Frequently Asked Questions
If you're considering Connected Sensors, we know you have questions. You may even have concerns. So we have created this frequently asked questions document to help you become more informed about what we have to offer. So let’s address your concerns, and by the end of this document you’ll have a much better understanding of the answers to the questions that have been on your mind.
Why should I invest in a Water Management Solution?
Let’s face it, while essential to human life, water can be a very problematic resource if it is mismanaged.
85% of buildings lose 35% of their water due to water leaks for all kinds of reasons. With the support of our Water Streamer, we can give you insight into your total water usage thus identifying commonly wasted water so you may save money on water while also saving the planet by reducing your ecological footprint and saving your building by identifying degrading infrastructure.
Secondly, another reason to invest in a water management solution is due to the problems that revolve around floods. Let’s look at some of the statistics around water claims:
According to this article published in the Canadian Underwriter, condos have more than a 30% chance of making a claim each year. While we encourage you to come to your own conclusions by using your own data set, one could assume that similar ratios would apply to multi-residential rentals and commercial high-rise. In addition, according to this study from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, water damage represents 48% of the claims, making water the most common cause of loss within the built environment. By utilizing the above 2 statistics, one could extrapolate that condos, if not all high-rise buildings, have approximately a 14% chance of making a water claim each year or once every 7 years.
By investing in a water management solution and reducing your likelihood and/or size of a loss/claim, you can effectively save money on excruciating deductible payouts, save your building from extensive damages and save the planet by reducing the waste going into landfills.
The third reason you should invest in a water management solution is the operational advantages that come with such an investment. To name a few:
- Reducing costly downtime from infrastructure repairs
- Reducing clean-up, remediation, and restoration of flood incidents
- Removal of hazardous materials such as asbestos
- Reducing tenant disruption and displacement
- Maintaining building Integrity
- Improved Automated/Smart Asset Protection
- Building preventive maintenance
- Limiting contractor truck roll
- Leveraging Data Analytics
For more information on why you should invest in a water management solution please visit this link where we do a deeper dive on the subject.
What makes your system different from others out there?
Our extensive suite of products gives us the ability to offer a variety of options and solutions to our clients. This sets us apart from others as we are a “one stop shop” for water management. In addition, battery life has been a common challenge in the IoT sensor sector. We are proud to offer an estimated battery life of 10-15 years depending on the use case. Beyond the battery life, we feel very strongly that our modular and robust product design makes Connected Sensors a very attractive contender when compared to other solutions for the commercial market segment. The modularity of the product enables us to quickly deploy new solutions as we identify opportunities for disruption. Which means that if we don’t have the product you're looking, for we can likely create it for you if there is a good business case behind it.
Does your water management system need to be hardwired to a power source?
Our WMS is battery-powered, and our WMS Duo has an external 5V power adapter that needs to be connected to a 110V standard plug and has a battery backup in case of power outages. We design our solutions and recommend the best product based on the use case and problem you are trying to solve. Our gateways require a standard 110V power connection and also have a battery backup integrated within the device.
What is the warranty?
All of our hardware comes with a two-year warranty. As you review our pricing model, one of the intentions behind our Water Management As a Service (lease to own model) was to help eliminate fears related to the uncertainties that come with new technology. Some of the questions we’ve been asked and I’m sure have crossed your mind are: (1) What happens if the company goes out of business? (2) What happens if the product doesn’t work? Our Water Management as a Service helps reassure you that we will deliver on our promise by holding ourselves accountable on a monthly or annual basis as a result of being compensated based on our performance.
What happens if my power goes out and I get a leak?
All of our sensors are battery powered and/or battery backed up, including our gateway. Our communication system works via LTE which should go uninterrupted in the event of power outage. However, if your solution deployment has actuators above 2 inches, we won’t be able to shut off the water in the event that both a leak and a power outage happens at the same time. That being said, we see the probability of both of these events happening simultaneously very unlikely, especially given that many large commercial or multi-residential properties have backup generators in the event of power failure.
How does your pricing structure work?
Our basic pricing structure is $3 per sensor per month for new buildings, and $5 per sensor per month for buildings in construction phase. This includes all the hardware required, including sensors and gateways, as well as the software and dashboard for managing your system. Please visit our pricing page for more details on what’s included.
How does your system work?
Given the nature of this question and how complex the answer to this question can quickly become, we’ve put together a blog post that gives a thorough yet general overview of how the system works and how it’s configured. We invite you to have a look at it here.
