The first product of the Phyn LLC joint venture between pipe producer Uponor Corp. and consumer electronics company Belkin International Inc. will hit the market this spring along with a network of plumbers trained to install the $850 smart home devices.
Called Phyn Plus, the water monitoring system analyzes data from pressure, flow and temperature sensors 240 times a second using Belkin's patented algorithms to determine if water use is normal or if there's a leak.
Phyn Plus will be exclusively sold, installed and serviced by a national network of plumbers dubbed the Uponor Pro Squad as part of its go-to-market strategy. The small device — roughly 8½ inches long, 5½ inches wide and 3 inches thick — takes one to two hours to install on the main water line, where it learns the household's normal water use and recognizes changes caused by everything from a faucet left running to minor pinhole leaks and catastrophic pipe bursts.
Phyn's mobile app alerts homeowners to problems in real time and allows them to remotely turn off the water. Or, if the leak is major, the system automatically turns off the water with a built-in shutoff valve. There's also a manual override in case of a power outage.
"It's really the perfect marriage between IP [intellectual property], plumbing and [internet of things]," said Cassie Schmid, Uponor's intelligent water marketing manager. "Phyn also solidifies our position within the intelligent water category, allowing us to interact with water in a more meaningful way and allowing homeowners to protect their homes, save money and ultimately conserve water."
Based in Vantaa, Finland, Uponor Oy has invested $25 million into the Phyn JV, including $10 million in February to help get the initial product to market in late spring. The investment gives Uponor and Belkin, which is based in Playa Vista, Calif., each 50 percent ownership in Phyn.
"We know technology. We don't know a ton about plumbing, and that's where Uponor comes in," Brian Colby, a Phyn product designer, told Plastics News.
Founded in 1918, Uponor manufacturers cross-linked polyethylene pipes for residential and commercial plumbing, fire sprinklers, and radiant heating and cooling systems. Net sales were up 6.5 percent in 2017 over the prior year and totaled 1.17 billion euros ($1.43 billion).
As part of the Phyn JV, Uponor officials have said the company's roles are to provide plumbing expertise, professional insights from the trades and a global wholesale distribution channel. Uponor has operations in 30 countries and plans to introduce Phyn Plus to European markets in 2019.
The $850 U.S. price tag doesn't include installation costs, which will vary by region. The product rollout will begin in 30 markets in the U.S. and Canada. The selected cities, which have high rates of water usage or a prevalence of leaks, include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Washington, Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Minneapolis and Toronto.