New Fridge - setting up monitoring

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We once had a cabin up on a mountain. On occasion, the power would go out and the refrigerator would let food thaw. When power returned, the only clue would be misshapen packages or a scent, so I wanted a sure-fire way to know not if there was a power failure, but whether a failure had affected the freezer and refrigerator contents.
The solution was inexpensive: a high/low thermometer from Radio Shack. When we'd go to the cabin, I'd simply look at the high temp and instantly know if the power had been off and if damage had been done.
Nonny
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Nonnymus wrote:

Hmm. Commercial coke machines, really just fancy refrigerators, already come with onboard sensors and alarm systems, web page control consoles for remote management, and modem (maybe even LAN by now) jacks. They even Phone Home when they need refilling, or the cash box is full. It'd be trivial for a manufacturer to add that to a home fridge. Probably already on the 'to do' list for the smart power networks the tree huggers keep pushing. Master Control up in the sky dials back the power whenever the temp is within acceptable range, and it hasn't logged a door opening in the last hour or something.
Another damn appliance smarter than the bipeds living there....
--
aem sends...

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There's an idea for dieters - a refrigerator that charges you a quarter every time you open the door. Probably ends up saving energy, especially if you have teenagers that like to stand in front of an open fridge for a long time with that "deer in the headlights" look.

Eventually, all major home appliances will have LAN enabled monitoring features built in. The problem is that every manufacturer wants a proprietary system. When that river is crossed, we'll see LAN jacks on everything. I'd hate to think my power company would EVER be able to tell me how cold my beer should be. That's when I'd go off the power net completely.

Just as long as they don't get "smart" like Microsoft and have a little paper clip pop up and annoy the living hell out of you. "I see you're looking for something to eat. I see you weigh more than government recommended target weight. You may access only the vegetable crisper." PS. If you do hate Clippy, just rename ACTORS directory in Windows to DEADACTORS. One of the more valuable things I've learned from Usenet.
Thanks for your input!
-- Bobby G.
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"PLEASE STEP ONTO WEIGHT PLATFORM FOR FRIDGE DOOR RELEASE OPTIONS"

There's an idea for dieters - a refrigerator that charges you a quarter every time you open the door. Probably ends up saving energy, especially if you have teenagers that like to stand in front of an open fridge for a long time with that "deer in the headlights" look.

Eventually, all major home appliances will have LAN enabled monitoring features built in. The problem is that every manufacturer wants a proprietary system. When that river is crossed, we'll see LAN jacks on everything. I'd hate to think my power company would EVER be able to tell me how cold my beer should be. That's when I'd go off the power net completely.

Just as long as they don't get "smart" like Microsoft and have a little paper clip pop up and annoy the living hell out of you. "I see you're looking for something to eat. I see you weigh more than government recommended target weight. You may access only the vegetable crisper." PS. If you do hate Clippy, just rename ACTORS directory in Windows to DEADACTORS. One of the more valuable things I've learned from Usenet.
Thanks for your input!
-- Bobby G.
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LOL. I could imagine.
When I lived in a house with 12 other kids in college, you could put a half gallon of ice cream in the freezer in the morning, and by 9PM there would be a sink full of dirty spoons and a single spoonful of ice cream left in the container. The only way to make ice cream last more than a day was to remove the ice cream from the store cardboard packaging and stick in a plastic container marked "frozen creamed corn" or worse.
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With a food budget of $10 a week, ice cream was like frozen gold. I remember eating lots of Rice-a-Roni at 37 cents a box which was also the price of a gallon of gasoline. Tuna could be had, four cans for a dollar, if you shopped the sales which was a given with a $10 budget. Things changed dramatically, though, when I became a short order cook and later, a pizza wrangler.
-- Bobby G.
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I remember Krapt dinner, 10 boxes per dollar IIRC.

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discussion : KMmdnThNP85VkcfRnZ2dnUVZ snipped-for-privacy@giganews.com...

