Wi-Fi and batteries are usually a bad mix, which means smaller, battery-powered smart home devices like open/close sensors and leak sensors tend to rely on low-power wireless standards like Zigbee or Z-Wave. Those technologies don't go out over the Internet, though, so they typically require a hub to let you talk with them.
Thanks to a new, low-power Wi-Fi design from iDevices, Delta Faucet's new Leak Detector gets away from all of that. It runs on three AAA batteries, which Delta says will last about two years. And unlike other leak sensors, it doesn't require a hub to send you alerts about a potential water disaster.
Leaving off the hub is welcome enough, but Delta has also improved on the traditional leak sensing mechanism. Most leak sensors will trigger when water pools underneath them. That's usually an indication that a significant leak has already occurred.
Position the round-peaked Delta Leak Detector under a likely leak source, like a water line from a washing machine, and any droplets that fall on top of it will roll down and complete the circuit that transmits an alert. You have to have a pretty good idea about where a leak might originate, but in theory Delta's design gives you an early warning system that you don't get from its competitors.
A key consideration for any smart home device is how well it integrates with other smart home device platforms. The partnership with iDevices might indicate exclusivity to Apple's HomeKit smart home standard, but that's not the case here. The Leak Detector will work with iDevices family of product via its app, most of which are HomeKit exclusive, but you can also pair it to an Android device and tie it to iDevices' app there. A Delta app might also be forthcoming.
What the Leak Detector won't do, at the moment, is act as a trigger for other smart home products. It won't flash your lights blue if the leak detection goes off, for example. That might come later, but it won't be active at launch.
Delta hasn't determined a price for the Leak Detector yet, but it says it will be competitive with others on the market, which would put it around $50 or $60. The company says it will ship in the second half of 2016.