For most homeowners, the risk of significant and costly damage that can come from a burst pipe, theft, or fire is a constant source of stress. Thankfully, advances in smart home technology make it easier than ever to monitor your home and get notified if something malfunctions.
In the past, only tech enthusiasts used smart home products to manage their homes, but nowadays, these devices are cheaper and easier to use than ever. You can even set up several devices to work together and create a network of protection. (For more smart home devices that can help your home, check out Energy-Saving Smart Home Devices That Save You Money.)
The leading causes of non-storm-related home damage are fire, water, and theft, so this article will show you how smart home sensors can help prevent major home damage or minimize the impact on your home from one of those issues.
What Is A Smart Home Sensor?
A smart home sensor is any device that alerts you to a change in your home’s status through wireless technology, often paired with a smartphone app or other smart device. Think of it like your home’s eyes, ears, and nose, providing senses that help to monitor for all kinds of potential issues. Connected home sensors serve as valuable protection tools for your home and family, as they can detect when something isn’t operating as it should.
For example, smart home sensors can let you know if your home has too much moisture, that Carbon Monoxide (CO) has been detected, or there is a significant leak in your home. When paired with other smart devices, they may even be able to take steps to fix those issues automatically.
What Are The Different Types Of Smart Home Sensors?
A smart home traditionally uses different devices to operate a range of systems and processes around the house, such as lighting, security, entertainment systems, sprinklers, and more. These devices are designed to help complete tasks around your home, and typically interact with one of the main smart home ecosystems, such as Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or SmartThings.
For example, smart home hubs like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod can receive voice commands for various tasks such as playing music, adjusting the lights, setting the thermostat, and more.
A smart sensor is more of a "set it and forget it" type of device that interacts with other devices in your smart home. These smart house sensors range from affordable, simple detectors to high-end, whole-home systems that require professional installation.
The different kinds of smart home sensors that are available include leak detectors, motion sensors, door and window sensors, air quality monitors, and more.
Once programmed with its specific function and placed in its relevant location, a sensor can contact you when something happens. Possible triggers include a door being opened, someone walking by a certain area, unexpected water flow, or a change in temperature, humidity, or sound.
If you are away from your home and something water-related breaks, you wouldn't usually know anything had happened until you opened the door to a house full of water. However, excess water in your home doesn’t always mean you have a busted pipe that’s leaking water everywhere. It can also mean a slow drip that creates high ambient moisture levels, which can cause your walls and floors to warp, or damage your cabinets and other furniture.
A leak sensor or moisture detector can let you know if your home is at risk of a leak or running water issue. It works by either detecting water directly, or by being installed in your water supply line to detect unexpected flow or changes in water pressure.
If the sensor detects a potential problem, it can send an alert to your smartphone app so you can check it out or contact a repair company. Some leak detectors can even be set to turn off the flow of water or activate a sump pump to prevent further damage until the issue can be fixed.
We recommend installing a smart home water sensor near water heaters, dishwashers, sinks, refrigerators, your washing machine, or any other place at risk for water leakage. Getting an early alert from your moisture sensor can mean the difference between a small leak and flooding your house.
Some of the best water/moisture sensors are made by Flo by Moen, iHome, Fibaro, Proteus, Flume, D-Link, and Phyn. DIY smart leak detectors are usually small, battery-powered sensors that can be placed in hard-to-reach areas, and sometimes contain multiple sensors attached to a single device.
Leak detectors are usually easy to install and connect to your home via Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi. However, some leak detectors need to be connected directly into your water pipes to allow them to shut off the water, which may require the services of a plumber or other specialist.
When the device comes in contact with water, an audible alarm will usually sound, and you will receive a push alert and/or email on your connected device. Keep in mind that you need to verify compatibility, because some may not work with third-party systems like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Apple Siri.
Motions sensors send alerts when someone or something comes within a specified range or area. A common example of a motion sensor is a video doorbell or external floodlight.
A smart home motion sensor gives you peace of mind that you always know what is happening around your home. For example, if someone is prowling around your house, you would get an alert letting you know where motion was detected.
