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Best water leak detectors for smart homes

Fires can be devastating, but water damage is a far more common risk. These smart devices will alert you if your home springs a leak, so you can take action quickly.

Rob Schultz

Fire might be a homeowner’s greatest fear, but any insurance company will tell you that water is the far more common cause of property damage, even if you don’t live in an area subject to flooding. And it can come from many sources: A failing water heater, a burst pipe, a broken supply line under your sink, a clogged toilet, or even a split hose connected to your washing machine.

Just as it’s essential to have a smoke detector in each of your home’s bedrooms and common areas, you’d be wise to install leak detectors in places where water damage could start: The laundry room, water heater closet, the bathroom, under your kitchen sink, and so on. Leak alerts are arguably less important for renters, but it’s something landlords might want to consider—although that raises the issue of how the sensors would connect to the internet. More on that later.

If you think a leak sensor is something your home should have, here are our top picks. If you want more information on this topic and want to read more reviews, scroll down a bit.

Updated October 11, 2021 to add our Sencentric SimpleSence Capteur review. This redesigned sensor features an extension cable that extends its reach. Apart from that, it hasn't changed all that much.

Best smart water leak detector

The Phyn Plus smart water valve is our favorite smart water shut-off valve, so we’re pleased as punch that the company now offers a smart water sensor that can work alone or in conjunction with the more expensive device. Like the runner-up Flo by Moen Smart Water Detector, you’ll get the most benefit from Phyn’s sensor if you also own the Phyn Plus, but operating the sensor by itself will give you plenty of warning that you should shut off your water supply manually before your incurs significant water damage.

Runner-up

The Flo by Moen Smart Water Detector monitors for the presence water in locations it shouldn’t be (from a leaky supply line, appliance, or drain pipe), tracks ambient temperatures and can warn you of freezing conditions that could lead to a burst water pipe, and reports ambient humidity and raises an alarm if the air becomes so moist that it could lead to to the growth of mold. You’ll get the most benefit from the device if you also own the Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff, which can automatically turn off your water supply in an emergency, but it’s a great smart home device even if you don’t.

Best whole-home water leak detection system

This type of product takes a more holistic approach to water leak prevention. Rather than placing sensors near appliances, faucets, and fixtures that might leak, the products in this category analyze your water system at the main supply coming into your home to look for anomalies. If they detect a leak, they can shut off the water supply to prevent catastrophic damage.

This is currently a very small category, with just two players in the consumer market that we’re aware of: Phyn and its Phyn Plus device ($699),  and Flo Technologies and its Flo by Moen product ($499). Both products are expensive, but Flo has an optional subscription plan that adds $60 per year to the price of the product. That’s one of the reasons we prefer the Phyn Plus.

Runner up 

There are some features of Flo Technologies’ Flo by Moen smart valve that we actually prefer over the Phyn Plus—namely, its ability to make robo calls warning you of potential problems with your water-supply system before it shuts it off—but we found the Phyn Plus to be a little more sophisticated. Yes, the Phyn Plus is more expensive, but Phyn doesn’t charge a subscription fee to get the most value out of its product.

Best DIY whole-home leak detection system

This second-generation Flume still can’t turn off your water supply if it detects a leak, but it costs hundreds less than the systems that can, and you won’t need to cut into your water pipe—or hire a plumber—to install it. The Flume 2 is even better than the first-generation product and is a fantastic value for $199.

How we tested

To measure each sensor’s effectiveness, we placed it on a bathroom tile, and then poured enough water to cover the surface of that tile. Most sensors responded immediately, though the Honeywell Lyric routinely delayed its alarm by around 30 seconds, which we noted in our full review.

We measured alarm volume using the Decibel 10th app on an iPhone 6 Plus, with the microphone pointed toward the sensor from six inches away. Empirical testing aside, the Honeywell Lyric’s volume was subjectively much louder than the other sensors.

We didn’t directly test integrations with other smart home devices, but inspected each companion app and the online service IFTTT for available features. We consulted manuals and product listings for battery life estimates and device dimensions.

Editors’ note: This testing methodology does not apply to leak detection systems that monitor your water supply line, such as the Flo by MoenSinopé Sedna, and Phyn Plus.

What to look for when shopping

You might be surprised by the diverse approaches to what seems like a simple task: detecting the presence of water where it shouldn’t be. Some operate on Wi-Fi, others require a hub to communicate. Some plug into an AC outlet, others require a battery. Some come with external sensor cables and mount to the wall, others lay on the floor. Most, but not all, have onboard sirens.

If the recommendations above don’t work for you, here are the specs and features you’ll want to consider when shopping for a smart home water leak detector.

Hub requirements: Honeywell’s Lyric and D-Link’s sensor both operate on Wi-Fi, so you don’t need additional products to make them work. Other products, such as the Fibaro Flood Sensor and Insteon Water Leak Sensor, require a hub to connect to the internet and the apps on your phone.

Jared Newman

Hub-based sensors, such as this Fibaro Flood Sensor, can be integrated into broader smart-home systems.

