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How to Remote Monitor Water Tanks

By Morgana Siggins

April 2, 2020


Water tanks are used in many different settings in a wide variety of industries. From irrigation and farming to drinking and wastewater, it's in consensus that it is very important to know the level of your water tanks.

That's where water tank monitoring systems come into play. They keep an eye on the level of water in your tank so you know how full or how empty your tanks are.

Tank monitoring solutions increase operational efficiency by reducing costs that are tied to the storage, distribution, and delivery. This is possible due to the remote viewing and management of information sent to the master database.

Take a look at how you can manage your water tanks with a monitoring system.

Water tanks monitoring
Monitoring systems allow real-time insights across filtration plants, pump stations, entire distribution networks, and any other industries that depend on water tanks.

Start With Sensors

Are you in the water waste industry? Imagine trying to pump waste into a tank that is already full. Or do you run a farm? Picture trying to water your crops and finding out your storage is empty.

These are just a couple of examples of why monitoring your water tanks is so important. After all, without a proper way to check their levels, there's no efficient way for you to know what resources you have left. So, your mission-critical equipment, products, and profits will be at jeopardy.

To avoid all this trouble, putting in place an efficient monitoring system is the best practice. But where to start?

First of all, you need to start with water level sensors. With those, if your tanks ever fall outside of your desired thresholds, you will be notified in one or more ways that make sense to your scenario. This way you can proactively react to the problem with a plan already in mind of what you will need to do. This reduces the windshield time to drive to your sites which positively affects your levels of productivity and efficiency.

Float Sensors

There are many different types of sensors that you can choose from based on your unique scenario.

Float sensors are the most common kind of sensor used in water tanks.

The principle behind the float sensors is the opening and closing of a mechanical switch, which can be either through direct contact with the switch or through the magnetic operation of a reed.

With a mechanical float sensor, switching occurs due to the movement of a float against a micro switch. But with a magnetic float sensor, switching occurs when a permanent magnet sealed inside the float rises or falls to the actuation level.

A special application of float type sensors is the determination of interface level in oil-water separation systems. In this scenario, two floats can be used with each float sized to match the specific gravity of the oil on one hand, and the water on the other.

Magnetic Float Sensors

Magnetic float sensors have a float that moves up and down a stem depending on the liquid levels inside your storage containers. The float contains a small magnet, while the stem houses a dry reed switch.

When the magnet passes over the proper spot on the stem, the reed is magnetized allowing the contacts to come together to complete a circuit.

When the float returns to its previous position, the contacts separate allowing for the circuit to be broken.

Since this circuit is so simple it can be installed in a variety of methods. They can be directly wired into a light-circuit to set a light notification, or they can be utilized in a system of computers that can be configured to alert a technician, turn a pump on or off, or many other tasks depending on your needs.

Magnetic float switches are the most popular because of their simplicity, dependability and low cost.

More Sensors for More Information

Added to water level sensors, other sensors can also be put into place to determine other variables that might be important to you, such as temperature and pressure. Your tank level monitoring system will gather the information from all these sensors to report it to you in real-time. This way your techs won't have to be sent to your facilities just to check the tank gauges.

Then Deploy a Competent RTU

Your second step is deploying a sending unit. Although in many cases a secondary wireless transponder is used to link the controller with the sensors, the best practice is to install a remote telemetry unit (RTU).

The RTU will be responsible for actively monitoring of your specific thresholds. So, if a value falls outside a specified range, or a certain point is hit, then the RTU will send an alarm to the master station at your central location. This process allows you to have rapid and efficient responses to alarm status.

Features to Look For

Not all RTUs are made equal, and certainly not all of them will be the best fit to monitor your water tanks. Aside from having the right capacity for your application, there are some essential features that you should make sure your device supports, so it can give you efficient visibility over your tanks. Some of these features are:

Detailed Notifications

Your RTU should be able to send you (at least) text message and email notifications, so your staff can respond to alarms in a timely manner. But, not only that, your device notifications should include detailed diagnostic information for each alarm. With enough information about what's going on, you can make informed decisions.

Alarm Sorting and Analysis

If you have a large network with many water tanks, you probably see a large number of alarms. It's important for your RTU to be able to sort and prioritize the flood of information coming to you.

Having the ability to filter status alerts, oscillating conditions and unimportant alarms is critical to keep your techs efficiently working through all the alarms getting to your NOC.

This high flow of alarms can cause some underlying problems to go unnoticed. So, because of that, it's important that your RTU is able to automatically correlate repeated combinations of alarms. Your device should be able to keep a complete alarm history that you could export for trend analysis.

Alarm Collection and Management

Having an RTU that supports analog inputs, including live monitoring, is a great tool if you need to monitor things other than your water tank levels. With this feature, you can efficiently monitor battery levels, temperature and humidity.

Also, you can solve many problems at your facility without actually having to send techs there by simply having control relays. RTUs with support for control relays allow for remote operation of site devices.

A Master Station Ties it All Up and Ensures Efficiency

Last but not least, a master station is used to display your alarm points.

The master should be able to send out notifications to your technicians when some issue is going on with your tanks.

In an efficient monitoring system, the RTU will report tank levels and environment readings to your master station. This way you will be able to monitor your water tanks from wherever you are.

Features to Look For

Just as for your RTUs, your master station should have essential capabilities that will make it a good investment. Some of these features are:

Intuitive Display

Finding a master station with an intuitive display should be one of your main priorities.

Avoid complicated screens that only have numbers, potential network problems are not obvious and you can't simply operate without prior extensive training. This all results in poor alarm management for your water tanks and overall network.

It doesn't take much to find a master station that has an intuitive display. By simply taking a look at the master's display, you'll see if it's going to be easy or hard to use. Live demonstrations with your potential vendor work well for that purpose.

A best practice, in this case, is to look for map-based displays. Maps are universally understood and it'll be easy to see and understand network threats when you're looking at the real geography of your sites.


Another point to keep in mind is reliability.

There are simple software packages that you can install on your PC, many for free, but these are not fit for serious network monitoring.

It's very important that your master station software is not running on the same computer you use at home for fun. The reliability of your master station comes from dedicated hardware and an ultra-stable OS.

What to Do Next

Used for database and inventory management, remote water level monitoring allows organizations to control and manage their tank levels remotely through the deployment of sensors, RTUs and master stations.

If you are wondering how you are going to find a device that will attend all your unique needs, drop us a line. Our team of monitoring experts can walk you through the process of designing and deploying the best devices for your scenario, and if you need something specific we can build equipment to your specs.

Morgana Siggins

Morgana Siggins

Morgana Siggins is a marketing writer, content creator, and documentation specialist at DPS Telecom. She has created over 200 blog articles and videos sharing her years of experience in the remote monitoring industry.