My fridge allready tell me the temp of both side in celsius or farenhight.. and guess what.. it has an alarm (local) if there is a long power faillure and temp goes higher then 56 it will buzz till acknoledge..
from there web page..
Alarm System Notifies you if there's been a power failure, if a door stays open longer than five minutes and if the interior temperature of the refrigerator ever rises above 56 degrees for more than 20 minutes.
source:
http://www.electroluxappliances.com/kitchen-appliances/refrigeration/french-door/ew23bc71is
My wife love them fridge and stove).. me I just hope they will last long enough to pay them before I have to replace them.. ;-)
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before
to
A while back I bought a nice magnetic fridge thermo that Bob Bass found on the net that has an RF sender for the freezer and refrigerator compartments and high and low alarm settings. That's what got me started on automating the temperature (and other) readings.
I wanted the home automation system to call me if the conditions indicated a power or mechanical failure in the fridge. You can get one hell of a stomach-ache eating refrozen food if it's sat out long enough. As you point out, sometimes the clues that refreezing has occurred can be mighty subtle. Tupperware containers don't get misshapen. I always leave something in a cardboard container on edge in the freezer to make it obvious that a meltdown has occurred.
Speaking of which, once upon a time, when I did photography as a side line, I was doing a food shoot of a Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey had been out under the lights for about 4 hours and then we put it back in the fridge in case we had to do a re-shoot. Well, the guys we shared the studio with saw the turkey in the fridge a week later and made turkey sandwhiches. That was the first time I had ever seen someone turn green (right before the sluices opened at both ends of their alimentary canals).
You can't be too careful with your food storage these days, especially with all the recalls and salmonella poisonings.
Thanks for your input!
-- Bobby G.
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I assume this fully sensored and 24/7 monitored fridge is the same one you asked for input about in the other thread? Where you indicated you will be moving soon and leaving it behind?
With so many fridges it's odd the rest of us haven't died from food poisoning from failure to put in 6 sensors and a couple of PCs to continuously monitor and log our fridge. As for food storage and recalls due to contamination, they are two very different things.
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Fridges don't, typically carry that mush value in food contents to make this worthwhile. Fun but not worthwhile.
Freezers, however....
Just got a new fridge, and I thought I would try monitoring operating parameters with my home automation system. I 've got sensors for kWhs used, ambient room temperature, freezer and refrigerator temps and the temperature of a sensor on the back of the unit. I was hoping this should give me enough of a baseline to be able to detect "out of whack" conditions before they show up in a puddle on the floor or a failure to cool.
I discovered in my old fridge that as freon leaked, the kilowatt hours used shot way up before I noticed the problem in the fridge temp (that became obvious on a very hot day when we had the A/C off and the kitchen temp was about 20 degrees over normal. Unfortunately, on the old box, I didn't have good baseline figures from the early on when it worked well. That's why I am trying to determine what information I need to be able to have my home automation system (HomeVision, CPU-XA, ActiveHome and more) record and process to alert me that there's an issue with the unit.
I suspect that the electricity consumed daily will rise as the dust on the coils builds up. That should be detectable by looking at the average daily power used figure. I am recording ambient, backplate and internal temps as well in case the power usage increase is due to other factors, like this stinking endless heat wave. I also want a baseline on energy consumed and back plate temperature in case I decide to put a filter on the air intake to minimize coil cleaning. I found out the hard way that an added filter can decrease air flow on some devices to the point of overheating the motor. If the filter blocks too much airflow I would expect power consumption and the back plate temperature to rise conspicuously.
Reading this over, I realized I need two more monitors. A battery-backed dialer that can call my cellphone to tell me to buy dry ice because the power or compressor failed and a door alert to let me know if the dog manages to open the door again! She's been unable to do it with the new box because the magnetic seal is incredibly strong - much stronger than the old one. Took nearly ten pounds of pull as measured by a fish scale. But she might figure out how to do it in time. She's been watching very closely. In fact, I nearly spit out my coffee because she was eating when the new unit started up when it first arrived and she went off on it as if the fridge had made a move on her food. She's still not quite comfortable with it.
Any suggestions on something I might have overlooked are cheerfully welcome. Bad attempts at comedy or remarks on my sanity, with much less cheer. (-:
-- Bobby G.
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this
"Mush" is what I am trying to avoid my freezer contents from turning into. It's not very much more effort to monitor both compartments if you're going to monitor the freezer. Besides, this is my hobby.
-- Bobby G.
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Nice. In that case!...LOL
Temp probes have to be run trough the case. No RF will get out of a metal straight jacket.
I have used a high low alarm thermometer (as suggested elsewhere here) and it beeps every 5-10 minutes until reset. Wire has to break the gasket seal though.

