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Building sensors / software frameworks

KYLE WINSTON BENTLEY | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

Hi all,

I’m nearing a stage in a project where I’d like to monitor the state of a building, and before googling on my own, I thought I’d see if there was a ‘goto’ that I should just choose.

I’d like to wire up a series of sensors to monitor the typical environmental parameters, RH, Temp, Pressure, .., as well as a small solar cell (small as in the size of a watch) to monitor solar irradiance, as well as a small ccd pointed upwards to calculate cloud cover.  Is there a free / open source / cheap framework that lets me load up a rasberry pi with a set of gpio sensors / modules?  I wouldn’t mind writing it from scratch, as my day job is mostly software, but if I only had to paint a wheel that would be preferable to carving it out from a tree.  The idea is to essentially recreate some of the BSC studies for sheathing WC, temperature, etc.

The same goes for hardware.  Is there a suite of sensors that is ‘ready to go’ in a sense that I should look for?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. brian_wiley | | #1

    Just to clarify, are these meant to be buried in walls, attics, and other assemblies for years and years? Or are they meant to be removable/moveable?

    As far as off the shelf goes, I know that Onset has a pretty big range of sensors suitable for a variety of environments. They’re price point is pretty reasonable, so it may be worth looking at those before you get too deep into the Raspberry Pi scene.

  2. Expert Member

    probably on the order of 1-2 years, burried in the assemblies. They can be left in after they use themselves up / go out of calibration. But if long term was possible, I don't see why it couldn't be part of a 'smart home' system. I'll check them out.

  3. Expert Member
    Akos | | #3

    The simplest is probably MQTT. You can get a PLC or thermocouple hat for a RPI if you need a lot of I/O. I've also used SONOFF reflashed with Tosmata with the temperature/rh sensor as a simple remote sensor.

    For the insolation PV panel, what I've done is short the panel with a low enough resistor to bring the voltage swing at full sun within the range of the analog module. Without active temperature control of the panel, it won't be too accurate but should get you into the ballpark.

  4. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #4

    There are some commerical systems out there. I'd look into BACnet and some of the other commercial building control systrems. You might find some stuff that will do what you want.

    I'm a hardware guy myself, and I'd asked a while ago if there would be any interest in developing a cheap high-density mositure monitoring system for walls, but no one responded. I have an existing system I developed for temperature monitoring with lots of sensors (to allow tracking of thermal gradients heat map style in datacenter facilities), and it could be easily modified to monitor moisture levels instead.

    The tricky part when keeping track of a few parameters in a large assembly is keeping the per-sensor cost as low as possible. If you use overly complex sensors, you per-sensor cost goes up too much to be able to monitor a lot of points, such as every stud bay of a wall assembly. That's something to keep in mind if you move forward with your monitoring project. I would also recommend something that uses easy/cheap wiring (my system uses a single pair for power and data). You could maybe use an RS485 based system, but I'd stay away from something like Ethernet since it is needlessly complex for something like this.


  5. _jt | | #5

    Check out Home Assistant / HACS. You can probably find some plug in's for what you want to do. I use it with Ecowitt/Emporia to monitor temps/humidity/mini split power consumption.

  6. Mark_Nagel | | #6

    I've got one of their weather stations. I can remotely see outside weather elements as well as indoor: data can be downloaded (I think you can pull it off the station). I don't have any extra sensors, but they seem to have an array of them that might be worth looking into. Simple plug-and-play into your ISP/internet router. Don't have to mess with a bunch of other stuff. If you would like your own weather station, which I do, then this seems like extending this to some other requirements might be worth checking out.

  7. BirchwoodBill | | #7

    I have AcuRite sensors placed in accessible areas to monitor temp and RH. Primarily the attic, crawl spaces and outside. On the roof, I have their weather station that feeds into the weather underground. That was all off the shelf, and can tie into OpenHap or Home Assistant. Current project is to get HAP working on a NAS to adjust base on external events.

  8. darusiob | | #8

    Hi there! It sounds like you're embarking on an exciting project to monitor the state of a building using sensors. When it comes to constructing sensors and software frameworks, there are actually some go-to options that you should consider. One company that comes to mind is Andersen. They also provide software frameworks that allow you to easily connect and manage your sensors.

    In terms of your specific requirements for a small solar cell and a CCD pointed upwards to calculate cloud cover, you may need to look for additional sensors or modules to add to your setup. By conducting thorough research, you must be able to track down the necessary elements and seamlessly integrate them into your system.

    As for whether to write your monitoring system from scratch or use an current framework, it ultimately depends on your level of journey and the time you have available. If you're cosy with software development and have the time to spare, building your own system should be a rewarding challenge. Conversely, if you are seeking a greater expedient approach, utilizing a pre-existing framework can substantially streamline the process and save you significant time and energy.

    Good luck with your project, and happy building!

    1. Expert Member

      this is spam.

  9. DennisWood | | #9

    You can do this with a few off the shelf items which I'm using right now for a few different projects:

    1. Hubitat automation hub.
    2. Fibaro Smart Implant (supports six temp sensors, or one humidity sensor). Implant is zWave, wireless.
    3. Ecowitt weather station (for pressure, sun, wind, precipitation, humidity and temperature outside.) which can also be joined to a Hubitat hub. Ecowitt logs the data on a free website. You'd be about $400-450 USD all in.

    Hubitat has a few graphing packages you can set up, or you can send the data externally to which I use to monitor my pool solar heating setup.

  10. stevedavis | | #10

    If your happy just monitoring temperature and humidity, I used Govee sensors throughout my home (main living, outside, crawlspace, attic, and garage). They are cheap at about $13/unit. They can be annoying to sync. They operate on bluetooth and you have to sync one at a time. And at least the older monitors I have only hold data for 2 weeks, so if you forget to sync them, that data gets overriden. So you're manually syncing every 2 weeks to get continuing data on your phone. I've also noticed that they fall out of calibration in more extreme environments like attics.

    That said, they do work and are cheap.

  11. brendagray | | #12


    For your building monitoring project, you might want to explore the real time vehicle tracking system approach. This technology involves using GPS and sensors to track vehicles in real-time, and similar principles can be applied to monitor building parameters. Consider repurposing some components or concepts from real-time vehicle tracking systems to create an efficient and accurate monitoring system for your building. This approach could potentially provide you with a solid foundation to build upon, saving you from reinventing the wheel.

    Best regards.

  12. Athi | | #13

    In numerous industries and applications, using software and sensors to monitor common environmental parameters is an effective strategy. Real-time data gathering, analysis, and response are made possible by this integration, which improves productivity, security, and sustainability. The integration of sensors with a robust software framework allows for real-time data acquisition, analysis, and response. There are several frameworks and sensor suites that you can consider for your Raspberry Pi-based monitoring system which include, Open HAB, Node-RED, and IoTivity. Keep in mind to look over the documentation and community support for the frameworks and sensors you select. Open-source communities frequently offer helpful advice and support. Or else you can go for a software development services company in the UK where they will help you create and implement the project as per your requirements. Good luck!

  13. BirchwoodBill | | #14

    Enocean technology is starting to heat up. More commercial grade products are coming to market. The sensors use energy harvesting so they could be embedded more deeply.

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