Humidity Sensor: Basics And Apps For Remote Monitoring

Humidity and Electronics: A Bad Fit

Weather fluctuations can make humidity levels highly unpredictable, so monitoring the humidity of your facilities is necessary for maintaining network stability and preventing failures. In warmer temperatures, humidity typically increases as the air is able to hold more moisture. This excess moisture can permeate into hardware systems and in certain conditions condense. This can short-circuit expensive electronic components or at least create spurious unexpected connections. Alternatively, low humidity can dry-out seals and other protective elements. It can also increase the chances of static electricity discharge with possibly catastophic affect on sensitive electonic circuits.

These issues can create substantial repair or replacement costs if humidity is not monitored and controlled. Alternatively, the issues can be reduced or eliminated by careful remote monitoring and control using humidity sensors.

Humidity Sensor Basics

A humidity sensor is a device used for providing ongoing measurements of the air's relative humidity. This works by running an electrical current between two nodes and then monitoring the amount of voltage created by the air's moisture. In telecommunications, humidity sensors are important for remote monitoring and control for humidity levels and ensuring the safety of your electronic infrastructure.

Purchasing a quality humidity sensor will quickly improve the safety of your telecommunication network. Depending on the needs of your business, humidity sensors come in a lot of different shapes and sizes - sensors can be large or small, internal or external, and stand-alone or daisy-chained. Some sensors have external probes for reaching specific locations, where others are contained inside small boxes for ambient monitoring. When selecting a humidity sensor, be sure to look for sensors that can adapt to your environment and provide you with reliable and easy ways to monitor your infrastructure.

Humidity Sensors: Analog or Digital Output

Humidity sensors are a fundamental node of your alert topology and are typically monitored continuously by a remote telemetry unit (RTU). The collected data is processed locally by 'intelligent' RTUs for thresholding and notification, forwarded to Alarm Master Systems for similar processing or both. Humidity sensors report report moisture levels in two distinct ways - analog or digital (aka discrete).

Digital sensors are able to monitor conditions for operation within a specified range. When the conditions pass outside the monitored range, the sensor closes a contact (asserts a signal). When the conditions return inside the monitored range, the sensor opens the contact (clears the signal). An RTU reports the signal as a binary (0/1; on/off; open/close; hi/lo) type of input.

Analog sensors are more advanced and provide continuous visibilty to current conditions. If you integrate your analog sensor with a good RTU, you can view the monitored value from anywhere in the world. Quality RTUs can process the collected data locally against multiple threshhold values and generate a binary signal when a threshold is crossed.

Importantly, the RTU should report not just the generated binary signal but also the monitored analog value to the Master Alarm System. In larger systems, it is sometimes easier to administer analog thresholding at a centralized master rather than distributed to each remote throughout the system.

A Humidity Monitoring Example

Imagine you want to monitor network infrastructure that is located on a distant mountaintop. If you were using the NetGuardian 216, your analog humidity sensor could continuously provide you with the exact percentage of humidity at that mountaintop (i.e. 6%, 23%, 80%, etc.). With an RTU like the NetGuardian, a single analog sensor could perform the same process as a digital sensor multiple times and along a range of numbers. At 50% humidity you could program your NetGuardian to send a minor alert to a monitoring console, that you can view when you next open your inbox. At 65% you could choose to send a critical alert directly to your cell phone, keeping you immediately updated on all emergencies at your site. Some RTUs, like the NetGuardian, have up to 4 thresholds per analog input.

The humidity monitoring sensor can also be integrated into a wider range of site monitoring in a single RTU. Humidity sensors can be combined with temperature sensors, smoke detectors, climate controls, fuel level senders, floor water sensors and more. It makes obvious sense to have all your sensors monitored by the same remote telemetry unit for a complete picture of your site environment.

A good example of a RTU with a somewhat larger capacity would be the Netguardian 832A G5 from DPS Telecom. With the capacity for 32 discrete and 8 analog alarms - and available expansion options for both - the NetGuardian is clearly engineered for larger, fully integrated site monitoring.

Humidity Level Monitoring Protects Your Business

With increasing global temperatures and unexpected weather fluctuations, humidity monitoring is becoming increasingly relevant. If you operate a business that uses electronic devices, humidity could pose a significant risk to your network's safety. By ensuring that you are always informed on the condition of your infrastructure, you can feel confident with your system's security and begin focusing on other challenges of growing your business.

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