Plumbing Manufacturers Take Advantage of a Wi-Fi Connected World

From leak detection tools to water heater monitoring, the connectivity options available to contractors and homeowners are expanding

Plumbing Manufacturers Take Advantage of a Wi-Fi Connected World

The StreamLabs Control features ultrasonic technology for real-time water monitoring, smart leak detection, and automatic shut-off to stop leaks, and can be controlled through an app.

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Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth pairing and home automation continue to expand the plumbing industry’s market of equipment each year. Many manufacturers of that high-tech equipment were at the AHR Expo in Atlanta this week displaying their wares.

Equipment that can be paired with smartphones, home computers, or even Google Home and Alexa, range from leak detection tools all the way up to boilers.

“These tools are in place to let the homeowner and contractor know when there might be an issue,” says Jeff Long, director of marketing and operations for StreamLabs. “And in some cases that equipment can then be triggered to turn off the water source to stop the leaking until a plumber can get there for the repair.”

At the AHR Expo, StreamLabs revealed its StreamLabs Control, which will be on the market later this summer. The StreamLabs Control features ultrasonic technology for real-time water monitoring, smart leak detection, and automatic shut-off to stop leaks. Just one unit will protect an entire home from costly water damage and can be controlled from anywhere through the app.

“The plumbing contractor would simply just attach it to the pipe between the incoming water source and your water heater in most cases,” Long says. “For a professional, it’ll probably take about 15 to 20 minutes to install.”

TACO Comfort Solutions has a similar device with its LeakBreaker water heater shut-off. The unit is a water heater leak protection device that protects against flood damage from the containment failure of a water heater. It consists of a control unit, a valve with actuator and a sensor.

“This resettable, testable protection device can be installed on any style water heater to shut off the incoming water supply, preventing additional water flow to a damaged water heater,” says Ken Watson, marketing brand manager for TACO.

The LeakBreaker featuring eLink, uses Wi-Fi to communicate with the cloud, enabling status alerts to be sent directly to the users whenever a change occurs. Notifications are sent via email or text.

On a larger scale, water boilers and water heaters are also beginning to get that smart technology installed. Water heater and boiler manufacturer Rinnai has its Control R Wi-Fi module, which attaches to the Rinnai water heater by a two-wire interface, quickly connecting through a Wi-Fi network for monitoring.

Once connected and the app downloaded, the water heater can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet.

Hand tools are also getting equipped with smart technology. DeWalt was showcasing several of its connected tools where a contractor can set up specific modes for each drill.

“Let’s say a contractor has an employee who keeps on stripping the bolts with the drill or something like that,” says Todd Prajzer, business development manager for DeWalt. “With our connected tools, that contractor can set up to four settings that tell the drill to only go at a certain speed.”

The app, which you pair with the tool, also allows the contractor to monitor diagnostics such as battery status or operating temperature. Contractors can enable and disable the tool if they are out of range, and receive alerts and location updates to help deter theft.

“It’s giving contractors a peace of mind knowing they have protection when it comes to their equipment,” Prajzer says.

It’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to smart devices and manufacturers are excited to see where the industry is going to go.

“The technology keeps on changing fast and it’s just a way to help the homeowner, the contractor and the manufacturer all feel a little more connected,” says Long. “It’s going to be fun to see where all this will end up.”



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