Fluid Switch Blog

How Float Switches Can Improve Cannabis Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is perhaps one of the most effective ways to grow healthy marijuana plants. Why? Because drip irrigation is grounded in automation.

What Is Drip Irrigation Exactly?

Drip irrigation is an automated watering method in which precise amounts of water and nutrients are applied directly to the roots of a plant. Contrary to what its name suggests, water and nutrients are not always fed in a “drip, drip” fashion; depending on the system’s specific design, a spray or mist may be administered instead.

How Drip Irrigation Works

A water hose or feeder is connected to an array of “drip emitters” (see below): small (about the size of a US quarter) pieces that release the amount of water and nutrients in controlled quantities. Drip irrigation is renowned by growers because they boast efficiencies in excess of 90% when compared to average sprinkler systems. In addition to preserving the bottom line, drip emitters only apply water and nutrients to roots that actually need it. Moreover, they reduce evaporation, leaching, and water runoff, which curbs waste.

drip emitter

drip emitters release exact amounts of water and nutrients into the soil

Preventing Over & Under Watering With Float Switches

There is perhaps nothing more detrimental to cannabis growth than under or over watering.  According to Leafly, under or over watering causes root rot, which will result in irreversible damage to plants if not identified and treated quickly.

Drip irrigation reduces this risk with its unrivaled precision. Unlike hand watering, where over watering and under watering can be all too common, drip irrigation systems give just the right amount at exactly the right time. Of course, this is not to say that human intervention becomes unnecessary once the proper parameters are set; it merely allows the grower to step back from the mundane tasks so that he can focus on monitoring the plant’s progress.

Float switches can be customized to make these marvelous systems even more precise and fail-safe. In order for growers to be able to step back, drip irrigators have to be able to accurately perform their scheduled actions.

This is where float switches come into play.  Float switches can be used to monitor the amount of water that goes into the soil: if too much or too little is applied, then float switches can tell the water feeder or drip emitters to either continue or cease.

Ready To Improve Your Drip Irrigation System? Contact SMD Fluid Controls

If you want to make your drip irrigation system as efficient as possible, then contact us today. SMD Fluid Controls can customize float switches to meet your unique needs. If you can dream it, we can build it! Let us help you grow the healthiest cannabis ever!

Next-Gen Dishwashers: Float Switches & Level Sensors Mean Cleaner Dishes (Yes, Please!)

dishwashers

Washing the dishes is one of the necessary evils that exist in any home. Who does that task might be the start to some heated debates, but at least it’s gotten better over the decades. With better water pressure, the availability of hot water and technologies, we’ve graduated from scrubbing pans in a soaking tub, to being able to load the dishwasher to do the job for us.

However, as any super-clean-fanatic mom or wife will tell you, cleaning the dishes prior to putting them into these devices is usually needed. Otherwise, the end result is dishes that still look dull, dingy and might even come out with stuck on debris.

That can all change thanks to switches and sensors.

If you’re wondering what the point of running a full dishwasher to clean dishes is if you have to give them a light cleaning prior anyways, you’re not alone. A dishwasher should be washing the dishes, right? To achieve this there needs to be a good variable of hot enough water, detergent and spray force.

A number of new features are being added to today’s home appliances to help them deliver better results and operate more efficiently.

Here’s how sensors and switches can up the game and make dishwashers perform as they’ve always been expected to.

Proper Operation

Many of the moving internal parts that allow the dishwasher to operate safely and efficiently must function as intended the entire time a cycle is going for it to do a proper cleaning. Reed switches and sensors incorporated on spray arms, door latches and door locks can be used to keep motors from burning out, door locks from becoming faulty and can even ensure the dishwasher stay sealed while it cleans.

Level and Temperature Sensors

Water fills into the dishwasher before it begins the cleaning cycles. Water level sensors can keep this liquid at the right levels and at the correct temperatures required to get the dishes clean. Better measurement of water levels also cuts down on unnecessary water usage, higher utility bills and can cut down on detergent waste.

To perform these functions and perform them well, quality switches made of durable and compatible materials is necessary. SMD Fluid Controls manufactures and supplies a wide variety of fluid switches, float switches, temperature gauges, and liquid level sensors, including standard off-the-shelf products and custom sensors designed to meet your specific needs.

Interested in taking your dishwashing build to the next level? Get in touch today!

