Monthly Archives

August 2017

Small Box Energy Announces New Features and Hardware! Occupancy Controlled Lighting & Hot Water Heater Temperature Monitoring and Alarming

By | Small Box Energy Features | No Comments

The News!

This week Small Box Energy announced new features for chameleon 2.0, hot water temperature monitoring and alarming and occupancy controlled lighting. These two features, driven by customer requests, add capabilities to help owners improve their visibility into operations and further reduce the risk of something critical going wrong.  They’re a great addition to the award winning building automation/energy management system and here’s why!

Recently demand has risen for restaurant and convenience store owners to be routinely aware of the temperature of the water coming out of sinks and dishwashers and dishwashing units. Health codes mandate the temperature of the water coming out of handwashing sinks be 120 degrees and water at dish machines to be 140 degrees. How can you really know what the temperature is, other than the setting on the hot water heater…which could be faulty? Small Box Energy’s water heater sensor measures and records temperatures of the water every minute. The consistent temperature monitoring allows for notifications to be sent whenever the temperature goes above or below a selected range.


Deliveries happen at night and lights need to be ON during the delivery times. Rather than keeping lights on all the time or relying on someone who might be preoccupied with customers to manually override a lighting schedule, this solution allowed lights to turn on automatically when someone enters the area. This solution also addresses the need for lights to be temporarily turned on for other activities, like cleaning after hours, assuring they will be automatically turned off when no longer needed. This minimizes the amount of energy used by only turning on the lights when someone is present.

chameleon’s hot water temperature monitoring uses a sensor to measure the temperature of a restaurant or convenience store’s water at the output of the hot water heater. To achieve this function two devices are needed. A temperature sensor to read the temperature of the water coming from the water heater and a communication device to transmit the information back to the system for recording. The temperature sensor that Small Box Energy uses is a sensor that straps directly onto the copper water pipe of the hot water heater and is physically wired to the communication device. The communication device, in this case, communicates back to the chameleon programmable web server wirelessly.

Occupancy controlled lighting uses a sensor to detect motion in a lighting zone and override the lights to ON.  This sensor can override current lighting schedules to turn on the desired zone by interrupting the signal coming from the Small Box Energy I/0 controller with a set of relays held inside of the Occupancy sensor.  The occupancy sensor itself can be mounted in the ceiling near the desired location to give maximum coverage of the area. It uses PIR or Passive Infrared technology, to measure infrared (IR) light radiating from objects in its field of view. It has a 360-degree field of view with up to an 800 ft range.

The occupancy sensor cuts down on the amount of energy used by only turning on the lights when someone is present then turning them off automatically. Typically occupancy sensors are installed to eliminate the problem of lights being left on. What we typically see is the lights being left on by an employee who simply forgot to turn them off, and honestly who hasn’t been there? The hot water sensor directly reduces the amount of energy consumed as well, in most cases, we will see overheating of the water which causes money spent on warming the water for no reason. These two solutions are one of the many options Small Box Energy has to offer. The great thing about the chameleon platform is that once you have a base system in, it changes and molds to your business model. Hence the name! Chameleons blend in….just as we blend into your business while enhancing your visibility and operational efficiency.

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Smart Cities a Thing of The Future?

By | Efficiency, IoT, Uncategorized | No Comments

Flying cars, diners with tv waiters and hovering trash cans…. a scene from the 1989 Back to The Future Part II movie that depicts a severely futuristic 2015. Although we do have semi-autonomous cars and not flying ones, tablets to place your order at restaurants the city of Chicago has a new approach to smart cities and we have some insight at how they plan to get there.

The Smarter City

Chicago has recently been expanding their efforts in becoming a smarter city according to a recent Cnet article that was published. What does that mean? Chicago residents can open a browser on their phone and see the location of every snow plow in the area. City officials can use a computer analysis to predict where rats will be in the city using information like locations of overflowing garbage and planned sewer pipe repairs, helping them combat their immense rat problem, along with replacing 270,000 street lamps with LED’s starting in September 2017.

The new project in progress is a new digital mapping system that will help determine what pipes are where under the city and just what each of those pipes is for. Currently, if any repairs are to be done in the city, crews must contact the office of underground coordination to identify what pipes are nearby and if they encounter an unknown, a specialist has to be brought in to determine if the pipe can be removed. This causes the city time delays and money.

