There’s been a huge growth in ‘smart’ home technology over the last couple of years – lighting which you can control via your phone, heating which you can turn on and off from outside the house, CCTV which you can access while you’re out and about… So when renowned German brand GROHE got in touch asking if I’d like to test out their latest ‘smart’ innovation, I was intrigued.
The exact details were kept under wraps until after the product’s official launch, so I had no idea what was going to arrive in the post. It turned out to be the GROHE ‘Sense’ – a clever little sensor which detects water leaks and alerts you to them before they can cause too much damage. In truth, it’s not the most glamorous product in the world – but the more I thought about it, the more I began to realise it’s a good idea. A really good idea, in fact.
I’ve been nervous about water leaks ever since a cold Sunday morning back in 2008, when Chris and I woke up in our old flat to find water dripping through the ceiling from the boiler in the property above. The owner was away in Ireland, and our plasterwork had started to peel away by the time we finally managed to track down someone with a spare key and turn off the water supply. And I’m not alone: a GROHE survey found that 54% of households have suffered mains-related water damage at least once, and leaks often go undetected for weeks or even months – either because they’re hidden from view (perhaps under a bath or floorboard), or because they occur slowly. Now I worry that I’m going to come home to a flooded kitchen every time I turn on the washing machine or dishwasher, so anything which helps to put my mind at rest is very welcome indeed.
The ‘Sense’ sounded fairly easy to set up – just a case of adding batteries and then pairing it with a phone using GROHE’s free ‘ONDUS’ app. In the name of honest reviewing, I have to say that I had a few problems at this stage as I kept losing the connection, but GROHE soon released an app update which sorted everything out, so other users won’t experience the same issue.
The minute the ‘Sense’ comes into contact with liquid, it starts to glow red. If you’re out and about, the app will alert you via a notification, SMS or email, depending on which settings you choose. I tested it out with a few drops of water, and it reacted straight away.
There are all sorts of places where you could use it – next to an appliance, by a dodgy window or door, underneath pipes or boilers… What’s more, it doesn’t just track leaks; it also alerts you to high humidity levels that might lead to mould or condensation (very useful in bathrooms and basements), as well as monitoring temperature drops so that you know when frost might bring the risk of cracked pipes.
I’ve placed my GROHE ‘Sense’ in the corner of our dining room, where we’ve previously had a leaking pipe, and its sleek, understated design means it’s not intrusive at all. I haven’t had any alerts yet, but it’s reassuring to know that I’d find out about any future problems before they had chance to do much damage.
The ‘Sense’ costs £51.99, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind – you could even buy several and dot them around your home as needed, as the app allows you to connect multiple devices across different rooms. Or, for £439, you could add the ‘Sense Guard’, which you install in the water main itself. If there’s a leak you then don’t even need to return home, as you can shut off the water supply via the app. Ingenious!
Photography by Abi Dare
This is a sponsored post with GROHE, but all words and opinions are my own.