Is Arduino right for me? Need advice.

Hi folks,

I’d like you opinion on the feasibility of using a Arduino to do some environmental monitoring.

The project I have in mind is for monitoring and reporting environmental conditions and utility usage in my business.

In particular I want to monitor water, and electric usage, and temperatures (inside and outside, and refrigeration).

I would like to start by monitoring the temps inside a walk-in cooler.

I need 5 temp sensors and want to record the temp from all sensors every 1 minute.
I want to be able to download the data periodically on demand – not automatically – to my laptop.
I would like the download to be done wirelessly.
I might download as frequently as every few minutes or as infrequently as 31 days.
After downloading I want to import the data to Excel and manipulate it there.

At 31 days, there are 44,640 samples. Multiplied by 5 sensors, that’s 223,200 samples, each with a timestamp and temp measurement.

My concerns are memory for data, memory for code, nonvolatility for data memory, processing speed, ability to connect and download wirelessly.

So my question is: is this something that’s possible on an Arduino, or do I need a more robust platform?
If another platform would be better, I’d rather find out now and not waste my learning curve on a dead end.

And if you think Arduino is a good choice, what other hardware for the Arduino is needed? (talking about shields, not sensors, etc)

Thanks for your consideration
Ken

With that much data, you're probably going to want to store it on an SD card. That makes downloading to your computer a breeze, simply swap out the SD card.

To monitor 5 temperatures an Uno (or Nano) and 5 DS18b20 temperature sensors would be one way. All 5 sensors can be on one pin. See here for a tutorial.. That leaves lots of pins for other things (SD card for instance).

Record the data to an SD card as a .csv file. It would be easiest to remove the card and put it into the PC to download the data to Excel.

Well, I suppose swapping SD cards could be considered wireless, but I was really thinking about using Wifi to do the transfer. I have several walk-in coolers, several water sources, and many electrical appliances to monitor. So pulling SD cards in each one would seem to be a pain.

For wireless maybe this will be of interest.

Kenkorona:
Well, I suppose swapping SD cards could be considered wireless, but I was really thinking about using Wifi to do the transfer. I have several walk-in coolers, several water sources, and many electrical appliances to monitor. So pulling SD cards in each one would seem to be a pain.

Get an ESP8266 if you want WiFi. It can be programmed with the Arduino IDE and could still use an SD to actually store the data. Then you have the option to pull it over WiFi or go pull the card if it isn't working for some reason.

"Wi-Fi" implies an ESP8266. This is not strictly an Arduino, it entirely supersedes the Arduino but conveniently the Arduino IDE is a very practical way (perhaps the most practical way) to work with it. :grinning:

You might want to look for finished working projects that do some or all of what you want.
Then you know what hardware they used and have the code to do it.

Look into Particle boards. It’s not Arduino, but you’ll get a lot of stuff that you’re looking for already built. There’s Adafruit I/O, Android Things (for ESP32), and AWS IoT. Those packages will get your data to the cloud and you’ll have a dashboard.

Otherwise, the post groundFungus has an example of that data living on your local network.

I use various ESP8266 WiFi connected temperature sensors around my house, six at last count, plus a garden moisture sensor to determine if my sprinklers need to run. They all communicate to a central point using the MQTT protocol. And, except for that central computer, everything is developed and programmed using the Arduino IDE. (My central point is a Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant, but it could as easily be a PC or even a Wemos D1 Mini collecting all the data to an SD card).

I could see a dozen or more such sensors all connecting through WiFi to accomplish your project objectives. All you would need is to provide power and a WiFi connection. If the walls of the refrigeration unit are metal, then you would have to penetrate the wall to leave the WiFi part outside of the metal box.

I am of the walk before you run school of thought.

Get a NANO or ESP8266
get an SD card shield
get a bunch of sensors.
get a few BME280's as their temperature resolution is a but better.
you might want to try other temperature sensors as well.

then put it in place, data log and see what you get.

based on your description, you will wind up with multiple units just due to wiring issues.
you may want to go with an RF for better battery use than WiFi in some of them.

You can :
-put the data onto local SD cards and read them wirlessly
-have a central micro that gathers the data
-post to the cloud.

lots of options, but IMHO, getting usable data is more important than any other aspect of the project.
once you have that nailed down, all the rest is possible.