Las Vegas — Phyn LLC is taking on winter.
The joint venture company of pipe maker Uponor Oyj and consumer electronics company Belkin International Inc. is offering a new sensor and alert program in its Phyn Plus technology that can alert homeowners if their pipes are about to freeze during extreme cold.
The new alert joins Phyn's original technology that detects leaks and can shut off water.
Uponor put the product's new capability in the spotlight at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas Feb. 19-21.
Phyn Plus monitors both the temperature and pressure in the plumbing system to determine if there could be trouble ahead, Phyn CEO Ryan Kim told Plastics News. When the temperature drops, ice crystals form in the pipes. That constricts water flow, which builds up pressure that can increase to dangerous levels. Phyn Plus detects the change. The device sends the homeowner or property manager an alert with the time, baseline and current pipe pressures, outside temperature and water temperature.
"They get to choose whether to shut off the water or not," Kim said. "If the problem is big enough and the person doesn't respond, the system will automatically shut the water off as a precaution."
Kim said other leak detectors on the market use only temperature sensors that track how cold the water is where the device is located. Property owners don't get much time to take steps to prevent burst pipes.
"Other solutions send you a frozen pipe alert but it's too late. The pipes are frozen, the pressure is building up and its dangerous," Kim said. "With our pressure technology, we can tell you an hour or more before that. You get a pipe-freeze-warning alert that conditions likely to cause a pipe freeze have been detected."
"We're the only company in the world that can do that," Kim added. "We have thousands of hours into research to make sure that can happen."
The Phyn Plus app also walks homeowners through the steps of what to do when pipes freeze, starting with turning on indoor faucets and shower heads to a slow drip to relieve pressure.
Phyn Plus 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 problem. In addition to freeze alerts, other new features, like a B2B web portal and Amazon Alexa voice commands, will be added this spring.
Uponor says the portal, called Phyn Dashboard, will help builders, homeowners associations, property management companies and insurance providers understand water use, reduce losses from leaks and address water conservation and sustainability mandates. Property managers also can minimize leak damage by shutting off water remotely until maintenance staff arrives.
Phyn Plus also now works with smart home digital assistant Amazon Alexa, with Google Home devices set to be integrated in the second quarter of 2019. Homeowners can use their assistant to provide updates on water consumumption and turn water on or off just by asking.
Phyn Plus is sold, installed and serviced by a U.S. network of plumbers called Uponor Pro Squad. The device launches in Europe this spring.