Recommendation needed: Monitor vacation home, detect outages

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We recently purchased a vacation home.  It's in a fairly rural area.  In
spite of the best efforts of the local utilities, from time to time we lose
power, and telephone service is, well, not exactly "first world" calibre.
There is no cable, dsl, or even cell phone service available.

I'm looking for two sets of advice.  First, when the power goes out for some
time, the stuff in the fridge could go bad.  Then the power comes back on,
and cools every thing off.  We come back, are unaware the power has been off
long enough to harm food, and either take a chance on poisoning ourselves or
we toss out perfectly good stuff.  There must be a better way.  Does anyone
know of an instrument that can tell us how long the power has been out?
Using an old fashioned mechanical electric clock helps, but doesn't go past
12 hours and doesn't tell us how long the longest outage was.

Second - any ideas for inexpensively monitoring the property?  It might be
nice to know the status of the HVAC, water pumps (run and temperature in
pump house), inside temperature, and maybe even an inside camera.  It would
all have to be done over a very slow phone line.

I'm just starting to think about this.  Clueless how to set up and hook up.
Are there any references one can read?

thanks



Re: Recommendation needed: Monitor vacation home, detect outages


There are plenty of digital thermometers that have a minimum/maximum
memory.  If you're worried about the food temp in the fridge more than
the air temp, get one with a metal probe (not a wireless one), and
stick the probe in a bottle of water in the fridge.  If the water temp
reaches 50 degrees, your food is probably bad.  Of course your nose
will probably tell you that as well.


Re: Recommendation needed: Monitor vacation home, detect outages


It wouldn't necessarily be cheap but HAI (www.homeauto.com) makes home
automation systems that you can call that can tell you what the status of
the power is, temperatures (indoor, or outdoor) humidity, HVAC (if you use
thier thermostats) and any other things that can be monitored by a simple
contact closure.  You could also have it log power outages, or call you when
the power is out.


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Re: Recommendation needed: Monitor vacation home, detect outages


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some

Put ice cubes in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  If power goes out they'll
melt and lose their cube shape.  If the power's off long enough, of course.
That way you only need look in the freezer to see if they're still in cube
shape.  If it's refrozen it'll be the shape of the bag instead of cubes.
Cheap and low tech.

-Bill Kearney


Re: Recommendation needed: Monitor vacation home, detect outages


won't the same thing happen though if it's a frost free freezer?


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Re: Recommendation needed: Monitor vacation home, detect outages


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Uh, think about what you're asking here.

The frost-free part is geared toward avoiding humidity build-up and
freezing, not to thawing the CONTENTS of the fridge.  That'd be a HUGE
health hazard and a damn dumb idea.  The ice cubes in a bag are just
contents, the same as any other foodstuff you'd have frozen in there with
them.


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