A Sweeter Maple Syrup Season with Level Sensors

maple syrup

In just a few short months, farmers here in New England will gear up for one of the most important seasons of the year – Maple Syrup making! Perhaps one of the most favored products to come out of the region, maple syrup is treasured by many as a sweet and delicious topping for everything from pancakes to ice cream and a number of other dishes.

In 2017, a reported 4.3 million gallons of maple syrup was produced I the United States with Vermont and New Hampshire both contributing a large part to that count. This year is expected to be great for sugaring as well.

If you’re looking for a solution to assist with your maple syrup production, let SMD Fluid Controls help!

Keep reading to learn how.

The steps involved to collect and then process syrup require special skills, tools and know how. Constant changes and improvements to the processes involved have occurred over the years to ease the time required to create maple syrup. Still, the key focus remains to produce a maple syrup with a sweet and distinct flavor. To do so, temperature and storage play a critical role.

PUMP WITH SPEED & ACCURACY

First things first, to convert the maple sap coming out of a tree into syrup, it needs to be collected from the tree. Buckets with a tap that’s driven into the tree and a spout are hung on the trunks as sap slowly spills in. Once a sufficient amount is collected, it’s then taken for a water removal process known as “evaporation.”

SWITCH ACTIVATION / OVERFLOW MONITORING

tree sap bucket

In the production process, it’s easy for the foam to be formed or sugars to burn if sap levels are too low and these occurrences could ruin a lot of syrup in a short period of time. For this reason, carefully monitoring liquid levels is critical to keep batches in top condition.

In this example, an ultrasonic liquid level sensor could work inside of a collection vessel to not only help monitor the levels at which the buckets are filling up but do so without needing to touch the contents inside for hygienic reasons.

Just imagine the time saved versus having to walk the property tree by tree to check on the status of that sap collection?

MAINTAIN PROPER BOILING TEMPS

To create syrup out of sap, water must be removed from it. This is done by boiling it to a specific temperature for a designated period of time and is key in producing a high-quality syrup product.

Even the bottling of the syrup should be done at a certain temperature.

Take the guesswork out of the equation here with float switches and level sensors incorporating RTD’s, thermocouples, or thermostatic devices that work to maintain appropriate temperatures and ensure storage and capping of liquids is happening properly.

A float switch could also be used to monitor liquid levels and activate a pump or sound an alarm if necessary to prevent overflow or production damages.

 At SMD Fluid Switch, we help lower costs and increase productivity. From competitive pricing for OEM designs and applications as well as custom designs to meet a variety of needs.

Contact us today to get started!

How Liquid Level Sensors Can Help The Visually Impaired

pouring coffee

All too often, the concept of visual impairment or blindness is wrongfully associated with helplessness. While famous celebrities like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder have helped to change mainstream perception over the years, it is still common for people to connect such disabilities with old age and impassable obstacles.

In reality, however, many visually challenged people are far from helpless. These people often make smart use of tools and devices, such as level sensors, that can make certain challenges easy to overcome.

Preventing Liquid Overflow With Liquid Level Sensors

So, what challenge can liquid level sensors help to vanquish? Liquid overflow. With the use of float switches, devices can be made to alert them when liquid levels get close to the overflow threshold inside containers. In practice, these types of devices typically emit an audible alarm and vibrate simultaneously. This allows visually challenged people to “hear” and “feel” the warning signs.

Float switches allow overflow protection from any liquid, hot or cold. That means visually impaired or blind individuals can pour iced-cold water, hot coffee, wine, or even thick maple syrup without having to worry about it overflowing.

Flood Warnings: A Safety Application For All

Aside from the comparatively small-scale, yet extremely efficient solution for avoiding cup overflows and spills, float switches can be used to alert sighted, visually impaired, and blind people of flooded basements, attics, and floors. When outside temperatures drop to sub zero levels, burst pipes occur without warning. If this happens overnight, you may wake up to find valuables submerged in water. With liquid level sensing technology, however, warning alarms can sound immediately.

To learn more about how float switches work, check out our guide.

Much like a smoke detector, these types of safety applications should never be overlooked. While visually impaired or blind people may not be able to utilize sight, they can rely on their powerful sense of smell and hearing instead.  

