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Juicy Box

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
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I am not sure what the best sub-forum to post this question in is.

Summary: I am looking for recommendations for a mobile hotspot or router that can be used as a long term internet solution to a remote Ecobee thermostat.



I am looking for advice for a device and/or service for getting internet access in a garage that I rent.

The internet would be primarily to connect my Ecobee thermostat so I can remote monitor the temperature and humidity and in the winter, turn on the heat remotely prior to going to the garage.


A little back story, years back, a friend and I started renting a very large garage to store our vehicles when needed and to work on them, as I no longer go to mechanics.

The garage is about 30 minute drive from my home.

There is an oil burning heater that we use during the winter. The garage is very large, so during very cold weather, it takes a very long time to warm up the temperature inside.

So, to warm up the garage prior to be leaving my house, I decided to get an Ecobee for my garage, as I use one for my home and was pretty satisfied with it.

For internet for the Ecobee to connect to, I purchased a freedom pop wireless hotspot that is basically free on a monthly basis as long as I do not go over 200MB of data, which might not sound like a lot, but the Ecobee uses very little data.



The dilemma:

Everything was fine until a few months back when the hot spot device started having issues. I think the issue is that I had the device charging non-stop for over a year, and the battery stopped working, which caused the device to freeze at not work properly.

I am now looking into other possible internet sources, but am curious if anyone else has a similar situation and what solution they are using.

Also, is there a router that can use a SIM card that they would recommend? I could just get another WiFi hotspot, but I could eventually run into the same situation with it having issues being in use 24/7/365.


If the hotspot would automatically connect to the Ecobee when booting up, I could just put it on a timer that would turn off its power occasionally, extending the life of the battery. The freedom pop hotspot that I currently have does not automatically connect when rebooting, as it required user input to allow devices to connect.

I could use the local cable ISP, but would rather not pay that much due to what it will be used for.

I could also try some other mobile carriers’ hotspots, if someone knows of one that would be more suitable for my situation.

Anyone have any suggestions or ideas?
 

Mousse

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Apr 7, 2008
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Flea Bottom, King's Landing
I'm assuming your mobile hotspot uses a SIM card? You can use an old smart phone as a mobile hot spot. That's for a temporary work around until you can find a hotspot device that can be plugged in long term.
 
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Juicy Box

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
6,027
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I'm assuming your mobile hotspot uses a SIM card? You can use an old smart phone as a mobile hot spot. That's for a temporary work around until you can find a hotspot device that can be plugged in long term.

Yeah, I thought of this, and was going to mention it. This is actually what I plan on doing this weekend with an old iPhone until I figure out something else.

But, like you said, it would be just a temporary solution, and I would have the same issues with it being connected 24/7/365, and I am pretty sure that the iPhone will not automatically re-enable the hotspot if it is restarted.
 

kohlson

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Apr 23, 2010
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It sounds like you're pretty close to a solution. Since the Freedom Pop worked for a year, is replacing that on an annual basis within your budget? Also, did you unplug it when the weather was better? Perhaps that could extend the life of a replacement. Perhaps you could use a mechanical time to turn off the power for an hour a day to exercise the battery.
As for using an older phone as mentioned above, wouldn't you need a data plan for this? But if you do use an iPhone, this may open up other options for you as a phone can act as a Homekit hub.
 

Juicy Box

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Sep 23, 2014
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Since the Freedom Pop worked for a year, is replacing that on an annual basis within your budget?
Yes, this is a possibility, and I might end up doing this, but I wanted to check out other solutions, especially long term ones.


Also, did you unplug it when the weather was better?
No, due to me using it all year around. I monitor the temperature and humidity during the warm weather months, and sometimes base this info on whether I go there or not.

If I ask Siri what the temp in the garage is, and she replies with anything higher than 85 degrees, I usually won't go.

Perhaps you could use a mechanical time to turn off the power for an hour a day to exercise the battery.

If I get another mobile hotspot or anything battery related, I will most likely do this as a way to get some usage out of the battery. The biggest issue with this is if I over estimate the battery life, or if it changes over time and the device shuts down, it is a hour round trip to activate the wifi again.

Maybe there are other hotspots out there that automatically re-enables the network.

As for using an older phone as mentioned above, wouldn't you need a data plan for this?
I would use the freedom pop SIM that is currently is my messed up hotspot, so no added cost.

But if you do use an iPhone, this may open up other options for you as a phone can act as a Homekit hub.

Strangely enough, it is currently connected to my ATV homekit hub that is at my house in another county. I honestly can't remember how I did it, but it works.
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
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You can use an old smart phone as a mobile hot spot.
his is actually what I plan on doing this weekend with an old iPhone until I figure out something else.

Okay, bad news, I am unable to use an old iPhone as a hotspot.

I tried it, but there isn't an option in settings to create a network. So, I am going to have to figure something else out.
[automerge]1572287883[/automerge]
Oh, I think it is because the freed pop SIM is not allowing me to turn my iPhone into a hotspot.

I know that some carrier plans don't include this, and I think freedom pop is one of them.
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
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I end up just purchasing a replacement battery for the hotspot that I have. At least this will get me through the winter months until I figure out a better long term solution.

I will put the HotSpot on a mechanical timer and power it off for an hour a day.

I think that this will be long enough to get the electrons moving in the battery, but not too long that it will die having me to make a trip out there to reactivate the network.


Right now, I will stick with the free 200MB a month from FreedomPop, but I found a few low-cost options that I might consider in the future.

I looked into a prepaid option which I might end up doing. Best Buy has an "unlimited" 1GB plan with Unreal Mobile,, meaning high speed for up to 1GB, then throttles the speed. It also has a 500MB rollover. All for $10 a month.

While I would like to spend less considering I wouldn't use it very often, I think that this might be a good deal for only $10.

Anyone have experience with Unreal? Specifically using a hotspot?
 

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
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I will put the HotSpot on a mechanical timer and power it off for an hour a day.
Where I live, a cold night is 30F. That's about as low as it goes. It seems like you may be in somewhat colder climate. Consider that most electronic devices don't work well below 30. My daughter in Chicago complains about her iPhone in the winter in this respect. So you may need to insulate. And, charging may provide a little warmth
Also, when you're out there on the weekends, consider setting another timer such that you can disconnect the charger while you're there and reconnect before you go. That timer will be a reminder. Could be an iPhone or Watch timer. Or a simple mechanical.
But if a new battery lasts another season, that seems pretty economical.
 

Juicy Box

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Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
6,027
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It seems like you may be in somewhat colder climate. Consider that most electronic devices don't work well below 30.

I didn't even think about the cold affecting it, but it will be something I will keep in mind.

While it does get pretty cold in my area, most nights well below freezing during Jan and Feb, it doesn't drop too much in the garage. It does get to freezing temps inside, but not too much of a drop below.

In the past, I have had issues with iPods and an iPad that was left in the car during cold nights, and them not work until they warm a bit. Maybe being exposed to many cold nights may have caused some permanent damage to the battery of the hotspot.

I will probably use something to insulated it when I get the new battery. Although, i have got to be careful, because I wouldn't want it to get too hot, as I am sure that would damage the battery.

Anyways, thanks for the advice.
 
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