Updated: September 2, 2018
Note: Use OPTIMIZE on either site for 10% off your order.
NoiseAware and Party Squasher are smart home sensors that detect noise levels and number of wireless devices, respectively, and alert hosts when a risky situation, such as a party, is likely to be taking place. This graphic from NoiseAware sums up what these tools are for. The chart is measuring noise being picked up by the sensor. The drop occurs after the host sent a message to the guest:
There are two questions the unfamiliar host asks:
- Will the guests steal from me?
- Will the guests throw a party in my home?
Luckily both are rare, but party-throwing guests are much more common. Even more common is the impromptu late evening gathering in the backyard. Regardless, it only takes one bad apple. A complaining neighbor can do a lot to thwart your burgeoning Airbnb. Trust me, I know.
Pre NoiseAware/Party Squasher, you might drive by your place to check on it, ask neighbors to be on the lookout or notify you of anything suspicious (extra cars, loud music, etc). In one case I know a host who installed cameras on the exterior of the house and hired someone to monitor the recordings.
Post NoiseAware/Party Squasher, you await an early warning alert from your phone.
When I began hosting 100% remotely, I started seriously researching noise monitoring devices and I found two noteworthy companies. NoiseAware monitors the volume of noise while Party Squasher monitors the number of devices connected to your wireless network. After doing a bit of research, including using my social network to initially vet both companies (surprisingly, I was able to find zero unhappy customers), I tried them out.
How To Use It
The sensors plug into your outlet and connect to your wi-fi. The set-up is a breeze. It took only about 5 minutes. Be sure to use a screw to bolt the device to the outlet faceplate so the guest won’t accidentally unplug it.
For NoiseAware, once you receive an alert it’s only after noise has been escalated at the property for a time span over 5 minutes. For Party Squasher, you set the number of allowable devices based on your occupancy. I set mine at 3x occupancy as I only want to know when it gets excessive. Plus, many guests are conneting 2-3 devices per person.
If and when you find yourself with a situation, first send a message through the app. It’s been my experience that nine of ten times the guest will respond within fifteen minutes. Here’s an example message NoiseAware sent me which has been used successfully with their users:
Hello <Guest Name>, this is <Host Name>. I hope your stay is going well! I’m sending you this message to let you know that the property you are staying in has recently received a noise complaint. We take quiet hours seriously so please make sure to keep the noise at a reasonable level during your stay. We are here to make sure you have an awesome stay so please let us know if there is anything we can do for you!
If your house ever loses power or the wi signal, the devices will alert you and start working immediately upon power or reconnecting to wi-fi.
NoiseAware uses an algorithm that can distinguish a truly risky situation from merely a loud noise. It’s spot on. Their sensors are incapable of recording any audio, which is a huge win in terms of privacy rights. Be sure to let the guest know if you have installed one of these monitors. Here is example text from NoiseAware:
We use smart home technology to improve your experience. NoiseAware is a smart home device that measures volume levels throughout the property, and allows us to respond to noise nuisances without disrupting your stay. NoiseAware is privacy compliant and is required on this property40.
Party Squasher couldn’t be simpler. This is truly their strong suit. Buy it, download the app, plug it in, and you’re o ff So simple.
Click here for a blurb you must add to your Airbnb House Rules if you use a noise monitoring device. Click To Tweet
While NoiseAware can detect volume, they can’t give you any more information. You can view the last three hours of noise data, but its usefulness is limited. Enter, Party Squasher, who counts the number of devices. With these two pieces of hardware, you can start to get an accurate picture of what’s going on at your Airbnb. Is one guest playing really loud music or is there a full on party?
You need a strong Wi-Fi signal to ensure proper and timely data transmission. Believe it or not, many listings lack this feature. You may need to purchase a Wi-Fi booster. There’s a chance that your Wi-Fi signal is so low that you may not be able to use the product at all.
NoiseAware’s sensors are not (yet) manufactured to be used outdoors. However, if you use them outdoors and they damage, NoiseAware will replace for free. To avoid that back and forth, place outlet covers on any sensors you choose to place outdoors. I confirmed with the NoiseAware team that an outdoor device is in the works.
Party Squasher can be somewhat unreliable as to knowing how many devices are in your home. This is especially true for apartment/ condo owners where everyone is squished so close. The device could be picking up your neighbors. This is why I set my alarm for 3x my occupancy and lower the sensor setting to lowest. The highest setting covers up to 125 feet (38 meters).
NoiseAware charges a one-time hardware and annual software cost. Each sensor costs $99 for the hardware with an annual fee of $99 for ongoing monitoring. A sensor covers a property’s “activity zones”, areas in your property where guest may congregate and cause noise issues.
All in with a sensor and their monitoring service, NoiseAware’s noise monitoring solution is under $200 for the year.
Party Squasher charges $149 for the hardware with an optional $99 per year premium subscription. Having both breaks down to about $30 a month.
NoiseAware has the live chat box in the lower-right corner that I love! They even have automatic chat popups when you go to pages where you’re likely to need assistance, like the support page. Otherwise, you can email Support@NoiseAware.io.
Party Squasher provides a contact form directly on the website with a phone number. Their support email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overall, monitoring your Airbnb in a privacy-safe way has proven to be surprisingly valuable to me. I didn’t even know this technology existed a year ago. Reading articles in the news on cities that point the finger at “party houses” and noise issues of short term rentals makes me realize that preventing the problem from ever happening is more important now than ever.
Plus, consider this situation: A disgruntled neighbor finds out you are an Airbnb host and has an issue with it. Wouldn’t it be nice to ask them what their concerns are (security and parties will be some issues) and then let them know how you are going to deal with their reasonable and serious concerns (not to mention, your concerns, too!)?
While NoiseAware’s mission is to prevent unnecessary noise pollution, they’re also sincercely committed to saving the short-term rental industry and urging cities to implement fair regulation. The advocacy arm of their company, Rent Responsibly, serves to help cities understand how to implement fair regulation and keep the sharing economy alive. Rent Responsibly is a campaign for all within the industry to educate, advocate, and celebrate the positive impacts of short-term rentals.
Do you use either #NoiseAware or #PartySquasher? What do you think? Click To Tweet
NoiseAware: Airbnb Noise Monitoring$180 after promo
- Fast customer service
- 10% off with OPTIMIZE
- Very accurate algorithm (app info is accurate)
- Free replacements
- Large up front cost (but form of insurance)
- Only measures one analytic (noise)
- Initial setup, need to understand what you are seeing
Also published on Medium.