The biggest boost to the growing smart home market was pretty obviously the Nest smart thermostat. Who would have guessed that a thermostat would be the technology device to inspire people to start linking up systems in their homes through their smart phones? Could the next big thing for DIY smart homes be smart water sensors?
Maybe that’s a stretch, but anyone who’s had a water heater, dishwasher or burst pipe disaster in their home knows how important early detection can be. Even those slow leaks that only cause mold damage can be expensive to repair. The more water spilled (or splashed) the more money the repairs are going to cost you. That’s why many of the new smart home systems have added water leak detectors to their roster of connected devices.
Most smart home water sensors are battery powered and include some variety of low-power wireless technology, such as Z-Wave. The sensors connect to the central smart home hub, and you can view the device’s status on your phone or tablet. If the device detects water, you get an alert (usually a text or push notification). That’s when you rush home to see what the damage is.
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Here are a few of the smart water sensors on the market and, when appropriate, the systems they’re compatible with:
Fibaro Flood Sensor
The Z-Wave equipped Fibaro Flood Sensor ($59) doesn’t look like a typical sensor, and it’s not, in addition to water, it includes a tilt sensor (so you know if someone moved it), temperature sensor, a siren, a light, a built in Z-wave network range tester, and it can be wired or wireless. The company says it will work with any professionally-installed alarm system, but you can also set it up yourself. With a Fibaro Relay installed, the sensor can also automatically shut off a solenoid valve. Fibaro’s Home Center 2 or another Z-Wave hub is required to use the Flood Sensor.
Utilitech Water Leak Detector
If you have a Lowe’s Iris smart home system, this is the water detector you want, but it will also work with other Z-Wave hubs such as Vera. The Utilitech Leak Detector comes with a three-foot long cord and runs on three AAA batteries. $30.
The Wally system doesn’t use Z-Wave or Bluetooth or Zigbee. It uses a proprietary wireless system that takes advantage of the copper wires in your walls and treats them like antennas for the system. The moisture sensor (which also detects temperature and humidity) is said to not only help with big water emergencies, but also tells you about slowly developing moisture—the kind that can lead to mold damage. You need the Wally hub and the sensor for this system. Since the wireless method is unique, it’s not likely to be compatible with other smart home products, though the company said it does work with the Nest thermostat. You can buy the hub with six sensors for $299. Individually the sensors cost $35.
The Overflow is a basic wireless water sensor for the Wink system. You need a Wink hub ($50) to use the Overflow. Two AA batteries are said to last one year. $35
SmartSense Moisture Sensor
This moisture sensor is made for the SmartThings system. If you have SmartThings already, you can add the SmartSense Moisture Sensor for $40. The company also offers a package that includes two moister sensors (one under the kitchen sink and one by the basement water heater) and the Z-Wave SmartThings Hub for $189. You can set up your system to send you alerts if water is detected.
INSTEON 2852-222 WATER LEAK SENSOR
The Insteon Water Leak Sensor, like the SmartThings sensor, is just a basic water detector, but the company says the battery lasts 10 years. You need an Insteon system to use this one. $35.
This article was originally published on January 13, 2015 and was updated on May 4, 2015.