While the expensive smart home gadgets like thermostats claim to save you some money, one of the less expensive ones could save you an absolute fortune. A smart water sensor could save your home from flooding, water damage, or even prevent it in the first place.
So, while they might not be the most obvious of devices for your growing fleet of smart home devices, having one installed could seriously save your day and prevent massive damage to a property and a lengthy insurance case.
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There are plenty of dumb and semi-smart water sensors on the market. They can be easily installed in the basement to monitor seasonal flooding that many properties suffer from.
They give off a local alarm and can fit inside dry walls to check that pipes don’t burst or under wet rooms to check the whole property doesn’t suddenly become extremely damp.
The smart versions of these devices can send alerts instantly to your smartphone, so you can be alerted wherever you are. They can also provide other benefits, depending on how much you are willing to pay.
Since many of us now have smart smoke and CO2 alarms, adding a water sensor in high-risk areas seems like a no-brainer.
In this roundup, we focus on the Insteon Water Sensor, leakSMART Wireless & Waterproof Leak Detection Sensor and the Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor which all connect to a smart hub to provide connectivity and alerts.
|Feature||Insteon Water Sensor||leakSMART Wireless & Waterproof Leak Detection Sensor||Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor|
|Price||$34.99 (check this listing for the latest live prices)||$69.99 (check this listing for the latest live prices)||$39.99 (check this listing for the latest live prices)|
|Size||5 x 4 x 1 inches||6.6 x 1.4 x 3.1 inches||2.4 x 1.5 x 0.8 inches|
|Power||AA cell||3xAAA cells||1xCR2 cell|
Pros and Cons
Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor
The Samsung is the smallest of the three, thanks to its tiny watch battery power. That makes it easy to stick in any nook and cranny or under any suspect piece of piping in the home. However, it only works with the Samsung SmartThings Hub, so isn’t quite the cheap bargain you might think it is.
It also requires the SmartThings app which only runs on iOS 7.0, Android 4.0 or Windows Phone 8.1 devices, which could mean a further upgrade before you get sensible feedback from it. As part of the SmartThings family, you can have it trigger other devices like alarms or lights to indicate there’s a problem as well.
In addition to monitoring a location for water and moisture, the Water Leak Sensor also tracks the immediate temperature and can provide an additional warning if there are major changes, perhaps from fire, or freezing which could cause pipes to burst, providing an extra layer of protection.
leakSMART Wireless & Waterproof Leak Detection Sensor
leakSMART is the most expensive, but the best-featured of the models in our roundup. It can be used with the company’s own range of smart valves to actually turn off the water pipe at the source and prevent any or major water damage from occurring.
While it works with the leakSMART Hub, it also seems happy enough to work with other smart home hubs.
You can buy the alarm and a valve together for around $150, which could be a major asset in areas prone to freezing pipes. In other scenarios such as regular environmental flooding, it can still provide an alert locally through its own alarm or to your smartphone.
The largest of the three products, you might have trouble fitting its puck-like shape in some of the tighter sports where floods or leaks are likely to occur, but with no wires, and plenty of battery life, it should keep an area protected for a good length of time.
Insteon Water Sensor
Like the Samsung, the Insteon sounds cheap, but you have to remember the required Insteon Hub for it work. In the past you could have used it with a Revolv Hub, but since those have been crippled by new owners Google, that’s probably not an option for many.
If you have a different type of hub, such as an X10, check with the community to see if the Insteon Water Sensor will work with it, but be aware that not every feature may be supported.
The Insteon does look rather old fashioned with its sticky-out aerial, but this could help boost the signal if it stuck in some dark corner of the house, and since it is unlikely to be on show is hardly a major issue.
Once in place, it will provide leak alerts to the via text message or email, so you can leap into action to resolve the issue.
Given that this box could end up in a fairly moldy or moist environment, Insteon has added a daily check-in with the hub to ensure that it is working and able to communicate, which could be a very useful feature.
Your buying decision is largely predicated around the the smart home hub you already own, or the one you plan to acquire.
Otherwise, all of these devices provide a similar service in a similar way, with only the more expensive leakSMART providing a more proactive offering with the ability to close a leaking pipe.
If you’re always at home then you can go even cheaper and go with a traditional leak detector that has a local alarm, but if you have multiple properties, or are often out, these will add an extra layer of security and could help prevent costly insurance claims.
They are all at risk of providing false alarms, depending on the dampness, but considering the alternative of a flooded home, we’d rather have the odd extraneous panic rather than a wrecked room!
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!