How to speed up home automation installations


Home automations systems have evolved from simple hardwired systems into complex networked systems that are able to control security, home entertainment, energy and lighting systems. The installation, commissioning and fault finding of these systems has become an intricate task that entails the use of specialized detection equipment. 

One such tool is the Net Prowler™, which gives technicians the ability to verify cable parameters, test for cable faults and troubleshoot LAN networks. It’s a great tool that cuts the drudgery of tracing cables and identifying ports thanks to its ability to store test data and simplify documentation and customer billing.

Cable Testing

The Net Prowler is a fully fledged cable tester that uses Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) to measure cable length and to identify cable faults. It works by transmitting a pulse down the cable and measuring the delay of the reflected pulse. The Net Prowler calculates the length of the cable by calculating the delay as compared to the speed of light. To accurately calculate cable length, the device needs to know the velocity of propagation (VOP) of the signal down the cable which can be easily calibrated by the Net Prowler on a known length of cable.

This function is also useful for identifying cable faults and to ensure that cables are correctly terminated. Results can be saved on the device. All types of Ethernet cable can be tested as well as coaxial and telephone cables. The device can identify bad connections, shorts, open circuits and split pairs. The device has a useful tone generator that can help identify where the cable is.

Network Port Identification

At times, it’s necessary to know which port in a router, hub or switch a cable is connected to. Net Prowler has a unique feature called the Link Light mode that will cause the port to which a cable is connected to flash at a specific cadence. This feature is particularly useful for long cables connected to multiport hubs. This is one way Net Prowler simplifies and speeds up network tracking and fault finding.

IP Camera Systems

IP camera systems offer tremendous flexibility and save on cabling costs. Often these cameras are powered over the Ethernet (POE), preventing the need for separate power connections. Net Prowler has the ability to test POE switches. It identifies the POE wattage (POE or POE+), and then tests the supply voltage at minimum and maximum load conditions to verify that it’s within the acceptable range.

This feature helps ensure proper camera operation and also helps verify that the cable used is suitable for the particular application and of the right quality.

Server Discovery

Net Prowler is capable of performing a DHCP test and pinging both IPV4 and IPV6 devices on the LAN and WAN. Other features that are available include the detection of VLANs, identification of network configuration details, obtaining CDP and LLDP switch information, and checking WAN connectivity. The Net Prowler has the ability to discover devices on the same subnet by identifying its IP address and broadcasted device name.

Downloading Test Data

A really smart feature of Net Prowler is that all the test information can be stored on the device. It’s possible to store up to 256 test results using user-defined names for easy identification. This feature simplifies the documentation of an installation and the recording of test data.

The data stored on the device can be downloaded onto a PC using the Net Prowler PC application. Once saved, it’s possible to export this data as a PDF or CSV file. Information stored on the PC can be loaded back onto the Net Prowler for follow-up testing and fault finding.

A major headache for most installers is measuring the amount of cable used in installations; this is often estimated, leading to the risk of under- or overcharging customers. The cable length measurements can be extracted into a CSV file to be calculated and the customer billed for the correct amount of material.

Faster Installations

It’s not often that one tool has the overall capability that Net Prowler offers. It has sophisticated yet easy-to-use features, enabling home automation installers to rapidly set up complex installations, test and simultaneously document them. Choose Net Prowler and benefit from its innovative features that save time, increase productivity and permit immediate verification of each component as it’s installed.

Net Prowler simplifies all aspects of home automation installations from the physical side of cable installation through to system configuration. It has a down-to-earth design with straightforward menus that help simplify measurement of complex circuits and its bright, high resolution color screen is easy to read.