Some"ting" interesting...

  • Hero Member

    I got a free IOT "ting" from my insurance company. "Ting" is the official name. Made by Whisker Labs. I plug it into an electrical outlet and from that point forward it listens to the in-home power grid for any signature signs of electrical arcing, which can be a fire hazard. The idea is that early detection might prevent a house fire. Clever idea. Totally free to me. The insurance company is giving them away to policy holders.

  • Mod

    @NeverDie cool. Is it connected somewhere or only some sort of audible alarm?

  • Mod

    @NeverDie and if it warns you, what do you do? Check all electrical wiring in your house? 🤷

  • Hero Member

    Good questions. I'll update when I find out. It phones home via wifi, over my internet connection. And it has a phone app.
    Maybe I'll get a lower rate from my insurance company for plugging it in? I need to double check. The same insurance company has an in-car bluetooth device which, if you agree to use it, spys on your driving habits, which is admittedly a bit 1984, but the upside is that if, from the data it gathers, it decides you are a "safe" driver, it qualifies you for reduced car insurance rates. Something like 30-50% lower rates are possible, which is significant. It's all least for now. 😆

  • Hero Member

    So, the answers are:

    1. No audible alarm in the unit itself. Instead, it contacts you via either the phone app, by email, by texting, or by telephone if it detects a fault.
    2. If a fault is detected, it guides you into finding out where it is. If you're not able to locate the fault yourself, then Ting says it will pay up to $1000 for an electrician to find the fault, perhaps depending on what fault it thinks it detects.

    At the sensor level, it monitors house voltage in real time, and keeps track of the high and the low for each day. It says that can be relevant if the transformer feeding your house from the utility is near a failure point, in which case it can alert you to contact the utility. It also monitors high frequency activity on the electrical system, which is what it uses to detect arcing.

    Honestly, I'm not expecting it will ever actually detect a meaningful problem, but who knows? It was free from my insurance company, and so I presume they did a due-diligence analysis and concluded that the risk reduction justified their cost of buying and distributing it to their customers. If nothing else, the power monitoring might be useful in logging brownouts and over-voltages on the mains: if a server or other device goes wonky, I guess I could see whether it correlates to a voltage fluctuation on the mains. If there is a home assistant interface for it, then perhaps I could log all the real-time data using that and use grafana to graph it. That might be interesting data to review if a fault were ever detected.

  • Hero Member

    I'm surprised just how much variance in mains voltage there can be over a 24 hours period. Here's a graph of Ting's log data from yesterday:

    There's a difference of 11 volts between the low and the high voltage measurements. Also, there was a considerable dip in voltage overall between 3:30pm and 6:30pm, as you can see from the graph.

  • Mod

    @NeverDie the difference between min/max is not much different here, approx. 11V over 24h, in Europe:


    Although relatively it's only half of yours...

  • At least here where I am - West coast of US - they're allowed +/- 10% and still be counted as within spec. So those numbers are fine.

    The thing is, they have voltage transformers with multiple contacts inside, and they will step the voltage up or down on the neighborhood feeders as necessary to account for varying voltages on the higher voltage lines. Actually, I think the switching happens going from high to medium voltage, and there aren't really that many of the switching transformers in the system. All of your local transformers for the houses wouldn't have them - that would be far too spendy. They do it on a large scale.

    But as the residential power demands change over the day, they use the switchers to keep everything balanced. They could keep the voltage variance smaller, but at the cost of more frequent switching, and every switch of the contacts creates some wear, so more maintenance eventually. Every switch also creates some ripples in the rest of the system, I'm pretty sure. But those are probably pretty minor - it's a very stiff system. Also having higher resolution on the switchers would be more complicated and have more parts/windings inside every one of them. They keep the frequency very tightly regulated, but allow the voltage to float a bit. The frequency variances they have to make up for throughout the day so that over the course of a whole day there's practically no net change at all. (For the sake of clocks that literally count cycles and therefore don't need a crystal.)

    Actually, allowing the voltage to vary also has another nice benefit to the system - it allows for a natural damping of disturbances. When the voltage dips a bit because of increased demand, the power used by many resistive appliances will also dip, so that can help the system in recovering as potentially more generation is brought online. I don't think something like AC that has a spinning motor helps much, as the frequency won't vary much.

    Sorry if you're aware of most of this. I worked for the power company for a while, though that has been some years ago now.

  • But back on topic - that device looks pretty cool, if it does half of what it claims. I'm a little tempted, even at my own cost. I won't, but if my insurance company ever offers it, I'll jump at it.

    Yes, it's a little 1984. But I also already signed up for an app with my car insurance that monitors my driving. It doesn't have any hardware, just GPS and accelerometer from my phone, but it doesn't cost me anything other than some power and I guess privacy. But it saves me something like 15% and I don't have to do anything. I guess if I ever really care about it watching me go somewhere I can disable it for that amount of time.

    A little weird what we're willing to put up with, I guess. Though I also like the fact that with a record of how I drive, if there's ever an accident, it might also be possible to subpoena the data in my defense if really necessary. Or maybe that's just what I tell myself to help justify it? 🙂

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