Aircraft Hangar Needs Smartthings

I rent a T-Hangar at the county airport where I keep a single engine airplane. It’s about a 35-minute drive away. On cold mornings, the engine needs to be pre-heated before starting to preserve the life of engine components. I have electric heat pads permanently secured to the oil pan which warms the oil and also through conduction transmits heat throughout the entire engine. When activated, it takes about 3-4 hours in real cold conditions for this to work well. I would like to set up a smartthings location in my hangar but there is nothing but an electrical outlet in the hangar. I’m thinking of putting an iPad out there with a sim card that I can get internet service and then set it up as a hotspot for a smartthings hub. Is there a hub that connects via wi-fi, or do all the hubs require an ethernet connection to plug into a router? The end goal is to control a smartplug for turning the aircraft oil pan heaters on or off. Suggestions for this project are greatly appreciated.

  1. Will it be safe if the plug turns on by itself, say in the middle of the night, and runs for 8 to 10 hours unattended before anyone realizes that it’s on? Because anything operating on the smartthings platform may on occasion randomly activate. It doesn’t happen often, and it doesn’t happen to everyone, but it definitely can happen.

(I myself don’t connect anything to smartthings that wouldn’t be safe if it ran for 24 hours unexpectedly.)

  1. Separately, why bring smartthings into it at all? If all you need is a smart plug, Once you have Wi-Fi there are many brands that you can use. Some may not always turn on when you want them to, but very few have the issue of turning on unexpectedly. That’s more typically a cloud artifact issue.

You could also just use Apple HomeKit.

Again, though, my first concern would be potential safety issues.

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Oh, and to answer your question, the V3 hub ( GP-U999SJVLGDA) was able to connect via Wi-Fi, no ethernet connection required, but most places are out of stock of it right now and it looks like manufacturing is going to be turned over to Aeotec for the future. (They put out an official announcement that that was intended for the European market, but it’s out of stock at many major retailers in the US and Canada and they did certify an Aeotec version on the US frequency. So it’s very hard to tell what’s going on right now. but the out of stock issues are current.)

I’m with @JDRoberts on this, I’d keep things simpler and just go with a WiFi smart plug.

Although, I’d be a bit concerned about providing WiFi with an iPad. From my limited experience using an iPhone as a hotspot, that feature just isn’t stable enough to use for hours at a time (let alone days at a time). Something like a MiFi or jetpack may give you a more reliable, long term connection (and is likely cheaper than an iPad)

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Other pilots tell me they leave their heat pads on all the time without any issues. They are thermostatically controlled. I shy away from that. I would rather turn it on the night before without having to drive all the way to the airport. Do these wi-fi plugs you refer to have a way of reporting their status? I hate to get to the airport the next morning and find I have to wait two hours to bring the engine up to temperature.

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That’s exactly the input I need. Websites for some of these products are very lacking in technical details so I hate to order something and find it doesn’t meet my needs. For instance, the airport location has spotty cellular service for some carriers. Whatever product I select, I need to know that I have good cellular coverage from whatever carrier service they use. Do you know what cellular carrier MiFi or Jetpack uses?

Status in terms of are they on or off? Sure. :sunglasses: as long as you have Internet, they will have their own app and report to that.

I like the Meross brand: they are well engineered with good safety certifications and an excellent price. They can also support up to 16 A, where quite a few smart plugs only handle up to 10 A.

This is the regular plug. It’s $24 for two, but they quite often have a coupon for a few dollars off.

It works with its own app, with smartthings, or with HomeKit. Again, for your particular use I wouldn’t put it on smartthings, but you could use one at the hanger with its own app and use the other one at home with your smartthings set up if you like :sunglasses:

That sounds great. Now I just have to figure out how to get reliable wi-fi at the hangar.

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You seem to know which carriers have good cell signal. Contact them and ask about their particular hot spot device. All the major carriers have one and they all call it something different.

