Which flood sensor should you buy?

Which flood sensor should you buy? 0

Winter is coming...and with it come a lot of potential hazards for homeowners and renters alike. Broken pipes, floods and potentially thousands of dollars of water damage. But some companies want to save you that money with a simple gadget: the flood sensor.

Flood sensors come in all varieties, but they pretty much all work using the same mechanism: when water touches two exposed metal probes, the device senses increased conductivity between those probes and sets off an alarm. It's a simple idea that can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

But when you're looking for the right flood sensor, it's easy to get overwhelmed. I rounded up seven of the leading connected flood sensors on the market -- that is, ones that won't just set off an alarm, but will send you a notification on your phone -- and tested them out. Let's break them down.

Which flood sensors are worth your money?

We break down the options in each price category.

by David Priest
2:21
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High end

Really, the main high-end flood sensor is the Honeywell Lyric Leak and Freeze Detector. It costs $80 (roughly £65 in the UK, AU$110 in Australia) because it measures temperature as well as humidity, it works with Wi-Fi so you don't need a smart hub to use it and it's got a nice loud audible alarm. Plus, it includes a cable that extends its sensing range.

The problem is, that price is really expensive for this category. Worse, the Honeywell isn't waterproof, which means it might be a single-use device if the flooding is substantial. Dumb.

Winner by default: Honeywell Lyric Leak and Freeze Detector

Honeywell basically has the high-end leak detector game on lock-down. That doesn't mean it's a perfect product, just that it is the most feature-rich option out there.

Mid-range

For $60 (roughly £50, AU$80), you've got the mid-range D-Link Wi-Fi Water Sensor and the Fibaro Flood Sensor. These devices won't do everything, but they're good products: the D-Link plugs into the wall (negating the need for batteries), it has a cable to extend its sensing range and it works with Wi-Fi. Of course, if the power goes out, you're out of luck.

Another big perk for D-Link is its IFTTT compatibility. Rather than losing the integration offered by working with a smart home hub, D-Link's device connects with the integration app IFTTT to cooperate with hundreds of devices and apps. This adds greatly to its flexibility and integration possibilities.

If you do have a smart hub like SmartThings, then Fibaro is a solid bet. It has three telescoping probes that work well on uneven surfaces. Plus it's waterproof, includes an audible alarm and has a tilt sensor if it gets knocked out of place. I especially like Fibaro for its modular design. DIY enthusiasts will be able to connect it to alarms or range extenders with a little wiring and ingenuity.

See how to build your own flood sensor out of inexpensive parts

$15 (or more) for a flood sensor? Build your own for less than $5! This how to isn't for the squeamish, but if you've got the patience, you can save some money when adding leak detectors to your home.

by David Priest
4:02
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Fibaro's biggest weakness, aside from price: its probes rest directly on the ground, instead of being recessed. That means, if you're planning to use it on an A/C drip pan, Fibaro isn't your best pick.

Winner: D-Link Wi-Fi Water Sensor

The Fibaro Flood Sensor is a great product, but the D-Link Sensor outshines it. I especially like that it doesn't depend on batteries, and that it works with IFTTT to increase its overall integration possibilities.

Affordable options

On a tighter budget, you can get a wide range of products, but they pretty much all rely on a smart home hub. That means, if you don't have a hub already, the cheapest option will still probably be the D-Link Wi-Fi Water Sensor.

For hub users, Everspring and Aeotec, which use wired probes, work best to measure water levels in your sump pump or a particular drain; but if you're looking for a more flexible device, they aren't your best options. Aeotec edges out Everspring with its $35 (roughly £30, AU$50) price.

The $48 (roughly £40, AU$65) FortrezZ and $40 (roughly £30, AU$55) SmartThings sensors also both work with hubs. They're easy to install, but they don't have audible alarms, or really any other distinguishing features. The SmartThings sensor generally works a little more reliably (FortrezZ needed more pooling water to sense a leak), and it costs less, so that's my pick between the two.

floodsensorroundup-2.jpg

Samsung's sensor is relatively affordable among those we compared.

Photo by Chris Monroe/CNET

Winner (for hub-users): SmartThings Water Leak Sensor

While it's not perfect, the SmartThings Sensor is super easy to install, and quick to send users push notifications. Plus, it's relatively affordable compared to most other connected options on the market.

Overall Winner: D-Link Wi-Fi Water Sensor

The D-Link Sensor is the perfect balance between affordable and luxury, practical and feature-rich. Its design removes the need for batteries, uses a cable to extend its sensing range and retains cool integration options via IFTTT. It really is the best option on the market, especially for people without a smart home hub.


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