What do you want to know?
Identify the list of parameters before committing to sensors or transmitters. By planning early, you may be able to find an all-in-one solution that delivers all the readings you require, or you may realise that a more affordable "single parameter" device is all that is required.
Is there access to mains power?
If mains power is unavailable, solar power will probably be required. Consider how many consecutive "no sun" days the system may encounter. This will guide you in regards to the size of the solar panel needed as well as the battery backup that will be used.
Technical Capabilities: The manufacturer AND the end user
Before assigning the responsibility for component sourcing, manufacture, programming and installation to an internal resource, give careful consideration to their level of experience with:
- Assessing and planning for the power draw of all system components
- Communications protocols such as Modbus and SDI-12
- Software programming - many data loggers and control devices require at least a basic level of coding for the initial setup
- Electrical wiring
Outsourcing the manufacture of a system can often be a more reliable and timely option in many situations. The technical capabilities of the end user need to be considered during the planning and development.
It is important to ensure that the system offers a clear, easy-to-understand interface that allows the end-user to access and understand the information being produced.
How regularly can you physically access the system?
Many sensors and transmitters require regular, ongoing maintenance. If you are unable to meet these requirements, reliability or accuracy of data may be compromised.
Can you get a clear, consistent mobile phone signal on-site?
If there is no 3G network coverage, or the network is regularly "swamped" you will need to consider alternatives such as satellite communications.