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Sense Energy Monitoring


apostolakisl

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I installed a Sense monitor in mid 2018. It was fun at first (data is fun!), though I can't say it's been a practical purchase for me.

Overall, I've grown to completely ignore it. Its most annoying feature is that it keeps finding new "Heat" devices that are impossible for me to determine what the heck device it thinks it found. This is especially frustrating when these ghost devices often never show up in any Sense graph post-discovery (how am I supposed to figure out what the new Heat device is when the new Heat device never turns on?).

I get the fact that identifying devices by their powerline signature is hard. Take a dishwasher, for example. It has a heating element (which cycles on and off at seemingly random intervals) and a pump (which also cycles on and off seemingly randomly).  So, the Sense has trouble determining if such appliances are two devices or one. Sense lets you merge devices in case something like a dishwasher shows up as both a Heat device and a Motor, but whenever I use this feature I am usually just guessing.

Heat devices are especially tough as they are slaves to their thermostats -- constantly turning on and off -- and likely have very similar powerline signatures. Sense often confuses my coffee maker with the stove and vice versa.

Things Sense has reliably detected in my household are my main TV system, garage door opener, sump pump, microwave, and the fan on my HVAC system. I also does a great job of tracking my overall energy use. It agrees with my utility bill every month.

I tried the Sense node server a while back and could not find a practical use for it, especially since I would not trust Sense to accurately let me know when a device had turned on or off.

If you really have a device or three you want to track, put a dedicated energy monitor on it. It is amazing how common this feature is on smart switches these days, such as the Zooz Power Switch. You'll get more accurate results. If you want to see great graphs on your overall household power usage, go with Sense.

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I would echo @randyth comments above.

I have had one for over 3 years now and also basically ignore it. How well it works depends a lot on your house.

My house has a lot of variable speed motors...furnace, AC, pool pump. It has not discovered them. 

It frequently gets things wrong as to what is running. 

With the addition of batteries to my solar system, due to the wiring solar no longer works correctly.

I ended up using power monitoring devices also too, to figure out usage. 

If you have as simple house with just on/off devices, it seems to work well. Anything big or more complex, my feeling is that it is of marginal value.

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After I read how the sense had trouble identifying devices I decided to go with the Emporia View. I purchased the one with the 16 CT's you can put them on individual breakers and identify what they are. So now with the main CT's and the others including using 2 of them on my solar production I can see most of what is happening in the house and the mains catch any usage if your panel is bigger and you don't have enough CT's for all of your breakers.

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54 minutes ago, apostolakisl said:

Ha.  No one replied until after I bought one.  It just came yesterday.  Oh well.   We'll see how things pan out in my house.

Please do let us know how it works out for you. I'm interested in what your experience with Sense is like.

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I got it installed but it said "something was wrong, please let our engineers look at it".  Well anyway, a few days later I got an email that it was fixed and it has started finding devices (it could measure watts the whole time).  It has found 4 things and I have figured out what two of them are.  Now I know my bar fridge costs me $53 per year.

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I've been using Sense for close to 2 years now.  It was an attractive option for me because my house has a relatively complex electrical system with 5 panels and a parallel feed setup, using CT's everywhere would be a little pricey.

If all things were equal, I'd probably prefer having CT's everywhere but the Sense is definitely easier, works pretty well, and provides a ton of data.  In the screenshot below, I happened to catch it during a time where a lot of power was being used and it doesn't always do a great job telling you what's using so much juice.  I hate seeing the "Always On" and "Other" buckets because they're not very helpful

 

444433756_ScreenShot2022-01-12at5_57_30PM.thumb.png.14b7cc7fb32b64771d6df48aa674df72.png

In terms of automation, I originally integrated it with ISY but haven't found much of a use to do that, but it works.  The only annoying aspect is that it tends to create a lot of new devices that you have to rename once you figure out what they are.  The app has the ability to alert when certain devices turn on, off, or is on/off for a certain amount of time, which covers most of my use cases.

 

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@fahrer16 @randyth

 

I have come up with two possible uses so far regarding ISY integration.

1) It has discovered one of our two dryers.  A long time ago, I endeavored to have ISY notify us when the dryer finishes and came up with putting a reed contact on the flapper and wired that up to a webcontrol board.  This works great, but wasn't exactly a trivial endeavor.  With Sense finding the dryer, it would be a pretty simple ISY program to have it notify you when it finishes.  Just add a wait 5 minutes or something to account for any cycling of the heating element.  Hopefully when it discoveres the second dryer, it will be able to tell the difference.  One is a Whirlpool and the other a Samsung.  These two brands should have different motors and heating elements, so i assume they look different to sense.  Presumably they do, since currently running the Samsung dryer does not register on Sense.

2) It just discovered my overhead garage door.  Unfortunately, I doubt it knows the difference between the 3 of them since they are all identical.  But if I only had one, I could use it to know when the door is in motion.  I have programs that automatically close the doors in the event that they are open upon arming the alarm or other things.  The trouble is, if I manually close the door and then arm the alarm while the door is still in motion, ISY doesn't know it is in motion and "hits the button" to close, except that since it is already closing, that ends up reversing it and opening it back up.

 

It has been running 1100 watts +/- maybe 100 watts as "always on".  This seems pretty accurate and I can right off say about 150 of that is my server and maybe 200 of it is my aerobic tank "poop stirrer".  I also have another computer which is always on so maybe another 150 watts there.  The rest would be thing like the alarm panel and all the Insteon devices and wall warts.  

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It seems a little hit or miss whether it can tell the difference between devices.  I have 3 air handlers that are the same make and model and we’re installed at the same time.  It can tell that one of them is different but the other 2 it sees as one device.

one caution is that devices in Sense can sometimes “disappear”, so I’d be hesitant to use any automations where it would be a big deal if it stopped working one day.  The Sense app can do notifications, which might be more reliable since there are fewer systems and interfaces in the mix.

That automation with the garage door is an interesting idea!

 

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13 hours ago, fahrer16 said:

It seems a little hit or miss whether it can tell the difference between devices.  I have 3 air handlers that are the same make and model and we’re installed at the same time.  It can tell that one of them is different but the other 2 it sees as one device.

one caution is that devices in Sense can sometimes “disappear”, so I’d be hesitant to use any automations where it would be a big deal if it stopped working one day.  The Sense app can do notifications, which might be more reliable since there are fewer systems and interfaces in the mix.

That automation with the garage door is an interesting idea!

 

I think I will put the garage doors into my programs, assuming it ever discovers them closing.  Currently it only sees them opening and can't tell he difference between the three of them.  The fact that it can't tell the difference is no big deal, I can just delay closing any open doors until none of them are moving. Previously I had been brain storming ways to tell and came up with some somewhat complex solutions that I never finished implementing.  

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