Check out this cool connected water shut-off valve from Lowe’s

Updated: This post was updated on Feb. 24 to reflect new information from Lowe’s. The company clarified that it had given me the wrong information originally and that this product does not use Z-wave. It uses Zigbee (specifically Zigbee’s home automation 1.2 profile).

Lowe’s has added a smart water shut-off valve that you attach just inside your water meter to its selection of connected devices, which means for about $500 or maybe a bit less if you’re truly a DIYer, you could leak-proof your home. Take this valve, a few strategically placed moisture sensors and a hub that can send notifications to alert you or trigger the water to shut off if the sensors detect leaks, and you’ve just saved yourself from a real mess.

The valve costs $159 in the store, but you may want to shell out for a plumber for the install because you’re basically putting this thing on the pipe running between your water meter and all the water flowing into your home. That may set you back around $150, according to the pricing set by Kris Bowring, the director of new business development for Iris who showed me the device this week at an event in Austin.

The valve works with the Iris system, which is the Lowe’s connected home hub, but it also uses the Zigbee HA 1.2 radio protocol, which means it should work with other hubs, such as SmartThings, Staples Connect and event Wink, which supports the ZigBee HA 1.2 profile as well. That said, the Lowe’s Iris system sometimes runs Zigbee profiles that don’t always play nicely with other hubs. I haven’t tried it because I do not have $300 at the moment to prevent floods in my home, but it’s a perfect use case to submit to my home insurance company should it ever decide to start offering discounts for connected devices.

Updated: This article was updated on Feb. 23 to add a link and more specific pricing.

Insurers may subsidize your smart home, but which device?

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The wealth of data and convenience a connected home can offer is impressive. Saving energy or adding security are primary reasons consumers are buying connected products today, but businesses are interested as well. One of the earliest industries to investigate the promise of connected consumer homes is the insurance industry, which is looking at the benefits of getting consumers to put water sensors around leak-prone areas or even just add additional security products or better smoke detectors in a home to help improve safety.

In this week’s podcast I spoke with Dan Reed, managing director at American Family Ventures, the venture capital arm of American Family Insurance. AmFam as it’s known, has 10 million policies and insures homes, cars and small businesses. Reed has invested in several internet of things companies and is looking to make more investment sin early-stage companies, so we talked about what he’s looking for as well as what role the interest of things will play in the future of the insurance industry. Before Reed and I chat, Kevin I answer a few questions from the mailbag and discuss Gizmodo’s terrible experience with the Wink hub, and why it’s such a blow for the industry.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guests: Dan Reed, managing director, American Family Ventures

  • The smart is still really dumb and that hurts everyone.
  • Kevin and I answer your mailbag questions on presence, Insteon and more.
  • Insurance companies are testing connected devices in the home. Will they subsidize them?
  • What data should an insurer see from your home or your car?


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