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Water-tank sensor can save some hassle

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Who in Bermuda has not run out of water halfway through a shower, particularly in these hot, dry summer months?

But cracking open the water tank and squinting into the darkness, might not be the most accurate way of monitoring how much water you have left.

That's why electrical contractor Ondra Simons invented Pebble, a water-tank sensor that fits inside the tank, and pings water level data to a server.

“Customers can log onto the server to get their data,” he said. “We have an app coming out in the near future.”

Mr Simons said he has always tinkered with electronics. He sells Pebble through his company E-tank, and also runs another company Intellihome, doing smart device installations for things such as lights and security systems.

“I have been working on Pebble for years, and upgrading it as I go along,” he said.

He thinks that over the years Pebble has more than proved its worth, at least in his home.

A year ago he moved into a new apartment in Devonshire, and installed Pebble. When the data came back, he thought his device was broken.

“The readings coming were ridiculous,” Mr Simons said. “I knew we used 200 gallons on a daily average, but this was reading 600 gallons. I was thinking something was wrong with the system.”

It turned out there was nothing wrong with Pebble; his tank had a large crack. Water was running into the ground, almost as fast as he was putting it in.

“I rent so I had to tell the landlord, and he fixed the crack,” Mr Simons said.

This summer, with ten people using the tank in his Devonshire apartment building, he orders water every two weeks, on average.

“We were ripping through water,” he said.

Pebble tells him exactly how many days he has left before he runs out. That way he is able to place an order with a water truck company a few days before the situation gets critical.

Sometimes, if there has been a bit of rain, having accurate data on the amount of water in the tank allows him to put off ordering for a little while longer.

“A penny saved, is a penny earned,” he said.

Over the years, he has installed Pebble in tanks in homes and businesses from Tucker's Town to Dockyard.

“I think I've probably installed around 50 devices,” he said.

He says it's not always convenient to be constantly physically checking a water tank.

“The Windsor Place on Queen Street has a big tank, but the tank top is so heavy, and it's right on the street,” he said. “Why go through that?”

He has also helped people monitor the water levels in their swimming pools.

“I have one customer who has an endless pool,” he said. “Because the water is always moving, the water evaporates. He is always running out of water.”

Not everyone has an electrical outlet near their water tank to power Pebble, so he also sells and installs a solar power battery kit.

Until now Pebble has only been available through him, but now he is looking to sell the device through retailers.

He is also planning to hold a two-hour course to train people to install the device. He thinks the course might be good for people like plumbers or handymen as one more skill to put in their arsenal.

“There are a lot of smart Bermudians out there,” he said. “They can handle stuff if you make it clear enough what to do. We made the device more retail friendly, created a manual, and redesigned the device so that it could be installed with standard tools.”

It's all preparation for a planned move to Panama. In his other life, he runs The Simons Brothers Band with his three teenage sons, Jonathan, Solomon and Leonardo.

Last year singer Keri Hilson watched the Simons Brothers perform at The Hamilton City Hall Savvy Sessions event. After the event she recommended The Simons Brothers go on tour, to get better known.

Now the Simons family are taking her advice.

“We are making preparations to stay for as long as we have to,” Mr Simons said. “We will be starting out in Panama. We thought that would be a good place for our Latin style music. There are also lots of festivals down there that we can play at.”

Pebble ranges in price from $275 to $415 depending on whether you want an extra sensor, or a solar power kit to go with it.

For information about the device or the installation course call 334-7720 or see etank.bm

Water-tank sensor: Ondra Simons with the equipment he uses to monitor the water level in his tank (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Ondra Simons' Pebble water level monitoring kit (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Pebble monitors the water level in your tank (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Ondra Simons' Pebble water level monitoring kit (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

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Published August 27, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated September 11, 2019 at 6:21 pm)

Water-tank sensor can save some hassle

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