- Can make your regular alarm system smarter
- Tiered alert system
- Poor sound quality for recordings
- Requires electricity & wifi to work. (no battery backup)
- Must be in range of alarm
In an industry booming with copycats, the first-product from newcomers Leeo offers a unique twist to smart-home safety. The Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight is billed as a device that will listen for smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and even water monitors in an effort to notify you when you’re away. It also functions as a colorful night light and temperature monitoring system.
Setting up the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight was incredibly easy. The device plugs into any outlet and the outer ring greets you with a warm glow. You’ll need to download their app (available on both iOS and Android) which allows your phone to sync via Bluetooth to the device. From there you’ll connect it to your Wi-Fi router. You’ll be prompted to enter your address and emergency contacts as well. Firmware updates take place automatically in the background.
The next step is testing your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector to ensure it’s microphone is within earshot (75 feet or less is recommended by Leeo). Push the test button on your alarms, wait for the app to tell you it hears it, and move on to the next detector. The Leeo device will also light up to let you know you’ve made progress. It’s one of the easiest devices we’ve setup and the app is remarkably straightforward. We do recommend testing the alarms after the setup is complete to ensure it sends alerts to your phone properly.
How well does it work?
With so many types of alarms on the market, we were initially skeptical that the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight would be able to pick up on all of them. We tested 3 smoke alarms, 3 carbon monoxide detectors, and 1 water alarm. These came from popular brands like Kidde and First Alert. To our surprise all but one worked. The exception was an older smoke alarm that honestly should have been replaced years ago. During the first week of testing, we also encountered a false alarm when it picked up a fire alarm coming from a television show. So the device does have some great range and we feel confident that any newer smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector will work.
Upon recognizing an alarm, the Leeo Smart Alert will begin alerting you based on the preferences you set in the app. A push notification comes to your phone notifying you of which alarm was detected. If you don’t respond, they’ll follow that up shortly with a phone call (Leeo also allows the storing of backup numbers in case you are not available). The call will play a 5-second recording of what it has heard. The quality of the recording was poor and an option to listen longer would be nice. It does however give you somewhat of an idea on whether it’s a false alarm or not. From there you can proceed to contacting emergency services or informing the app that all is well. Unfortunately the app does not connect you directly to those services.
While we see the primary value in it as a home safety device, it also functions as a color-changing nightlight. The LED light runs circularly along the back of the device. This gives more of an ambient glow that can help set the mood in a room. The app allows you to control 16 million color choices as well as the brightness of the light. There is a slight lag when using it but it is a nice additional feature.
One of the only disappointing aspects of the Leeo Smart Alert nightlight was the temperature and humidity gauge. While the temperature did come within a 3-5 degree mark of the actual reading, the humidity never seemed to come out right. It’s fine if you’re checking to make sure the A/C or furnace hasn’t gone kaput, but using it for anything more pressing isn’t advisable.
And finally, as of 2016 Leeo is now compatible with IFTTT. This opens up all sorts of possibilities. You can have your Wemo light switch turned on when an alarm is detected. Have the nightlight turn on and off during certain times of the day. Or change the color of the light whenever you’re tagged in a Facebook photo.
Is it secure?
As with any device that features a microphone in your home, there are security concerns. Leeo runs off the Debian operating system which is quite secure. It’s WiFi utilizes AES security and encrypts outbound connections. Updates come via Amazon Cloud and it does a nice job of hiding itself on your network. We feel comfortable that Leeo has taken security seriously.
While the Leeo Smart Alert impressed us, there are some limitations with the product. The first being that without a battery backup, it requires electricity to be working in order to function. That’s not a guarantee during a fire. And to add on to that, it requires your WiFi to be up and running as well. Again, something that may not be feasible during a fire.
Leeo’s alert system also requires their services to be up and running to trigger notifications. Now this isn’t an issue when you’re talking a large company like Google or Amazon, but Leeo is a small startup. While updates are still being made to their product, you do run a higher risk that a smaller company like this could close or have issues maintaining a reliable backend.
Why would I need this?
As someone who suffers from a bit of anxiety when leaving the house unattended, the Leeo Smart Alert does provide some comfort. It’s also peace of mind for any pet owners who couldn’t bear the thought of losing them while they’re not home.
A recent update by Leeo allowed the Smart Alert to recognize common water sensor alarms. If your home is susceptible to water damage or you just have a water heater in an area that can cause problems, this can save you enormous bills. There are countless horror stories about people leaving for a weekend and having a pipe burst leaving them with tens of thousands of dollar in damage. The Leeo with a $10 water alarm can save the day.
When the Leeo launched this product in 2014, it came with a hefty $100 price tag that just didn’t make sense when you could purchase actual smart alarms for less. However the company has dropped their price to $50 which feels like a nice spot as long as the notification service remains free.
The Smart Alert isn’t for people who have their heart set on converting their homes to smart alarms like the Nest Protect. But it is an affordable way to turn some existing dumb alarms smart. We say keep an eye out for a sale and grab one if that’s what you’re looking for.