#11: Review - Smart Shower? U by Moen
Hardware Review

#11: Review - Smart Shower? U by Moen

William Zink

Introduction

Maybe you are on the other extreme and you want to see what all you can automate. When I was researching a way to make my shower smart I fell short on finding ANYONE who had a review or their overall experience with the U by Moen shower system. Well, now that I renovated and have had this setup for over two years I can share my experiences and attempt to help you with your purchase decision...

TL;DR - In this post I will be reviewing U by Moen smart shower. What a smart shower is? Other competitors, pros and cons of the U by Moen, my overall review and finally my customer service experience with Moen.

Smart Shower

Well the first question you are probably asking, WHY?!?? I know...

Ian: Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.
Jurassic Park

Well when my goal was to automate the entire condominium I just thought that this would be a simple upgrade that would give me a lot of functionality.

What are you looking for a smart shower to do?

I was trying to define that question and here was what I was looking for:
1) Ability to know when the shower was on or off - to kick off other automations
2) Setting the temperature through automation - cooler after a run or something
3) Turning the shower on / off - for instance after I came home from the gym
4) Home Assistant integration - hopefully without a service that I needed to pay for

These were my loose criteria that I was looking for when I started my search. Well when you search the internet for Smart Shower, U by Moen and Kohler come up.

Kohler

I had found that Kohler had a line of smart showers called DTV+
While looking around I found the DTV+ interface on Amazon and found that it had 3.5 stars, I don't like basing everything off of Amazon reviews but not off to a great start. I continued looking for all of the parts needed to get this system setup. I found that you needed the DTV+ water valve (I was looking for 2 port) also had 3.5 stars, and if you want voice assistant support you had to also opt for the DTV+ Konnect Module.
Total: $1903.88 USD
I did find that there was a GitHub repository mentioning a ReST API (local control that I desired) but the page looked to be abandoned. So what about the other option, U by Moen?

U by Moen

Well according to Google minus building it myself this is my only other option. Similar to the Kohler I started with Amazon and right away it seemed a bit more straight forward. Amazon had the ability to buy all of the components together and the reviews were much higher at 4.5! Starting with the Moen Smart Controller it was highly reviewed and cheaper? That almost never happens. The next piece was the 2 port U by Moen Thermostatic valve and that was it! When starting this I never thought about my power going out while showering but they also offer a backup battery kit (which I opted for).
Total: $892.87 USD
With the higher reviews and the price being less than half I opted to go with this solution. I also found that there was a discussion on GitHub about Shower devices and DTV+ and U by Moen were mentioned. Okay so maybe this will work.

Caveat: U by Moen shower is only supported in the US and Canada

Also comes in Matte black (which is what I chose)
Moen 4 output controller (notice the 4 buttons next to the numbers)

I like the layout of the controller better on Moen, but I still had some questions to my criteria that I could not answer. Can I control this with a local API? Is there an integration with Home Assistant. I do live in the US so with the caveat out of the way I continued and purchased it through Amazon.

Installation

I am not a plumber, or do I have any DIY skills. So setting the contractors on their way with my new smart shower system they had it installed within the day. This added to the overall cost, but since I was renovating anyway it didn't add much additional work that I didn't intend to do anyway. They installed followed the instructions provided by Moen and had it installed relatively quickly. Asking them how it went came with a "easy install" response. So that takes care of that.

Starting it up!

Well now I feel like I am in Star Trek, even my shower has buttons and controls. I followed the setup in the app and was able to get it registered on my network. I was happy that it supports all of the voice assistants (even though that's not my thing). You can have shower presets that you can setup in the app. And for the first time in my life I had to question... what actual temperature do I like my shower at? I had never thought about that question before. The default is 100° F (37.8° C) so I jumped in the shower and tried it out.

I have since made a couple of presets
After the gym - 98° F (36.5° C)
Morning shower - 103° F (39.5° C)

My Shower!
My Moen Controller

I did install two quick access panels on the other side of my shower. The first panel lets me deal with the power elements. Allowing me to reset the GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) power outlet if needed. Additionally allowing me to access the backup battery unit and replacing the (6) D-Cell batteries. The second access panel lets me deal with the water elements of the shower. Allowing me to access and turn off the hot / cold line-in water lines if needed.

