This new water monitoring system could save your home
Phyn takes water leak detection straight to the source.
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Smart home technology is more than the flashy Jetsons type technology we’ve come to know and love—security cameras, voice assistants, smart lighting, home automation. It’s also becoming a more and more useful way for homeowners to monitor the health of their homes. One of the biggest concerns for many is waker leaks, especially in areas prone to extreme weather like blizzards, hurricanes, and flooding. A burst pipe or a flooded basement can cause serious (and expensive) damage, and most leak sensors on the market today are designed in such a way that by the time you know, it’s already too late.
Phyn, a new solution unveiled at CES 2018 in Las Vegas from the Belkin family, aims to provide even more oversight and protection into this aspect of your home, with the goal of not only preventing water-related accidents but also reducing excess consumption by taking the monitoring system straight to the source.
What is the Phyn Plus?
Ryan Kim, the founder and CEO of Phyn and a former WeMo engineer for Belkin, set out to find a better solution for water leak detection and he and his team came up with the Phyn Plus. Unlike most leak detectors that are placed strategically on the floor around the home, the Phyn Plus (MSRP $850) is installed directly into the pipes of your home for a more accurate and more immediate diagnosis of any issues that may arise. From there, you can monitor everything from your phone, making it easy to quickly shut off the water if Phyn detects a potential leak.
How it knows what’s running through your pipes
Phyn Plus uses three different sensors—ultrasonic, pressure, and temperature—and complex algorithms to aggregate data and help identify potential leaks or other issues with your water system. Each sensor provides one piece of the puzzle to give you the clearest picture, and it measures micro changes 240 times per second to learn your home's unique water usage routines. And how does it know how to identify problems versus normal usage? Well, before they launched the Phyn Plus, Ryan and his team ran a large-scale pilot to not only test their product but also to glean data that made the detector even more intelligent.
Phyn installed their device in more than 300 homes across 19 states from Alaska all the way to Florida to collect information for a 12-month pilot program to learn more about how people us their water all year long in different climates. After analyzing more than 10 million individual events from the pilot, the Phyn Plus is now smart enough to understand your home’s water usage without a learning period (though it will learn your personal usage patterns as well).
What happens when there’s an issue?
The Device itself has a beautiful LED light bar along the front that, aside from being visually interesting, can give you insights into your water health. It shows shut-offs in progress and lets you know at a glance if the water is turned on or off in addition to other
It can identify when a toilet is flushed, when you’re running the dishwasher, or if you accidentally left a faucet running longer than usual. If there’s a pinhole leak in a pipe, or a larger break, Phyn will help you find it faster. And then, you’ll get an alert through the Phyn app that something is amiss. If you know what’s happening (maybe you’re filling your pool or washing your car), you can tell it to ignore the alert. But if not, you can shut off your water right from your phone. Or if your phone’s not nearby and you’re home, you can press a button on the device, or use the included screwdriver to manually stop water flow.
Should you buy it?
If you’ve got room in your budget, and water leaks are a major concern for you, then yes. I absolutely think this would be a smart addition to your home. But, at $850 (not including installation) and with the need to find someone certified for the installation process, the barrier to entry on this piece of technology is high. Since it involves more than plumbing to install this high-tech device, Phyn is currently working with Uponor Pro Squad to train certified installation experts, and these folks are only currently available in 30 major markets. However, if you really want it and you’re not in the same area as Uponor, there may be potential to have your plumber work with Uponor to get the necessary training.
For the majority of consumers, Phyn is a product to keep an eye on for now. If they find success early on, I suspect the price and installation process will become more accessible to more homeowners.