Valarm solar panels at Los Angeles Natural History Museum

The tall brick building on the left is the Museum of Natural History, directly West of the Valarm installation. To deal with the deep afternoon shade, we installed two 10-watt mono-crystalline solar panels on the top of these cast-iron hummingbird feeders. The Valarm sensor pagoda and bee hotel are visible in the background to the right.

“Working with Valarm has been a real pleasure. We’re facing the challenges of sensor deployment in publicly-accessible urban settings. The small size of the Valarm systems has allowed us to put them in places that would be impossible for larger, more visible systems. The easy availability of both WiFi and cellphone connectivity for the data let us pick sites without having to worry about stringing wires or having to be near a building. Most importantly, the Valarm staff have been incredibly helpful and innovative in getting us the data we need. We’re really excited to partner with Valarm to push urban environmental sensing projects beyond what could be done in the past.”

– Dean Pentcheff, BioSCAN Project Coordinator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

How do you assess biodiversity while learning about the environments and behavior of insects and bees? Deploy Valarm remote environmental monitoring units to remotely monitor the micro-climate at bee hotels! The goal of this project is to assess biodiversity in local leafcutter bees (Megachile) and bee nest cell construction. Three Valarm units were deployed around Los Angeles, California, to help this research:

Every 15 minutes the Valarm units collected 3 weather factors: temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure using the Valarm Pro app installed on a Sony ST25 phone and a Yocto-Meteo sensor. All of the data was uploaded in real-time via WiFi or 3G/4G cell networks to the Valarm Tools website for mapping, visualization, graphing, analysis, and data download. Here’s a photo of our solar panels powering a Valarm unit near the Edible Garden at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum:

Each study site had:

  1. Bee hotel for Megachile solitary leafcutter bees
  2. Valarm remote environmental monitoring box (Valarm Pro app on a Sony ST25, a Lithium-Polymer battery, solar charge unit, USB weather sensor host)
  3. Sensor pagoda (a.k.a. Stevenson screen) with USB weather sensor
  4. 10W of power or more from solar panels

Here’s a graph of the humidity at the 3 different study locations from the Valarm Tools website.


A bee hotel was deployed at each of the locations where Valarm monitored the micro-climate. This is Valarm in a fig tree at the Edible Garden of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum.


Solar panels placed on the pole give power to the Valarm unit and weather sensor deployed inside the fig tree. (See inside the tree in picture above)


Inside a Valarm remote environmental monitoring box: Valarm Pro app installed on a phone, meteo weather sensor, Lithium-Polymer battery, solar power charge controller. [Deployment in Pleistocene garden at the Page Museum in Los Angeles, California]


What Valarm box? The box above is now hidden under leaves and rocks, pretty much invisible!


Solar panels installed to power the Valarm remote environmental monitoring unit in the Pleistocene Garden at the Page Museum, La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California.


Valarm box deployment in the 1913 Garden at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. Bee hotel and weather sensor (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure) pagoda in the foreground and solar panels on hummingbird feeders in the background. Valarm-equipped phone in a box hidden inside the bushes.

You can see in the pictures that we deployed Valarm to be as unobtrusive as possible. Each of the Valarm remote environmental monitoring boxes was spraypainted green and brown to blend in with the natural environment. The sensor pagodas were also colored in order to minimize visual impact. This can be a challenging part of the deployment for remote environmental monitors but we feel it is an important factor to consider.

This is a collaborative research project with the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, the Entomology Department at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, and the BioSCAN biodiversity project. It is another intriguing use case of Valarm in the field. We are always excited to hear about the many ways in which people apply Valarm technology, and enjoy helping out in any way we can. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, comments, or input!

Check out the Valarm blog for more articles on air quality (IAQ), viticulture / agriculture, home monitoring (pipelines), water monitoring / water level detection / flood alerts, intruder alarms, and asset / fleet / vehicle tracking.