SMART WATER MONITOR OVERVIEW: SMARTER THAN YOUR AVERAGE LEAK DETECTOR
Of all the connected devices and gadgets I have in my house – not a small number – Flume might be the smartest. There is only one job – to monitor the water consumption of my house – but it works so well, I have no problem recommending it and its price of $ 200 to any homeowner with a smartphone and Wi-Fi connection.
Provided, the Flume isn’t as beautiful as Nest’s learning thermostat or somewhere as versatile as the Amazon Echo Show, but just 24 hours after I connected it, it knew more about my house than any other connected device I have. After a week, it changed my habits. I’m not even sure how it works – it simply attaches to the outside of the main water pipe without the need for cutting or configuration – but it’s the first smart device I’ve used that alerts me to a problem I may not have otherwise noticed.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best water leak detectors, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, as well as a customer guide on the features you should consider when shopping.
Michael Simon / IDG
A simple rubber band holds the Flume water monitor in place.
Around the holidays, I had a few friends of my son at a party that was full of boxes of drinks and juices, and it inevitably took a few of them to use the bathroom. Surprisingly, at least one of them remembered to wash his hands, because later that evening I received a text message from Flume informing me that a potential leak had been discovered.
Although the warning said that water usage averaged 0.34 gallons per minute (which is relatively large), when I pierced the application minute by minute, I saw continuous readings of only about 0.02 gallons per minute when water would they should have been turned off. This led me to conclude that one of the children had left a lukewarm stream of water flowing down the bathroom, which I immediately turned off.
Now you might think that the drip tap I would eventually notice is not enough to throw $ 200 on another smart device. But if Flume can detect a small leak from the faucet, it will also be able to tell you when a more dangerous problem is lurking, which you probably wouldn’t see until it’s too late. Even if that day never comes, there’s a good chance it’ll save you a few bucks in time.
EASY ADJUSTMENT, PEA MONITORING
After passing several leak detectors that required pipe cutting, I was intrigued by Flume’s design. Instead of mounting it to your main water supply, the detector mounts to your water meter – and you won’t need any tools to do so.
Honestly, it’s not much harder to install than the smart Philips Hue light. There is a relatively large Wi-Fi bridge that must be plugged into an electrical outlet to communicate with the main sensor, but since your main water pipe is probably in the basement or tucked outside, it shouldn’t be too hard to hide it. The sensor and the bridge also need not be close to each other (as they communicate via radio waves), so any disconnected port will be successful. I put mine in the
Michael Simon / IDG
The Flume Wi-Fi Bridge is quite large, especially compared to the Ring and Hue Bridges.
Once the chimney is connected to the bridge, you will have to connect it to the water meter. It’s a bit like putting on a diving face mask, a rubber band that attaches it firmly to the tube, and a large curved rectangle that lies on the front. Fortunately, no power source is needed, though at some point long battery life will need to be changed. Just be warned: Some water meters may not be Flume compatible, so check your model before buying.
MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE
You will then receive several queries in the Flume app to turn on the faucet nearby so that the sensor can start reading the water flow. Flume will be on autopilot ever since. If you’re a person who loves fidding, Flume will disappoint you – there are barely any settings, and even the required Amazon Aleka integration only offers statistics that you can easily see by opening the app – but I appreciated Flume’s quiet functionality.
The main selling point of Flume is to catch leaks coming from your pipes, and as such it does a great job. In my above anecdote, she found that water was flowing at a very low speed, and if you are on vacation or otherwise away from home, you can opt for a warning when any water moves through your lines.
Because Flume does not install in accordance with your water pipe, you cannot send it an order that in case of emergency (or it does so automatically), you cannot send it an order to turn off the water supply. So if Sam at home hits the wet Bandits, you know, but you’ll have to call a family member or a neighbor to ask them they’ll turn off your plumbing if you’re on vacation. While this makes the Flume less capable than competing products, such as $ 400 Flo from Moen or $ 700 Phin Plus, it is also significantly cheaper than either of these devices
The Flume control panel contains a wealth of information about your water use.
However, Flume was regularly considered more useful than, say, a physical sensor that detects humidity to start the phone. I wouldn’t mind being able to communicate with other smart devices – such as perhaps the flickering of a light shade when a leak is detected – but I was happy with Flume’s detection skills. And I have a very simple house. If you have an irrigation system or underground sprinklers, Flume will also monitor this. (Flume and Orbit – maker of B-Hive’s smart burst timers – have announced a partnership at CES that will allow homeowners who buy both systems to monitor indoor water use regardless of outdoor water use.)
Even without traditional smart homes if these capabilities are not available, Flume is still quite intelligent. You will have to spend a week or so before you get a decent overview of water use, but it will be much more enlightening than your monthly water bill. Whenever you refill water with one of your faucets or taps, Flume will estimate how many gallons you use by reading your meter like a plumbing company does, so you can break it down by weeks, days, and even individual showers. In the Detailed View you can compare your use with similar households.
And here Flume can really add a little meaning to his daily routine. Yes, it’s nice to be notified if and when a potential leak occurs, but I benefit a lot more from Flume’s weekly budgets and real-time water usage charts. I can’t stop my son’s friends from recklessly leaving the faucet on, but I can shorten his showers. And watch out for excessive water while brushing your teeth or washing dishes
Flume will alert you when water is flowing longer than it should and will deliver monthly reports so you can adjust your usage.
In just one month with Flume, I was able to reduce my water usage just by paying attention to the warnings I received. It basically does for my water bill what my Nest thermostat did for my heating bill. Provided, it will take some time for the $ 200 Flume to pay for itself, but Flume has demystified the fluctuations in my water bill.
DO YOU NEED TO BUY A FLUME SMART WATER MONITOR?
A $ 200 water monitor that serves as a leak detector may not be high on your list of essential smart home devices, but the combination of easy setup and monitoring without any problems, Flume makes it a great addition to any home, smart or otherwise.
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