If you rely on propane to heat your home, you know firsthand what a pain it can be. Unlike folks with electric heat, your energy supply is finite, and needs to be refilled periodically to avoid disaster. If you run out of gas and the heat goes out, you’re not just in for a chilly night — you also run the risk of having pipes freeze or burst,.
After having this unfortunate scenario happen in his own home, designer Nick Mashburn set out to build a solution. To help remedy the problem, he’s designed a gizmo called Tank Utility. Essentially, this thing clips onto your existing analog propane meter and gives it Wi-Fi connectivity; allowing you to monitor your tank levels from anywhere in the world, and even schedule refills from the accompanying smartphone app.
Sure, this probably isn’t necessary if your usage habits are fairly regular and your propane company swings by for refills on a regular basis, but in certain situations, Tank Utility could definitely be handy. People who live in areas with erratic weather and varying heating needs would surely benefit from the ability to schedule refills dynamically from an app, and for folks that happen to own a second home, the ability to monitor propane levels from afar would likely be a godsend.
Mashburn has been developing the device for the last couple years, and now that all the kinks in the design have been worked out, he’s taken Tank Utility to Kickstarter to raise money for production. At time of writing, the project is still a long way from reaching its $20K funding goal, but still has the better part of a month left to make it happen. If you back the project now, you can get your hands on a Tank Utility smart meter for around $110. Mashburn expects to ship the first units in January 2015 — assuming the project is successful.