Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem seems to be growing almost day by day, but there are still categories which are underrepresented in terms of the selection of devices. One of these categories is water leak sensors.
Despite the few options available for this type of sensor, this category is, in many ways, just as useful in the home as smoke sensors, for example. Clearly, the task of water leak sensors is to detect potential water leaks in one’s home. This could be anything from a leaking washing machine or dishwasher, as well as other random accidents, including watering flowers, or, for example, a bathtub that is being filled but forgotten about. It is definitely worth having at least one device of this type in every home that can protect you from these types of incidents and at the same time, the potentially high repair costs associated with them.
The by now well-known company Eve, which manufactures home automation devices operating exclusively in the Apple HomeKit system, has just released such a device called the Eve Water Guard, designed for water leak detection. This new product, that we first reported on at IFA 2019, and subsequently showed up at CES 2020, has now been made available in multiple territories for purchase.
UNBOXING | PACKAGING
The Eve Water Guard packaging is presented in the same clean and transparent style and is easily recognisable as an Eve product if you’ve ever owned any of the company’s previous products. The front features the product, with a noticeable red glow around the product, which isn’t just for show, as it does indeed look this way! We’ll get to that in a bit. The rear of the box has the basic features of the device (in French, German and English), along with requirement. One side of the box promotes the Eve for HomeKit app, whilst the other side lets you know that it has a 100dB alarm, a 2m extendable sensing cable, and, as already mentioned, four adaptors along with the capability to work across the two voltage ranges.
After opening the packaging, you’ll find the Eve Water Guard device in the form of a white plastic cube with exchangeable adapters designed for use in different regions. Four types of adapters are included; EU, UK, US and AU versions. In addition, a cable that acts as a 6.5 ft / 2 m long water detection sensor, along with a quick start guide. Contact and guarantee information sheets are also included. The code for pairing with HomeKit can be found printed on the quick start guide, as well as being found on the device itself. On other interesting note; you can’t see it on the packaging right now, but the Eve Water Guard has won an IF World design award for 2020.
Technical specifications of Eve Water Guard
- Power: 100-240V @ 50/60 Hz. 50 mA
- Wireless Connection: Bluetooth Low Energy
- 65 x 65 x 45 mm (excluding plug)
- Australia: Type I sockets (AS 3112)
- Europe: Type E & F sockets
- United Kingdom: Type G (BS 1363) sockets
- U.S. & Canada: Type A & B sockets
The Eve Water Guard does give the impression of a solidly made device with high-quality materials. The main cube-shaped section (the alarm, essentially) itself is made of high-gloss white plastic, with no moving parts except for the replaceable power adapter. The device is powered directly from the power outlet, so batteries are not required. The main body of the device isn’t especially large, but it is larger than most smart plugs. On the base of the main body, you can find the socket for the sensing cable, which is essentially a 1/4″ jack socket, and a small hole which houses a reset button, should you need to get it back to factory settings.
There’s a built-in 100dB siren within the device, which when triggered by a water leak, will play an audible alert, in addition to a red LED light inside the alarm, that disperses the light into the back of the device, as well as at the front, behind the front panel with the logo on it.
The device is then essentially two parts; the alarm, with a built-in warning light and the sensor, that detects the actual leaks. The sensor itself was designed in the form of a separate cable connected to the main device through a 1/4″ jack socket located underneath the device. The attached cable is 6.5ft / 2m long. Eve also offers extensions for this cable, giving you the ability to extend the sensor by up to 490ft / 150m with 6.5ft / 2m extensions, sold separately. The cable is made of a water-absorbent material, due to the fact that the cable acts as one long sensor along its entire length.
The process of adding the Eve Water Guard to HomeKit is no different from the standard procedure for other devices that can be added. After scanning the HomeKit code, you can change the name of the device and assign it to any room, as normal. Once installed, however, it’s best to use the dedicated Eve for HomeKit app for the extensive set of features available, that are not exposed to other HomeKit apps. The Eve for HomeKit app is available on the App Store in both an iPhone version and a separate version for the iPad.
As with many of Eve’s product line, the Eve Water Guard communicates with HomeKit using the Bluetooth protocol. In the event that you’re unable to place the Eve Water Guard within Bluetooth range of your HomeKit home hub, to extend the range of the Bluetooth signal, you can also use another product by Eve, specifically designed to act as a Bluetooth hub for Eve devices, called the Eve Extend, we’ll publish a review of this product separately soon, but it’s one of the devices you might find useful in situations like the one described before.
A HomeKit hub is required if you want to create automations that include the Eve Water Guard, or when we want to have Remote Access to the device’s status when you are away from home. In the event that you do not have a device working as a HomeKit hub in our home, thanks to how Bluetooth works you will still be able to communicate directly between the Eve Water Guard and your HomeKit client (a suitable iPhone, iPad or iPod) so that you have access to basic configuration functions as well as the ability to check the device’s status. It’s good to note that the Eve Water Guard continues to work even if it loses contact with the HomeKit system, so for its core function it is autonomous; if a water leak is detected, the built-in siren and the flashing red warning light will still work.
