Monitor a Remote Home for Temperature & More

Installing a security camera system in your vacation home is one way to keep an eye on things. But while a surveillance system can deter burglars, it can only protect your home from one danger. By installing a variety of sensors, you can significantly reduce the risks of flooding, freezing pipes, and smoke and heat, as well as trespassers. Best of all, these devices won't cost you nearly as much as a sophisticated camera system, but they can prevent problems or even alert you if something goes wrong in your remote property.

General Purpose Sensors

The products to solve this problem can be divided into two categories, the sensor and the notifying device. The sensors will measure the condition you want to monitor. Certain sensors will fix the problem; others can signal the notifying device to inform you of the problem. We have many General Purpose Sensors on our website that can monitor such conditions as indoor or outdoor temperature, wind, rain or freezing, indoor or outdoor motion, door or window opening, smoke, and even water leaks from your toilet, water heater, or any other appliance. Digital sensors operate on the simple electrical concept of contact closure. Just like a light bulb comes on when you flip a wall switch, these sensors will close or open a set of electrical contacts when the measured effect triggers the sensor. Using a temperature sensor as an example, if the room's temperature dips below your set point, it will close a set of contacts. Once the room warms up and the temperature rises above the set point, the contacts open. This contact closing and opening is what these sensors report and they may be classified as Normally Open or Normally Closed.

Other sensors that work this way include rain sensors, which can stop your automatic sprinkler system from watering when it isn't necessary, and glass break or motion sensors, which can trigger your security system to recognize a breach. Simpler sensors that can prevent problems from growing include the Water Heater Auto Shut-Off Valve, which not only detects leaks early, but it automatically shuts your water off in the event of a leak. This system is also available for toilets, ice machines, and dishwashers. Analog sensors are more sophisticated and have the ability to report an actual reading back to the notifying device, so you'll receive an alert should your temperature dip below a certain level.

On a Budget

If you're on a budget, you can set up an auto-dialer that can call out and play a 20-second message upon a sensor trigger. The Two-Channel Automatic Voice Dialer With Microphone can dial four phone numbers, two phone numbers and one pager, or two pagers. Once the call is dialed, the device plays back a 20-second pre-recorded message. It can say something like:

"This is Mike's house in the mountains. The temperature in the basement is now below 35 degrees. Send someone immediately to fix the problem."

Since this dialer is a two-channel model, you can have a second sensor hooked up to deliver another message. For example, if the WaterBug Water Sensor, #7160 were placed on the basement floor, and it detected moisture, a second message could be delivered:

"This is Mike's house in the mountains. There is water detected in the basement. Send help immediately."


Caution Sign


These devices should only be programmed to dial someone who has the ability to fix the problem and someone who is expecting the call (or pager notification). Most 911 operators will ignore the call, and it may result in a fine.

An investment in a Sensaphone will provide reports on:

  • The actual temperature in the house (expandable to four sensors total)
  • Status of the electricity (either ON or OFF)
  • The noise level in the home (it could detect an existing smoke or CO alarm)
  • The status of any three general-purpose sensors

A Sensaphone is set up in Smarthome's computer room, and a demo is set up so that you can call in and hear the Sensaphone in action. Give it a try at 949-221-0037. When the automated attendant answers, dial extension "282" to listen to a current report. If you'll have a computer set up with a high-speed connection at your vacation home, you can control and monitor your home's automation system remotely using HomeSeer software, one of the most versatile and comprehensive home automation applications on the market. This system offers multiple control options, including voice recognition and interaction, as well as access to X10 devices from the Internet! A computer interface module is required to send computer-based commands through the power lines. HomeSeer's built-in Web server brings you full control of all your X10 devices through a password-protected Web page or by e-mail. HomeSeer features powerful event mechanisms, enabling you to create events triggered by X10 commands received, absolute time, sunrise/sunset and matched infrared commands. Triggers can also be set with conditions. For temperature control, HomeSeer supports bi-directional X10 thermostats. No computer handy? You can still control your thermostat remotely over the phone using the Telephone Controller. Install a Programmable Thermostat, and you'll be able to call in from any telephone to send the pre-programmed thermostat into vacation or occupied mode.