Here's my sense story and why I returned the unit


#1

I had high expectations for sense but in the 3 weeks I’ve put up with it… it’s just been annoying & a waste of time. On the somewhat rare occasion that it does show me info, it is pretty interesting but certainly not worth $300.

I read the forums about connectivity issues and all the reps seem to say is “we are working on it”. I’m just not that patient to wait for it to actually be worked on and fixed. If I pay $300 for a product that’s supposed to save me money, I expect it to work a good percentage of the time. The sense does not.

Now, I’m sure you’ll come on here and tell me to move the modem closer to the sense, buy a new AP and put it closer to the sense and manually reset it the sense everytime it goes offline or any number of things that probably won’t work but will surely cost more money and waste more of my time.

So - long - sense! You’re going back today. Thanks amazon for having a great return policy.

If someone does have a recommendation for something LIKE sense but that actually works without a million glitches… please post below. I don’t even care if the next gadget recognizes what appliance is on. I just need to RELIABLY know my usage and be able to track it over weeks, months and years.

Tired of seeing this… >>>>>>


#2

well, it’s your Internet most likely. But good-bye if you have no more patience to troubleshoot it.


#3

Nada, or I would have bought it. Nothing else exists that I know off that doesn’t require at least as much if not more work on your part for inferior results.

Best of luck on your quest.


#4

Of course it’s my fault Jeff. That’s the easy way out. Every other thing that uses wifi in my home works fine except for sense. Instead of under-designing the unit and then blaming its inadequacies on the customer, sense should have over-designed it and made it work in most situations. I refuse to jump through hoops and spend extra time and money fidgeting with this unit to make it work reliably. For $300, it should have worked fine out of the box irregardless of it being 15 feet from the modem or 50 feet.


#5

@dnh1263,
Sense works well for a lot of us, pretty much out of the box. Can understand you abandoning it since it didn’t work that way for you.


#6

My unit was having connectivity issues as well but I believe in my case at least, I’ve solved it by changing the antenna. My house layout has my breaker box outside and pretty much father from my wifi AP than anything else in the house. Given that Sense has an omni-directional antenna, I figured I’d try a patch antenna (directional) aimed in the direction of my AP. SOLVED! I went from Sense only maintining a connection for a few hours at a time to now, conencted for a week straight without a hiccup. I’ve been using domotz on a Synology NAS to check Sense every 30 seconds so I’m pretty confident in the before/after results.

At one point, early on when I still had the original antenna, I even thought my Sesne had failed only to realize my truck’s wifi was using the same 2.4g channel as my home wifi. My Sense would go Offline for an extended period as I pulled into my driveway until my truck wifi turned off. Changed wifi channel in my truck and that issue was resolved as well.

Just some ideas that worked in my situation. Wifi can require tuning sometimes as our connected devices grow.


#7

This is a good discussion, with a fair point made by the original poster. it turned out that the cost and effort required to get fully up and running was beyond his reasonable expectations, so a good return policy made things right.

So what can we and Sense do to help others figure out if buying the unit is going to be the end of their expense?

Certainly Sense are upfront about the need for an electrician to do the install unless you have sufficient relevant expertise to DIY.

What are the other traps for the unwary?

Top of the list is the need for a decent wifi signal at the Sense location. I recommend a check with your smartphone. If you have a solid connection to your home wifi with your phone from there, Sense should be OK. Make sure you are checking on 2.4Ghz, which will always have a better range through walls etc than 5 Ghz.

Probably the second thing to be sure of is that you have enough upstream bandwidth. I’ve not seen Sense provide guidelines. If anyone knows the number, please add to this thread. I’m going to guess that Sense is actually using a few hundred kB/s and has its catch-up mode if the upstream WAN connection is temporarily busy.

Finally, if you want to start with a single sense unit, you do need to have a single primary distribution panel through which all your loads go, even if they are then split into secondary panels. Reversionary generators and automatic changeover switches complicate things if the changeover routes power through a secondary panel. Talk to the excellent Sense tech support team before you try to install in such a system to avoid surprises after purchase.

Any more thoughts to help potential buyers avoid disappointment after purchase?


#8

Not to mention that Sense, at the moment, is only capable of using the 2.4ghz band.


#9

2.4Ghz is better for distance / walls etc… So I’m fine with that…

I’ve had mine for a week… My sense is literally in the closet with my router so I’ve had zero connection issues…

If it were me, I would have done a running ping to the Sense unit’s IP from a computer on your network to see if you are dropping packets… If it’s a network / range thing, there are numerous ways to address that…

I mean to blame Sense because it doesn’t “work fine out of the box irregardless of it being 15 feet from the modem or 50 feet” isn’t very fair… How do you know it’s not your network?? Soo many variables come into play with Wifi…


#10

I tell you, I never learned as much about WiFi as I did when I started overloading my network with stuff. Probably 15-20 separate sedentary devices in every corner of the house, needing three access points to keep everything on board,etc. I don’t have Google mesh WiFi, but I often consider it.

