When you think of the smart home, you think of obvious gadgets like lightbulbs, thermostats, and robotic appliances like vacuums. But there are decidedly less cool ways to smarten up your home that could actually help you save money and do some good for the environment.
One such solution is a new smart home water monitor, which is something I’ve been looking into as a Californian living in what seems like a perpetual state of drought (which will only get weirder and worse because climate change). I’ve been learning more about which parts of my house leak the most, so Kohler’s latest product might actually be a solid option for me.
Announced at last year’s CES, Kohler’s H2Wise home water sensors are finally available to buy. The basic H2Wise is a water monitor that comes in an easy-to-do-it-yourself package, or you can opt for the pricier H2Wise+, which requires professional-level installation since it provides automatic water shut-off.
The $400 DIY version of the H2Wise is for indoor use only and is the kind of product you’d place on the “main” water fixture in your home, like the kitchen sink. You connect it to the hot and cold water pipes and then mount the main module underneath, provided you have room. You will need access to a 110/220V power supply for the H2Wise to work. The H2Wise runs periodic diagnostic tests and will notify you if it detects a leak in the pipeline—even something as small as a pinhole leak. If you’ve got a leaky toilet, for instance, the H2Wise will give you a heads up through the Kohler Konnect app so you can address it. For households in cold climates, the H2Wise will also offer a pre-freeze warning if it detects immense pressure in the pipes.
The Kohler H2Wise+ is a little more involved, though it offers the same functionality as the H2Wise. It’s installed at the main water valve to your home, so it enables you to actually shut off the water if there’s a leak detected. The H2Wise+ features 1-inch threaded male ends so that it can adapt to various fittings, and it requires a 110/220V power supply within 15 feet of where it’s installed. Kohler also recommends plugging it into a GFCI outlet. The H2Wise+ costs about $667, and the company suggests having it installed by a professional.
Both the H2Wise and H2Wise+ connect to the Kohler Konnect app and pair with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant for voice-activated status information. For instance, with Alexa, you can ask H2Wise how much water you’ve used for the day or the month.
The H2Wise is a collaboration with smart water gadget maker Phyn, which makes a product called Phyn Plus that works similarly to the H2Wise and has received positive reviews. It also offers a much cheaper water solution, the $40 Phyn Smart Water Sensor, which is a battery-powered device that can monitor leaks and changes in temperature and humidity.
This isn’t the first smart home water monitor on the market. Moen, another well-known name in bathroom fixtures, offers a similar sensor called the Flo by Moen, which costs $500 for the unit and then $5/month for FloProtect, which provides insight on water usage.