Humidity Rising

My obituary will relate, I think, that I operated one of the Island’s leading humidity-monitoring-related websites. It’s a badge I will take to my death proudly. With that in mind, here’s the humidity rising in the Reinventorium this morning from 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.  I have our Venta humidifier plugged into a WeMo Switch and a rule on the WeMo iOS app turns the switch on at 6:00 a.m.; this avoids running the humidifier all night, and ensures a pleasant office when we arrive 3 hours later.

Humidty Rising on a Graph over 4 Hours

As you can see from the graph (with each horizontal segment representing 30 minutes), things are pretty optimal by 7:30 a.m., so I can probably change the rule so that the humidifier turns on 90 minutes later and still find the office pleasant on arrival.

A note to those playing the home game, I’ve also updated the Python code that polls the Arduino to solve what I took to be an issue with the way I was reading the serial report (readings were, I think, being buffered because I was only polling the serial port every 30 seconds, resulting in herky-jerky data).

A Little More Temperature, a Little More Humidity

Following on from yesterday’s experiments with an Arduino, a DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor, some Python and Cosm, a few developments.

First, I generalized and cleaned up the Python code and companion Arduino sketch, and you can now find these both, with some documentation, in a Github repository. This code improves error detection, and filters out the occasional out-of-range reading (like a 2300ºC temperature). It also sends the data to both Cosm and to Thingspeak.

Second, I brought my Belkin WeMo Switch into the office with hopes of wiring it up to this system: the Venta humidifier in the office doesn’t have a humidistat in it, only three fan speeds; I’m thinking that I should be able to set thresholds for turning it on, like “if the humidity is below 25% and it’s after 7:00 a.m., then turn on the humidifer.” Stay tuned for that.

Third, in Safari on my Mac I opened the Cosm feed for the temperature and humidity and the selected File | Open in Dashboard… from the menu.

Safari Open in Dashboard

I then selected the orange temperature “badge” from the page, and clicked Add and then did the same thing for the humidity badge:

Open in Dashboard

The result is that on my Mac OS X Dashboard I now have the temperature and humidity in the office displayed:

A Perfect Day?

Not only is it 9°C outside with an expect high of 18°C, but here inside the Reinventorium it’s 21°C and 52% humidity, which, my humidistat tells me, is right in the middle of the “comfort zone” for temperature and “normal” level of humidity.  It’s shaping up to be the perfect day!

Perfect Day?

Humidity Update

I know that, after reading about our humidity challenges here in the Reinventorium, you’ve all been wondering “how’s the humidity in Peter’s office these days.” And so here’s an update.

The first humidifier I purchased for the office was a Honeywell Cool Mist Humidifier from Canadian Tire, advertised for “medium rooms.” It clearly wasn’t up to the task, as the humidity never went over 30% when it was running. I returned it and purchased a Honeywell Quiet Care Humidifier across the parking lot at Future Shop and advertised for “large rooms.”

This second unit worked like a charm, and kept the humidity in the office around 50%.

Life was good: the office was much more pleasant to work in, and the mid-afternoon dryness-induced headaches were gone.

For a week and a half.

Then, on Monday, Johnny arrived at the Reinventorium to a small-scale humidifier-induced flood. All Monday long we poked and prodded the humidifier trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Had we over-filled it? Was the filter broken? Was the o-ring that sealed the water in broken? Nothing seemed to be the culprit.

I got on the phone to Kaz, the company that sells Honeywell-branded products, and after 20 minutes on hold got to talk to a customer service rep, who asked me the same questions I’d asked myself, and concluded that the unit was broken and needed to be returned, either to Future Shop (no charge) or to Kaz itself (I pay shipping, and then $10 administration fee, for a replacement). Needless to say, I returned the humidifier to Future Shop for a refund.

No matter what the source of the flooding, and whether a replacement would fix it or not, I was uncomfortable with the notion of having a device in the office that was capable of flooding at all (I keep a lot of stuff on the floor, and would have nightmares about soggy bank statements).

Canadian Tire and Future Shop only had similarly-dangerous Honeywell humidifiers, or safer-looking top-loading ones that weren’t capable of humidifying our apparently-not-medium-sized room (it’s amazing the market dominance that Honeywell cum Kaz has in the box stores).

So I went to Home Hardware in Sherwood.

Which is what I should have done in the first place.

Home Hardware not only had a full selection of the same Honeywell humidifiers that others had, but it also had 3 or 4 other brands, or varying types, sizes and mechanisms.

One of those was a Venta Airwasher which immediately appealed to me on several fronts:

  1. It isn’t made by Honeywell/Kaz.
  2. It doesn’t require replacement filters (nor, indeed, filters of any type).
  3. It doesn’t seem capable of spilling: rather than the “fill container and then turn it upside down” Honeywell system, filling the Venta involved simply filling up a base with water.
  4. It is made in Germany.
  5. It is guaranteed for 10 years.
  6. It looks like a NeXTcube.
  7. It was on sale for $99, regularly $299.

So I bought it.

It’s been running for the last 24 hours and we’ve got office humidity in the 45% to 50% range. It’s quieter, easy to fill, and is mechanically simply and pleasantly analog.

Stay tuned for reports after it’s been in place for a while.

Venta Airwasher

If it’s not the heat…

As we get used to working here in the Reinventorium, we’re getting better at adjusting the office climate. Ye olde office up on Fitzroy Street varied between too-cold and too-hot over the years, but the humidity was always pleasant. Here in the new place the heat varies betwen too-hot and much-too-hot (there’s a service call about this imminent), and the humidity is airplane-like.

To attach to metrics to this, I invested in a thermometer hygrometer combination over the weekend ($9 at Canadian Tire) and what I found was this:

NOKIA Lumia 800_000257

That’s about 23 degrees and 24% humidity (and the temperature was lower than usual because I’d had the window open for a while).

I went back to Canadian Tire on Sunday afternoon and bought a Honeywell humidifier, one advertised as being good for “medium-sized rooms” (with no definition of what that meant), for $46 and left it running overnight. When I came into the office this morning the humidity was up to 30%, but with no signs of going any higher. The office was more pleasant, but the hygrometer was still in the “very dry” zone.

So I returned the humidifier, and found another Honeywell across the parking lot at Future Shop, for $49, that was advertised as suiting “large rooms.” It’s been running for the last 3 hours, and the humidity is now up to 42%:

NOKIA Lumia 800_000261

It’s not quite as high as I’d like it, but 42% humidity is much, much more comfortable to work in than 24% humidity, so I’ll leave the new humidifier in place overnight and see where we’re at in the morning.

If I can get things to 45% humidity and down in the 20 degrees range, I’ll be a happy worker.

Apologies to my father for mocking his seeming obsession with humidity when I was a kid: our house was full of hygrometers and humidifiers and dehumidifiers and I believe there may have been graph paper involved at times. I had no idea what the fuss was all about. Now I do.