A water hose broke on the back of my refrigerator one day. It hadn’t moved, there was no indication that it was damaged. Just one day exploded and slowly flooded the kitchen, drained into a floor vent, down into the central AC and onto a washing machine. I forget what the damage was, doesn’t seem like it was much because we were at the house.
Updated at bottom Jan 5, 2023
Along the way managing some rental properties, I’ve seen what water leaks can do to the tune of thousands of dollars and I’ve wanted something intelligent that wasn’t a monthly service like Flo ended up being. If it didn’t require internet (but had it available,) that was also a plus. Internet connected is great and all but if you’re dealing with a water break that took out electricity then chances are there’s no internet.
YoLink contacted me a bit ago about some of their products. Specifically a smart water shutoff valve, a water sensor, a temp/humidity sensor, and a contact sensor that can be used for pretty much anything. Pulling all of this together is the YoLink hub which just works, or doesn’t. We’ll get into my one head-pounding moment in a bit, which to be fair appears to have been caused by me.
OK, so the scenario I’m looking at here is the water break and shutting off the water main scenario without the internet. The hub (which works with Alexa and Google,) is quite cool and being able to tell Google to shut the water off is kind of useful, as well as being able to set actions based on a sensor being open or closed or a certain temperature or humidity, but it’s not what I’m looking at today.
YoLink Water Shut-Off kit
I’m going to be talking about this kit, although it’s not what I received it’s close (PR gave me a variety of items, I don’t see my particular blend anywhere, no biggie, same things.)
For purposes of this it should be noted that you can do this without the hub, pairing the sensors to the smart controller directly. That hub lets you use the app, integrate with Google, all sorts of fun stuff, but it’s not required that I can tell. Just if you want internet or network connectivity. The devices can pair between each other and you’ll see that in the video when the leak sensor gets wet.
Installing the YoLink shutoff motor on my existing valve took about 5 minutes as mine is vertical, the best of 1940’s retrofitting, and I couldn’t locate a screwdriver I needed. All you really need to know is put the pivot point on the motor over the pivot point on the valve and you’re probably positioned properly. Physical install simple, setting up hub and app was a breeze.
But the hub and the motor didn’t see each other. I’ll save the long drawn out story here but basically I just had to press the motor controller’s button one time and it located and paired with the hub. I missed that in the documentation. There is next to no documentation here as a note, that’s a complaint.
Once the hub (USB powered,) was online and talking to the water main, I added it to google home and am now able to turn it off and on with my voice. That’s cool.
Adding the water sensors
I first added the water sensor (I only got one,) in the app and set it up to notify me. I saw no easy way to trigger the thing in the app but during my searches I’d run across YoLink Academy. The TL;DR version is shut off the water main, press the SET button on the YoLink water sensor until it blinks green (about 5 seconds,) press the SET button on the water main controller until it blinks green (also about 5 seconds,) wait about 8 seconds and both will stop at the same time. It’s paired. When the water sensor gets wet it’ll trigger the water main to go to the position it was in.
No internet required.
What powers these things?
The hub is USB powered. It comes with an adapter if I’m not mistaken, but it uses very little power. So little I couldn’t run it on a power bank I had (wanted it in a weird spot,) because the draw was too low and it kept shutting off. The water shutoff is 4xAA batteries. I believe the water sensor is 2xAAA and claims about five years of life.
Paul’s got to have some complaints
Documentation is just not there in the box. You need to scan a QR code to be taken to the docs. There’re videos for everything and I just want a printed manual. I had some basic misunderstandings about the use of the Hub and what I was playing with, which is not great when you’re in a dark deadly basement attempting to get two things to work properly that just don’t want to (it was my fault, but it was annoying.)
Having to scan a QR code on each device also means you really need to do this BEFORE YOU’RE IN A CRAWLSPACE… I wasn’t, but yeah, low lighting and attempting to scan a QR code not great. You also probably want to pair the controller and the sensors before you put either where they’re going. You’ll need to press both buttons within a set amount of time and if your water sensor is on the second floor of your house and your shutoff is in the basement, well, Godspeed man…
That the sensors can pair to each other without the internet was news to me.
There’s no simple “if water sensor triggers set device X to this state” as far as I can tell. There are ways in the app to accomplish this it appears, but it’s not great. The app appears to function, I got it working with Google, I got the sensors to talk to each other and shut off the valve when needed, but I don’t know how to make it trigger things in the app. It’s not intuitive, but not terrible.
Because the documentation is just not there if you’ve got anyone installing this for you, well, good luck with that bill. You can find detailed manuals online but the functionality of this and how everything’s connected you might want to understand before passing it off.
My plan is to cover the other sensors that came with this at some point in the near future but it’s been a week so far and we’re on day 14 of what was supposed to have been a 4 day project at my house, so the other sensors are probably coming early next year.
Updates (January 5, 2023)
The first day of CES I get a notification that all sensors are offline. You know, the one time I might possibly be away from my house and everything goes down. The Yolink hub had just stopped working. Powering it off and on fixed it. Based on how long we’ve been since the rolling blackouts, that puts this at under a month of HUB usage before it locked up or disconnected from Wi-Fi.
That’s not good. Nothing else is having problems with Wi-Fi, and the hub is in the same room. I’m planning to connect via ethernet just because it’ll be on the same rack shortly but that’s not great that it lost connection and didn’t right itself with a simple reboot.
YoLink DIY Automatic Water Leak Detection & Shut-Off kit
The YoLink DIY Automatic Water Leak Detection & Shut-Off Starter Kit will let you turn your water on and off at the main via voice commands (with Alexa and Google,) via app, or automatically if a sensor is triggered.
Product Brand: YoLink
Product Currency: USD
Product Price: 299.99
Product In-Stock: InStock
- Works with or without internet
- Long range sensors
- Set it and forget it
- Requirement to scan QR codes on everything
- App needs work