How long do your batteries last?
All of our battery powered devices take three 3.6V batteries, and when we supply the batteries we offer Lithium Thionyl Chloride batteries. All use cases are different, however for the Water Sniffer deployment we have a 10-15 year estimated battery life.
What network do you use?
The radio within our sensors gives us flexibility to work with a range of networks. At this time our solutions are designed to locally communicate via LoRaWAN, which is a low power wide area network which communicates through our gateways which then communicates to the cloud using a cellular connection. That being said, some of our sensors and solutions also function via Behrtech and Sigfox, two other LPWAN options in the marketplace that enable solutions like ours.
Can you integrate with BACnet?
Yes we can! Read our blog post here to learn more.
Do you have a Live Monitoring Station?
We air towards the automation of every task envisioned by our monitoring platform to eliminate human error. However, if a client requested a Live Monitoring Station, we have the ability to offer this service at an additional cost.
Do you have open API’s?
For our direct to consumer client, you have the ability to leverage our API’s to integrate with another platform of your choice. For our Value Added Resellers, if you’ve opted for our Plan #1 there are no API fees; however, if you’ve opted for Plan #2, we charge an annual API licensing fee.
What kind of project does this apply to?
Our products and solutions are designed for high-rise towers. This includes commercial high-rises of all kinds, multi-unit residential towers, projects during construction, post construction builds, and retro-fits.
Will this reduce my insurance cost?
A water risk mitigation system can help with your insurance cost in several ways. It can reduce your chances of a costly claim, and the associated deductible and increased premiums. In addition, not every incident of water damage is covered by insurance, so it’s vital to reduce flood incidents as much as possible. Last but not least, the current insurance market has proven to be a challenging one where premiums have been on the rise for over 3 years now. Installing a water management solution in your building can help make your risk more attractive, and generating multiple offers when it comes time for renewal helps you pick the best policy for your needs.
How do you turn off the water?
For larger size pipes (2” or greater) our WMS Duo combined with some wiring (use case dependent) has the ability to communicate with large actuators and valves of all kinds to shut off the water; we call this solution our Jumbo Water Stopper. For valves and actuators of 1 ½ “ or less, we have a valve and actuator combo that is meticulously designed with back up batteries to give you a nicely finished product. This is what we call our Mini Water Stopper. When a flood is detected, a notification will be sent directly to our software interface/monitoring station where we can automate some logic or enable you to shut off the water remotely.
Are Lithium Batteries dangerous?
Although there is a belief that lithium batteries can cause a fire, the lithium batteries that are known to cause fires are Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer batteries. We use Lithium Thionyl Chloride batteries, which we consider to be no greater of a fire risk than more traditional alkaline batteries.
What kind of payment terms do you offer?
Our services are based on a subscription payment system, where you are invoiced monthly. We require an upfront security deposit for 12 months of service, which will count towards the last year of your service package. We also offer payment discounts for upfront payments.
What are the highest risk areas in my building?
When installing a water risk mitigation system, there are a few key areas that we focus on protecting. These areas are either at higher risk of a flood, or have sensitive electronics that require protection. They include mechanical and electrical rooms, risers, cooling towers, and elevators. Read our blog post to learn more.
What kind of domestic water systems exist in a high rise?
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.
Direct Pumping: Water is pumped directly into the distribution system without the aid of any overhead tank, except for flushing purposes. 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: This system is adopted when adequate pressure is available round the clock at the topmost floor. 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. An air-tight pressure vessel is installed on the line to regulate the operation of the pumps. The vessel capacity shall be 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 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. 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.
Why is a complete building shut down, riser shutdown, or booster pump shut down a decent option in the event of a flood?
There are many ways to shut down the water supply in a high-rise building to help reduce water risk. That being said, our approach is to look at budget versus desired outcome and claim history if one is available. In most cases, we end up recommending one of the 3 options identified in the question above and the reason is simple. At Connected Sensors, regardless of the project scope we always apply the law of diminishing return, meaning what is the “sweet spot” for our client to reduce their water risk while getting the best return on their investment and this is why we propose the 3 options above.
Why are the sensors bulky? Do you have anything smaller?
We’ve been asked before if we had any smaller enclosures and why the sensors were so big. The answer is simple: like a car, lots of horsepower requires lots of space, and in our case the horsepower is the quantity and quality of the batteries installed in the enclosure. To get a 10 to 15 year battery life, we must install three 3.6V batteries, and that takes a significant amount of space.
