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Question and Answer ArticleCell Phone Alerts

By Cherie Parker
Published: April 1, 2007

Q:  I own a cabin in Vermont where we have electricity but no phone service. We have made it into a year-round cabin and leave the heat on all winter, but I’m afraid of boiler failure or electric outage and the house freezing up. We do have cellular phone service. Is there any type of cellular/wireless alarm system that I can install that will phone me when the temperature goes below a certain point?
– Ken Hill, via e-mail


A:  There are telephone temperature alerts that will call you to tell you your cabin is in danger of freezing. But because your cabin doesn’t have a land line, you’ll need to use a cell phone docking device, an adapter that allows your cell phone to operate as a land line phone, to use some of them. Owners of freeze alarms have reported success with the Dock-N-Talk, a cell phone docking station from Phone Labs (www.phonelabs.com). The Dock-N-Talk is compatible with a wide array of cell phone brands and will set you back about $150 with additional charges for the cell phone connector cable and the Bluetooth Module.
 
Once you have the cell phone docking taken care of, you can choose from a variety of telephone temperature alerts offering a number of helpful features.
   
The FreezeAlarm line from Control Products (www.protectedhome.com) offers three different models and is available from retailers (including www.talkingthermo-stats.com) that specialize in home protection products.
   
The Basic FreezeAlarm, which sells for around $100, calls to one telephone number when the cabin temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. When you pick up the phone you hear an alarm tone that will continue to call until the onsite unit is called back. The unit resets when the temperature rises above 45 degrees. It does not work with answering machines.
   
Control Products also makes  an Intermediate FreezeAlarm and Deluxe FreezeAlarm which add upgrades such as calling more than one number and sensing for water.
   
If you’re willing to spend a little more, Sensaphon (www.sensaphone.com) offers its Skymetry system, which has a monitoring alarm and control capabilities like the FreezeAlarm, but with built-in wireless technology. You can interface with the Skymetry at your cabin via a Web page. You can get the system for about $800.
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