The last 10 years has seen an explosion of connected smart home devices controlling everything in the home from lighting to security to climate. However, plumbing has been a lagging entrant to the smart home ecosystem, notes Ian Greene, marketing director, FloLogic.
“Consumers are becoming aware that smart water devices deliver an important confluence of connected home benefits that they are beginning to expect: Home security and control,” Greene says. “Water damage, after all, is a lot more likely than fires and burglaries. And the average home wastes 17 gallons of water a day due to leaks. Water damage-associated insurance claim payouts have risen to $13 billion annually. Insurance providers, who are realizing technology’s role in reducing losses, are driving much of the adoption as they recommend and sometimes require leak control technology as a condition of coverage.”
John Holzheimer, vice president of engineering, operations and supply chain, LeakSmart, agrees safety and security are driving the smart plumbing category, but another trend driving the market is the desire to save and conserve water.
“While estimates vary, the average person uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day,” Holzheimer says. “Multiply that by four family members and you are looking at 320 to 400 gallons per day or roughly 10,000 gallons per month, which is the equivalent of a family-sized pool. In the smart plumbing category, water conservation can be achieved through built-in sensors or controlled via smartphones. There are faucets that automatically shut off after a few seconds to avoid unnecessary running of water, and smart toilets can sense how much water is needed for flushing.
“This trend has also extended into the leak detection category,” he continues. “Products have the ability to set daily, weekly or monthly limits to make a household more efficient. And, just like smart HVAC and light bulbs can be controlled via an app on a smartphone, so can our leak detection and monitoring system.”
Homeowners also have an increasing interest in connecting their plumbing appliances — such as water heaters — to the cloud and gaining remote access, notes Arthur Smith, product manager, A. O. Smith.
“This is being driven by broad adoption of smart home systems such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, and then customers are looking at all the devices and appliances in their home and considering additional possibilities,” he says. “I expect the market for connected water heaters to continue to grow as more options are available in the marketplace: Gas and electric, tank and tankless options.
“One dynamic that I expect to drive adoption of connected water heaters is the implementation of time-of-use pricing by electric utilities where the cost of electricity changes throughout the day, week and season,” Smith adds. “Connected water heaters can take that pricing schedule and then heat water when it is most cost effective to save a homeowner money. Heat pump water heaters provide the double benefit of reducing energy usage and storing energy behind the meter.”
Scott Cohen, senior manager, marketing and training, Rheem, says the company knows it’s important to develop smart features that solve real issues.
“An example includes identifying hot water availability,” Cohen notes. “Rheem offers a built-in Hot Water Availability feature within its tank-type systems to visually show the amount of hot water stored in the tank. Users can see this in-formation through the company’s exclusive EcoNet smartphone app.
“Peace of mind among customers also drives smart plumbing advancements,” he continues. “Through system alerts and control via smart devices, users can promptly detect maintenance requirements and system issues. We are continuing to see this drive developments among manufacturers in the water heating category.”
Manufacturer: A. O. Smith
Product: Voltex hybrid electric heat pump water heater
Description: Voltex hybrid electric heat pump water heaters from A. O. Smith can reduce water heating costs by as much as 71%, equaling up to $428 in savings annually compared with standard electric units. Savings can be even higher in states with high electricity rates. The energy-efficient heat pump also qualifies for a number of state and utility rebates.
Where to buy: Learn more at www.hotwater.com.
Product name: The FloLogic System
Description: The FloLogic System offers app-connected, premium detection of leaks. Valves of 1”, 1.5” and 2” all see leaks in real-time as low as a half-ounce per minute. The US-made cast bronze, rain-proof system integrates easily with irrigation, water treatment and home security. FloLogic has offered trade discounts since 2000.
Where to buy: Local supply house, 877-356-5644 or www.flologic.com.
Product name: Protect by LeakSmart with Flow
Description: Protect by LeakSmart with Flow provides advanced water flow analytics, and monitors and controls the home’s water activity — from in-wall to appliance leaks — detecting water leaks instantly, shutting off a home’s main wa-ter supply and sending alerts via smartphone in less than five seconds.
Where to buy: Major plumbing wholesalers. Learn more at www.leaksmart.com.
Manufacturer: Rheem Mfg. Co.
Product: Rheem Next Generation hybrid water heater
Description: Next Generation hybrid water heaters are the most efficient water heaters on the market, Rheem says. With smart features such as LeakGuard and Hot Water Availability, the system has up to 4.0 UEF, lowering operating costs and saving up to $480 per year in energy costs, Rheem says.
Where to buy: For more information, visit rheem.com/waterinnovations.