Why is early detection more important than shut off?
In most cases, budget is always a factor to be considered when implementing a water risk mitigation strategy. From our experience, the problem our clients face is the fact that it simply took too much time to detect the flood and by the time someone noticed it had already caused significant damage. It is quite rare to hear from a client that the problem was the inability to shut off the water.
Why is it not $20/sensor?
The current requirements for sensing distance and radio distance are too high for a $20 sensor to be feasible at the moment. Furthermore, the quantities of manufacturing required to reduce the price of the sensor is higher than current production quantity. Although the $20 sensor does not currently exist, we could see them in the future, once production demand is higher and market momentum increases. Please read our blog here for further information.
How much does it cost to install a water risk mitigation solution in my building?
Since there are so many different options available for a water risk mitigation system, the price can vary greatly. It’s similar to purchasing a car, where you can purchase the basic package or the “ultimate” package with all of the bells and whistles. Since a water risk mitigation system can’t be traded in like a car, it’s important to make an investment that ensures you receive maximum value and requires minimum maintenance. If you visit this blog post, you can learn more about estimated costs of investing in a commercial leak detection system.
What is the difference between LoRa, Sigfox, and Behrtech?
LoRa, Sigfox, and Behrtech all utilize similar technology: these mobile network operators adopt their technology for IoT deployments over both city and nationwide LPWAN, or low power wide area networks. Therefore small, technical differences separate the companies.
Sigfox uses a 900MHz frequency band, and is a narrowband (or ultra-narrowband) technology. It uses a standard radio transmission method called binary phase-shift keying (BPSK), and it takes very narrow chunks of spectrum and changes the phase of the carrier radio wave to encode the data. This allows the receiver to only listen in a tiny slice of spectrum, which mitigates the effect of noise. It requires an inexpensive endpoint radio and a more sophisticated basestation to manage the network.
Sigfox communication tends to be better if it’s headed up from the endpoint to the base station. It has bidirectional functionality, but its capacity going from the base station back to the endpoint is constrained, and you’ll have less link budget going down than going up. This is because the receiver sensitivity on the endpoint is not as good as on the expensive basestation.
In comparison, LoRa has a wider band technology, operating at 125kHz or more. With LoRa and LoRaWAN, you can use the same radio for a receiver on the base station and the endpoint.
BehrTech offers a disruptive wireless connectivity software platform that is purpose-built for massive-scale industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) networks. Like LoRa, Behrtech MYTHINGS operates in the sub-GHz frequency bands. Behrtech utilizes a unique LPWAN technology called TS-UNB that is known for its interference resilience and scalability. With its approach to interoperability, BehrTech makes it easy for end users to retrofit its MYTHINGS platform in any environment and enables partners, system integrators, and VARs to deliver fully-integrated IIoT solutions that enable data-driven decisions to be made.
What happens if a sensor stops working?
If a sensor stops working, your software will notify you of an issue right away. From there, if you are within the 2 year warranty window you can contact us to receive a replacement device.
How will I know if the batteries are dead?
Our software system will let you know instantly when any of the sensors require attention, including if the batteries are low and require replacement.
Why do I need to invest in a water management solution?
Water is a resource required in all buildings. Floods are becoming more and more costly as insurance premiums and deductibles both rise in response to increased flood claims. Repairs required from floods are also incredibly costly and wasteful. Since fresh water is a finite resource, it is important for the sake of the environment for building owners to manage their water use responsibly.
Why is it more important now than before for landlords to consider a water management solution?
Water prices are on the rise, and 48% of insurance claims are due to floods. As a landlord, a water management solution is vital in reducing water utility costs and insurance deductibles & premiums. Furthermore, it gives you a detailed look into water usage throughout your property, so you are able to assess high use areas and future infrastructure upgrades.
Why should these rock bottom cap rates influence my interest in a water management system?
With cap rates as low as they are, any investment to improve infrastructure and efficiency is needed to improve the cap rates as much as possible. A water management system can help improve your building’s value by helping to determine infrastructure improvements, allowing you to implement submetering to transfer water costs to tenants, and assisting in preventing infrastructure degradation by preventing flood damage.
How does implementing a water conservation solution help me increase the value of my building and or portfolio?
A water conservation solution can help a building owner with budgeting infrastructure improvements by determining where leaks are present to assess leaks. It can also be used to increase revenue by implementing submetering, to transfer some of the water costs directly to tenants.