Siren Marine cellular boat monitoring long test, reliable & powerful

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

9 Responses

  1. Quitsa says:

    Ben — Your system sends you temperature readings from a remote probe in your refrigerator? How does that work? The installation diagram only shows “open/closed” inputs. I assume you would need to read resistance to get temperature.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Quitsa. The (slightly) more expensive and more versatile Sprite model I’m testing has a “9′ temperature probe for ‘spot’ temperature. -22 F (-30 C) to 230 F (110 C)”. I don’t see it pictured anywhere but it’s in the tech spec PDF.
    No programming is required to use the temp sensor. An “INFO” command returns the Sprite battery status, boat source voltage, and temp information I quoted above. The highest and lowest temp records are cumulative until I issue a “TEMPR” reset command. I can also set up high and low temp alerts, set a custom delay time to avoid false alerts, and give the alert a name like “Frig Fail!”

  3. Karl says:

    Truly professional theft rings (Florida, not Maine) routinely use both GPS and cell-phone blocking devices, which are available on the Internet at surprisingly low prices, and they do work.
    Even a well-concealed anti-theft device with battery backup will be defeated by such jammers. The thieves keep the blockers running even while stripping your stolen boat in their warehouse, before finally abandoning the empty hull in a Walmart parking lot, outside of camera range.

  4. Quitsa says:

    Theft is a minor consideration for those of us fortunate to keep our boats in areas with little crime. For me, the value of the Siren system is being alerted to events such as an interruption in shore power that would shut down my refrigerator or water in the bilge. Over the winter, the temperature monitoring would also be a great source of protection in case my engine block heaters were not operating properly and it got below freezing.
    I used to keep my boat on a mooring and once had to use another mooring temporarily. The pendant was rotted and parted, casting my boat adrift. The geofence function would have alerted me immediately. As it happened, I was extremely lucky because my boat drifted over to shore and ran gently aground in the only 20 foot section of shore that did not have rocks. My neighbor was driving by a few hours later and called me. The Siren system would be terrific for anyone on a mooring.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Gotta wonder if some boats don’t have a mind of their own. Here’s a “lucky” story like yours that just happened here Wed. night:
    Gizmo was one of many boats in between the J-24’s mooring and the patch of muddy shore she found, but I haven’t noticed any dark yellow paint yet 😉

  6. Quitsa says:

    That story certainly tops mine. Looking at the photo I think it would be hard to get in there steering under power without hitting something. My boat only went a couple of hundred yards in a very sheltered area with just a couple of other boats nearby, none of which were closer to shore. That J/24 missed dozens of boats and the rocks and pilings! The owner should head straight for Las Vegas.

  7. Howard says:

    I installed the Pixie in my boat and have been pleased with it. It does not have an external temperature probe and is advertised as measureing ambient temperature. The reported temperature is actually the temp inside the unit and is 15 degrees or so higher than actual ambient. This is due to heat generated by the backup battery charger, cellular radio, and other internal electronics inside the Pixie. If you want accurate temperature measurements get the Sprite.
    Siren Marine support has generally been very good, the installation manual needs an update so I had a few questions which were quickly answered. I found the installation to be easy (but note that I am an EE). I am currently monitoring shore power and high bilge level in addition to the house battery voltage and position (Geo Fence) capabilities. I used a bilge float switch from Borel manufacturing which is a very reliable magenetic reed type of switch.
    If you have support questions it is probably best to email Siren, I have had hit or miss results using the web support form.
    There is a capability to alert for excessive bilge pump run time which I have not connected yet. I would really like to see it have a bilge pump cycle counter and the ability to alert if the number of cycles exceed a threshold for a time period. A slowly growing leak will not result in excessive run time but will cause the pump to cycle more frequently, advance warning of this could be valuable. This should be possible with a firmware update.

  8. SteveWardAustin says:

    Always great reading your site.
    This article on monitoring got me thinking. I decided to make my own device that texts me temperature and shore power status. I made it from consumer-available parts for about $100.
    I wrote a blog post about it, in case you or others want to check out the details.
    Austin, TX

  9. Brian J. Hodson says:

    I did my installation last year. Originally the Pixie but they let me swap it for the Siren so I could have the more accurate temperature reading from the external probe.
    I have intrusion sensed by both a sensor on the companionway hatch and a dual zone motion/IR sensor that cover the bridge deck area.
    The system monitors the bilge pump and will text if it runs for more than 30 seconds (time can be set). It sends both initial text and a second one when the pump stops.
    I have a separate float switch higher in the bilge and that is also monitored, with a “high bilge” text sent if the water level rises to that level.
    An A/C sensor will cause the system to text on loss, and restoration, of shore power.
    I used the two outputs as well. One is tied to the intrusion sensor and, via relays, power power to both a strobe/siren at the helm area and the cockpit flood lights. The second output allows me to power on/off the cockpit flood lights remotely.
    I am also disappointed in the lack of an Android app, even though the recent newsletter announced it for this month. I do look forward to it, and expect it will be of the same high quality as the rest of Siren a Marine products and service.

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