Product Review: SimpleSENCE WiFi Leak Detector
The SimpleSENCE Wifi Leak Detector is a nifty, futuristic little device that can alert you over WiFi if you have a leak or freeze in any spot you'd like to keep an eye on. It's like a baby monitor for unwelcome drips, puddles, and chills.
With the look and feel of a wireless computer mouse, it's relatively unobtrusive, and its white, blue, and green color scheme is confident and bright. Two thin metal sensors run along the bottom and sides.
If one of the sensors experiences a "water event," it will send notifications to whomever it has been assigned to contact. It will also make a moderate alarm sound, so if someone is nearby without a phone, they'll be alerted.
Connecting to the Leak Detector
We had no problem pairing the device to an Android phone. We just pointed Google Lens at the QR code (those boxy images made of black, square dots) and the SimpleSENCE website popped up with a link to download the app (you can also just type simplesence.com into your browser).
The app instructs users to touch two thin metal lines on the sensor to wake it up. In our case, it promptly paired with the phone we used, a Google Pixel 2 (you'll need to know your WiFi password to complete the setup).
Once connected to your device, the detector offers a list of potential spots it can be of service, including refrigerators, basements, etc. You assign a spot and place the sensor somewhere it would come in contact with water in case of a leak or flood (the metal strips are its detection method).
The app is simple and intuitive, and includes the ability to check a sensor's history, change assigned locations, adjust alert contacts, and switch WiFi systems.
There's no limit to how many sensors you can connect to the app. The company, Sencentric, recommends using them in attics, garages, laundry rooms, kitchens, basements, and garages, particularly under sinks and near leaky appliances or windows.
One clear application of this sensor is keeping tabs on a vacation property when you're far away. The freeze detection could be useful in places susceptible to pipe-bursting cold, like country cottages or cabins. Especially if a building goes months and months with no inhabitants, it's easy to see how a detector for potentially damaging accidents might come in pretty handy.
One user on the SimpleSENCE website describes appreciating the comfort of knowing things were warm and dry in their basement, a place they don't spend much time as a retiree living alone. Another owner mentions getting an alert at work and rushing home to find what could have been a destructive, costly flood in an upstairs bathroom.
Leak and Freeze Test
We tested the leak sensor by placing it in a sink and running a small amount of water. A few seconds after the water touched the device, it made an alarm sound, and a few seconds after that, our phone received a text, and we received an email alert. The alarm is not particularly loud, though you would hear it if you were within a room or two of its location.
Next, we tested the temperature sensor by leaving the device in the freezer. A few minutes later, it sent a text and email about the cold. In the case of the leak, it followed up when the water stopped with messages that it had been resolved. After we took it out of the freezer, it took about ten minutes to send a notice that things were warm enough again.
Comparing to Other Detectors
If you're looking for a device that fits in with your smart home hub, the strangely spelled SimpleSENCE might not be for you. It interacts directly with your phone or computer, but doesn't click into a broader network of home management technology. Conversely, if you just want the specific functionality of leak detection without setting up a whole system, it might be just what you're looking for.
You may want to shop around a little, though. The sensors are available on Amazon for approximately $60 at the time of writing, with a three-pack for $210 and a five-pack for $350. They come with a 30-day unconditional refund promise, and a two year manufacturer's warranty.
A few similar sensor options come in at a slightly lower price, like the Roost Leak and Freeze Detector, which as of writing costs $10 less than the SimpleSENCE, can also measure humidity (useful for preventing mold), and claims to have a battery life of over three years. The non-HomeKit version of Fibaro's Z-Wave sensor is just $37, though the Z-Wave system requires a hub, which will cost an additional $70-$200.
The SimpleSENCE is powered by two AAA batteries (included), replaceable from the back using a small screwdriver. Sencentric says expected battery lifetime is two years, with a notification triggered when it's getting very low. When we received our model, its power reading was just under 70%.
Unlike some of its competitors, this sensor can't mount on a wall, and it doesn't have an optional attachment cord to get input from hard to reach places. It's quite compact, however, and it can function on its side, so it can fit into some fairly tight spots.
Sencentric has also suggested that future developments may allow their sensor to connect to other kinds of systems, though they haven't announced any specific plans for this functionality. More advanced smart home equipment can actually stop a leak by shutting off water flow to affected areas, so the ability to interface with such devices could potentially make this sensor more useful in the future.
Because it's not an especially intrusive addition to your wireless network (it can't record your voice, for example), the detector doesn't require a secure login. If you'd like to guarantee its privacy, though, you can use the app to create a password protected account with your email address.
Android devices must have GPS/location services enabled during installation—a requirement of all Android devices when using Bluetooth services. If you're using an Android device and don't want to continue allowing access to GPS data, you can disable the GPS/location services after setup is completed. Apple devices don't require enabling GPS/location services while using the SimpleSENCE app.
It's a little expensive for such a straightforward offering, but SimpleSENCE covers basic leak and freeze detection in a reliable, user-friendly way.