2.12.21 – SIW – Dan Goodman
Integrators hoping to provide comprehensive smart home and business protection could start with these specialty systems, popular at CES
Consumers invest in home security systems to protect their loved ones and property. Typically, both the consumer and integrator focus on intrusion detection as the primary benefit. While the peace of mind that comes from having safeguards in place to prevent and/or detect potential break-ins should not be discounted, it is just scratching the surface of what today’s modern systems can do to protect the homeowner’s property.
Consider that your customer’s homes are seven times more likely to experience water damage than theft or vandalism. Further, the average insurance claim for theft is $4,000, while average claims for water leak damage are considerably higher. Several sources, including the Insurance Information Institute and Chubb Insurance, note average claims ranging anywhere from $10,000 to a whopping $55,000 for water damage. Water leaks and floods not only damage the homeowner’s personal property, but also the home itself, often forcing a temporary move and major life disruption.
Given the fact that burglary rates have declined 69% over the past 16 years, make sure you are not burying the lede when it comes to selling potential customers. There may be a better foot to put forward to help you win new business and upsell existing customers – comprehensive property protection.
Integrators that can demonstrate protection beyond intrusion situations will be well positioned for future growth. Homeowners want peace of mind knowing that their entire home is always protected, not just individual aspects of it. Integrated water management is an essential part of whole home protection that offers more value than traditional security and video monitoring.
As additional solutions expand the capabilities of each system, they boost integrator RMR while saving customers money on energy, water and insurance premiums. Given the prevalence and severe consequences of water damage, providing comprehensive water protection is a great place to start.
Basic Water Protection
At a minimum, today’s smart home security systems should include integrated water sensors. When water is detected, the homeowners get an immediate alert via the system’s mobile app so they can mitigate the damage. These affordable devices can be placed near obvious water threats such as hot water heaters, sinks and appliances. Most water sensors are easy to install and provide multi-year battery life.
Water sensors are meant to provide awareness but offer limited protection. They may trigger an alert about water gushing from the second-floor laundry room, but what if no one is home to stop it? In this unfortunate example, water would hit the floor at a rate of up to 650 gallons per hour, causing extensive and costly damage in a matter of minutes.
A better water protection solution is the combination of water sensors and a smart shutoff valve. When water is detected the system can send an alert and automatically shut off the home’s water to prevent damage. As an added benefit, the homeowner no longer needs to search for the water shutoff valve. It can be controlled from anywhere with a tap in the mobile app, making it much easier to follow the recommended practice of shutting off the home’s water before a vacation.
Keep in mind this solution relies on those same water sensors to detect threats, which can give homeowners a false sense of security. For example, a water sensor can alert the homeowner to a water heater leak and shut off the water, but it would not catch a burst pipe. While 49% of homeowners believe that their water heater is the mostly likely source of water leaks, according to Chubb Insurance, it is the plumbing supply system which poses the greatest risk. Based on our experience, it is extremely impractical, if not impossible, to monitor a home’s network of water pipes with water sensors alone.
Comprehensive Water Protection
True water protection combines a smart, flow-based water meter, a shutoff valve and water sensors. The addition of a smart water meter enables the solution to monitor the entire plumbing supply system for threats ranging from potential floods to slow pipe leaks hidden behind walls. These hidden leaks, typically revealed by the damage they cause, are often compounded by mold and mildew growth. This problem is not only a health hazard but also expensive to abate.
The water shutoff valve still plays a critical role. When a leak is detected by the water meter or any water sensor, the system can automatically shut off the water and alert the homeowners simultaneously. Incorporating water sensors provides redundant protection for high-risk areas while detecting threats outside of the plumbing supply system, such as rising sump pump wells and overflowing air conditioning condensate pans.
The smart water meter should include an in-line temperature sensor that combines data with local weather and smart thermostat information to warn homeowners about one of the most common causes of large-scale water damage: frozen pipes. The homeowner receives freeze alerts and can take steps to mitigate the risk such as maintaining safe temperatures inside, insulating exposed pipes and slowly running taps when necessary to keep ice from forming.
Beyond preventing water damage, the smart water meter also helps homeowners conserve water and avoid those shocking water bills. They can track water usage in the security system’s mobile app and receive alerts on unusually high consumption. This feature helps promote mobile app use and customer engagement.
Security System Advantages
Water protection technology can help service providers further differentiate themselves in the market. Standalone smart water meters with shutoff valves do not integrate with smart home systems and are not getting data from the other connected devices on the system to intelligently respond to problems.
A water protection solution that is part of a smart security system provides unmatched benefits, starting with understanding the occupancy status of the home by leveraging panel arming status, motion detectors, geo-fences and more. When the home is unoccupied, the system’s decision to shut off the water is less complex. If the home is occupied and a water flow is consistent with taking a shower, the system would consider this expected behavior but trigger action when the home is empty.
Only a few standalone solutions offer the added protection of water sensors that can be easily integrated into a smart security system. Combined with the headache of learning and updating yet another mobile app, water protection solutions are a natural fit within smart home security systems that are part of a unified platform.
Partner with Plumbers
Smart water meters and valves are very easy for a licensed plumber to install. It is highly recommended that integrators partner with a professional plumber for installation, while the security technician handles the panel learn-in for the smart water meter, shutoff valve and water sensors. Some integrators prefer local plumbers and may already have an established relationship with one.
One advantage is the local plumber will be called when a homeowner experiences water damage – which they will never want to relive – and can refer business, whether it is an entirely new security system or a water protection upgrade to an existing account. Another approach is to work with your security platform provider, which may be able to connect you with a nationwide network of plumbers with pre-negotiated rates.
Dan Goodman is co-founder and CEO of Building36, a subsidiary of Alarm.com. He has nearly 20 years of engineering and technology experience. Request more info about Alarm.com at www.securityinfowatch.com/10216128.