Remote Tank Level Monitoring With Tank Cloud

LPD Current Loop Display

remote oil storage tanks in oklahomaWith Tank Cloud, you can implement remote tank level monitoring in a number of ways. The system is designed to be flexible enough for an OEM and reliable enough for end-users with critical applications. But to simplify the matter, there are really three ways to go about implementing Tank Cloud:

  • Traditional Wired
  • Integrating With Wireless
  • Working With A Remote Monitoring Provider

Each has its distinct advantages, which we’ll discuss in detail below.

Traditional Wired

By today’s standard, anything wired sounds boring and old. But there are a lot of reasons to stick with wires – principle among them is reliability. We designed Tank Cloud to work on a combination of Modbus TCP/IP and Modbus RTU. That means it uses Ethernet cable to connect to a network (such as the Internet or your LAN) and widely available shielded twisted-pair cable for inter-sensor communications.

The architecture is pretty simple. You daisy chain (wire in parallel) up to 10 of our Tank Cloud sensors to their Modbus servers with twisted-pair cable, and you run an Ethernet cable from the server to the network connection – typically a router. You even have the option of using a POE injector or a POE switch to power the server + 5 clients.

If you’re not familiar, daisy chain wiring is a simple methodology that reduces the cost of wiring about as much as possible by running a single line of cable between multiple sensors.

Tank Cloud sensors work with either your own monitoring and control system (as long as it accepts Modbus TCP/IP), or on our monitoring website Either way, we’ll give you the support you need to get connected.

If you use our monitoring website, viewing your sensor data is free. The only extra fees are for data logging and alarms, which are low annual fees on a per sensor basis.

The advantages of sticking with the old wired method are clear when you have a network connection and power supply nearby. If you don’t have to run wires very far (less than a few hundred feet), it’s likely not worth the hassle of wireless equipment. Wired connections will always be more reliable and require less troubleshooting during installation. If uptime is critical, stick with the wires.

Don’t get me wrong, wireless certainly has proven reliable. It just requires a certain level of comfort. It’s easier to end up on a long support call if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Nevertheless, if you’ve got it down, wireless can save you time and money, which is why you might consider cutting the cord.

Integrating With Wireless

Tank Cloud sensors care about the communication protocol, but they don’t care how that communication arrives. For communications between client sensors, you’ll need a radio that works with Modbus RTU. For communications to the Internet, or to bridge a gap to your LAN, you’ll just need something that accepts an Ethernet cable.

This equipment is widely available, but it’s not necessarily cheap. The important question is, how much would running wires cost (think time, energy, hassle, dollars, etc) compared to integrating with wireless equipment. If it’s faster to run cable, you should reconsider. If not, then go for it!

However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, make sure you understand exactly what your installation will require before you start. Make sure you have a reliable network that can support your installation, and that all the ports and firewalls are set up accordingly. Make sure you have all the equipment you’ll need to complete the installation. Finally, make sure you can get a signal at your site for your chosen wireless network – be it cellular, satellite, or WiFi/radio WLAN.

Second, make sure you’re ready to power everything. This is often the more difficult part. You’ll likely need batteries, and you might need solar panels. Just as important, you’ll need a controller that can handle turning your equipment on and off again at the appropriate time intervals. Like many sports, the clock management is a critical part of the game.

Check out our article on building a remote monitoring power budget to learn more about it.

Working With A Remote Monitoring Provider

Finally, if you’re doing this for your own monitoring needs, you can work with one of our partners that prefer our outstanding Tank Cloud sensors. These companies are experts in remote tank level monitoring and provide all the equipment needed. They can customize according to your needs and offer a fully supported monitoring website of their own.

Some of them even offer full installation services, which eliminate worries about troubleshooting and long support phone calls.

This option is ideal for most end users who want wireless connections. At face value, it costs more than trying to put all this together yourself, but in the end will likely save you money by avoiding mistakes and dramatically reducing the amount of in-house expertise you would otherwise have to hire or develop.

Fees are competitive, and include the cost of the equipment, any installation services, and a low ongoing monitoring service fee.

Let us know if you would like help deciding which path is best for you. There are a lot of considerations and we want you to make the best decision for you!

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