In this day and age where everything is measured, recorded, and available remotely (via a REST API most of the time!), it really bothered me that our heating oil tank measured the remaining gallons of oil by a crude plastic dip stick. It’s not accurate, there is no historical data, and there is no way to audit (for honesty, accuracy, or problems/errors).

So the problem is simple enough: Find a quick and easy way to remotely monitor the number of gallons of heating oil in a home, and alert at pre-set intervals (let’s say 75%, 50%, and 25%) of remaining oil in the tank.

After looking for commercial solutions, the cheapest one I found is $120 with a $10/year fee. In my view, that’s simply ridiculous. I decided that I could build something better for 1/3rd of the price ($40), without an yearly fee.

Start with this Instructable I created with the exact parts/steps, and with lots of pictures:

Once you have it built – flash your Photon with the code here (see bellow).

After that, you should be able to do this from the particle CLI:

# This is calculated based on the first one and assuming a 275 gallon tank:
particle get ####-device-id-#### oil-inches

# And using well known charts (like this:, gallons are calculated:
particle get ####-device-id-#### oil-gallons

Particle Photon web IDE code:

Now that you have everything you need, the last part is to web hook the “Alert” publish call into something that actually alerts you. The easiest way to do this is to create a JSON “custom” webhook, which allows you to “hook” a publish event. In this case, I will hook the “Alert” published event, and redirect it to Pushbullet. You can just as easily call a 3rd party SMS service (Twilio), Email (Sendgrid, Mailgun, etc), or some other custom notification/hook.

Here is the Pushbullet config (please replace “Access-Token” with your token):

2 Thoughts on “DIY – Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons with Pushbullet, SMS, and Email Alerting

  1. Thanks for posting this.nice tutorial.

  2. No problem – I am glad people are finding it useful.

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