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Smart Home Vendors See New Opportunities in Water Leak Detection

Neil Strother
May 09, 2019

Connectivity 10

While most of the action in smart home technology revolves around connected devices for lighting, voice assistants, security, or the HVAC system, there is growing emphasis on other use cases. One in particular is the emerging focus on devices and services that enable homes to improve water usage and prevent water damage.

Resideo and Buoy Labs

For instance, Resideo (a spinout of Honeywell) recently made its first acquisition as a standalone firm when it bought a startup focused on residential water usage. That startup is Buoy Labs. Based in Santa Cruz, California, Buoy Labs makes a Wi-Fi enabled device that connects to a home’s incoming water line and provides water usage data, including how much a home might be wasting. 

The acquisition is part of Resideo’s strategy to provide whole-home management in four key areas: comfort, security, air quality, and water usage. It is estimated that homes lose about 10% of water to leaks on average. The Buoy Labs device costs $299 initially, which includes installation by a plumber, plus an annual monitoring fee of $216.

Why Think About Water?

There is an insurance benefit to improved leak detection in homes. Insurance companies pay an estimated $2.5 billion in water damage claims each year, with the average damage claim totaling nearly $7,000. Other studies estimate that 93% of claims could be avoided with a leak detection device that has remote shutoff capability.

Buoy Labs is not the only newer leak detection product in the market. In the UK, Green Energy Options (geo) is offering its Waterlock device that attaches to a pipe. Through an app, Waterlock can automatically shut off the main water valve in a home if a leak is detected.

Sensor Developments

Water sensors are also getting smarter. Semtech, a global supplier of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, announced recently that Sweden-based systems integrator iioote has combined Semtech’s LoRa devices into its line of humidity and temperature sensors for water leak detection and damage prevention in homes. The sensors can connect to public or private networks based on the LoRaWAN protocol, and regularly report humidity levels. Homeowners can access iioote’s web portal tool to monitor water data. Should a leak occur, homeowners can receive alerts notifying them of the problem and enabling them to take quick action to avoid serious damage.

Roost, a leader in home telematics for property insurance carriers, announced a partnership with Neos Smart Home Insurance, a smart home insurance provider in the UK that integrates smarter technology as part of its home insurance products. Neos plans to include selected Roost smart home devices as part of its offering, providing policyholders enhanced capabilities for actively protecting their homes remotely from a smartphone.

Expect more of the same as manufacturers, solutions providers, and insurers seek to infuse homes with evolving technologies that create smarter homes. Easy-to-integrate technologies help prevent unwanted water damage, reducing costs and saving this precious resource.