- Leakage protection system – device
- Installation, operating principle and characteristics
- Criterias of choice
In this article: how the leakage protection system works; active, passive and radio-equipped sensors; electric and electromagnetic cranes; how the leakage protection works; characteristics of leakage protection systems; how to choose leakage protection.
One day it will happen – a defect or deterioration of the elements of the plumbing, overlooking the kitchen or bathroom sink, or maybe it will be a toilet cistern … Any and every owner of a living space has come across a version of the “world flood” in a single apartment or house at least once in all the time while using it. The consequences of water leaks make a serious hole in the family budget and spoil relations with the owners of apartments located on the floors below. However, it is quite possible to cope with the leakage problem before it develops into a local disaster if you entrust the situation control to special devices, which are smart home technologies..
Leakage protection system – device
Developing and improving smart home technologies, engineers created a system of sensors capable of detecting water leaks, but these sensors were useless in the absence of the owners – after all, it was required not only to establish the presence of a leak, but also to eliminate it. To solve this problem, electrically driven ball valves were created that automatically stop the water supply to the damaged section of the water supply.
Home flood protection kit includes wired or wireless sensors, electrically operated ball valves and electronic controller box.
Inside the leakage detector, there is a round or rectangular plate, on the outer surfaces of which there are concentric tracks of contacts connected in pairs to the sensors – there are usually two or three such sensors. The plate with sensors is enclosed in a plastic or metal-plastic case. The sensors are powered by an electric wire or from a battery (finger-type batteries); in the second case, the sensor is equipped with a miniature radio unit, which allows the controller to report a leak. There are two types of wired sensors – active and passive. The first type is connected to the controller unit with a three-wire electric wire – two wires are intended for interaction with the controller, the third wire is for powering the sensor (voltage from 5 to 24 V). To connect sensors of the second type, only two electric wires are needed – they do not need additional power supply, because they are equipped with an autonomous energy source. It should be noted that wired active sensors can be installed at a greater distance from the controller unit – up to 100 m, while passive sensors are installed no further than 20 meters from the controller.
1 – electric cranes; 2 – water leakage sensors; 3 – control unit.
The advantage of wireless sensors over wired ones is in the absence of an electric wire, which facilitates their installation within a 100 m distance from the controller in line of sight, i.e. in the absence of walls and partitions. However, such a sensor is only able to notify the controller unit about a leak, but the controller itself cannot test it for operability, since the communication between them is only one-way. It is required to either change the batteries or charge the battery of the wireless sensor in a timely manner, otherwise the leakage protection will not work. Of course, there are two-way wireless water leakage sensors, but they are not cheap..
An electrically operated ball valve is somewhat reminiscent of a conventional ball valve – a steel or brass body with threads on opposite sides, two plastic O-rings, a brass ball with an axial hole, which turns 90 ° to open or close the water passage. The difference is in the absence of a handle for opening and closing it – an electric drive mechanism is installed instead. At the command of the controller, the rotation of the brass ball stem and the cessation of the water supply is performed by a brushless electric motor equipped with a reducer to reduce the rotational speed of the stem. Opening the tap to resume the water supply is possible only after a corresponding command from the controller unit. The actuating time of the motorized ball valve is from 5 to 7 seconds. The advantage of an electric crane is that its operation does not require a constant electric power supply, which is necessary only in case of an emergency to shut off the water.
In addition to the electric valve, the water leakage protection system can be equipped with an electromagnetic valve equipped with a solenoid coil and a gate valve that blocks the path of water when an electromagnetic field occurs. There are two types of electromagnetic valves – the first of them is called “normally open”, i.e. when it is powered by current, the water supply stops, the second “normally closed”, opens only when there is power supply. Compared to electrically driven cranes, electromagnetic cranes act faster – it takes fractions of a second to completely cut off the water supply, but such cranes require constant power supply, otherwise they will not work fully. In addition, the rapid closure of the pipe channel will cause water hammer, which in itself can cause new leaks..