The Solution

A phone app and computer program that creates a digital blueprint of Chicago’s underground pipe maze consisting of water, sewer, electric, gas and broadband lines…not including other services from 30 other companies and utilities. Chicago partners with UI labs to create a 3d map of Chicago’s pipeline infrastructure. The map is created by an image analysis startup company called reconstruct, using software from Cityzenith. After a construction crew unearths pipes, replaces old ones with new ones, he then could pull out his phone and take a 360degree video of where the construction took place. This data is given to Reconstruct where they use an analysis technique on the video called point clouds. They analyze the points in the video which helps to create a 3d image of the pipes that were just recorded. Right now it takes 2 weeks to create a 3d image of the construction site video to map the underground of pipes, their hopes are to create a google maps of Chicago’s underground to make several processes more efficient and easier.

They will no longer need paper blueprints of the pipe maps, and can easily update where pipes have been replaced with the new technology. “My whole thing is to allow us not just to use data to be better at what we do, although that’s what it is, but also to continue to give people a chance to interact and interface with their government,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated.


Started From The Bottom Now We're Here

This type of innovated thinking all started with snow plows and a simple tracking mechanism and has grown into bettering the city for not just the government planning but the residents who live there. Chicago seems to have embraced technology to its fullest and made moves to become more efficient. This is not only applicable on a city-wide scale but in our everyday lives, our work, our schools, and our home. It’s not about technology taking over but utilizing one of the greatest tools we have at our disposal to be a better, more efficient, sustainable culture.

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How Are You Managing Critical Systems?

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Total Visibility, Total Control

In the restaurant and convenience store industry, managing your critical systems can seem like a very low priority in relation to all of the other issues and fires you face daily. The truth is, the typical restaurant consumes about 2.5 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. That means you are spending more than any other commercial building, and that is just on power! Early equipment diagnostics is a huge focus in the restaurant and convenience store industry today. Leaders in these industries are realizing that early diagnosis of faulty equipment is the best way to save money on food loss, and total equipment replacement.

The only true way to manage anything is to first understand it, and to understand it you must have a way to measure it.  Making sure your locations have a locking thermostats is not good enough, visibility into your ENTIRE operation is key. The chameleon™ cloud app from Small Box Energy, not only gives you this visibility but it provides you with remote control of these systems as well. Take a look at some of the perks below:

  • Complete Visibility:
    • See your complete portfolio in one user-friendly overview.
    • The quick glance feature allows you to see what locations are in alarm by the color designation.


  • Alerts and Alarms:
    • Alarm notifications tell you why the alarm was triggered and the possible causes


  • Complete Remote Control:
    • Remotely view the current status of all your critical systems.
    • Change the current state of lighting and HVAC from any tablet, browser or mobile phone.
    • Adjust lighting and HVAC schedules remotely to fit the needs of the business
    • Adjust Override times for HVAC to ensure maximum energy savings.


  • Food Safety Through Temperature Monitoring
    • Measure temperatures in reach-in and service area equipment.
    • Alarms are sent for coolers reaching above or below defined temperature range.
    • Temperatures are automatically recorded up to the cloud for real time and historical reference.
    • Alerts are sent immediately to employees/managers when equipment fails to prevent food loss.


  • Early Equipment Diagnostics
    • Accurate, real time graphs provide early equipment diagnostics for HVAC and Refrigeration.
    • Client Success Team helps analyze data to determine the time of equipment failure and possible causes.
    • Utilize graphs to help determine when equipment is being shut off by staff or when doors are left open unnecessarily.


  • Increase Operational Efficiency:
    • Provide graphs and time of failure to your maintenance team for more accurate and faster diagnosis and unit repair.
    • Smart data helps technicians determine cause of failure which reduces equipment run time and extends unit life



These are just some of the key benefits of the chameleon-cloud application. If you think managing your critical systems is a”nice to have” and not a “need to have”, rethink where your dollars are going and take action today! To talk to someone at Small Box Energy today about seeing everything you’re missing out on, in your locations! Click HERE to contact someone at Small Box Energy. Download the chameleon-cloud app today on the App Store and on Google Play, or visit

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