As is clear, the main and only function of the Eve Water Guard is to notify you of the detection of all kinds of water leaks. Throughout the testing period of this device, I have never been disappointed. The time from the actual leakage and notification is variable, but certainly fast enough for us to have time to react appropriately. This is due to many factors, ranging from the amount of leakage, cable placement layout, the time it takes for water to get through the material, and of course Bluetooth communication speeds. On average, you will receive a notification within a few seconds. In this case, it’s definitely worth paying special attention to the arrangement and placement of the cable, which can make a large difference with regards to the reliability of detecting water leaks.
When water leaks are detected, the Eve Water Guard’s built-in siren and pulsing red LED light are activated. In the Home app, you will receive a notification in the form of a push notification and a change in the status of the device from Ready to Leak detected. In situations when you are away from home, in order to receive notifications, and the ability to view the status of the device, a HomeKit hub is required, and I would suggest, vitally important.
When the alarm is triggered upon detecting a leak, both the alert and the alarm will be active until the cable is completely dry. To deactivate the alarm, the only option in a situation like this is to temporarily mute the alarm sound until it is completely turned off. This option can only be found in the Eve for HomeKit app. In the Eve app, when a leak is detected, a dialogue box the ‘mute alarm’ option will show up. In addition, you will also find the same mute option in Eve Water Guard options section. It should be noted that the alarm cannot be turned off completely by just using the app, so if you are in the same location as the alarm itself, you can deactivate the alarm by disconnecting the cable from the Eve Water Guard itself, by or simply disconnecting the entire device from the power supply. When you reconnect the cable to the Eve Water Guard or turn on the power again before the cable is completely dry, then the device will be triggered and the alarm will sound again.
EVE APP EXTRAS
In Eve for HomeKit app, you will also find a few additional functions not available in other HomeKit apps. The first is a reminder to perform an alarm test, which tests if the Eve Water Guard is functioning properly. The test consists of immersing the cable probe in water and triggering a short test alarm at a reduced volume. This function can be found in the Eve Water Guard options. You can also set intervals for test reminder there. The available options are:
- every 30 days
- every 3 months
- every 6, months
- every year
Another feature is a record of events that shows when the Eve Water Guard was added to HomeKit, when each alarm was triggered and muted, or when the last test was carried out, and with what result. There is also an option to export this data in XLS format for use in other applications. As with any HomeKIt device from Eve, no cloud connections are used, and all data is always securely stored locally in the Eve for HomeKit app. Eve Water Guard works only in the Apple HomeKit system like all other Eve products, so you won’t find any other integrations that go beyond the HomeKit system (Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for example), but we can extend the notifications for when a water leak is detected, to any devices operating in this system. So, beside notification via the built-in siren, the red flashing light and push notifications, we can also attach other lights or AirPlay2 audio devices. This means that if a water leak is detected, some of the smart plugs will be turned off automatically, and certain smart bulbs can turn on, and to a specific colour, for example.
What distinguishes the Eve Water Guard most from other devices of in this category of sensor, is the use of a probe-like cable, acting as a sensor along its entire length, which opens up many new use cases, whistly covering a potentially larger area. The additional possibility of extending this cable by up to 490ft / 150m certainly adds even more value. However, it often happens that not every solution works in all situations of course, so there are places where such a solution creates new possibilities for us, at the same time there are many other places where devices with built-in sensors directly at the bottom of the device can work better ( like the Fibaro water leak sensor), where we do not require or are unable to use a long cable. Before buying, you should think carefully where and how you want to use this device, and choose the device that suits you best to the conditions in which it will be placed, as well as function with the best results or coverage.
The same applies to the power supply itself. It’s certainly convenient to have a direct power supply, without worrying about replacing a battery. This solution allows us also to have a fairly loud, built-in siren and warning light, which is not standard in most devices of this type, but conversely, we don’t always have access to an outlet where we plan on having such a device, although having the ability to extend the sensor cable by a very large amount does address to a large degree. To some extent, some places that are more exposed to water leaks tend not to have outlets too close by, like underneath sink, so devices using batteries can be a better choice and being largely passive devices, which usually means the batteries can last for 2+ years.
On this topic, it’s difficult to talk about the pros or cons of such a device or device type. Everything is simply dependent on the specific conditions in one’s own home, and the Eve Water Guard is offering us a whole new approach on this. If you think the Eve Water Guard will work in your home, then I can definitely recommend this device. It’s solidly made, with a modern look, as are all of Eve’s devices to date. Most importantly, you can rely on it to save you from the potentially large costs associated with water leak damage. The only feature that I miss, is a button on the device to immediately silence the alarm.
Full disclosure: Eve provided HomeKit News with the Eve Water Guard for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was made or requested.