Lessons in Monitoring Networks & Power Management Systems
As more residential products become IP-addressable and connected to the network, Secure Remote Management and Monitoring, more commonly referred to in the commercial space as “SRMM”, has an increasing role in reducing truck rolls and creating a more efficient and effective service model.
While power resets play a large part in quick fixes, don’t under estimate the ability to see in-depth power diagnostics in order to identify conditions that impact integrated systems.
Let me share a situation I ran into several years ago on an East Coast barrier island, where I spent the better part of a year fighting recurring problems—our assumptions pointed toward power issues, so we installed the best surge and UPS hardware I could get my hands on, all to no avail. The power company claimed no issues found. Finally, I started monitoring the power through a device I purchased and, lo and behold, the power was all over the place. Printouts were provided to the local power company’s engineers, who hesitantly justified putting their own monitor on the house for a week. A week later their $5K box had the same reading as my $500 box. Long story short, they found a bad transformer at the street, replaced it and solved the problem.
Recently, we installed a large integrated system that included lighting, shades, HVAC, security, cameras, distributed audio, home theater, managed wireless, etc. The system was fully engineered for reliable performance, right down to the power protection and management. About two months after the install was completed, the client reported that the system had lost sound in several areas. A quick glimpse via our SRMM system indicated everything was online and operational, so we rolled a truck for an onsite inspection. We found the sub amp had a blown fuse and two of the multi-channel audio amps had to be reset. Two hours of drive time and 30 minutes on site, and all’s good—two weeks later, the same problem occurs again; another truck roll and fuse replacement. No issues for three months, until our SRMM alerted us to trouble on the network and control system.
We rolled a truck and added a PCS Power Monitor from SurgeX to the system. It plugs into the USB port of our SRMM server, allowing us to view current voltage and historical events. Days later, the control system goes down and had to be reset. Talking about the value of remote diagnostics, the PCS monitor revealed several under voltage events, one lasting as long as eight hours.
Now I can’t wait to find the phone number of my old “buddy” at the power company, as I have diagnostic proof it’s not the system, but the power company who is at fault. Having diagnostics information for your clients’ networks, IP-addressable devices and power consumption—that can detail events—is critical if you don’t want to be flying blind when trouble rears its head. CR