Depending on the compatibility of your sensors, you can set them to do different commands when they detect motion, such as turning on the porch light or recording with your video doorbell and/or other cameras on your property.
You can also use motion detectors to turn on a light when someone walks into a room. The reverse is true as well, as you can set it to turn off the lights if no motion is detected after a certain period of time. Reducing unnecessary electricity use can help you save on your electricity bill, so this feature can be a huge money saver.
Companies such as Aqara, Centralite, Hue, Ring, and Aeotec make some of the industry’s leading motion sensors, so look for the one that integrates best with the rest of your devices.
A contact sensor uses magnets and is triggered when the two parts of the sensor either make or lose connection with each other. They’re typically installed on doors and windows to alert when opening or closing occurs, but can also be installed on interior cabinets and other areas where you want to enable home automation.
Contact sensor technology can let you know what’s happening around your house. This can range from knowing when your toddler has opened a cabinet with cleaning supplies in it to learning about an opened window that’s letting out all of your heat.
Some of the best contact sensors are made by Monoprice, Aqara, Fibaro, YoLink, and Eve, so again, the key is to find one that integrates well with the rest of your smart home ecosystem.
Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector
We’ve had smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in homes for decades. But as loud as those devices can be, they can’t help if you’re away from the house when something bad happens.
With a smart sensor, you can be notified by traditional means, as well as by a smartphone notification as soon as evidence of smoke, fire, or carbon monoxide is detected. That way, you can call the fire department if you’re away from home, or even set it up so the home can alert the fire department itself.
For more advanced features, you can even pair your smart smoke detector with smart lights. Together, they can accomplish tasks such as turning on all the lights in the house if a fire is detected at night, waking people up so they can escape, and more.
One of the most popular versions of this sensor is the Google Nest Protect, but Kidde and First Alert also make a variety of options, including the OneLink Safe & Sound detector. Another option is Roost, which has created a Wi-Fi-enabled battery that you can install in your current detectors to give them smart features. In addition, some smart home hubs like Amazon’s Alexa have features like Alexa Guard that can listen for the sound of your smoke alarm, and alert you when the alarm is detected.
Think of a freeze sensor as the logical complement to a leak sensor. While a leak sensor tells you when a leak has occurred, a freeze or temperature sensor can warn you that the temperature has reached a point where pipes could easily freeze or burst, preventing leaks from happening in the first place.
You don’t have to live in an area with regular below-freezing temperatures to benefit from a smart home temperature sensor. If you’ve ever had a pipe burst when it’s cold outside, you’ll understand how important it can be to have some advance warning of unusual temperatures.
Roost, Honeywell, Ring, and Ecolink all provide excellent freeze sensors that will communicate with your smartphone and can be added to your larger smart home ecosystem.
Air Quality Monitor
While many modern weather services now include information about air quality in their news updates and apps, they still can’t account for what’s happening in your own backyard. For example, if you live in a neighborhood close to a factory, or your area is prone to wildfires, it’s helpful to know what’s in the air so you can keep your family safe and healthy.
Good air quality sensors live inside your home and track potential problems such as carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter. They can also measure the quality of life factors, such as ambient temperature and humidity. Many of them can even link with your air conditioner or smart thermostat to provide solutions like increased internal cycling when you need to clean your home’s air.
The leading air quality monitor brands include Eve, Awair, Netatmo, Airthings, and uHoo. Be on the lookout for options that track carbon monoxide, humidity, temperature, and more, as well as tell you when you need to replace your air filters or schedule a full-scale tuneup of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
Prevent Major Home Damage With Smart Home Sensors
Smart home sensors are becoming more popular than ever, and they are increasingly easy to install. You can even get devices that have multiple smart sensors integrated into one device.
Whether you use a smart home ecosystem like Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or SmartThings, there are a wide variety of smart gadgets that can integrate with those systems. Many can even be programmed to interact with devices like Apple HomePod, Google Home, and Amazon Echo to control them, or with virtual assistants like Apple Siri, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa to communicate with them.
Smart home sensor technology can be used to learn what is going on in your home, so you can prevent issues and damage from fire, water, and theft before they occur. While adding smart house sensors is an investment, focusing on active prevention can help you save money in the long run.