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One more note: most of the Wi-Fi smart plugs, including the Meross band, only work on 2.4 GHz, not a 5.0 band. And your phone/tablet will have to be on 2.4 during initial setup. Once it’s setup, you can put your phone back to 5.0 if you prefer, but the smart plug will always operate on 2.4

So just make sure that any hotspot you get can operate on 2.4 GHz. Most of them do, but it’s just something to verify.

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Just to throw this out. Why not also add a camera, like a Wyse or similar? Point it at the smart plug indicator light for confirmation, or add a lightbulb on the same plug that is easy to see and verify.

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My original thought with SmartThings was to put a portable temp sensor in the engine compartment while it’s in the hangar to provide feedback that the preheat pads are doing the job.

So I just got the Meross SmartPlugs delivered from Amazon. To quote from the included booklet on integration with Apple Homekit, “Due to safety design by Apple, you will only be able to control your smart device while your iPhone is in the same Wi-Fi network.” That won’t work very well when I’m at home and I want to turn on my engine preheater out at the hangar. This is not a viable solution. After reading Iridris’s concerns about the stability of an iPad hotspot, I instead purchased a NetGear 4G LTE Modem and a tp-link AC1750 router. I have an old SmartThings v2 hub that I can use. I think I’ll go with my original plan of setting up a Hangar SmartThings location.

Join some aviation forums and you’ll see tons of threads about this.
This solution was the most popular for a long time but seems to be finicky based on your cell signal strength: https://switchboxcontrol.com/

Lots of folks are switching to this new offering: https://switcheon.com/

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That’s only true if you are using it via HomeKit and you do NOT have an Apple device set up as a HomePod hub: an iPad, Apple TV, or HomePod (including the new $99 HomePod mini which is due out next month).

You can use it with the Meross app from anywhere. You can use it with the smartthings app from anywhere. And If you want to Use it from anywhere with HomeKit, you just need to add one of the devices as described above.

From the App Store description:

With The Meross App, you can control all of your Meross devices from anywhere.

Just set it up with its own app and you will be able to set timers and see status and control it without having to be on the same network. :sunglasses:

I’m not sure if I mentioned this or not, but this is the brand I use in my own home for Wi-Fi plugs and I am quite familiar with it.

They also have a new app called eHomeLife (because meRoss actually has several different brands) which you can also use from anywhere.

And here’s what Apple says about HomeKit

https://www.apple.com/ios/home/

Control your house from just about anywhere.
.
Using the Home app, you can access all of your home’s smart accessories remotely through Apple TV, HomePod, or iPad.4 You can do things like shut your garage door, view live camera video of the doorway, or even ask Siri to lower the thermostat — anything you normally do while using the Home app at home.

The “on the same Wi-Fi network“ is only a limitation if you don’t have one of those Apple devices and you are using only the HomeKit app.

Thanks JD, but the instruction booklet seems to disagree with you. Step e in the installation process states: “After that [setting up the smartplug using the Homekit app which is the only way to set up the plugs on an iOs device], if you’d like to manage your smart plug in Meross app, please connect your iPhone to the same home Wi-Fi and launch your Meross app and tap + on the top right.” Since I had to order a sim card for my 4G LTE modem, I went ahead and also ordered two HAOZEE Z Wave Plus Mini Smart Power Plugs which I use in my home SmartThings network, so I know they work.

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During the setup process you do have to be on the same network, but not once they are setup. But that’s true in almost all home automation.

Which model plug did you get?

Wow, baboss. I just noticed your post after ordering NetGear products. I will keep the switcheon in mind if my SmartThings installation doesn’t work reliably. BTW, which aviation forums are you finding this on? I searched through AOPA and the American Bonanza Society and did not find any detailed discussion on network and control of hangar accessories.

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The Haozee is a good Z wave plug, but then you will have to have a Z wave hub in the hanger as well. When we were talking about the Meross devices we were talking about Wi-Fi plugs. Also, I don’t know what your heater specifications are, but the haozee only support up to 13 A, where the meross support up to 16A.

Anyway, we all have our own reasons for liking things. If for whatever reason you don’t find the Meross satisfactory, use something else. Choice is good. :sunglasses: