Frequently Asked Questions

How HouseSetter℠ Works

What exactly does HouseSetter monitor?

The HouseSetter device, Sherlock, continuously monitors the temperature and humidity inside the house, and whether there’s been a power outage. It also can capture an image with the system’s SherlockShapshot feature. In addition the weekly HomeData e-mail report will provide a confirmation of Sherlock’s operating & connectivity status.

How does HouseSetter work?

In a very basic sense, HouseSetter consists of three building blocks that work together to deliver our service: Our device Sherlock; a service center that receives data from Sherlock and sends the appropriate messages to our subscribers, and; the network that connects them together. Built into Sherlock are temperature and humidity sensors, a digital camera, a cellular network connection, a back-up battery to allow functioning in the event of power outages, and a proprietary hardware and software operating system to manage his operation. When he’s active, he continuously monitors temperature, humidity, the status of the home’s electrical power, and his own internal operation. If he senses a problem he communicates with our service center over his own wireless connection, which triggers the appropriate alert to the subscriber. If there are no problems he will still periodically report the conditions in the home to our service center, which will send you the weekly HomeData Report.

How much does HouseSetter cost and does it require a long term contract?

We’re planning Sherlock’s price to be $120, and the service packages to be as low as $5/month when purchased on an annual basis. You’re also able to purchase any plan for as few as three months at a time, so there are no long-term contract requirements. There is also an OnDemand feature that can deliver a real-time HomeData Report at any time no additional cost in the Inspector Package or as little as $1/report in the Elementary Package. All of this provides a lot of flexibility and puts you in complete control of what you use and how much it will cost.

Is Sherlock™ portable?

He’s very portable. His only requirements are that he’s indoors, a power outlet is available, and he can connect to the cellular network. Other than that he can be moved from location to location within a home, or from home to home across the United States

Can I customize HouseSetter’s settings?

Yes. Sherlock comes factory set with the alerts ON for Temperature and Power Outages and OFF for Humidity. You can customize Sherlock by turning the Humidity alert ON, which requires you to set the High/Low % Relative Humidity that will trigger the alert. You can also adjust the High/Low Temperature thresholds to fit your specific circumstances, or turn the Temperature alert OFF altogether. In all cases the data from Temperature and Humidity will continue to be displayed on your weekly HomeData Report.

How will I know HouseSetter is working?

The weekly HouseSetter HomeData e-mail reports will confirm whether Sherlock is on Duty, connected to the cellular network, and functioning properly. Also, if you want more frequent confirmations you’ll be able to trigger an OnDemand report at any time to retrieve real-time data (additional charges will apply for subscribers enrolled in the Elementary service package.)

Is HouseSetter only for monitoring second homes?

With portability as one of the many benefits of HouseSetter, it can be used to monitor many different types of situations. The only requirements are that Sherlock be located indoors in an area with normal temperature and humidity conditions, have access to a standard 120-volt wall outlet, and be able to connect to our cellular network.

What if I already have someone occasionally looking in on my property?

HouseSetter is a great addition to periodic physical visits. Not only does it provide continuous 24×7 monitoring, you can also add your home-watch person’s email and cell number to your HouseSetter contact list so that they would be alerted and could respond to any problems.

Installation

How difficult is it to install?

It’s very easy. You simply place Sherlock in your home anywhere you’d like him OnDuty, plug him in and turn him on. Where he’s located is completely up to you, but some considerations might include whether you have a multiple story home, where he best connects to our cellular network, and where you’d like to place the camera for the best image capture within your home.

Do I need an active phone line or internet connection to make it work?

No, Sherlock has all that he needs built right in. He actually uses his own connection to the cellular network, avoiding the need for you to pay for a phone or internet connection that you might not need in an otherwise empty home.

Will HouseSetter work everywhere?

HouseSetter will work only in areas of the United States where we have cellular coverage.

Alerts & Data Protection

What is the difference between HouseSetter and home security or connected home systems?

The differences are mainly in what they’re trying to accomplish. Home security systems are generally trying to detect external threats to the home, and they may be connected to central monitoring sites and ultimately public safety agencies. Connected home systems generally allow you to remotely control certain functions within the home, like lighting, thermostats or other appliances, usually via the Internet. In addition to whatever monthly monitoring fees they charge, they also often require the home have an active phone line and Internet connection, which can cost another $30-$40/month or more. In contrast, HouseSetter is focused on providing its owner an easy way to monitor a few important threats within the home, like a faulty furnace or air conditioner, or a power outage, which could ultimately cause any number of problems. HouseSetter is intended to be easy to install, very simple to use, and extremely low cost – particularly in comparison to the other two types of systems.

How does the alert function work?

Based upon the factory settings, Alerts will be triggered by

  • Temperatures above 80 F or below 45 F
  • An interruption of power to Sherlock

Custom alert options include changing the high or low temperature thresholds and adding alerts for Humidity(which will require you to choose high and low % Relative Humidity Thresholds). You can also turn the Temperature Alert OFF, for situations where all you might be interested in is monitoring for Power Outages. Once an alert is triggered it will be sent via text and email to your designated recipients according to the following timeline:

  • Immediately upon sensing the Alert condition
  • Hourly for the next 6 hours
  • Once every 6 hours for the balance of 2 days

An all clear Alert will be sent at any point the issue is resolved during this timeline. If the situation persists beyond 2 days, the Alert condition will continue to be noted in the weekly HomeData Reports until the condition returns to normal.

Can HouseSetter’s reports and alerts be sent to more than one person?

Yes, you can choose up to four email addresses and four mobile device numbers that will receive status reports and alerts, giving you the flexibility to automatically notify anyone that you’d like.

How secure is HouseSetter, and what will they do with the data from my home?

HouseSetter is designed to operate in a secure fashion, with all data transmissions taking place over a proprietary cellular network connection. Our subscribers’ personally identifiable data will not be used for any purpose other than providing and communicating about HouseSetter services.

About HouseSetter

Who developed HouseSetter?

HouseSetter was conceived and developed by some of the folks responsible for the original launch of OnStar. It came out of a personal need for home monitoring and the realization that many of the elements of wireless technology and sensors that made OnStar possible could also be applied to create a simple, low-cost solution to monitor vacant homes.

Where is HouseSetter located?

HouseSetter is located in Michigan, with design, development, and assembly taking place in the USA.

Our Story

We founded HouseSetter in 2012 with the idea of providing folks with a simple, low-cost way to keep an eye on their house when they were away. And while it takes a lot of advanced technology to make that work, our primary focus is to deliver our service in a way that makes all of that complexity invisible so that we’re providing peace of mind instead of unwanted science lessons.

We’ve actually done something like this before, as our team brings together more than 50 years of experience launching and growing the OnStar business. With OnStar, the in-vehicle safety and security system offered on GM vehicles, wireless networks, advanced sensors, complicated software and countless other moving parts were all hidden behind three simple buttons. We believed that the power of the technology wasn’t in how many cool things we could make it do, but in how easily it could do a few important things, like automatically responding to crashes.

Time went on, a couple of us retired, and before long the idea for HouseSetter came along. It wasn’t something we planned – like most innovations it just snuck up on us looking like a new problem to solve. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to call a couple of different places home, how can you keep an eye on your “other place” while you’re not there? There were options, but honestly none of them seemed great for vacation home monitoring. Some were too much, some too little, but none felt just right.

Frustration led to an innocent little “wouldn’t it be great if…” discussion – and then we were hooked! If we could wirelessly connect millions of cars in a simple and affordable way, why not houses? The technology building blocks were remarkably similar, and substituting a house for a car felt like a fun new challenge.

When we got into the idea, it kept getting bigger. Keeping an eye on seasonal homes led to vacation cottages, storage units, homes whose owners travel a lot, and rental and commercial properties. The more people we talked to the more encouragement we got. And by starting this business from the ground up we’ve been able to do it our own way – like designing and building everything here at home in the U.S.A., which just feels right.

We’re excited to be working together again and proud to be able to bring Sherlock to life. We’re hopeful that we can do for homes what we did for cars, and ask that if you’ve ever got a need to keep an eye on your house while you’re away, you’ll give Sherlock a chance to be helpful.

Sincerely,

Walt Dorfstatter, Joanne Finnorn, Chet Huber & Rick Lee