There are myriad gadgets out there promising to monitor water usage and shut off your water in case of leak detection. FLO by Moen has gained a lot of attention in recent months so I wanted to make sure I gave it a fair shake.
My insurance company sent out a flyer asking if I wanted a professionally installed FLO for next to nothing, which I hastily agreed to. I’d heard a lot about FLO, but was always too scared to self-install it. Something about cutting my own water main didn’t sit well with me. This gave me an opportunity to watch a plumber do his thing and not have me worried about my crawl space quietly filling up with water.
FLO does a great job of loudly communicating that this isn’t a DIY product and they don’t recommend self-installation. The Quick Start Guide is printed on the box as you lift up the cover. It’s a great idea and not sure why more manufacturers don’t do the same thing. I’m so used to home technology gadgets touting their ease of self-installation that it is a nice relief to see a company driving its customers to schedule professional installation. The rest of the minimalist packaging revealed the FLO unit, power adapter, some pipe fittings, and more product literature.
Installation & Configuration
After unboxing the FLO and plugging it into power, the Quick Start guide prompted me to download their app and follow their next steps. All FLO asks the homeowner to do is pair it to the Wi-Fi network and create an account. I like this division of labor. It allows the homeowner to do his or her part and the plumber to stick with plumbing. I’ve watched the CI channel grapple with the challenges of installing products like smart thermostats before, where projects invariably devolve into a finger-pointing session between an HVAC technician who doesn’t understand networking and a CI tech who isn’t versed in heat pumps. FLO kicks all of that to the curb with their smooth workflow. They make it look easy when it’s not.
I successfully paired FLO to my Wi-Fi network and scheduled installation using a pretty slick interface from a company called Dispatch where they asked me for a few possible convenient times. Our industry could learn a lot from outfits like Dispatch. Everything is automated with text notifications. From a customer perspective, it’s a smooth process and builds credibility. I thought about Livewire and our love affair with calling customers to schedule appointments. So much inefficiency!
James River Air sent over a nice plumber named Hunter bright and early Thursday morning to get the FLO installed. Hunter and I discussed placement. He couldn’t get it installed after my main water shutoff inside the house, so he offered to install it inside the crawl space with another shutoff valve before it. I approved the plan, and he set to work. The FLO needs electrical, so they equip all their plumbers with a complimentary 30-foot extension cord. Hunter found a receptacle nearby, so all was well.
After 30 minutes, Hunter emerged from the crawl space and let me know everything was working as it should. I opened up my app, and sure enough the screen showed the FLO was now “learning,” a mode it would stay in for the next 7 to 10 days. I could see PSI, gallons per minute, and total usage. If you like data, FLO offers a treasure trove’s worth.
I really love having the ability to shut off the water main whenever I want to. It’s even better knowing there’s automation running behind the scenes that will do the same thing. It’s my worst nightmare that we’re traveling and something happens to cause a water leak. How would we know? We wouldn’t. Products like FLO should be required on all new homes moving forward. If I owned an insurance company, I’d offer steep discounts to anyone installing a smart water valve.
Where does FLO fit into the CI channel? This category is still emerging and it wouldn’t surprise me to see open APIs tying into platforms like Alarm.com, etc. down the road (they currently work with Alexa IFTTT and Google Assistant). Our industry needs to embrace best-in-class products even if we don’t sell them. Our commitment to clients is to simplify and products like FLO help us deliver on that promise.