Tiny Basement Unit Works In Concert With Meter Outside Of House; If Tripped, Utility Sends Crew And Notifies Local Fired Department

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s a test of new technology that could save lives and property.

A unit about the size of an E-ZPass tag that hangs in your basement and sniffs for danger.

On Wednesday, CBS2’s Tony Aiello spoke exclusively with one of the first homeowners to have a smart natural gas detector.

Jared Smith’s home is more than 90 years old, but down in his basement you’ll find something brand new hanging quietly in a corner.

And providing peace of mind.

“The gas lines in this house are almost as old as the house. There’s some worry that leaking may occur,” said Smith, a Con Ed customer.

Con Edison’s natural gas detector (Photo: CBS2)

Smith is among the first of 9,000 gas customers to receive a smart natural gas detector.

“It’s continuously sniffing. It’s continuously monitoring the air and the atmosphere to see if there’s any methane detected,” said Con Ed’s Magdalena Michniuk said.

If the unit senses gas building up, it sounds an 85-decibel alert.

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The natural gas detector in the basement is in constant communication with the Con Edison smart meter on the outside of the house. When the detector goes off, the smart meter immediately contacts the utility, which sends a crew and calls the local fire department.

“Having a gas detector that reads right back to Con Ed and the fire department is very comforting,” Smith said.

It’s the kind of technology that could have warned of impending danger before the March 2014 East Harlem gas explosion that killed eight people.

“This unit that we’ve developed is more sensitive than anything commercially available today, by a factor of two-and-a-half times,” Con Ed’s Tom Langois said.

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Smith said he travels a lot and is relieved to know if this detector sniffs out danger, it will signal for help whether he’s home or away.

During the test phase, the detectors are available free of charge to customers in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and lower Manhattan. If they prove effective, they’ll be given to customers throughout the system, free of charge.


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