Best water leak detectors for smart homes

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Last updated May 23, 2017 to add our review of the WallyHome Starter Kit.

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.

Best water leak detector: Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector

Although it’s the most expensive sensor we tested ($80), the Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze detector is the most powerful and the easiest to set up. It operates over Wi-Fi and connects directly to your router without requiring a smart-home hub. And in addition to warning you about a water leak, the Lyric can also alert you to freezing temperatures and high humidity levels that can lead to other problems.

Honeywell lyric leak sensor Jared Newman

The Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector is our current favorite in this category.

The Lyric has one major shortcoming that could be a deal breaker for enthusiasts: It can’t be integrated into a broader smart-home system. So it can bring a water leak to your attention, but it can’t communicate with a smart water valve to shut the water off at the source. But Honeywell’s sensor can’t be beat on the basics.

Runner-up water leak detector: Utilitech Wireless Water Leak Detector

This was a tough call, because the Utilitech Water Leak Detector has some major downsides. Its battery life only lasts for a year, and the sensor must be mounted on a wall or other vertical surface, making setup a hassle and limiting your placement options.

Utilitech leak sensor Jared Newman

There are a few downsides to our next-best pick, but you can’t beat the price.

On the other hand, it costs just $30, it you can deploy them in multiples, and it works with most Z-Wave smart-home hubs (we tested it as part of an Iris by Lowe’s system; Utilitech is a Lowe’s brand).

Honorable mention: LeakSmart Water Leak Detector

What sets LeakSmart’s hub-based sensor apart from others is that the company also manufactures a smart water shut-off valve ($159 at Lowe’s), which we did not test (most people would want to have that component professionally installed). Still, it’s a huge draw over other sensors that either require more elaborate valve setups or don’t offer those controls at all.

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