Late in the summer season and after extensive lobbying from my lovely wife, we purchased a small above-ground swimming pool for our backyard. The idea was to provide a safe place for our daughter to enjoy water sports with her friends.
Little did I know that I wasn’t getting a swimming pool, I was investing in a chemistry set. Suddenly PH, free chlorine, algaecides and other chemicals and their measurements became critical to our health and lifestyle. It was my difficulties with chemistry that converted me from being a science major in college, and I have steadfastly refused to enter that scholastic realm during my adult years.
Another issue was a problem that developed with the electrical circuit that powers the pool pump and filter system, which is supposed to operate for four to six hours during the middle of the day. As our house came equipped with a very inexpensive electrical circuit breaker setup, the timer I had installed to run the pump would occasionally pop the circuit breaker upon startup. When you factor in our regular family visits to our undisclosed location in southwestern Michigan, who knows what kind of fungal growths could develop if the pool pump doesn’t run for a few days consecutively.
Now, I’m a guy who likes things to work — and I want to know when they’re not working and why. So the pool pump monitoring became a problem that needed a solution. Although my alarm control can report AC power loss, it can’t report the loss of an individual circuit unless I have the house rewired to have both the pool pump and the burglar alarm panel connected to the same circuit. And I’ve already thrown wads of cash at the pool and its installation, and don’t want to spend much more.
The answer to my pool monitoring solution is available today from Honeywell. The iPCAM-WO is an Ethernet-wired or wireless outdoor camera, ruggedly engineered for the cruel Midwestern winter, and providing a superior live or recorded view through the Total Connect website.
One of the small number of things I properly planned for when we moved into our new home in Chicago was to have my electrician run 2 CAT5e cables to our separate garage. I wasn’t sure what I would use them for, but I knew the day would come when I would be very happy that I had them installed.
Installing the iPCAM-WO was very simple, as Honeywell provided a long cable with an extension to run power to the camera from an AC outlet. I simply installed the camera base, hung the camera, pulled the CAT5e to the device, put on an RJ-45 plug, powered it up and gave Total Connect a call. Within a few minutes I was watching my swimming pool live through the Total Connect website.
By adjusting the image of the camera and the output flange from the pool pump, I can now check that my pool pump is working from any smart phone or Internet connection in the world. I also can see if there’s been anyone in the pool by setting the IPCAM-WO’s motion detection window onto the pool’s ladder.
A very cool feature of this camera is its built-in day/night conversion, which provides a high-quality image even in the dark.
Remember that this camera can be either wireless Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet, so if you have an application where the CAT5e cable isn’t already available you can use your laptop/netbook along with some freeware such as Netstumbler (www.netstumbler.com/downloads/) to test for Wi-Fi quality and connectivity at a specific outside location on your client’s home or business. Just hold the netbook up to the proposed camera location, fire up the testing software, and read the results. If the Wi-Fi signal is strong, the only issue becomes the AC outlet needed to plug in the camera’s power supply.
There is a small monthly charge that is paid to Total Connect that provides for the viewing and recording of up to six indoor or outdoor cameras. Security dealers should mark up that wholesale cost and bill the end user for the service, increasing the RMR while providing the peace of mind that is only available with actually viewing important areas inside or outside the clients’ locations.
Now if they can only invent an inexpensive camera that will somehow measure the chlorine and chemicals in the pool and send me a text message if things are out of whack.