this
"Mush" is what I am trying to avoid my freezer contents from turning into. It's not very much more effort to monitor both compartments if you're going to monitor the freezer. Besides, this is my hobby.
-- Bobby G.
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Have you automated a solenoid to push you out of bed when something goes wrong in the middle of the night?
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Robert Green wrote:

Hmm, Automation system itself can fail too. Even if it had redundancy built-in. I'd rather depend on my ears, eyes, hands and common sense. Also house insurance covers for spoiled food in case of break down.
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used,
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You aren't implying that just because safety systems can fail, they shouldn't be used, are you?
You can't really hear a bad compressor all the way across the country, can you? I'd like to be able to check my home's critical equipment when I am away on travel so that there aren't any unpleasant surprises when I get home. Same with dust on the coils. Getting down on my hands and knees to check for dust bunnies was something I might have done when I had two working knees, but facing two TKR's now it's a real issue to deal with anything that far down. Even with an inspection camera on a stalk there's still the faceplate that has to be removed. If I can tell the coils are clogging up by some other means, then my knees will be very much the happier for it.
But the biggest reason to do it? Curiosity. I want to know if the appropriate sensors *can* give me a heads up on incipient failure. One of my first jobs was doing quality control at a photofinisher and the test strips, PH readings and other diagnostics often saved thousands of dollars in reworked or ruined jobs. One disgruntled employee kept tossing copper pennies in the color developer tank, which made it impossible to get good colors in the printing process. It was easy to spot, even though the penny was at the bottom of a six foot tall, 4 foot wide tank filled with rollers, because of the change in the test strips we ran 3 times a day. Since then I've been sold on process monitoring, even with something as simple as a refrigerator.
My deductible would just about make filing a claim a total waste of time. Most likely, it would raise my rates or give my insurer a reason to cancel me.
Many of the refrigerator issues I've had over the years wouldn't have happened with a redundant sensor system in place. These include the dog opening the fridge door and yanking out stuff that blocked it open (here come the "kill the dog" remarks from the heavy breathing Neanderthals), my loading the freezer too full and not noticing the door hasn't closed, going away without realizing the lack of opening and closing the door would drop the refrigerator compartment to below freezing, having a blocked drain back up condensate into the coils and freezing into a solid block, having the fridge pop the GFI circuit it used to be plugged into,. etc.
I suppose it's just Usenet but it still surprises me at how many people are concerned about how *I* choose to spend my time and resources as if it was hurting them in some way. No offense meant, Tony. You were at least civil in your comments. That's rare. But if you look back to threads like the one about cabinet safety latches, people were not shy or civil in expressing profound contempt for the way someone had decided they wanted to handle childproofing.
I appreciate your concern about system failures, but since this is a "bolt on" that in no way affects the system it is monitoring, there's really nothing to worry about. It the monitors fail, I am back to where I started from.
-- Bobby G.
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(Robert Green) writes:
| going | away without realizing the lack of opening and closing the door would drop | the refrigerator compartment to below freezing
I noticed this effect (i.e., that I was part of the temperature regulation) on my previous KitchenAid refrigerator (which replaced an in retrospect far superior 1959 Tappan). The temperature controls also required tweaking from season to season apparently to account for ambient temperature. This puzzled me at first. I knew that only the refrigerator section was thermostatically controlled (relying on the compressor to run enough to keep the freezer section frozen) but you would think that this would at least result in, like, you know, regulating the temperature in the refrigerator section.
I eventually decided that the problem was that the thermostat in the refrigerator section was in the air path from the freezer section, so if you set it such that the desired steady-state temperature was maintained it would take a very long time to get there, perhaps never getting there if you opened the door from time to time. On the other hand if you set it to keep the temperature where you wanted with the door opening occasionally it would freeze as you noticed when you weren't there to open the door.
I bought a Sub-Zero which uses a completely separate cooling system for freezer and refrigerator. This works very well, but I still wonder how the old Tappan managed to do the same job with only one compressor. As far as I remember it did not blow air from the freezer into the refrigerator and I think there were coils in both sections, so perhaps it diverted freon according to need. Systems to run multiple evaporators from one condenser (not one outdoor unit with multiple condensers) are starting to show up in mini-splits so this general kind of thing seems possible.
                Dan Lanciani                 ddl@danlan.*com
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(Robert Green) writes:

drop
regulation)
far
from
I haven't seen the seasonal affect, but as we travel for two or three days at a time, it's clear that we need to remember to turn the dial (expertly calibrated with a variable width line and no numerals), up when we leave and down when we're back. The GE holds the temperature at 38 without freezing when the door gets open even just a few times a day, but when no one touches it, it's frozen milk, tea and more.