Get Customized Solutions From SMD Fluid Controls

We at SMD Fluid Controls can construct solutions to fit a variety of needs. If you can dream it, we can build it! Remember that the visually impaired are capable of independence, and SMD Fluid Controls would be honored to develop applications that support this reality.

Let’s bring ideas to fruition. Contact us today!

     

How to Stop Level Sensors from Failing

Level sensors are used in a number of different industries and applications to provide accurate measurement of liquids and other fluidized solids within a tank or vessel. Whether continuous or point value is set to be measured, their reliability makes level sensors a top option for keeping systems operating as intended.

What happens though in those occasional cases when tanks overflow or fluid levels get so low that a system breaks down? In these situations, and when it is discovered that a level sensor has failed, getting to the root of the issue and finding ways to prevent it from happening again is important.

First, let’s look at the reasons why:

Reasons for Float Switch Failure

One of the top reasons a float switch may fail has to do with poor maintenance practices. Normal wear and tear must be monitored and systems should be updated for optimal operating life. There are also application specifications and configurations to consider. Since no job is exactly the same, having a proper fitting float switch built from the right materials can make or break a design. Having the correct current conditions for shut down and steady state is also imperative.

Working with an expert team of engineers with experience in float switch design and application is a critical step in the building process. At SMD Fluid Controls we work together with customers to design a solution that works specifically within their requirements. Speak to a professional today!

Now let’s talk about protection from these issues.

Prevention Methods

To protect level switches from failing due to overcurrent conditions, proper wiring is needed. SMD Fluid Controls recommends tying the load and the switch as close as possible to the ground source to reduce any load spikes from traveling through the switch.

level sensor

As a precaution, you should also ensure that float switches are always mounted properly and that cables and connections are done accurately. These steps along with consistent cleaning and monitoring will go a long way in preventing level sensor failures from small production halts to those we read about in news headlines.

Contact us to learn about our custom design and manufacture services.

 

 

5 Scary Overflow Scenarios a Level Sensor Could Have Prevented

man afraid

It’s Halloween season and most everyone has horror on their minds. In keeping with that theme, we’re having a little fun with the blog this week. While level sensors and float switches are the answer to a number of problems faced by engineers and product teams, there are situations where a level sensor could have prevented an unsightly or dangerous mishap.

In this post, we’ll offer a few hypothetical, downright terrifying things that can happen when you don’t use a level sensor where you should.

  1. Chemical Processing Nightmares

Immersion heaters for chemical processing can burn out and fail if a system runs low or out of fluid before heaters are shut down. This can get downright dangerous and even become a fire hazard.

  1. Burnt Motors

In many industrial applications, level sensors work to monitor the level of water in tanks and warn when it’s low. Without them, pumps burn up and stop working due to low water or can cause the pump to cavitate. Depending what the pump is controlling, the result could be catastrophic.

  1. Ceiling Damage

Level sensors are also important for the operation of cooling systems and air conditioners in any space. Without a system to monitor and remove excess condensation and water, what results is a nasty, stained and damaged ceiling.

  1. Flooded Basements

Speaking of interior applications, basement sump systems that overflow when a pump fails to activate by a float switch or if the pump fails, can leave behind a big mess and lead to dangerous mold growth.

  1. Sinking Boats

This may seem extreme, but issues on boats where working mechanisms fail are actually quite common.  In this scenario, the worst case is that the bilge pump fails, there is no sensor in place and the boat sinks because of the bilge overfilling.

While the above terrifying scenarios are only imaginary, take a look at some of the recent news headlines and you’ll find headlines covering various industries – like a popular carmaker who’s engines are failing, food that is being spoiled or contaminated and a bunch of other mishaps and inspection failures. This is the reality for businesses that fail to plan and put sensors to work in their applications.

At SMD Fluid Controls, we want you to enjoy the Trick or Treaters and candy this season without the fear that your application could fail. Get in touch with our engineers for peace of mind. We have OEM and custom solutions to fit a variety of needs. Even if you’ve never thought about level sensors in your application, we can help you find a way to add their accuracy to your build.

Get in touch today!

What is a Vertical Float Switch?

FLOAT SWITCH

A vertical float switch is a mechanical device that monitors liquid levels inside a reservoir tank. Regardless of the application, vertical float switches have one main purpose: to trigger an event when the liquid reaches a certain level.

