The iSocket 3G is a simple way to get alerts if your power goes out or there are temperature swings for your aquarium helping to cut down on the traveling reefer blues, even if you WiFi is out. The iSocket 3G answers the question, what happens if you have all your aquarium doohickeys connected to the Internet through your WiFi, but what happens when the power goes out and so does your WiFi?
Unless you have a battery universal power supply (UPS), you might be stressing a bit. The iSocket 3G is actually a tiny cell phone built inside a power plug. When your power goes out, it fires up and sends you an alert (either a phone call or text message) using the mobile towers and networks around you. This provides a more robust and reliable connection and helps get the message to you as it happens, instead of coming home to a disaster. Plus you don’t need a smartphone or an app — any mobile phone will do.
The machine-to-machine communications (M2M) between the device and your mobile phone is similar to the technology used today for other ‘smart’ applications around your home and the growing Internet of Things (IoT) trend. Smart meters for water, gas and power are using this type of connection to report usage and alerts to your power companies. Credit card payments on parking meters? Same thing.
One thing you will need is a SIM card, just like a mobile device. Many travelers might recall buying SIM cards for travel and swapping them out to have cheaper mobile phone coverage in other countries. This is the same kind of technology. Once you have your iSocket 3G, you will have to buy a prepaid SIM card that has airtime for text and data alerts to be sent. However, many of these SIMs have airtime that doesn’t expire so you’ll have the iSocket 3G at the ready. If you do some competitive shopping online, you can most likely get a SIM card for $30 or so with enough data to last you a while.
Since the majority of the country is already covered by some sort of cellular coverage, and the iSocket 3G will work anywhere there is a 3G (UMTS) mobile networks. You can check the coverage map on mobile carrier websites or use a crowdsourced app like Sensorly to see if you have actual coverage in your area. This coverage is not dependent on the carrier you use for your mobile phone as roaming partnerships make access to the nearest tower possible.
Besides getting alerted if there is a power outage, you can also add the Temperature Sensor Pro made for harsh conditions like saltwater aquariums, boilers, freezers, etc. and measure anything between -55C (-67F) and 120C (248F). You can also add a simple temperature probe to measure the ambient temperature of the room.
The iSocket 3G costs $199 USD, but there is sometimes a promo to get the iSocket 3G for $169. The Temperature Sensor Pro will run you $39 ($35.10 on discount) and the shorter regular temperature probe runs you $9 and a longer version runs $19. SIMs need to be purchased separately, but there is information on a couple outlets on the company’s website.