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The dream of the smart home doesn't just mean voice control or futuristic touchscreens; It means your home reacts -- to you and to its own needs. This type of responsiveness is what LeakSmart creates with its Complete Home Water Protection System: a leak sensor, water valve and connecting hub, all packaged for $425.
The logic behind the LeakSmart System is simple: when a pipe bursts and your home floods, every second wasted means more damage done and more money lost. A sensor alone could alert you to the disaster, but with its connected valve, LeakSmart can stymie the source of the damage within seconds. It's a sound solution, it works effectively and the benefit certainly outweighs the cost. But the price tag doesn't have to be so high, and that fact alone will likely turn off many potential users.
Paying $425 for any smart home system should give you pause -- it's a lot of money. For that price, LeakSmart gives you a $70 flood sensor, $230 smart valve and $150 ZigBee hub to connect them (you get $25 off for buying the whole package).
For comparison, ZigBee flood sensors generally cost around $40. Hubs vary, but the most affordable ones clock in around $100. Connected valves -- the mechanisms that actually shut off your water main in the case of a flood -- range widely, from $100 to $430. Altogether, if you bought a hub and sensor from Insteon, and a valve from SmartHome Select, you could set up an alternative to LeakSmart's for a bit over $200. That leaves LeakSmart's System in the "over-priced" range.
To be fair, many other competitors are equally over-priced (the FortrezZ valve alone costs $430, for instance). And luckily, most users won't pay the full $425 for LeakSmart, because other distributors sell the Complete Home Water Protection System for significantly less.
LeakSmart might be as over-priced as its competition, but it distinguishes itself in a few ways. First off, the design of the flood sensor is pretty solid. It's one of the only devices on the market that's truly waterproof, it measures temperature (alerting users to pipe-bursting conditions) and it detects water in seconds.
If LeakSmart's sensor has one weakness, it's that the water-sensing probes are close together and small. That means, unlike more creatively designed devices (like Fibaro's, D-Link's or Roost's), the LeakSmart sensor doesn't cover much area. So you'll want to be careful where exactly you leave the device, especially on uneven floors.
The connected shut-off valve is just as functional as the sensor. It responds reliably to commands, and when I tested it, the valve shut off consistently within 5 seconds of the sensor detecting water. The hardware itself isn't quite as heavy-duty as the FortrezZ's valve, but it's certainly effective.
LeakSmart's system works with Wink and Lowes' Iris integration platforms, but it stands alone just as well. The LeakSmart hub connects to an app on your phone, sending texts or push alerts when water is detected. The app won't win any awards for user interface, but it works well enough. Given the increasing energy efficiency of Wi-Fi flood sensors (some boasting two-year battery life), though, the question remains: why does LeakSmart need its own hub, let alone one that adds $150 to the price tag?
The negatives are clear: the hub complicates installation, and it acts as a necessary go-between for your phone, sensor and valve, thereby adding a step for potential communication breakdown.
But the hub does add one positive feature: If the Wi-Fi fails, the leak sensor will still tell the valve to shut off. If the power goes out, though, you're out of luck unless you have a backup battery for the hub -- a missed opportunity for LeakSmart's designers to really disaster-proof their system.
LeakSmart's Complete Home Water Protection System detects floods and, more importantly, responds. For anyone who's paid thousands of dollars toward repairs after discovering their basement ankle-deep in water, $425 probably seems like a worthy price for protection. And LeakSmart does perform admirably.
But the product isn't perfect, and it certainly doesn't merit its price tag. If you want to systematically cover spots vulnerable to burst pipes (below sinks, beside water heaters, behind large appliances), you'll need more than one leak sensor. But making LeakSmart feel like the system it claims to be isn't worth $70 per flood sensor.
Should you buy the LeakSmart System? If you live in a house with old or freezing-prone pipes, getting a system like LeakSmart's could save you thousands. And if you can find the LeakSmart Complete Home Water Protection System for, say, $200 -- go for it.
But for most people, $425 just seems like too high a premium, even for the assurance of a flood-stopping system.