Remote temperature monitoring protects your network against thermal shutdown, not to mention irreparable and expensive damage to your network. Ultimately, it gives you the peace of mind of avoiding lost revenue that results when systems fail.
The right temperature monitoring system should allow you to keep track temperatures at all of your sites, server rooms, and data centers that contain important gear. Instead of turning to installing new climate control systems, you'll be able to use intelligence to solve temperature-related problems.
For temperature monitoring, all you need is one or more temperature sensors and an RTU (Remote Terminal Unit) to send the information back to you. If you have a medium or large network, you can use an alarm master station to send alerts to your phone, email, or other devices.
Electronic equipment naturally creates large amounts of heat. If this heat is not monitored adequately with temperature sensors, thermal shutdowns will happen sooner or later.
Deploying wireless sensors at your sites will help you dodge service downtime and damage to your gear. These sensors are relatively cheap, simple, and quite compact.
Imagine the situation: your HVAC system stopped working and you didn't have any temperature/humidity sensor at your remote locations. You had absolutely no idea that the temperature was rising until it was too little too late. Both your customers and bosses won’t be happy with equipment damage and/or emergency shutdowns, right?
Temperature sensors should cut your costs and protect your revenue by alerting you at the first sign of trouble at your site.
In general, there are two types of sensors to choose from:
Digital temperature monitoring will only tell you if the temperature is above or below a predetermined value. This means that if your temperature alarm threshold was set to 85 degrees F, the sensor might indicate that the temperature was above your set limit, but it won't indicate if it's 86 F or 186 F.
Analog sensors are superior to digital sensors, because they measure the actual temperature at your site in near real-time. Instead of knowing that your temperature was just "too high" or "too low," you would know that the temperature was, for example, 96 degrees F. You can also use your analog values to send alarms based on user-configurable thresholds.
Analog sensors are the best option when setting up remote monitoring systems because they provide more visibility. However, if you don't need all the features of the analog sensor, a digital sensor is more useful than not having any type of visibility.
To avoid the headache of having a separate power transformer and a power supply for such a small sensor, make sure that you provide direct power to your temperature sensor.
The 2 principal ways that you can do this process are:
Using Direct Single Wire
Direct single wire, also known as D-Wire, is a type of sensor that is powered over the same wire that it uses to communicate with an RTU ("bus-powered:). D-wire sensors also give you the benefit of being "daisy-chainable," so a single RTU input port can accept several sensors through a daisy-chain, and you - with little effort - will be able to effectively monitor temperature at multiple locations within your site.
Having an RTU with a Built-In +12 VDC Power Supply for External Sensors
Many mainstream analog sensors require +12 VDC to power. In a telecommunication environment, equipment is typically powered with -48 VDC. You could power your sensor via commercial power, but during power outages you'll lose your temperature sensor.
A good industrial practice is to use an alarm remote that will provide power to your sensor from a -48 volt power source.
Remote temperature monitoring systems can really vary in quality depending on the choices you make while researching and purchasing equipment.
Here's some considerations to keep in mind:
Your RTU should translate your analog sensor communication (simple voltage/current) or your digital sensor communication (discrete contact closures) into alerts that you or your techs can read.
Efficient RTUs will send you email temperature alerts or send text/voice messages to your phone on any day at any time. If you have a master station, your RTU might send a protocol-based alert (usually an open protocol like SNMP is best) directly to it.
You, then, will be able to dispatch the right people to the right place to assess and fix the problem.
Another point to keep in mind is picking a remote that supports historical storage of temperature values.
Charts of temperature readings over time provide you with an insight into issues you may not even have noticed before. Some problems, such as unseasonable warm temperatures, and large swings from the hottest part of the day to the coolest, can be detected earlier. That's a big advantage of having superior network visibility: graphs of temperature levels can display recurring cycles or steadily increasing threats. Then, you'll be able to respond accordingly.
Choose an RTU box that has the right sensor capacity that you need.
If you just need to monitor one or two sensors, there's no point in buying an RTU with a ton of sensor inputs. The opposite is worse, though. It's one thing to have more capacity than what you need, but purchasing a unit with too few sensors would be even worse. That's a recipe for inadequate monitoring.
Look for vendors that perform the Temperature Chamber Test. This test subjects boards to both extremes of the temperature expectrum, from -100 C to 100 C, punishing your device to the point of failure. When exposed to the low end and high end of its suggested operating temperature range, the unit is held there for 30 minutes. While the boards are in the chamber they are put through a wide range of programmed sequences and cycles.
Manufactures that test their devices are able to design products that work reliably and consistently in the most geo-diverse parts of the planet and in situations where your climate control fails or becomes impaired.
If you have a number of sites and are monitoring temperature - along with other things - at multiple locations, you'll need a master station to pool and manage monitoring all the sensors and alarms from your multiple temperature monitoring systems.
Getting notifications from an RTU is super helpful. However, during a real emergency, you don't want to waste time trying to remember which of your sites the alert came from, the site's location, set point for your air conditioning, and other factors that will make you understand the alarm situation better.
Look for master stations that have an accessible web interface that allow you to view your temperature readings and set controls to operate equipment around your sites.
Keep in mind that the idea is not simply to receive an email alert when the temperature at your site reaches a critical level, but to be able to identify the issue and fix it, so you can save your vital - and expensive - gear from damage and keep your network up and running.
Combining temperature sensors with competent RTUs and master stations that provide progressive notifications and simple interfaces can help you watch over your sites better, decrease the cost of maintenance, and increase network lifetime.
Now that you know how critical it is to not leave your network vulnerable, it is time to start looking for a high-quality temperature monitoring solution.
You already took the first step - and one of the most important - in making the right choice. You're gathering information on what temperature monitoring is, and the basic aspects to achieve a perfect solution.
After you've armed yourself with all this information, you can start your search for the best vendor for you. Knowing the principal aspects of what you're trying to buy is really important, because then you won't have to just accept your seller's words for everything.
If you're interested in a personalized solution for your unique scenario, you can contact me. I can answer any questions that you might have, as well as help you design the perfect-fit monitoring system for your network.
There is no other network on the planet that is exactly like yours. For that reason, you need to build a monitoring system that's the right fit for you.
"Buying more than you need" and "buying less than you need" are real risks. You also have to think about training, tech support, and upgrade availability.
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