Nordic-powered water sensor helps detect leaks and ensure accurate billing

Connected Sensor

Connected Sensors’ Water Monkey employs nRF9160 SiP to relay usage data to the Cloud

Technology company Connected Sensors has launched a smart water flow device that can detect and measure the volume of water flowing through a water meter, providing consumers and property managers with accurate water consumption data that can help reduce billing errors and water waste.

Accurate water metering

The ‘Water Monkey’ device can be quickly attached to most makes and models of water meter without the need for installation by a plumber or electrician. Once installed, the flow meter records rotations of an impeller inside the water meter to calculate the volume of water flowing. This data is then relayed to the Cloud using the nRF9160 SiP’s LTE-M/NB-IOT cellular connectivity, allowing for accurate reporting on the water consumption of a building.

“Unfortunately, the compound water meters used in many residential budlings across North America are not always accurate," says Johann van Niekerk, Lead Hardware Designer for the Water Monkey. “This means volumes of water used for billing are sometimes just estimates by local utilities.

The nRF9160 SiP is a proven platform that is popular among developers
Johann van Niekerk, Water Monkey

“Additionally, these meters only provide a summary of the water used in each period. This single volumetric measurement does not give any insight into metrics like the times of day when the least amount of water is used, or when peak hour begins and ends. Due to this limitation, building owners have no way of knowing about leaks, for example.”

Water Monkey takes advantage of the nRF9160 SiP’s powerful 64 MHz Arm® Cortex®-M33 dedicated application processor to perform sensor data acquisition and edge processing, providing near ‘real time’ water volume detection. From the Cloud platform users can set up parameters for email and SMS alerts in the event water usage exceeds expected volumes. This enables potential leaks to be detected early and remedial measures taken to avoid further water damage.

Class leading power consumption

The smart flow meter is battery powered and offers a lifetime of up to five years between battery replacement, according to the company. The effective battery life is thanks, in part, to the class leading power consumption of nRF9160. The SiP supports both PSM and eDRX power saving modes. For both LTE-M and NB-IoT the PSM floor current is as low as 2.7 µA, and with an eDRX interval of 655 s the average current is 6 µA for LTE-M and 9 µA for NB-IoT.

“The nRF9160 SiP is a proven platform that is popular among developers, and I have spoken to many who have praised its feature-rich SDK and constant improvements,” says van Niekerk. “But the main reason we chose to use it was because of the wealth of features it offers.

“It took us six months to design, manufacture, and certify Water Monkey, which is an unusually short timeline for such an advanced product. This was made possible thanks to the features versus power consumption ratio of the nRF9160, as well as the global community of followers and support available for this solution.”