Fibaro Flood Sensor review:

Fibaro Flood Sensor boasts versatility and clever design

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Fibaro Flood Sensor combines clever design with an open interface, allowing users to creatively pair it with sirens, complementary sensors, and more.

The Bad The tilt sensor can be hit-or-miss, and the $60 price tag is definitely steep, especially if you want to monitor multiple areas at risk of water damage.

The Bottom Line The Fibaro won't be for everyone, but its versatility and reliable design make it one of the best water sensors for homes at risk of flooding.

8.4 Overall
  • Features 7.0
  • Usability 8.0
  • Design 10.0
  • Performance 9.0

The majority of home insurance policies don't cover flood damage, which can make a flooded basement one of the most costly disasters for homeowners. So depending on where you live, flood sensors can be as important as fire or CO2 detectors. But the Fibaro Flood Sensor aims to be more than just your average moisture detector.

Most moisture sensors on the market, like the SmartThings Sensor or the Aeotec Sensor, alert users when a probe extending from the device comes into contact with water. They send the alerts using low-power communication protocols like Z-Wave or ZigBee -- communication languages that require a hub to translate them into languages your phone can receive, like text messages or push notifications

Fibaro also depends on a Z-Wave hub, and I used SmartThings. But this Flood Sensor features a wider array of design and software features that distinguish it from its competition and contribute to a sleek and versatile product. The biggest drawback of the Fibaro Sensor is its price: at $60 (£55), it costs about one and a half times as much as its connected competitors. But for those who live in a flood plain or whose basements turn into reservoirs every spring, the Fibaro will be well worth the price.

Setup

The Fibaro Flood Sensor is easy enough to set up, but the directions are somehow both convoluted and incomplete. For instance, the directions include sections like device specifications, technical information and general info about Fibaro's whole integration system. But they say only this about pairing the device with your Z-Wave hub: "Use the TMP button to include the Fibaro Flood Sensor into the Z-Wave Network." What the directions don't say is that you have to press the button three times and screw the top back on, a simple enough procedure that I finally had to call support to figure out.

Chris Monroe/CNET

While Fibaro is working on a quick-start guide that will explain this process for SmartThings users, and its own proprietary home integration system offers directions through the app, I was still baffled by the inadequate paper directions. If Fibaro plans to integrate with other systems in the future, it will need to fix this problem.

Fortunately, the physical setup of the sensor is simple. You can put the Fibaro Flood Sensor wherever a water leak might happen once you've synced up the device to your hub. Unlike flood detectors that have wired probes requiring you to fasten them to the wall or floor in question, you can place the Fibaro right on the ground. I like this approach because it cuts out complications for setup, and the Sensor won't get in the way because most places you'd put it are behind appliances or in basement corners.

Design

The Fibaro Flood Sensor's design is by far its strongest element. The shape, cleverly modeled after a water droplet, is simple and unobtrusive. Some flood sensors, like the one from SmartThings, have plastic legs and two separate probes emerging from the bottom of the sensor body. As a result, these probes are suspended above the surface upon which the sensor rests and can miss dampness.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The bottom of the Fibaro, by contrast, features three gold-plated probes that act as legs for the plastic body. These probes, though small, telescope just enough to account for sloped or otherwise uneven floors. All flood sensors require water to contact two probes, which creates a circuit and alerts the device of a possible flood. The Fibaro's three probes, spread farther apart than many other sensors', allow a slightly greater area to be covered, so the sensors are less likely to miss a small leak.

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