Connection protocols: If you own a hub already, you must make sure the sensor uses a compatible connection protocol. Fibaro, for instance, uses Z-Wave, which works with SmartThings and Wink hubs. Insteon sensors only work with Insteon hubs (one of which is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit technology). If you own a well-known hub such as Wink, SmartThings, or Iris by Lowe’s, you’ll likely see those names on the sensor’s box.

Integrations: Some hubs, such as Wink, SmartThings, and Insteon, allow you automate actions on other devices when a leak occurs. That way, you can trigger lights, turn on cameras, or sound an alarm. (Iris by Lowe’s supports this as well, but only with a $10-per-month subscription.) Wink, SmartThings, and D-Link also support IFTTT, a service that lets you automate tasks between connected devices and services. Sensors that communicate with water valves can turn off your main water supply to stop a leak.

Size and extendability: Where do you plan to put your leak sensor? If it’s a tight space, make sure the sensor is either small enough to fit, or that it offers a sensor cable to extend its reach.

Built-in siren: Unless you plan to put the sensor far from where you might normally hear it, it’s helpful to have a siren onboard. That way, you’ll still get alerted at home even when the internet is down.

Additional onboard sensors: Some leak sensors can also measure other environmental conditions that can lead to problems at their extremes, such as temperature (a frozen pipe can burst and cause catastrophic water damage) and humidity (excess moisture in the air can allow mold to grow).

Power source: Most leak sensors are battery powered, but some, such as D-Link’s Wi-Fi Water Sensor, depend on AC power. An outlet-powered sensor with battery backup in the event of a blackout would be ideal; unfortunately, they are rare.

Editor’s note: Mel Nussbaum, the owner of Water Works Plumbing in Overland Park, Kansas, emailed this useful tip for preventing water damage due to frozen pipes bursting: “If you shut off your main water service valve [you’ll] never have the issue, and two minutes of your time [will] cost you nothing. By the time you’re alerted and get someone to take action you still will incur huge damages.”

Updated July 15, 2020 to report that Jared Newman is no longer actively contributing to our coverage of water leak sensors. If you’d like to provide feedback on this story, please send an email to Letters@techhive.com.

At a Glance

The Flo by Moen Smart Water Detector is supremely effective at alerting you to water leaks, so you can take steps to prevent potentially catastrophic damage to your home.

Pros

  • Alerts you to the presence of water where it shouldn’t be nearly instantly
  • Can trigger the Flo by Moen smart water valve to shut off your water supply if a leak is detected
  • Also monitors ambient and temperature and humidity, and alerts you to readings outside user-defined ranges
  • Connects directly to your Wi-Fi network, no hub required

Cons

  • No provisions for integration in broader smart home systems
  • At $50 each, can be expensive to monitor for leaks everywhere in your home
  • Doesn’t support IFTTT, which would trigger other smart home devices
  • Water-sensitive extension cables cost $20 each

Flume 2 is a great way to understand your home’s water usage, and new improvements to its wireless infrastructure enhance its stability.

Pros

  • Tons of flexibility in slicing and dicing historical water usage
  • Wide compatibility with most water meters
  • Much better range and performance than the first-generation device
  • Less expensive than water monitors that can shut off your water supply

Cons

  • Installation can get messy
  • Can’t automatically turn your water off to prevent water damage
  • Some features are still in beta
  • Useless for homes without water meters (e.g., rural homes reliant on wells)

Honeywell's Lyric Water Leak and Free Detector alerts you to three conditions that can cause problems in your home: water leaks, freezing temperatures, and high humidity. It's dead-simple to deploy, but its biggest drawback is that it can't be integrated into any smart-home systems.

Pros

  • Hassle-free setup
  • Loud onboard siren
  • 4-foot sensor cable can be extended (125 cables max, 500-foot range)

Cons

  • Up to one-minute delay before siren sounds
  • Cannot be integrated into broader smart-home systems
  • Pricey, especially if you want to deploy multiples

The Phyn Plus smart water valve is expensive, even after its recent $200 price cut, but this class of device can prevent costly water damage to your home and help you use a precious resource more wisely. That there is no ongoing subscription cost is a major plus.

Pros

  • Can shut off your main water supply in the event of a leak, burst pipe, etc.
  • Analyzes your water consumption to help you manage your use
  • Can identify plumbing problems and limit costly water damage
  • No ongoing subscription cost to get the full use of the product

Cons

  • More expensive than the similar Flo by Moen smart valve (which does have a subscription, although it is optional)
  • Doesn’t support sensors that can detect the presence of water in places it shouldn’t be
  • Push messages—and their warnings—can be easily missed (Flo by Moen’s robo calls are more effective)

A couple of in-the-works features could render this our top pick in water-leak sensors; it's already an exceptionally good product.

