When it comes to security, people often overlook smart meters such as water sensors. Leaky pipes and faucets don’t wear a dark mask and come creeping around your house at night—but they’re lurking. And if you don’t take some kind of precaution, they can cause just as much damage and sadness as a break-in.
Thankfully, water sensors have become as affordable as just about everything else in the security category. In most cases, they’re so inexpensive, it seems sort of insane not to have one or two of them stashed around the house. These types of smart meters are typically easy to install, with a “set it and forget it” sort of approach.
D-Link has packed a perfect storm of ease and affordability into its new WiFi Water Sensor. The WiFi Water Sensor, which also goes by the name of DCH-S160, is basically an alert system. It won’t shut off the water, but it will alert you so there won’t be any “surprises.” It will do that with audible and visual alarms, as well as an app alert.
The WiFi Water Sensor could not be more compact or easy to install. (See the funny video below.) All it really requires is a WiFi connection and an available outlet. Of course, that outlet needs to be near whatever device you want to monitor. Also, if you’re looking to keep tabs on the washing machine, sump pump, water heater, refrigerator and dishwasher, you will need a WiFi Water Sensor for each of those devices.
Inside the box, you’ll find one WiFi Water Sensor, the Water Sensor cable, an extension cable, and little clippy things to help keep the cable clutter to a minimum. There’s also a Quick Install card, which says you can set up the sensor using the app, the D-Link website, or by scanning a QR code on the card.
Upon launching the app, you’ll be prompted to enter your mydlink account info. Don’t have an account? You can easily create one through the app; all you need is an email address and a password.
If it’s a new account, you’ll immediately be invited to add a new device. From there, you can choose to add the WiFi Water Sensor manually or by scanning the aforementioned QR code. I’m lazy, so I opted for the code. Either way, the same info comes up and you’ll need to select the product based on the model number. (Aha! It’s good for something!) The app then directs you to plug in the device, if you haven’t done so already. The actual WiFi Water Sensor plugs right into the wall and has a 1.6-foot sensing cable that should dangle to the spot (floor, sink, etc.) you want to monitor. Of course, that’s not always possible. My only available outlet near the washing machine is up high. This is where the 3.3-foot extension cable comes in handy.
Next, you’ll need to connect the WiFi Water Sensor to your home’s WiFi network. After plugging in the sensor, the D-Link logo on the front will turn red briefly. Then, the red light goes out and the side LED will flash an orangey-yellow. This means it’s ready to connect. If you have a router that supports WPS, this will be as easy as pushing a button and waiting for the green light.
If your router does not support WPS, you’ll have to connect it manually. On my iPad, this was done by going into Settings and connecting to the sensor like it was a wireless network. Then you’ll go back to the app and follow the prompts for entering the pin code on the back of the Quick Install card, connecting to the network, and entering your network password (if you have one—and you should).
It could not be an easier process, which is why I was tearing my hair out when it wouldn’t connect quickly. Don’t lose hair and gain a twitchy eye like I did; if you’re having problems, reboot your wireless network first. This was not the fault of the D-Link device at all, but I wanted to mention it in case anyone out there has problems. It will save you a lot of time and frustration, since this process should really take you all of five minutes.
Once the WiFi Water Sensor is connected to the network, you can just kick back and pray that you’ll never, ever hear it. Basically, if the detector goes off, it means you have a water leak.
For testing purposes, I dipped the sensing cable into a cup of water and instantly was treated to a soft but annoying 70dB alarm and a flashing LED. The unit also sent a message to my iPad.
That’s fine for when the cable is submerged, but how sensitive is this thing? Next, I poured a tiny bit of water around the cord. Boom—signal. And finally, I washed my hands and started flicking a teeny bit of water onto the cord. Once again, I got the alarm and a mobile message.
I left the WiFi Water Sensor in our bathroom by the sink. My son was in there brushing his teeth. “What is this… ?” “BEEP. BEEP-BE-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP.” So yeah, it works.
Now, you just need to decide whether or not getting a message is worth your $59.99—or more. After all, you’ll need one of these devices for every potential danger point in the house. Also, D-Link sells a companion WiFi Siren (DCH-S220) for $49.99, in case you want that alarm to be even louder throughout the house.
These smart meters perform as advertised, but does it even matter? Sure, it’s good information to have and could save you costly water damage—if you’re in the immediate area. Knowing that the basement is flooding won’t do you a lot of good when you’re on a beach miles away. The problem with this product is that it won’t shut off the water. Companies like FloodCop and FloodStop make items that do exactly that, but they cost a lot more and don’t feature WiFi connectivity or smartphone alerts out of the box. (FloodCop has a smartphone add-on that starts around $75.) That said, if you already have one of those systems installed, D-Link’s WiFi Water Sensor would absolutely make for a nice addition to the setup.