Having recently and unexpectedly run out of water in my holding tanks, I
now see the value in some kind of remote warning system that can be seen
inside the house.
Do you know of a good idea for remote sensing of holding tank water levels?
Presently, there is a chlorox bottle floating in the steel tank which is
roped to a red wooden block that moves up when the water level goes down
(and vice versa).
The problem with this manual method is you have to walk almost to the water
tanks to 'see' the level of the block.
It would be nice to have an indicator in the house that showed the water
level of the tanks, about 100 or 200 feet away and about 20 feet above the
level of the house.
Any ideas for remote sensing of water level?
There are probably plenty of remote liquid level sensors online.
My first thought, being cheap, errr frugal, would be binoculars.
Old farm chemical tanks used just a clear plastic hose mounted
vertically outside the tank. There were openings on the side at the top
and bottom of the tanks. A couple street Ls pointed at each other with
hose barbs provided a way to connect the hose. One could rig up a
larger hose with a bright colored floating ball in the hose. That
wouldn't be much better than what you have though.
How much do you want to spend? There are loads of commercial solutions - just
Google. My favorite is the solar power satellite transmitter that sends you a
Seriously. Well, that it exists - it's not may favorite. There's some slightly
less expensive radio setups with a range of a few hundred feet.
Not sure what all is out there, but if power is available
near the tank, that would enable him to put in any
off the shelf wireless access point networking
solution to get ethernet connectivity from the tank
to the house. Then he would need some ethernet
compatible water level sensor.
On Thu, 18 Aug 2011 16:34:15 -0700 (PDT), firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
There 'is' electricity since the booster pump is righ next to the tanks. I
don't know if that's 220 or 110 but the point is there is electricity at
I like the idea of tying into the existing wireless network ...
On Thu, 18 Aug 2011 19:40:59 -0500, Dean Hoffman wrote:
Actually, that's an idea I would never have thought of.
I was thinking electronics, with LEDs and the like ... but ... since the
visual works just fine if you can just see it ... a camera would be the
most direct remote sensing.
What I love about this camera idea is that it won't require modification of
the tank sensing mechanism at all!
Connect a vertical pvc pipe to the bottom of the tank,
put a magnet inside the pipe, floating on something, then put
reed relays along the pipe, which switch a row of say 10-20 leds.
That should give you a nice display, and the reed relays are safe from
On Fri, 19 Aug 2011 05:00:57 +0200, Sjouke Burry wrote:
I'm amazed at the ingenuity of the suggestions!
This idea seems elegant.
A pipe with a floating magnet (either inside the pipe or a ring outside the
As the magnet moves up and down, differnet switches are turned on or off.
Are you suggesting that the one switch which is 'active' would be the water
I guess that would take a lot of reed switches ... to cover about 5 feet of
water level travel ... but the result 'would' be an interesting display in
I'm sure you can find some kind of ethernet compatible I/O widget
that has basic contact inputs that you could connect to this
arrangement. Then you could hook that up to a wireless bridge,
etc to connect to your home LAN.
How many switches it takes depends on what
resolution you want. But it's also not as simple as the magnet
keeping the switch closed. The magnet will trigger a switch
while it's next to it. At that point, you need something on the
other end, eg PC software program that keeps track of the
last switch that was triggered. Then you know the water
level is somewhere between the two switches on either
side of the last one tripped. Would require quite a few
switches to get any accuracy.
I would think a pressure sensor would be the easiest.
One sensor does it. Not sure how easy it is to find
one that covers the necessary range and is reasonable
On Fri, 19 Aug 2011 05:23:14 -0700 (PDT), email@example.com wrote:
I was wondering about that!
That's an interesting idea.
I presume we lower a weighted pressure sensor on the inside bottom of the
tank, and, it simply senses the weight of the water on top of it.
From scuba, I remember every 33 feet was 15 pounds of pressure, so these
tanks, being (roughly) 8 or 9 feet tall should have 1/4th that, or about 4
pounds of difference, empty to full.
Does that seem about the right calibration points?
I would put the pressure sensor on a fitting on the bottom of
the tank. Usually tanks have multiple outlets with some of
them not used and plugged. Use one of those.
I would not put it on the pipe
feeding the house, as when the house pump kicks on
it's going to effect the pressure, giving a false reading
while it's running.
On Fri, 19 Aug 2011 08:17:46 -0500, G. Morgan wrote:
The Waterbug WB200 or WB350 seems to fit the bill, on initial inspection.
Since a well holding tank has got to be wet inside, key to operation is the
sentence "Will not alarm due to condensation or humidity".
Seems to me, I screw the six sensors onto a weighted panel (or pipe) the
depth of the holdin tank ... and then just lower that pipe into the tank
and secure somehow.
The specs note that the wires can be 100 feet long, so that should be fine
if I strategically place the main unit.
One intriguing sentence (on the Waterbug WB200) was "Can be used to detect
ABSENSE of water (emphasis mine).
Seems to me, the absense of water is more interesting, to me, than the
presence of water ... so I would think that WB200 unit would be the first
Why 6 sensors? You would just need two on each tank, like how limit
switches work in garage door openers. Or are you going for greater
You can use the sensors to trigger the timer to start a 'run' cycle when
it gets below the lower switch (sensor). The top sensor would be a
'full' indicator, and shunt the pumps.
Are you going to use their annunciation unit? The sensors can be hooked
to anything, like an alarm/home automation panel or PLC controller.
Yup, I've installed dozens. You can get really creative with them, they
are versatile. I've used them to detect any water on the floor in a
university chemical-storage vault. Some of that stuff in there was
explosive if it reacted w/H2O.
I'm was surprised the head of chem.. dept. let me install the sensors
all day alone in there. He said he was the only one with access and
students are never allowed unattended. He gave me all kinds of warnings
about keeping the door locked and the alarm on if I left, but ZERO
instructions on what to do if I knocked a shelf full of volatile
chemicals on the ground.
I don't see how they fit the bill at all. They are alarms that
when a sensor gets wet. You can hook like 6 sensors up to them,
but they will just sound an alarm when it reaches any one of them.
They are intended for applications like putting several sensors
around your basement floor, so that if any one of them gets wet
the alarm sounds.
Another big problem. Those sensors are intended for areas
that are dry and rarely get wet. The inside of a tank is going
to be wet with condensation, etc and even if you had 6 of
them in there, they would probably all be wet enough to
trigger the alarm.
I wouldn;t count on taking it to the extreme of the inside of
the tank. I would take it to mean the condensation or humidity
you would find on a basement floor or a laundry room.
And if one sensor is wet, it triggers an output or sounds the
internal alarm. All that tells you is that at least one sensor
is wet, not which one.
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