A friend of mine just had to fix thousands of dollars in water damage after finding out her refrigerator had been leaking for a year. As a relatively new homeowner, this is my nightmare scenario — the problems I can't see and remain blissfully ignorant of until they become giant expensive problems that I can't miss.
WallyHome is a network of moisture sensors that you can stash all over your home, where they'll immediately alert you to problems like leaks, mold, or abnormal temperature and humidity levels. After I set up sensors in my bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and even the attic, I could rest easier knowing I'd be notified — and thoroughly. When I simulated a leaky bathroom sink, I got a push notification, an email, and a text message, and WallyHome even followed up with an "all clear" email once I'd cleaned everything up.
The problem with sensors is that they need power. No one's gonna want to put a moisture sensor in their attic if they have to then remember to climb up there and swap out the battery every so often. Jeremy and Jacquelyn Jaech, the founders of SNUPI Technologies and creators of WallyHome, came up with a new communications platform they call SNUPI, for Sensor Network Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure.
The watch batteries in the wireless sensors are guaranteed to last 10 years, because they aren't transmitting data all the way back to WallyHome's hub. Instead, the system uses your home's existing electrical wires as an antenna. Each sensor only has to transmit data as far as the wiring in your walls, so the signal transmitter doesn't need a lot of power, and the batteries can last longer — plus, one WallyHome hub can cover your whole house, even if parts of it aren't covered by Wi-Fi.
The system is a piece of cake to set up, too. The hub plugs into power with a wall adapter, and then connects to your home network via Ethernet cable. I connected my hub to an AirPort Express that lives in my kitchen to extend the Wi-Fi network from my main router in the living room. Then all I had to do is place the small plastic sensors around my house — the WallyHome app suggests common places to put them, like under the hot water heater, behind the refrigerator, and under sinks and toilets. (The $299 starter kit has a hub and six sensors, and additional sensors are $35 each or six for $199.)
When you tell the app where you'll be putting a sensor, it even displays an animation that shows you exactly where it should go: under the water-intake hose on the back of my washing machine, for example. Since WallyHome's unique signals don't use Wi-Fi or mimic any other wireless communication that's already happening in your house, the devices identify each other with no muss and no fuss. I was up and running in no time.
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