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[Articles] [How-To] Remotely Monitor an Appliance's Status Light

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CT Bot
How-To Remotely Monitor an Appliance's Status Light


During the course of automating your home, one will usually come across a dilemma on how to monitor a status of an appliance. Examples can include wanting to know when a washer/dryer is finished, dishwasher cycle completed, etc...

Previous methods of getting status included monitoring the current of the appliance via a current donut, hacking the appliance so a relay or other device was installed in order to get some type of contact closure, and installing magnetic proximity sensors on the appliances dials (all of these methods are actually described in previous CocoonTech How-To's).

But, what happens when you don't want to modify your spiffy new appliance due to voiding warranty (or the WAF prohibits such actions)?

You could easily monitor a status light that most modern appliances have now as shown in Dan's previous How-To. This method will let you monitor a light's on/off status with your home automation hardware that can detect an open collector contact closure (Modicon SECU-16, Elk Input, HAI Input, etc...). But what happens when you don't have any wires running to that appliance from your home automation detection hardware?

This How-To will let you monitor the status of an appliance's light remotely using a standard DS10a security sensor from X-10. Many members here already have the capability of monitoring these devices via a W800, RFXCOM, or MR26a receivers. DS10a's are so popular we even have a thread dedicated to their non-typical uses in home automation projects.

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Note that the photo-resistor does not have to be in exact contact with the appliance's light, though, based on the adjusted sensitivity, it may trip during the daytime.

I mention this so other applications can be thought of. For instance, this could be placed inside a mailbox and adjusted to trigger on the ambient light that entered when the door was opened. Also, you could put one in your vehicle and know if someone opened the door based on the interior light turning on (just set an event that triggered only on night time in your home automation software).

You could also mount one along side of a garbage can and route the sensor inside so you knew if the can's lid was opened (i.e. event set on garbage day).