Both access panels
Gray box is battery packup. GFCI plug for unit, blue is water lines

We also added some reusable double sided sticky tape to the other side of the controller. This gave it a more sturdy stuck to the wall feeling and reduced any wobbling. Here's what I went with.

Well now onto the other complicated part, what about getting the shower into Home Assistant and controlling it. I did have this sinking feeling of, well there is no going back now. This is it! And there will still questions that needed to be answered.

Home Assistant

Well U by Moen supports Apple HomeKit and Home Assistant supports being an Apple HomeKit controller. I followed the setup procedure by U by Moen to add it to my Apple HomeKit but instead set it up to Home Assistant. Yay!

So perfect, you get everything you wanted? Well almost but not exactly... This lets me see the status of the two valves (the rain shower and the wand) but I am unable to turn them on. It does support Google Assistant and although I could setup Google Assistant Relay similar to my fan. I felt like the HomeKit solution gave me enough.
I am able to see whether my shower was on and this solution also gave me my much sought after Home Assistant integration and 2/4 ain't bad.

State Page in Home Assistant

Automation

Now Home Assistant knows whether my shower is on / off. And with this information I can create a few useful automations.

  1. When the shower is turned on:
    A. Lock the front door
    B. Check to see if the time is within 9AM or 9:45PM (don't upset the neighbors)
    C. Set the volume bathroom speaker volume to 18%
    D. Slowly increase the volume every 9 seconds by 7% do this 5 times
    E. Turn on a sensor that checks to see if the bathroom speaker (SONOS) is paused
    F. When the speaker is paused rejoin it to the other SONOS group
  2. When the shower is turned off:
    Reset the volume of the bathroom speaker to 15%.
    This allows sets it back to a comfortable listening volume after the running water has stopped.
Start of Automation
Automation finishing
Increment current volume node

You might be wondering why I am checking the bathroom motion sensor state. I manually set this value to false when the Sexy times input boolean is set turned on. Due to sexy times playing it's own music I don't want to interrupt the other automation if I jump in the shower.

U by Moen Review

Pros Cons
Smart Shower! No knobs It's speakers sound muffled
Supports Wi-Fi No local control (no local API)
Supports HomeKit and Apple out of the box Home Assistant integration leaves a lot to be desired
Battery option (if desired) Requires a receptical in the wall of your shower
Clock in my shower Notification sounds (I want to turn them off)
Can set a timer Only 2 presets on the unit (more in the app though)
Early detection if you run out of hot water I wish it would give you an audible warning for running out of hot water
Can manipulate screen brightness Still very bright even on low, also no 'night' mode to dim after a certain time
Has (2) or (4) water outputs Kohler supports more outputs
Good amount of settings in the app Still wish there were more features
Customer support pretty good If a component goes down your shower is out of commission
Backup battery status indicator Does not handle Wi-Fi going down very well

Issues

Knock on wood I have only had one issue and Moen was great at getting me a replacement unit. The first controller that I had ordered had an issue where Wi-Fi was unable to stay connected. I contacted Moen support and the guy had me go through some basic troubleshooting then sent me a replacement unit. I have had this latest controller installed for the past year and a half and have had no other issues. Here is the warranty provided by Moen on it's U by Moen Shower products.

Minor software issue, there have been a couple of times my internet has gone out but Wi-Fi still is available. The Moen controller doesn't seem to handle that situation very well and attempts to reboot until it can find internet. It's very odd behavior if you are in the shower as the shower will keep the temperature but the screen goes black while it reboots, during this time you are unable to turn the shower off. This is a very rare occurrence for me but I did want to mention it if you were on the fence. I know this bug can be fixed, but it's still an issue as of 1/1/2021.

Conclusion

I have two qualms with this setup, the first being the fact that I am not able to control or access my shower through a local service or API. It is a device on my network and I own it but Moen does not seem to want to give me full control. The second issue being a little bit more major, regarding long term durability. As I discussed I did have issues with my first controller and it needed to be replaced. Moen did send me another controller unit with expedited shipping as it was under warranty, but I just wonder about how long these controllers will last with the moisture and constant use.

Overall: 9/10

Even though this system does have it's quarks I am happy with it and can attest to the 4.5 star review that it received on Amazon. For the price and the ease of setup I am happy with my choice. The second issue I discussed about long term durability is why I rated this a 9 rather than a 10.

Question

Have you thought about a smart shower? Does this post help your decision of buying one or holding out for the next best thing?