device for remotely turning on roof cables for ice dams
October 25, 2014 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I have roof cables installed on my roof to help with our awful ice dams. Problem is, it is very expensive just to leave them running all the time when I am at work. But if I turn them off and a snowstorm starts while I am at work, then the ice dams form before I get home. Can anyone suggest some kind of a remote activation device. Ideally something that would let me turn on the cables from my phone or from the web. The system is already installed on the roof, so all I need is some kind of system to turn it on and off. Please do not suggest modifications to the roof - we have been through every type of soffit, sheathing, roofing solution over a period of 20 years - these ice dams are just an insoluble problem and the only way to control them is with the cables. So I am only looking for replies that can suggest ways to turn the cables on and off remotely. Thanks!
posted by cmp4Meta to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How are they powered? How are they wired?
posted by DarlingBri at 6:19 AM on October 25, 2014

Best answer: Are they plugged into an outlet or are they hard wired into the electric system. This will greatly change your options?

If they are wired into an outlet, you could use a Wemo internet controllable outlet, but they are not designed for use outdoors.

If they are hard wired into your homes system, you might be easiest to get an electrician (or if you are comfortable working on mains electricity) putting a plug in line and adding an internet controllable plug.

If you were very ambitious, you could likely create an IFTTT 'recipe' which would activate them automatically if snowfall was noted.

This is a bit beyond my expertise, but we've been looking at something similar, so I am sure it is possible to do, and sort of neat.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 6:30 AM on October 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

As DarlingBri mentioned, we need to know how you're controlling the cables now.

Belkin sells a line of home automation products called WeMo (light switch, plug switch) that allows for control through an app (and apparently supports IFTTT so maybe you could have the ables turn on automatically at a set temperature).

NB I have not used WeMo but previous questions have elicited favorable reviews.
posted by JackBurden at 6:37 AM on October 25, 2014

If nothing else, you could hook up an Arduino to the internet and a servo motor to flip a switch manually.
posted by rikschell at 9:20 AM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

More cheaply, if they are in an outlet you could just buy a timer.
posted by maryr at 9:46 AM on October 25, 2014

Have you tried the kind with the water sensors?
posted by overhauser at 12:11 PM on October 25, 2014

The term to search here is "home automation". There are lots of options out there.
posted by soelo at 8:03 AM on October 27, 2014

Response by poster: Hi, The cables are plugged into an outlet, with a wall switch on the inside of the house that controls the outlet. The Wemo sounds like an option. Any others?
posted by cmp4Meta at 8:31 PM on October 30, 2014

If it's just an outlet connection, any remote power switch will do. Search Amazon or browse here.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:27 PM on October 31, 2014

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