Category Archives: Home Automation

Installing Smart Water Shut Off Valve

I took my smart home journey one step further today. I installed a smart auto water shutoff valve. Wow, what’s that? Well, this device mounts to your main water shutoff valve and automatically open or close it based on your command. Sounds magic! Yes it’s magic. Seriously, we now have Z-Wave devices that do this magic. I bought one such device called “Dome Water Main Shut-Off”.

Dome’s device mounts to your main water pipe and can close or open the Ball valve. No plumbing necessary. I repeat. No plumbing necessary.

It’s a very cool piece of technology. But I see you raised your hand for the question – why would someone need it? Well, with smart home devices, this question is irrelevant. Just get it!! Well, but seriously, if you were to buy one smart device get this one. This device has the potential to save you hundreds or thousands in water damage cost to your house due a water leak somewhere. Don’t come back to your home after vacation in Hawaii only to find there is knee deep water in your house because of a leak in the Laundry room! Instead picture this… You are in Hawaii enjoying your vacation. Your Wink app tells you that the Laundry Room water sensor detected a water leak. You take a sip of your favorite cocktail and close the main water valve with a touch of a finger. Then go back to enjoying your vacation. Now, that’s cool!

Let me actually do less of rambling and more of talk. So, the Dome device sells for $99 but can be easily found time to time on Sale for $50. That’s when you know to buy it.

Installation was a breeze. The provided manual is self-explanatory.  Prior to mounting, it’s recommended to pair with your Smart Home Controller; Wink in my case. In the Wink app, device is recognized properly and you can see the two controls – Open or Close.

The device is mounted on the water pipe using two provided clamps.

Then, the other end sits on top of the Ball valve handle.

The attached cord needs to be plugged in to a nearby outlet. So, if you do not have that you are in tough luck. I happened to have a GFCI outlet nearby since my Water main is in the Basement.

The device itself works great. Here’s a short video of Valve closing.

And then, the video of Valve opening.

Pretty cool, didn’t I tell you?

What more can you do with this? Well, for the starts buy Water Sensors and quite a few. Then place those in strategic locations, e.g. Laundry Room, Bathroom, etc. Each of these Sensors can be configured in Wink and you be alerted if a leak is detected. Then either you can manually close the Valve or set a Robot to have Wink automatically do that for you.

The Sensor cost varies. I bought a couple of SmartThings Water Leak Sensors for $20 each. They are one of the best Water Sensors. Dome themselves sell Water Sensors and also a bundled kit with Sensors and the Shut Off Valve, but they tend to be a bit pricey.

So, is this a good buy? In my view it is. It could save you money on costly water damage repairs. By quickly ensuring the Water supply is closed you can minimize the water damage in the house. It’s a cheap insurance.

Cortana now supports Smart Home integration

I don’t use Cortana very much. I don’t have Cortana powered speakers. I don’t have Cortana app installed on my cellphone and I don’t use any Windows Phones anymore… but one thing that I have and majority of people do is a Windows 10 computer. If you do own that, then Cortana comes installed by default on it and you can actually use it to do some really cool stuff if you happen to have Smart devices in your home. I said in the beginning I don’t use Cortana very much but that could change today….

So, back in the second half of 2017, Microsoft released an update that allowed Cortana to be able to integrate with Connected Home providers. Then Wink also confirmed in October 2017 that Cortana now works with Wink. In addition to Wink, Cortana also supports Nest, Insteon, SmartThings and Philips Hue. I only have Nest and Wink and that’s what I ended up configuring.

The configuration is actually pretty easy. Go to the Cortana Icon or Search bar next to Start Menu (Windows Button) on Bottom left corner of your screen.

This will open the Cortana Menu. You will need to go to Cortana Notebook.

Once, in you will see several options and one of them will be “Connected Home”. Select that option.

Once inside “Connected Home”, you will need to select “Enable Connected Home” to be able to proceed further. Once you enable that you will see several providers.

Then based on the service, you will be asked to enter your credentials so Cortana can access your accounts.

I first did Nest and that went pretty well.

I then did Wink.

Once connected, Cortana will show these Services as Connected. It will also automatically discover any Devices provided by these services and update it’s database.

Prior to testing, I also changed the Cortana settings so that it can be invoked whenever I say “Hey Cortana”.

For the testing, I tried to turn on a light by saying “Hey Cortana, turn on Office Lights”. I was expecting Cortana will connect to Wink and take the necessary action. It worked flawlessly…

First, it tried to make sense of what I said.

Then took the action. And yes, the Office Ceiling Light did turn on.

Similarly I was also able to control my Nest Thermostat by saying “Hey Cortana, set thermostat to XX degrees”.

Summing up, the Cortana and Connected Home integration works very good. If you are a Cortana fan or use Windows 10 this can be very handy. I am also going to test this on Cortana app on my Android Phone and see how the experience is. Rest assured it’s not going to replace my Amazon Echo devices in future.