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Remote Home Monitoring

Just set up Twine at a lake house 2h from my residence. Took me 5 minutes - beautiful!

When the temperature drops below 50F (we set the furnace at 55F) we know the furnace is out. Internet gear on a UPS with about 2-4h life so that things work even without power (the typical reason a furnace may go out). I'm sending email to an account associated with my home monitoring system (which uses Insteon and Indigo from so I can take action about it there, but for backup I also have it text my mobile.

This 5 minute setup was fantastic compared to the previous 4 generations of remote monitoring I have evolved through in the past decade: (1) radio shack dialer connected to a thermostat, (2) regular tweets from a camera pointed at a thermometer (with a tea bag hanging from the ceiling vent to let me know if the blower was on), (3) webcontrol from CAI networks, (4) arduino. Most of the DIY solutions, including (3) and (4), have become cumbersome due to the fact that nearly all email services require SSL (this could be fixed with arduino, but not in 5 minutes!). Remote access also required lots of fiddling with dynamic DNS, again not a 5 minute solution and somewhat fragile.

Well done, SuperMechanical!


  • 6 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Charlie, I love your post and am planning the same usage for my twine. My question to you is about monitoring for power outages. Do you monitor for this, or do you just trust that the temp alert will go off before you run out of back up battery?
  • (Dear Clark, apologies for the delayed response- i didnt get a note saying there was a comment here and didn't check)

    An update... The batteries have not lasted longer than 2 weeks for me so far (two sets to date) so plugging into the wall and relying on batteries for power backup seems to be the best way to go. (I will wrote a dedicated note on that)

    For power outages in my overall system I use a vanilla battery backup system and plug the cable modem and router into it, which I calculated would give me several hours of life after power goes out. This assumes a power outage does not affect the cable company or any devices between my house and their head end...

    I also have an Webcontrol from CAI (may switch to Arduino, or could use the twine breakout), powered also by the battery backup, to monitor power. I do this by plugging a dc power supply into the wall and stepping the voltage down to 5v, then use that as a logic signal to monitor via the Webcontrol - power goes out and this goes to 0 -- and the Webcontrol is programmed to send me txt and email when this happens (and when it goes back to 1, telling me power is restored).

    Simplest would be to use twine for this, but I was planning to use the breakout for a thermometer strung down into the crawl space.

  • Thanks Charlie. I figured something like that but was not sure. My issue is the boiler failing to restart after a power outage. I think I'm going to try writing temps to a spreadsheet so I can get some data. Then I can tighten up my alert temp without false alarms.

    Thanks again for the update.
  • What is needed is an alarm on the twine to detect the loss of external power. That plus temp monitoring makes it an ideal remote home monitor. Add in the mag switch and you have an alarm too.
  • I live in an area, sw Colorado, where we have 1-2 power outages a month. When the power goes out, I have my twine on an external power supply, will it come back up?
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