Nothing ruins a vacation faster than an emergency back home. If a pipe bursts or a burglar strikes, your home could sustain thousands of dollars of damage before it gets noticed.
Luckily, there’s some technology out there that can put your mind at ease, and it’s surprisingly affordable. From smart locks to leak detectors—and some things you may have never thought of—these are the best pieces of tech to keep an eye on your house while you’re away.
Honeywell WiFi Leak Detector
Even a little water damage can be a major headache. If the toilet leaks or a pipe bursts, you may have to rip out walls, tear up floors, and—worst of all—deal with mold remediation. Water leak detectors let you know when there’s water where it shouldn’t be. But what if you could detect a leak before it even happens?
A $79 gadget from Honeywell can send your smartphone an alert if there’s excess humidity in the bathroom, or if the temperature is below freezing in the laundry room. And, like its less-capable competitors, the Lyric WiFi Leak Detector will also let you know if it detects water. There’s a lot to love about this little product: Battery life is about three years, it can detect leaks over 400 feet away, and it doesn’t require any additional smart home technology to run.
TP-LINK WiFi Smart Plug
Burglaries are often crimes of opportunity: An unlocked door, an obviously empty house, or valuables in plain sight are like catnip for criminals.
It’s always easier to rob an empty house, so one of the easiest ways to fool would-be robbers is making it look like there’s someone home. If you don’t want to invest in a whole smart home setup, this smart plug can turn lights on and off even if you aren’t home—making it look like your house is occupied and greeting you when you finally do arrive back home. We like the design and the low price—cheaper than competing products from Belkin and GE. Amazon reviewers also agree, giving it top ratings.
Sensi WiFi Thermostat
Running your heat or air conditioning back home while you’re relaxing on vacation is an easy way to waste a lot of money. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a pricey Nest to keep an eye on your HVAC expenses when you’re not home.
We like the Sensi Wi-Fi thermostat from Emerson. Not only does it work with nearly all climate control systems, but it also lets the user set the desired temperature via an intuitive smartphone app. Headed home? Just let the Sensi app know before you hit the road, and your house will be the exact temperature you want it to be when you walk in the door.
Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Window Air Conditioner with Wi-Fi Control
Those without central air conditioning inevitably end their vacations in the same way: by coming home to a hot and stuffy house.
Until now. With Frigidaire’s new connected window air conditioner, you can control your AC from your phone and program it to turn on just before you arrive home. It’s not only convenient either—its new design is attractive, and looks less like a home appliance than a piece of high-end electronics.
August Smart Lock
When something goes wrong and you’re thousands of miles away from home, do you want to rely on a contractor or friend being able to find the key hidden under the welcome mat? Or, would you rather trust a pet sitter with a key to your home when you’re not around?
We're not fans of either scenario, which is why we like August’s smart lock. Simply swap it out for an existing deadbolt, connect it to your home’s WiFi setup, and you’ll be able to grant remote access to anyone who needs to get into your house. You can give out one-time access, limit access to a week, or use your phone to unlock your door when you get home. August isn’t perfect—no smart home setup is—but it’s the best implementation of remote home access that’s currently available.