Chalets, cottages, cabins are synonymous with a low-tech lifestyle. For most people, a retreat to these spaces brings to mind shoddy cell-service, spotty LTE, and boxy television sets from the days of Yore.
The low-tech lifestyle has charm. Playing life on hard mode has a way of putting city life into perspective. And although many would balk at the idea of bringing technology into their retreat – other cottage owners are integrating ad-hoc technology to ensure that most of the surprises waiting for them at the cottage are happy ones. Installing sensors throughout a cottage allows owners to passively monitor key conditions while the cottage sits empty. Sensors can be configured to relay data to online dashboards which send users alerts when custom parameters are broken. In some cases, certain processes can be automated so that owners do not need to physically be at the cottage to rectify a budding issue.
What’s a sensor?
A sensor is the technological equivalent of a human organ which reads environment data. For example, our eyes are light detectors, our tongue is a taste receptor. Our noses can detect the presence of chemicals through smell. On a non-biological level, a sensor is a converter which measures physical quantities and converts those quantities into signals which may be read by an observer or an instrument. Common sensors are thermometers, radar guns and red light cameras, automatic door openers, GPS, and cameras. When you begin combining sensors – things start getting very efficient, very quickly.
Not many cottage owners are lining up to purchase red light camera sensors.
Uses for IoT and Sensors in Cottages
Moisture sensors, temperature sensors, accelerometer and air quality sensors are the sensor trifecta for cottage owners. Together, these three metrics help detect a range of common issues such as burst pipes, water leaks, gas leaks, and opened windows or doors. The greatest value of installing moisture sensors in utility closets and under sink vanities is early detection. A slow leak, caught early, has few lasting impacts. A slow leak which drips unhampered for a month could cause serious damage to floors, walls, and anything sitting on the floor. There are a variety of moisture sensors on the market. Generally, they exist as a long ‘rope’ which touches the pipes and bottom cabinet in many locations. Most systems send notifications to a user’s cellphone via a mobile phone application. Moisture sensors may also detect the moment that a pipe bursts during the Winter. Once the spring thaw sets in, cottage owners are faced with water, water everywhere. Preventing a spring flood by driving up for some winter maintenance saves cottage goers big time on damages.
Air Quality Monitoring
Every home and cottage is required by law to have an air quality monitor to detect carbon monoxide levels. Most units alert homeowners to a gas leak via a series of piercing beeps. Few people own a system which integrates with WiFi and sends alerts via SMS, application, or email. Advanced air quality systems in homes are generally used to grant elderly or ill individuals greater autonomy. However, detecting a gas leak is useful even if the leak occurs with no one present. A sparking appliance could spell disaster for a cottage filled with flammable gases.
Cottages attract the hungry, cold, and curious. Humans and animals alike have many motivations for breaking into cottages and wreaking havoc. There are many methods of monitoring whether a break-in has occurred. Many sensors measure acceleration and tilt. If a small device is mounted on a window or door, any movement will cause an ‘event’ which is sent to the cottage owner. When coupled with data from temperature sensors, a homeowner can work out whether the event is a false alarm, or if a window or door has remained ajar for an extended time. The more sensors that you place around your living space, the more three dimensional your monitoring can be.
Water and Soil Quality Monitoring
Finally, water quality and soil quality sensors can help cottage goers keep gardens and vegetable plots alive between extended visits. Water quality sensors can be installed in wells to ensure water remains potable or in lakes to monitor bacteria levels. For cottages on high-traffic lakes, bacteria blooms can be a major concern. For the avid gardener, soil moisture monitors can create events when moisture levels fall under an acceptable threshold – triggering drip irrigation.
Cottages require a lot of maintenance. If some of the unhappy surprises can be taken out of the equation, cottage owners will be able to spend less time and money dealing with the consequences of unattended, preventable issues like slow leaks or opened windows. Bringing technology into the cottage does not have to detract from the overall experience.