thermostatically
section
know,
You would think that, but for whatever reason, it's obviously not so. "There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity . . . The Refrigerator Zone."

maintained
if
it
It's not a good choice. I'd hate to have to add anything to the ever-growing "leaving the house checklist" (which I hope to someday automate with a voice that will even know when I am lying to it just to get it to shut up). But just like the Whirlpool before it, this GE *has* to be set back slightly if you keep the refrigerator below 40 degrees for normal use.
It may be just the way it's designed, although you would think that a freezer that dropped from 0 to -10 would be nowhere near as bad as a refrigerator compartment that dropped from 38 to 28 degrees. Maybe the voltage to the compressor increases when no one's home running lights or AC. That's something worth monitoring just because there are sometimes rolling brownouts at this time of year. I wonder what the various tech support people would say causes the problem of "vacation freezing."
Another thing I've found is a tremendous variance of internal temperatures. The veggie drawer is 10 degrees warmer than the shelf where the freezer exhausts into the refrigerator compartment. The right hand rear corner is the best place to keep the extra milk in - until it freezes.
I suppose if I dialed in remotely, I could turn off the fridge remotely via a relay on the cord if the lower compartment was freezing, but there would have to be about a year of reliability testing before that happened. (-:

refrigerator
You would have had to have heard a pretty noticeable clacking for it to switch coils, I would imagine. There's a very loud clack in the GE's startup routine (cold start from the wall plug) so maybe that's exactly how it's done.
Speaking of noises, a friend suggested that one of the most useful records I could have would be a simple microphone attached to the frame to record what he believes will be a unique sound signature. Since his lifetime was spent improving the MTBF figures on F-16's, I tend to agree. Just like Brit solex carbs, the sound a mechanical device makes says a lot about how it's operating (and yet so many people drive around with chirping brakes that turn into scraping ones!).

Did you ever look for the service manuals? I haven't for mine, but I think I am about to. Your comments about seasonal changes have reminded me that measure the internal and external humidity might be tell me more about what causes the seasonal drift. Now I know why I bought that web control device that's still sitting on the workbench with the two humidity sensors and all the other sensors I would need to monitor (and perhaps even correct) device behavior remotely. This is the perfect job for it.
The reason I know there's a fan inside is that when I opened the door with room humidity near 100% I saw a jet of condensation emanating from a square hole in the back at fan powered speed. .
Good luck with your propane sensor. I can only guess that part of their reluctance to call back has to do with propane disasters. I am sure they feel that by sticking to Henry Ford's "any color" theory, they are limiting problems down the line. Did they say what their modem package cost? You could probably piggy back on that although it seems a shame to have to kluge it like that. Maybe they'll give you the modem deal free if you call them back often enough. (-: I've been amazed at what persistence can achieve.
Time to search for the on-line manuals amid the dozens of scam and drive-by-downloading sites that target people looking for drivers, manuals and song lyrics. Maybe I'll just go to GE. I need an extra shelf, anyway. (Anybody notice how two liter bottles suddenly got taller?)
-- Bobby G.
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On 7 Aug 2010 20:16:16 GMT, ddl@danlan.*com (Dan Lanciani) wrote:

Dual evaporator coil frig's turn the appropriate fans when needed. I been using a Samsung dualie model for six years now. (nice)
From what I been told, and have observed in real life, 10 to 12 years is the expected lifespan of most modern refridgerators. When the compressor intermitantly fails to start. Installing a 110v hard start kit, ~15$, will add a couple of years to the working lifespan.

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Have a look at ioBridge.com. Their monitoring can trigger emails alerts without monthly monitoring costs. Also no PC required! I have my modem and ioBridge connected to a UPS for monitoring my house. So far it hasn't been the power outages causing me trouble, but the lightning on the phones lines :)

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