How to Monitor Your Wine Cellar Remotely for Free Using Mobile Apps
If you have a wine cellar, or any room really that has WiFi, and you’d like to be able to monitor it at anytime from anywhere, here’s how to do it for free using mobile apps, and an old smartphone or tablet that you may already have laying around your house.
You can also set this up as a home security system or as a baby monitor, but for readers of this site, I’m going to keep this more wine cellar specific in the execution. Feel free to adopt as necessary but here are the main components.
What You Need:
- An old smartphone or tablet that has a functioning camera and the ability to connect to WiFi. This phone or tablet should also have the ability to always be connected to power.
- A current smartphone (the one in your pocket right now) or tablet to use as the control center
- A free app called Presence that is available in the Google Play and Apple App stores.
How To Get It Set Up
First, download the Presence app on your old device. Since I am using my old device strictly as a remote camera for this application, I wiped my old device clean to ensure it performed fast and didn’t have any legacy apps running in the background that might slow it down. But that’s up to you.
Open the app and create an account. This takes less than 60 seconds. Note that the email address you provide here will be used to send motion alerts should you wish to enable motion detection on the camera. You can also receive these alerts via notifications on your main device.
Enable The Camera
Choose “Use this device as camera.” When you do this you are enabling access to this camera from the apps that you may install on other devices. Using an old phone or tablet is perfect for this as it will essentially become a dedicated camera, and we’ll get into those settings a bit more in just a minute.
This is also a good use for old phones or tablets that have a cracked screen because you are only using it for the camera, apps and WiFi, not the glass front.
Next, download and log into the Presence app on your primary phone or tablet, which is in essence your control center. Granted, you can enable this camera as well if you want full back and forth monitoring but I chose to use this main device as my monitoring screen and did not enable it as a camera.
In the Camera and Devices tab on the main menu there should be options for “Remote Cameras” and your old phone or tablet should be listed there. Click on that camera to see the feed.
Fine Tune Your Set up
Now that you have everything connected, you can start to fine tune it a bit. The primary modes to choose are Home and Away. Home mode provides a live stream (audio and video if you choose) of your remote camera whenever you open the app to look at it.
Switching to Away mode will enable motion detection, the settings for which are changed in the Rules tab. When motion is detected, the remote camera notifies the other connected devices via email and a notification, and can record a short video of the motion that it detected.
Your free Presence account comes with 50MB of storage for these videos, and you can play them back online or through the app.
For a wine cellar application you can leave the camera in Away mode and anytime someone walks in the room, you will be notified.
I’d recommend on the old device that you dim the screen which is an option you’ll see on the screen when it is live.
Also, if you have an old iOS device and are using it 100% as a dedicated camera, put your device in Guided Access mode so it will never crash or exit the app. To do this go into Settings>General>Accessibility>Guided Access and turn on Guided Access. Then triple tap the home button to enable Guided Access mode. (This will require you to set a separate pin to turn this mode on and off in the future). Just triple tap the home button to go in and out of Guided Access mode.
Ok, so now you can keep an eye on your wine cellar all the time, but what about monitoring the temperature and humidity from afar?
There are several ways to do this, and a host of additional applications, devices like this and even simple Raspberry Pi installations that can transmit the data back to you.
But here’s a simple little hack that puts temperature and humidity data right on your Presence feed for a fraction of the cost.
I’ve written before about different gauges I’ve purchased for my cellar to monitor temperature and humidity. Here’s the one I currently use. All you have to do is simply place this gauge in the corner of the screen of your old device and voila…the data is right there on your screen
visible from anywhere. Smaller gauges may be more difficult to read, but for less than $20 you can get a gauge with a large read out.
There you have it. If you have an old device already and a temp/humidity gauge, you can do this whole set up for no cost, and likely get the whole thing up and running in less than 20 minutes.
Have you set up a monitoring system for your wine cellar? Any other apps or devices that you recommend we check out? Let us know in the comments below.