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Water & Thermochrons IP56, DS9107+ & Other Waterproofing Measures

6/18/2015 by David Cooley

The Thermochrons' steel enclosures are designed to withstand harsh environments, which makes them extremely reliable in a wide range of applications. The Thermochrons upon shipment meet the Ingress Protection Rating of IP56. This rating means the Thermochrons are dust protected where limited ingress will not interfere with operation, and the unit is protected against powerful water jets (such as those occurring on a deck of a boat). In cases where temporary or extended submersion may occur the Thermochron iButton does not have sufficient protection. The method chosen for providing additional water protection may vary by application, available materials, and budget.

The preferred method of protecting Thermochron iButtons is through the use of the DS9107+ iButton capsule. The DS9107+ is capable of protecting the DS1921 and DS1922 Thermochrons from water ingress up to a depth of 34 feet (10 meters). Its operating range covers the full range of all Thermochron models (-40°C to 140°C). It also simplifies deployment by providing a clamping capability and screw-in plug for inserting/removing Thermochrons. While the data collected may be priceless, the DS9107+ starts at $59.99 (as of June 18, 2015).  It is not too surprising that there have been more economical approaches taken for waterproofing Thermochrons. Such as:

  • Fully coating Thermochrons - Dipping Thermochrons in a Sealant such as Plasti Dip®, Amazing GOOP Marine, and Silicone based caulks is a common approach taken. This approach is affordable and provides decent protection. Our sealant preference is GOOP due to its UV resistance properties. The effects of this method on the Thermochrons temperature readings has been researched. Details are available in "Does waterproofing Thermochron iButton dataloggers influence temperature readings?" from the Journal of Thermal Biology Volume 37, Issue 4. There is one major shortcoming with this approach. Downloading and configuring the Thermochrons require a physical connection be made with the reader. Making this physical connection is more time consuming, and it compromises the waterproofing. So, swapping out loggers is necessary to continue monitoring the location.
    • Benefits - inexpensive, good protection, scales well for larger deployments, UV resistant options available
    • Problems - making connection for downloading/remissioning difficult and compromises the water protection
  • Vacuum sealed bags - Utilizing a vacuum sealer (counter top) and compatible freezer bags can provide reasonable protection. This method allows for collecting the logger data, remissioning the Thermochron, and resealing the Thermochrons in a new bag. The bags are vulnerable to being punctured which would compromise the protection. Care must be taken in protecting the bag; thicker bags are typically more durable.
    • Benefits - allows quicker remissioning, materials widely available
    • Problems - variation quality of vacuum sealer and bags will vary results
  • Nalgene® Bottles - This approach is devised by Howard Webb for "Measuring Turnover in Whitecliff Quarry Lake" (http://short.eds.bz/waterproofing-nalgene). The Thermochrons are first placed in a Whirl-Pak™ with desiccant. This packet is then placed in a Nalgene Bottle with an additional packet of desiccant.
    • Benefits - allows for easier redeployment, provides additional layer of protection
    • Problems - substantial increase thermal mass will delay responsiveness of temperature readings

If you'd like to share your Thermochron waterproofing solution, please let us know.

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