Device may help solve weighty problem
Casey Hoefer, a senior at the University of New Hampshire-Manchester, is part of an electrical engineering team working on a rootfop system to monitor snow loads. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
But a new product from a Barrington engineering company could give building owners and municipalities an early warning when heavy snow loads are making roofs dangerously unstable. The SnowScale was developed by Christopher Dundorf, founder and president of 2KR Systems LLC.
Now Dundorf wants to deploy the technology on roofs across New Hampshire and beyond. And he's enlisted the talents and enthusiasm of students at the University of New Hampshire-Manchester to develop a prototype.
That's because - as anyone who's had to shovel this winter knows - light, fluffy snow weighs a lot less than the rain-laden stuff that arrived late last week. And when it comes to snow loads on roofs, that's a critical difference.
His first client for the SnowScale was New York City, which depends on snow melt from the Catskill Mountains for its water supply. Researchers have deployed a network of SnowScales on the ground in upstate New York.
Dundorf figures his SnowScale technology could inject some science into the equation.
But to make the product commercially viable, Dundorf said, "we realized we needed a turnkey system."
"That means you basically take it out of the box, you set it up, you hit the power button, you load the software and it just runs."
So Dundorf turned to the New Hampshire Innovation Research Center at UNH in Durham, which funds projects that lead to job and business growth.
"I like playing around with things and making them look appealing and user-friendly and have a good little functionality to it."
Casey Hoefer of Sutton, 25, is a senior electrical engineering major. By the time the prototype is ready for testing this spring, he said, "we're probably going to have to simulate the snow."
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