we can help create a more sustainable future for us all. Fortunately, we found out early from our clients the reason why they were hesitant to initially invest in our products, it was because they did not understand how the technology worked. We hope through this article and subsequent articles that we were able to provide you with content and knowledge surrounding leak detection systems and how they work. 
Sincerely,
Your Connected Sensors Team
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Instruction, Power

A question that clients buying battery-operated IoT sensors don’t ask often enough.

Batteries can have such an impact on the product life cycle cost, so why are they often forgot about when evaluating a solution? In this article, we will take a deeper dive into the important questions you should be asking a vendor when it comes to batteries. For example: what type of batteries are being used, how many batteries does the product require and how long is the expected battery life.

Batteries should be top of mind for you as a client. Depending on your agreement with the vendor, you may be responsible to cover the battery cost and the time required to replace them. In some cases, the cost of a battery replacement can exceed the cost of the initial purchase. It is for that reason that you must always ask a vendor the following questions.

Question # 1 What type of batteries are required for this product and are you responsible for providing them?

The type of batteries used in a particular device makes a significant impact on the life expectancy of the product. Below is a table showing the delta in value when a vendor chooses to opt for Option 1, Alkaline 1.5V batteries versus Option 2, Lithium thionyl chloride 3.6V batteries that highlights the key differences between battery types:

 

Question # 2 Do you have a battery life estimator spreadsheet you can share with me?


When putting together an IoT solution, the manufacturer and/or solutions provider will have established certain “rules” for the device. These parameters include time spent on air, frequency of messages, battery discharge rate, wake-ups per day, and sampling period. This comprehensive assessment gives the manufacturer and/or solutions provide the ability to estimate the life expectancy of the product before it will require replacement batteries. The calculation performed to get an estimated life expectancy takes all the parameters into account, with two valuables standing out above the rest: Self-discharge rate and total energy capacity. The self-discharge rate is the amount of energy that is lost over a period of time due to internal chemistry degradation.  Two total energy capacity means that there is more energy available for use by the device. This difference is caused by the battery configuration and voltage of the cells used. The information gathered from the transmission rate and configuration is then used to calculate the “energy used per message”. This number is then divided into the total capacity and self-leakage deducted to get to a total number of messages per battery pack. This number is then divided by the number of messages per day/month to get estimated battery life in years.   It is important that you ask for this information to validate and evaluate the life cycle of the product or solution you are looking at purchasing and investing in.

Question #3: Who is responsible to supply and install the replacement batteries on these devices?


More often than not, you the client will be responsible for the battery replacements and the labor involved in replacing these batteries. In the event that this is the case the most important step for you to take is the one that comes next. Making an analysis on what the life cycle cost of your device will look like over time when factoring in battery replacements.

Question #4: What is the product life cycle cost when factoring in battery replacements?

When evaluating the product life cycle cost it is imperative to consider the battery replacement cost. For example, let’s compare Option 1 with (2) AA 1.5V batteries versus Option 2 with (3) AA 3.6V batteries using the same IoT capabilities:


The Delta: Option 1 will cost $33.60 more over the same period of time or 3 times more money than Option 2. You may also need to account for travel costs and access to the tenant or resident’s property.

We hope you have found this article valuable. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask as we are always looking to learn more from subject matter experts and looking to provide value to our clients.
Sincerely,
Your Connected Sensors Team
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