Pros

  • Detects water leaks almost instantly and sends an alert to your smartphone
  • Monitors ambient temperature and humidity, and send alerts when defined ranges are exceeded
  • Less-expensive than some competing products

Cons

  • Doesn't tie into other smart home systems
  • Can't be linked to a smart water-main shut-off valve
  • Onboard siren doesn't get very loud

Flo protects your home from water damage caused by both slow leaks and catastrophic failures, and it will also alert you to water waste. But it’s expensive and it won’t warn you about water collecting in places where it shouldn’t be.

Pros

  • Automatically shuts down your home’s main water supply in the event of a catastrophic leak
  • Proactively alerts you to potential water leaks and the overuse of water
  • Alerts you to anomalies in water pressure, flow rate, and water temperature that can indicate problems with your freshwater plumbing

Cons

  • No support for sensors that can detect leaks on the floor around sinks, tubs, toilets, and appliances
  • Can’t pinpoint the source of a water leak
  • Requires a subscription to get the full benefit of the product

It's pricey, but the LeakSmart's ability to integrate into broader smart-home systems and its relatively inexpensive optional water shutoff valve help this leak detector stand out.

Pros

  • Can be integrated into ZigBee-based smart-home systems
  • Can be paired with optional water shutoff valve
  • Relatively loud onboard siren

Cons

  • Water must reach the sensor itself (no extension cable)
  • No battery-life reporting
  • More expensive than many other water leak detectors

The lower price tag is attractive, but there are pluses and minuses to using discrete sensors versus a true smart valve to protect your home from water damage.

Pros

  • Less expensive than its smarter competitors
  • Sensor-based controls allow you to monitor specific locations in your home
  • AC-powered valve has a battery backup option

Cons

  • Doesn’t measure water flow or water pressure
  • Reliance on sensors means the system can’t detect leaks unless water reaches one of the sensors
  • System can’t detect water wasted by leaky faucets, toilets, etc.

This powerful sensor has some great bells and whistles if you know how to take advantage of them.

Pros

  • Can be paired with optional water shut-off valve
  • Operates on either battery power or AC power with battery backup
  • Telescopic sensors work on uneven floors

Cons

  • Weak onboard siren
  • Extra features are poorly documented
  • Uses less-common CR123A battery

The SimpleSence leak sensor comes with an extension tail that expands its utility.

Pros

  • Mostly worked well in testing
  • Extension tail really extends the device’s effectiveness
  • The 2021 design features improved waterproofing

Cons

  • A $70 price tag makes this a fairly luxe option
  • No broader smart home system connectivity
  • No real logging system

SmartThings' name-brand flood detector is short on useful features, but it's inexpensive and plays nicely with other devices and services.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Plays well with SmartThings ecosystem and IFTTT

Cons

  • No onboard siren
  • No temperature sensor
  • No way to extend sensor into tight spots

WallyHome is a capable water leak detection system with bonus features that you may or may not use.

Pros

  • Simple and reliable; one of the few smart home hubs that gave us no trouble during testing
  • IFTTT support allows enthusiasts to tie WallyHome into other systems
  • Lots of data collected to give homeowners more insight into the inner workings of their house

Cons

  • Only one sensor included with the starter kit
  • No way to set sirens for doors and windows opening
  • Sensors and hub are both a bit homely

This water sensor's use of outlet power is both a curse and a blessing.

Pros

  • Connects with other devices and services via IFTTT
  • 1.6-foot water-sensing cable can be extended up to 4.8 feet
  • Doesn't require a hub (just your router)

Cons

  • Can be a hassle to set up
  • Must be installed within 4.8 feet of an AC outlet
  • Runs on AC power, but without battery backup

Peril Protect delivers what it promises, but it doesn’t promise enough to justify the price of its service.

Pros

  • Super easy to set up and use
  • Instantly warns of water leaks via text message, email, and local alarms
  • Hub uses an LTE connection, not your home network, and it has battery backup
  • Service can put you in contact with a plumber to effect repairs

Cons

  • The service is expensive for what it provides
  • Can only inform you of leaks where water comes in contact with its sensors
  • Can’t take any action to shut off your water in the event of a major leak
  • Doesn’t connect or interact with any other smart home systems or services

This flow meter monitors your sprinkler system for leaks, but only it’s compatible only with the third-generation Rachio smart sprinkler controller.

Pros

  • Smooth integration with an existing Rachio 3 smart sprinkler controller
  • Can reduce water waste by shutting down your sprinkler system if it detects a leak

Cons

  • Most buyers will want to hire a professional to install
  • Not compatible with first- and second-generation Rachio smart sprinkler controllers

Insteon is an inexpensive solution, especially if you need lots of sensors, but its leak detector doesn't offer much in the way of features.

Pros

  • Very inexpensive
  • Single AA battery rated to last 10 years
  • Narrow design will fit in tight spaces

Cons

  • No onboard siren or sensor cable
  • Insteon app is light on details
  • Compatible only with Insteon hubs

The Pleco Water Watch has great intentions, but it ultimately feels like a failed science fair experiment.

Pros

  • Standalone tablet display is an interesting concept

Cons

  • Hardware design is unworkable and unappealing
  • Wireless range is unacceptably short
  • Quality of collected data is questionable