We have all seen images of the ancient cavemen, with the group standing around a roaring fire while some brave soul holds a skewered piece of mastodon meat and tries to get the perfect grill lines. Heat is important when living in a cold environment such as Chicago. While my SoCal, Caribbean and desert friends don’t usually have this problem, I can assure you that when the heat fails in Chicago during January, not only does the family get upset, but serious consequences can occur, including broken water pipes and marital tension.

When we bought our present home we decided to upgrade the old gas furnace with one of the new energy efficient models. Since the installation of the new furnace, we have had many instances in which the heat stopped, the temperature in the house dropped and drastic measures were required.

In the old days forced air furnaces were pretty simple devices that comprised a lit and burning pilot light, a blower motor to move the warm air, duct work to deliver the heat to the various rooms, and a chimney which was normally a straight shot up from the furnace location. The thermostat on the wall controlled the temperature, and most any problem (with the exception of the chimney work) could be diagnosed and fixed pretty quickly, often by the homeowner armed with only a screwdriver, pliers, access to a parts-supply house and a six pack of Bud.

But not today. The current high efficiency furnaces have numerous weird and unusual sensors and devices such as exhaust fans, any of which can cause the furnace to stop working and require a skilled and trained technician to repair.

This past winter we had a number of furnace failures. Because of a combination of Murphy’s Law and my intensive travel schedule, the stoppages usually occurred while I was out of town. To keep my wife and daughter toasty, I trained both of them to reset the circuit breaker on the electrical box that feeds the AC to the furnace. Bump the power and (usually) the furnace would restart.

Of course I tried to get this situation rectified by scheduling repeated service calls with my heating contractor (trust me, always buy the service agreement with any of these new furnaces). After three or four visits from my heat guys, the sporadic problems still continued.

When you take the cover off the front of the modern furnace you see the guts of the thing, including the circuit board (I hate circuit boards in furnaces). On the circuit board are a few LEDs which indicate what the furnace is doing at a particular moment. Of course one could just feel the duct work to see if heat is happening but that would be too easy.

To get to the root of the problem, my furnace tech told me that when the furnace fails someone needs to “count the blinks” of the various LEDs, as some combination such as 3-2-3 blinks indicates a particular furnace sensor problem. This posed a problem because the furnace would normally fail at 3 a.m., dropping the temperature in the house into the 50s. At that point all we want to do is get the heat started — not count LEDs. Or the problem would happen while I was lounging in a Sheraton in Framingham, Mass., so I was unavailable to perform any detailed checking of the furnace. The rule was just get the thing restarted and get the heat going.

What to do?  Enter the Hikvision Cube megapixel camera, the DS-2CD2412F-I (W). One of the many beauties of Wi-Fi enabled IP cameras is that they can be easily moved to view a specific scene or area. Assuming that the camera has been set up on a bookshelf or other surface, just unplug the camera’s power pack, move it to the new location, plug it in and you’ve got local and remote viewing of whatever you want to see.

So I took the camera and aimed it at the lights on the circuit board of the furnace. The next time it failed I was able to view the blinking LEDs and inform my heat guy of the blinking sequence.

This is a great camera and a tremendous value for residential and light commercial applications. Sporting night time IR, on-board micro-SD recording, wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi connectivity, built-in PIR and lighting, the Hikvision Cube can be easily installed and provides quality images either live or recorded. There are two main reasons Hikvision is one of the largest camera manufacturers in the world: great features and affordable pricing.

Once the LED sequence was verified, my heating contractor made a few fixes and the failures stopped. The “fixing” of my heat system is still in doubt because soon after the repairs were performed the temperatures finally rose in Chicago, so I am going to have to wait until next winter to see if all systems are go.

This usage of the Hikvision Cube Wi-Fi camera demonstrates a very saleable feature of Wi-Fi cameras to residential and light commercial accounts. Because the cameras can be moved, end users can relocate the camera to view whatever is of interest right now. When my daughter was a toddler, I would move my Wi-Fi camera into her room during her nap so while she was sleeping I could watch her from my office on my PC screen. There are many commercial potential uses for moveable cameras as well, from targeting a specific work station in a manufacturing operation to watching a specific door, for example, in the stock room.

 Wi-Fi cameras open a world of uses for security dealers and end users. Check out the possibilities with the Hikvision DS-2CD2412F-I(W).