Water Sensor Reviews: Top 5 Smart Leak Detectors

When it comes to home automation the cool stuff like vacuum robots and motorized doors get all the attention, but you shouldn’t forget about the increased safety and security home automation can offer.

There are many things that are bad for our homes. Being on fire is one that immediately comes to mind, but water damage can be just as devastating. While most people understand the importance of having a smoke detector to warn them of a fire, few people spare a thought for flooding.

Getting an early warning is important when it comes to water damage. The faster the flow can be shut off, the better the chances that the damage will not be catastrophic. These sensors all promise to warn you the moment something is wet that should be dry. Some of them will even do it when you aren’t home.

There are a lot of places where it’s logical to put a water sensor. The prime example would be at your water heater, but sinks, dishwashers, and washing machines also make a lot of sense.

I’ve put the water sensors I like the look of the most at the top of my list, but the rest are not ranked.

Best Pick: Samsung SmartThings Water Sensor

Gaze upon the beauty that is this Samsung SmartThings water leak sensor. There are a lot of valid criticisms about Samsung’s products you can make, but generally ugly designs are not among these. Even something as lowly as a simple water leak detector does not escape their competent eye for making things that look like I want to own them. Simple, gentle curves and white with a clear water drop sign on it so that you know exactly what the device is for. Watch out Apple, I think you may be slipping in this race.

This sensor will of course give you an immediate warning when the first water hits. While the sensor itself does not have an alarm built in, it can trigger a light or alarm compatible with SmartThings in order to achieve the same effect.

Like the Insteon solution I review elsewhere on this page, this requires a hub in order to work. The hub is a little more expensive than the Insteon equivalent, but in general it is a better, more versatile product. So the extra thirty bucks should be worth it. The actual sensor unit is only slightly more than the one from Insteon and honestly I think the pretty looks make up for that difference by themselves.

Just like the Insteon, this just goes on the floor. Unlike the Insteon this does more than detect leaks. It can also detect the moisture level and temperature changes. You can use these sensor readings to interface with other SmartThings devices. For example, if the temperature reaches a certain threshold, you can have your SmartThings outlet switch off a heater. If temperatures change dramatically you can set off a siren.

If you already have an Insteon Hub then obviously this is not enough to justify the outlay, but if you haven’t yet invested in one particular hub, this is a neat device that does more than it says in the name. This is what I would buy.

Second Best Pick: Insteon Smart Water Leak Sensor

Looking at this water leak sensor from Insteon I had no idea what it was at first glance. It looks like a tiny toy WiFi router. While most of the water sensors I have seen use a sensor on a lead to detect leaks, in this case there is only one unit, which you place on the floor.

It is definitely a more elegant solution compared to sensors that use lead wires. This doesn’t use WiFi or another mainstream protocol like Bluetooth; instead you need to use it with an Insteon central controller hub.

Usually I would say that this means only people who have already bought into the Insteon ecosystem should buy one of these, but this water sensor and indeed the controller hub itself are not very expensive. One sensor and the hub are of course more expensive than the typical self-contained WiFi water detector, but if you need many sensors this would be a more affordable option. The sensors themselves are very affordable and you only need one hub after all.

Using the right Insteon software you can receive email or text alerts if a leak is detected, and because Insteon primarily provides light controller hardware you can of course set it up so a light can give you a visual warning as well.

The other thing I like about it is that it doesn’t have to be connected to main power the way WiFi sensors have to be. It runs off a tiny battery that is apparently good for quite a while, although no one can vouch for the exact time and I can’t find the manufacturer’s battery life claim. It also performs regular self-tests to make sure that the sensor is still working.

If you need a lot of water sensors I think this Insteon setup is probably one of the most cost-effective solutions out there, and it is dead easy to install to boot. It’s hard not to recommend it.

Third Pick: Honeywell RCHW3610WF1001/N Leak Detector

Honeywell has been at the game of making robust household devices for much longer than a lot of home automation startups. They have kept up with the latest tech, but bring a sort of sensible reliability to what they create.

This particular detector is quite a bit more expensive than all but the Proteus unit I also looked at here. It’s a hubless unit that connects directly to the router, so it does need to be plugged into main power.

Like the Samsung sensor it also senses humidity and temperature. The sensor and lead are one unit and proprietary, so there’s no easy extension using telephone wire. The Honeywell also has a battery backup, which is a nice extra; one I have not seen on other units.

The Honeywell is a neat, functional, and quality unit. It’s not as pretty as the products from Samsung and their ilk, and I think the proprietary cable is an issue, but for sensible people this is a sensible purchase, albeit a bit pricey.

D-Link DCH-S160 mydlink Wi-Fi Water Leak Sensor Review

D-Link is better known for making WiFi cameras and network gear, but they do a few other home automation type things as well. This water detector is a good example of these products. The design of the DCH-S160 reflects the modern home automation aesthetic. Water sensors from the past have a decidedly industrial look, but this follows the trend set by Nest with its smart thermostat and turns a boring piece of equipment into something attractive.

The sensor plugs straight into an outlet and then you put the sensor wire wherever you think water is likely to pool first. The detector cable seems to be just a regular old RJ11 phone wire, so if the included one is too short, you should be able to make your own by just using a long standard phone wire.

It connects to your router and is managed via a mobile app. When a leak is detected you’ll get a push notification telling you about it, but this sensor is IFTTT compatible, which is awesome and means you can create your own custom actions for when water is detected.

The sensor can be combined with a WiFi siren, in case you want to make sure you’re woken in the middle of the night when you are likely to miss a text message.

The sensor seems to work great based on what customers have to say, and if you have a router that supports WPS the setup is dead simple and quick. If you are forced to do a manual setup, on the other hand, things can be very frustrating, apparently, which is not too uncommon when it comes to D-Link stuff. The only other criticism I’d level at it is that it’s a bit too expensive, but considering that it can save you thousands of dollars in damages, I think it’s not too bad.

Proteus Smart Wifi Water Detector Review

I’ve personally never heard of Proteus, but kudos on an appropriate name, although I don’t know if it is intentional or not. Proteus is one of the early Greek gods of the sea and other bodies of water. It’s sort of ironic, when you think about it.

This is another WiFi water sensor that connects directly to your router with no hub. In terms of design this guy is WAY uglier than the offering from D-Link. I mean, really I don’t think I believed in objective ugliness until now. It’s also, for some reason, a lot more expensive, but let us not be too quick to judge. There may be some tricks up the (metaphorical) sleeve of this device that will become apparent soon.

Like the other WiFi-based sensors I have seen, this one plugs straight into an outlet. You then connect the sensor lead and screw the sensor down in the spot where you want to detect the presence of water. Not the most straightforward, but far from the least, that’s for sure.

Proteus says that there is an API (Application Programmer Interface) for advanced users to create their own interfaces and apps that make use of the sensor, so that opens up the possibility of using this for other things than just the use it was designed for. For most people that functionality is pointless and I’d rather trade it for out of the box IFTTT support.

In terms of customer experiences, well, they are almost all positive. It works as advertised, but the price is just too high. So my verdict is this – if you are someone who is looking to write custom software that needs to use water sensors for something, this may be worth a look. For the average Joe or Jane who just wants to save the carpet in the lounge when the dishwasher bursts a pipe, look somewhere else.

Wet and Mild

Life without water in the home is impossible for most people, but the damage this modern luxury can do when it ends up where it is not supposed to can be devastating. A smart home can tell when things are leaking just like your own body would, and for just a few dollars it seems you can get a reliable and highly valuable asset to the safety and security of your home.