Yeah it’s a pain to have to do for a single device if it means keeping Sense online, but chances are high the Sense failure is a symptom, not the disease.


#11

This…


#12

I got lucky. I already had a 4 access point house, and the Sense ended co-located in the service closet, at the far outside of our garage, with my main router, which is also sports a WiFi base station. The Sense and our cars (4 internet cars ?!) are the only things on that basestation.


#13

I’ve said before, I put off buying Sense because it was slightly more expensive and because I didn’t believe it could deliver as promised. There are a dozen or so monitors that will track your usage, but Sense was the only one I found who was willing to say they could identify devices. When i saw a sale price that dropped it down to level with the host of what looked like inferior products, I snapped it up.

I LOVE it. Even before the first device was discovered it alerted me to a burst bladder in my well house pressure tank. - a burned up pump for me means digging a new hole so putting if off as many years as possible is a big deal.

People love to complain about what Sense doesn’t do, but I think if we would be quicker to stop and think about how amazing it is with what it does do we’d be better off. I haven’t had mine a year yet, but I’ve already seen improvements along the way. I appreciate and respect that the company reps are available and activity working through issue and I love being in the beta program. I admit, I have my frustrations with it, but overall I’ve found it more than worth while and I’m enjoying the ride as the product gains ground.


#14

Sorry things didn’t work out @dnh1263, we do hope you end up with a solution that works better for you down the road! Please keep an eye on us in the months and years to come. We’re committed to finding new ways to make this technology work for more people, and are grateful for everyone’s patience and input along the way.

Thanks for giving it a shot, and very sorry for the frustration along the way!


#15

It seems to vary by the usage levels through-out the day but I’m between 40-60kWh/day right now and Sense fluctuates from 8-24Kbps. Here is a snapshot of the last 24-hours – you can see when it is quieter from about 11pm-11am:


Signal level is pretty solid although there are some transmission retries, which I would attribute to just being on the 2G band.

When it does appear to lose internet access I have seen it burst up into the Mbps to backfill data. Had a 10-15min internet outage a couple days ago and it averaged almost 8Mbps for a minute or two (system displays 5min averages so most accuracy I can get).


Data from Sense device to NN learning system?
#16

Jeff.

Interesting. I suspect the difference in traffic volume is due to the amount of load switching that is going on, be it manual or automatically due to thermostats etc. It’s encouraging that Sense have managed to get the data volume down to this level; it seems to indicate that they are only transmitting changes, or at least using dynamic data rates in terms of what’s transmitted.

The question is whether this implies they are generating the necessary frequency domain data to characterise device switch on / off in the Sense unit rather than transmitting the raw time domain data and running the fft’s in the back end. It does imply the former, which means characterisation is not bandwidth limited, a good thing.

The catch-up performance that you’ve seen is reassuring and is leading me to think that the short data gaps that I and other have seen are not due to reboots due to suspect power (too long) or upstream bandwidth (required data rate is pleasingly low). That’s pointing to mischief in the back end, isn’t it, @BradAtSense?


#17

This is a great discussion, thanks all!

It does seem that way, @dave_n_s, and they’re trying to scout it down even as we speak. It is frustratingly inconsistent and intermittent (as all the bad bugs are!) but everyone’s input has been useful. Now we’re just trying to figure out what the pattern is, so we can get this backfilled data working again. I’ll be sure to post an update here as soon as we know more!


#18

I have a number of always connected devices like a thermostat, hue, smartthings, as well as Sense. All the devices are very stable and never disconnect from my wifi.

I had a similar problem with my 2 zone Sonos. I worked with tech support of and on over 4 years… As much as I wanted to love Sonos, I just couldn’t keep it connected. I decided to abandon it and went with Bluesound which used a wired connection.

I always thought it was weird that all my other wifi devices would be so stable except Sonos.


#19

The fact is, all low power WiFi devices have connectivity issues. The problem is because these lower power devices can’t transmit as strong of a signal as they can receive. Sense is mostly transmitting rather than receiving. Your cell phone, computers, etc, are usually receiving. That’s all there is to it. There are two options:

  1. Manufacturer can find a way to send a stronger signal. There are a lot of legalities involved with this due to FCC regulations
  2. Adjust the antenna to find a better signal (I’ve had to do this once or twice)
  3. You can move your wifi access point closer to the device (I have 4 of them in my modest size house)

I have a BBQ grill with wifi that has the same problem. I ended up putting an access point near it and it solved all my issues. It’s probably using a similar wifi chip as the sense. It’s an unfortunate side effect of wireless being what it is.


#20

@phillijw,
What kind of grill ? I have a Lynx Smartgrill and had the same issue - it’s way in the back of the yard, with lots of EM noise. A directional antenna did the trick for me. But my Sense is in a service closet that has a WiFi basestation 4 feet away and always stays connected, despite all the EM noise from several ZIgbee devices and 60Hz harmonics from the main breaker.