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Leaving town? This box won’t just detect a burst pipe, it will stop it automatically

Just in time for the frigid winter months that lie ahead, home improvement retailer Lowe’s has just added an ingenious new gizmo to its popular Iris home automation line — a smart water valve that can automatically shut off your water if it detects that a pipe burst.

Designed by Ohio-based company LeakSmart, the Smart Valve was first unveiled back in January during CES but wasn’t actually available for purchase until recently. It’s essentially a motorized, network-connected ball valve that can be installed on your home’s plumbing system. Because it can connect to your home’s wireless network and communicate with other Iris sensors, the valve can be controlled from anywhere in the world via smartphone app, and also be configured to activate automatically based on environmental triggers.

For example, let’s say you’re away on vacation and you turn your heat off to save power. If the temperature were to dip below freezing and cause a pipe to burst, Iris moisture sensors could detect the leak and automatically tell the Smart Valve to shut off the water main. And that’s just the worst-case scenario. With the help of Iris temperature sensors, the valve could ostensibly be configured to shut off your water before the temp hit the freezing point — effectively preventing a pipe burst from happening in the first place.

RelatedDoes cold weather have you worried about bursting pipes? Water Hero has your back

“Many of our customers have experienced serious flood damage from burst pipes and leaks,” said Kevin Meagher, Lowe’s vice president and general manager of the Smart Home division. “The Smart Valve offers a new level of protection for their homes and gives them the peace of mind to know that if anything happens they will be alerted and damage can be minimized.”

The only downside here is that installation might be a bit tricky. Unlike the Water Hero — a similar device that recently popped up on Kickstarter —the Smart Valve isn’t an easy retrofit. You’ll need to do some cutting and soldering in order to get it installed, which might mean calling a professional to do it for you. The difference is that Smart Valve is available right now for $160, whereas Water Hero isn’t expected to ship out for another year.