What kinds of events can vertical float switches trigger? Refills, ceasefires, and discharges. Consider a typical dishwasher for example. Most modern dishwashers use vertical float switches as a backup for the fill timer. In the event that the timer fails to work properly, the float switch shuts the water off so that the dishwasher does not overflow.

How Vertical Float Switches Work

Vertical float switches are made up of two main components: a center tubed magnetic float and a reed switch. Both the float and the reed are operated by magnets. When the float reaches a predetermined level, the reed switch reacts by closing or opening.

In the dishwasher scenario, the float rises as the water fills; once the float reaches a certain level, it triggers the reed switch, and the process ends: the reed switch sends a signal to open or close (depending on how it’s configured by the manufacturer), and with that, water ceases to fill the dishwasher.

Common Applications

Due to their versatility and trustworthy design, vertical float switches are used by many different industries for a variety of different applications, like:

  • Boilers

    Like dishwashers, boilers require safety measures to work properly. If nothing existed inside the boiler to monitor and stop high water levels, then houses all over the country would flood. This is where vertical float switches come into play. The vertical float switch can trigger alarms that regulate pump controls, prevent overflow, and shut the system off entirely if extremely low water levels are reached.

  • Fish Tanks

    Water in fish tanks evaporate over time, and when water evaporates, salt is left behind. Unfortunately, even saltwater fish can only handle so much salt. Since fish can die from an excess of salinity in the water, fish tanks are often built with a top-off system that pumps freshwater in if salinity levels are heightened. Top-off systems use vertical float switches to automate the pump: when a risky amount of evaporation occurs, the reed switch closes, and the pump activates. Freshwater then gets pumped into the sump until the float switch opens. When this happens, the pump deactivates.

  • Water Wells

    Many water wells use vertical float switches to activate and deactivate well pumps. Two float switches are often used: one near the top of the tank, and one toward the bottom. The switch at the top cuts the electrical connection to the pump if the water level gets too high; the switch at the bottom connects to the pump if the water level gets too low. These two switches work simultaneously to keep the tank filled at an optimal level.

SMD Has The Right Vertical Float Switch For You

If you’re curious as to how a vertical float switch can meet your unique needs, then SMD has you covered. Not only do we manufacture a variety of different float switches, but we know these devices inside and out. We can also create custom applications based on your specific application needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We will help you select the float switch that’s right for you.

CONTACT US TODAY! 

Partnering with Design Engineers on Custom and Standard Builds

engineer partnership

The job of a design engineer is unique and often cumbersome. Across industries, they must rely on physics, complex scientific and mathematical techniques and sometimes even create something that’s not been done before.  Along with this inventive requirement, they’re also responsible for safety, meeting compliance and other standards all while doing this within a budget constraint.

That’s a lot to take on. By working closely with the manufacturing engineer and a team of designers throughout the product lifecycle and leaning on other experts in the industry, there is much benefit to be had. Cost and time savings and a product that works exactly as you intended it to.

After having researched and specified the requirements of the project and finding that there is a need to sense a liquid within the parts, calling on the experts at SMD Fluid Switch as a partner makes sense.

Here’s why.

We Do Level Sensing

We’ve been designing custom sensors to measure force, pressure, temperature, weight, torque, liquid level and many combinations of these since 1978. As a manufacturer and supplier of a wide variety of fluid switches, float switches, temperature gauges, and liquid level sensors. We have the experience in design and the integration of sensors into custom designs and can create solutions that meet your specifications.

These include machined level sensors, optical switches, ultrasonic level measurement, and custom molded float switches in metals or plastics like stainless steel, polypropylene, and nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR).

We Keep it Cost Sensible

We work to lower costs and increase productivity for all of our clients, offering competitive pricing for OEM designs and applications.

So whether you’re an automotive engineer and looking to add a fuel sensor to a gas tank, or a design engineer designing a countertop beer brewing machine and in need of water level management sensors, we’re here to help!

We Serve a diverse range of industries, including Aircraft and Aerospace, Alternative Energy, Boiler, HVAC and Air Handlers, Breweries and Wineries, Chemical Processing, Food Processing, Industrial Equipment, Marine, Medical, Oil & Gas, Specialty Vehicles: ATV, Farm Equipment, Water and Wastewater, and Manufacturing.

Engineers: Don’t go it alone when you’re designing a build. Get in touch today!