The controller unit constantly monitors the signals from the sensor-detectors, in the event of a leak, activating the operation of electric taps and shutting off the water supply. Controllers with a minimum set of options, sufficient to continuously monitor the threat of a flood in an apartment, are able to receive signals from no more than two or three sensors and control two electric cranes. When a leak is detected, such controllers emit sound and light signals, the supply of which can only be turned off by the user. More sophisticated models of controllers are capable of monitoring 20 sensors or more, informing about the room where a leak has occurred with the light of a diode on the control panel, and giving an alarm signal via the GSM channel to the homeowner’s mobile phone. In addition to the equipment described, wireless leakage protection systems are equipped with a radio base unit responsible for radio communication within such systems.
Installation, operating principle and characteristics
Water leakage sensors are installed on the floor surface or built into the floor covering in those rooms where the threat of leakage is the highest – a bathroom, a bathroom, a kitchen. The sensors built into the coating are placed so that the contact plates are located at the top, protruding from the floor surface by 4 mm, which makes it possible to exclude the sensor from triggering to accidental drops of water. The electrical wire that supplies the sensor and connects it to the controller is laid under the flooring in a corrugated hose.
If it is not possible to build a leakage sensor into the floor for some reason, then open-air models are used – such a sensor is fixed to the floor with a contact plate down, the protrusions on the base of the device body raise it above the floor level by 4 mm for the reasons described higher. The sensor wiring is laid down and secured to the floor. When installing surface-mounted sensors, carefully choose a location so as not to touch its body and wiring when visiting this room..
The place of installation of the sensors of the water protection system should be at the lowest point of the floor or close to plumbing fixtures and water supply systems, there should not be accidental drops of water.
Electric drive taps are installed directly behind the inlet valves, or after water meters, usually in a plumbing cabinet, at a distance of no more than 100 meters from the installation site of the controller unit.
The controller can be installed both inside a plumbing cabinet, if space permits, and on a wall in one of the monitored rooms, for example, in a bathroom – its walls are usually empty. The possibility that water gets on the controller case must be completely excluded. The minimum distance from the lowest point of the controller to the floor level is 500 mm. An important point – most models of controllers require a constant power supply, therefore, it is necessary to bring an electrical wire to the location of the controller unit and install an outlet.
The leakage protection system works like this:
- The sensors installed on the detector plate continuously measure the resistance of the contact plates. When water (not distilled) gets on the plates, their resistance seriously decreases, about which the sensor notifies the controller;
- the controller supplies power to the electric taps, which shut off the water supply. Simultaneously with the disconnection of the water supply, the controller emits a light and sound signal. Only the homeowner can turn off the light and sound alerts, restore the water supply by pressing the corresponding buttons on the controller unit body.
- guaranteed protection against floods and related repair costs, compensation for damage to neighbors living on the floors below;
- the ability to protect against leaks a living space that is left unattended for a long time;
- complete exclusion of the human factor – unlike a person, the system works without errors;
- the possibility of increasing the number of sensors in order to track a larger area. Additional detectors can be connected to the existing 2–3 sensors;
- easy installation;
- in the case of a prolonged absence of household members, disconnecting water supply systems by pressing one button on the controller’s remote control.
- the need to install sensors in the floor covering, i.e. its partial dismantling and subsequent restoration. However, surface-mounted sensors can be placed so that they do not interfere with household members;
- one-time cost of a set from 12,000 rubles. and higher.
Criterias of choice
On the Russian market, the anti-leakage system is represented by several brands and manufacturers, among which some domestic brands are most popular..
The minimum set usually includes 2-3 detector sensors, a controller unit, one electric actuated ball valve, sets of wires, batteries or accumulators. One crane, as a rule, is not enough – it is necessary to additionally purchase another one, which will not be difficult to integrate into the system, since it is designed for this.
If you choose between electric cranes and electromagnetic cranes with a gate, then it is better to stop at electric cranes, since electromagnetic cranes require a constant power supply. It will be especially convenient if the models of electric cranes allow manual switching between the positions “open” and “closed”, in case of temporary power outages.
Pay attention to the warranty period – the longer the better. It should be noted that none of the described manufacturers of leakage protection systems has a network of service centers in Russia – all of them are geographically located in Moscow and the Moscow region, close to manufacturers.
An important point will be the presence of an automatic system for cranking electric cranes (starting), in order to prevent salt and contamination deposits on the working parts of the ball valve. The system should rotate the crane with a return to its original position at least once every two weeks.