If you want a water leak sensor that tries to do it all, the Fibaro Flood Sensor might be for you. The $60 sensor works with any Z-Wave hub, and has a bunch of capabilities you won't find from the competition. On the downside, it's pricey for a hub-based sensor and requires expertise to tap its most interesting features. Fibaro's sensor uses the Z-Wave protocol to communicate with a hub device, which then uses Wi-Fi to talk to your smartphone. Using a SmartThings hub ($100), the pairing process was pretty simple: Just triple-tap a button inside the sensor to set it to pairing mode, then use the SmartThings app to look for new devices.
That's not the Eye of Sauron pictured above, it's a new multi-sensor that can detect not only movement but also ambient temperature and light intensity. It's one of three new products from Fibaro that are compatible with Apple's HomeKit smart-home platform. Fibaro also announced a new flood sensor and a new door/window sensor today. The $70 Fibaro Motion Sensor is battery powered and uses Bluetooth LE (low energy) technology to communicate with an iOS device and/or a central hub or control panel. The eye-shaped LED indicator changes color when it detects motion, temperature and lighting changes, and tampering (thanks to an onboard accelerometer that can trigger an alarm if the sensor is moved).
Flood and water damage can be a homeowner's worst nightmare. Burst or leaky pipes can be costly: It costs an average of $20,000 to repair water leaks from plumbing failures, according to the ACE Private Risk Services. The same 2011 study found that 93 percent of the damage could have been avoided if leak detection had been in place. The latest weapon in the war against flood damage is the HomeKit Fibaro Flood Sensor. Manufactured by the "home intelligence" company Fibaro, which specializes in "smart" home products such as motion, window and door sensors, it alerts homeowners to the presence of unwanted water by sending a text or email, or – if the homeowner doesn't have a phone or laptop handy – by activating a siren.
In a world where smart plugs are increasingly becoming commoditized--with mainline brands hovering around $30 and no-name plugs as cheap as 10 bucks--is there room for a $60 smart plug that's premium-priced because, well, it has a USB charging port on its side, monitors its energy consumption, and lights up in multiple colors? It's a tough sell, but at least the Fibaro Wall Plug with USB Charging Port does everything it claims to do without any real complaints. Fibaro's Wall Plug with USB (a less-expensive sans-USB version is in the works) has the familiar look of any number of oversized, single three-prong smart sockets. While it fits rather discreetly flush against the wall, the design has the immediate drawback that it blocks the second outlet in the socket, no matter which outlet you plug it into. If you use the Fibaro in the bottom outlet on a standard two-outlet plate, you can squeeze a two-prong plug into the upper outlet, but three-prong plugs won't fit because of the blocked ground hole.
If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. However, our picks and opinions are independent from USA TODAY's newsroom and any business incentives. Apple's HomeKit smart home ecosystem might not have the same cool factor as Amazon Alexa, but it's still a compelling solution, especially if you own lots of Apple devices. Just as Amazon Alexa requires you to own an Echo speaker, Apple HomeKit requires an iPhone. And if you want remote control of your devices (which trust me, you will), you'll also need an always-on iPad left at home or an Apple TV.