 

Reviewing Automotive Liquid Level Sensors & Their Importance

working on car

Liquid level sensors play an important role in the automotive industry. The safe and continued function of a car’s engine and other working parts depend on the ability for lubricants and other liquids to be measured, distributed and controlled at the right time and in just the right amounts.

In this post, we’ll overview the various automotive liquid level sensors that make it possible for drivers to get in, turn the key and go as well as the reasons many others are left frustrated and stranded in a car that doesn’t operate.

Fuel Filter Sensor

One of the most basic ways a car operates is by delivering gas to the engine. As the fuel makes its way through the gas line, a filter screens out any particles and dirt so it doesn’t get into the engine and cause issues like fuel pump failures.

With diesel engines, level sensors are an especially important component as the water that’s found in diesel fuel must be separated and kept away from the engine and other moving parts. The sensor will indicate when there is water that must be drained from the filter.

Oil Pressure Sensor

In addition to gasoline to get a motor running, lubrication of the internal parts keeps the wheels turning and things cranking. With proper lubrication, parts like the pistons and the crankshaft can move freely in the needed directions and aid the movement of the car forward.

Keeping the oil pressure at a dedicated rate also requires accurate and consistent measure.

Coolant level / Heat sensor

Coolant is the mix of water and antifreeze that’s used to keep the engine cooler while it’s running. It works by cooling the airflow under the hood. To reduce the heat happening inside the engine. A sensor used in this application provides a safety warning that your car is overheating.

As these sensors communicate with one another and detect an “issue” they activate a light on the driver’s dashboard to indicate something is off-course.  This prevents wear and tear and keeps drivers safe.

At SMD Fluid Controls we offer both continuous and point-level sensing solutions. From standard designs to custom options, we’ll help your needs get met. Get in touch to learn more!

 

Seasonal Focus: Customized Float Switches for OEM HVAC Applications

FALL LEAVES

As the season’s change, outdoor temps will fall and many parts of the nation will see daylight hours shorten. Seasonal changes over the course of the year make HVAC functions important as they work to keep homes and buildings comfortable and safe for occupancy.

The fall season is when furnaces are started-up and heating in the home typically begins. Many areas will also soon be battling blustering cold temps and heavy snowfall.

OEM HVAC applications utilize customized tools to ensure equipment runs properly and efficiently at all times of the year.

Here’s a look at some of the ways customized float switches can be used in HVAC applications to assist with maintenance and to improve conditions.

Condensate Float Switches

Float switches used in condensate traps and condensate overflow pans in A/C units help with removing excessive moisture. During the summer months, these systems work in overdrive to cool homes. This can cause extra liquid condensate to form during normal operation.  During winter months, a condensate line can also become clogged or freeze due to low temperatures.

Even with regular cleanings, ensuring that extra liquid coming out of the cooling system is carried away safely is critical to keep your HVAC units running optimally. To aid with the normal operation of an HVAC system a float switch can be used to monitor the condensate trap or overflow pan that can send a warning and/or shut down the system so it does not cause unnecessary damage to property, damage or cause issues to the operation of the equipment.

A condensate float switch gets the job done.

Overflow & Drain Pans

A/C systems are designed already to handle liquid condensate, they come with a drain pan to collect the liquid expected to accumulate and direct it outside of the system.

Here, float switches can detect if that emptying is failing to occur before a backup causes the water to overflow back into the house resulting in water-damaged ceilings, walls, and floors.

A float switch can be used to activate a condensate pump when it detects higher than normal liquid levels.

FS31 Liquid Level sensor

SMD Fluid Controls’ The FS31 liquid level sensor is a low-voltage, condensate overflow shutoff switch that can detect level changes as small as ½ an inch and can be easily bracket-mounted in a liquid vessel to or in the top of a condensate pan for level detection.

It’s not just about cooling the home. In the upcoming colder months, HVAC applications should work intelligently to also ensure continual heat and hot water are being supplied.

winter house

Another application for a custom float switch is for controlling the automatic filling of supply water for outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

These energy efficient systems use a water-to-air exchange to deliver heat and are increasingly being used by homes and businesses.

Whether you’re searching for off-the-shelf solutions like the FS31 or want to add custom designed float switch solutions to fit specialty needs, SMD Fluid Controls can work with you to create an effective and efficient option that gets the job done.

Contact us today!