Observations on device identification (240v, specifically)


I know many of us have had differing levels of accuracy and speed in identifying appliances around our house and I just wanted to post my experience. I’m pretty happy with device detection so far, although it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride of discovery.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed, and I think I’ve seen some others report here and elsewhere, is that a number of my appliances on 240v are being identified as separate devices - not different components to a whole, like many also see (for example, different heating elements of a stove), but one of two legs of power for that appliance. Below are some examples of accurately identified appliances, followed by one that Sense is still having trouble with and still seems to be working on.

First, my heat pump:

Leg one:

Leg two:

Whole device, in the usage tab:

Next, my main stove element:

Leg one:

Leg two:

Whole device (note - a surface burner is also running at the same time)

Finally, my water heater, which Sense sometimes recognizes completely, sometimes recognizes only one leg of, and sometimes fails to recognize at all. Of my 240v devices, this is the only one that has a relay timer in between the panel and the appliance.

Full recognition:

The above run in usage (note our coffee maker is going as well):

Half recognition from yesterday:

As I noted in another thread, I’m not really too bothered by this phenomenon (other than wishing my water heater behaved the same as my stove and heat pump), but wanted to report my observations in case others are seeing this and are confused or not sure what to make of it. In case you’re wondering, the pieces don’t appear to add up to the whole because the whole is also considering background watts, our always on essentially.

We have a relatively small home - 2100sf ranch (built circa 1999), single fridge, single AC/heat pump, single stove, single water heater, etc. Pretty uncomplicated, really, and I can visually identify most every appliance we own from the usage tab when it’s running, even if device identification hasn’t picked them up yet. The device identification merely helps separate an appliance out from the herd, where it can be critically evaluated for poor function if necessary. Our lights are entirely LEDs, and I am under no illusion that they’ll be identified, nor do I care really - I have other means to identify whether lights are on or not.


[quote=“NJHaley, post:1, topic:393”]
I have other means to identify whether lights are on or not.[/quote]

I suspect this is by merely opening your eyes! :grinning:

How do you read the results from each phase/leg? Is this something that differs from iPhone and Android apps? Is it a beta version? Or maybe the interface is something that is not obvious to me?


It’s not intentional - Sense is picking them out as different devices :slight_smile: It identified the heat pump a month or so ago…but only one leg of it as evidenced by it reporting just half of the actual heat pump watt consumption. Last night it got a little chilly here and the heat pump came on. This morning when I woke up, I finally figured out what unnamed motor #3 was…the other leg of the heat pump!

The stove went similarly. First identified unnamed heat #X, which I determined to be the stove element…but it was only reporting half of what the actual stove element was using. A little later unnamed heat #X+1 came along and I saw it was reporting concurrently with what I was calling the stove element, and when you added them together they came out to be the sum of the entire stove element.

That’s all well and good, maybe Sense just can’t identify both phases as a single device? Well, no, because there’s my water heater, which is currently only a single device. Sometimes when it reports the water heater is on, it reports all of it (both phases), sometimes it only reports half of it, sometimes it doesn’t see it at all or only sees it for 30min when it’s on for an hour. My hunch is maybe this is due to background at the time the water heater is running, or maybe it depends which phase it takes that first step on, because it seems to be 50/50 at getting it right. If, say for example, it starts out “on black,” it gets it right. If it starts out “on red” it only gets half of it or not at all? Don’t know, I’m no electrical engineer - again, just my observations. I’m sure there are users with completely different experiences :slight_smile:


“…LEDs, and I am under no illusion that they’ll be identified”

Why such low expectations?

Presumably the company has higher expectations. The very first sentence on the Sense home page says “every appliance, light, and device in your house…”


Mostly because the LEDs are drawing such low power, and we have a number of 2-3 bulb fixtures that are either on dimmers or are likely to look identical otherwise. They’re honestly drawing 20-30w max per fixture, and more like 10w since most are dimmed much of the time. I’ve been giving the ceiling fans better prospects.

That being said, I was able to chase down something in my post in your thread yesterday. I had something I was calling low wattage, since it was drawing 70-90w, that had me baffled. Well, the wife went into the wash room to grab something out of the dryer this morning and I happened to be watching - “low wattage” came on. She came back out and it turned off. It’s the tube CFLs we have in the washroom. I confirmed by going in and switching it while watching the app. I spent half an hour this weekend trying to chase it down, never considering it could be the darn lights. So there is hope!

Here’s what they look like for future reference:


For some time Sense was confusing my toaster oven with the floor radiant heat in the kitchen. Both have similar power draws on one phase, but the radiant heat is 240V (both phases operating at once). For me it was an absolute no-brainer to discriminate between them on the timeline. If the Sense interface had a checkbox in the device section ala “This is a 240V device”, that would presumably simplify the process of discriminating. This may be an over-simplification: some 240V devices draw power from a single phase for a portion of their operation. But that portion is probably being separately identified anyway (drum motor vs. heating element in a dryer, for example).


I’ve only had my Sense installed for a few days, but I don’t understand why there isn’t a mechanism for some kind of feedback on device identification. One day after installation, I was informed that Sense had identified a device - a Fridge. It has been off since identification and has drawn no power. How could it have been identified if it has never been on? It would be nice to flag this as questionable and let it be re-identified. It would seem that user feedback would be helpful in the device identification process.


It may be that entering that information on the device page fulfills that role, it’s really hard to say because the only support personnel making an appearance on the site is @MattAtSense. Incredibly aggravating when there’s a dozen threads here without any sort of response from customer support. Call me jaded, I think this product and Sense as a company has a long way to go. I’ve lost interest in helping a company in beta development when they can’t even acknowledge your problems or the information you’ve provided to help them improve things.


@NJHaley I agree. I am getting frustrated too. The promise of reliable appliance level identification seems very far away.

  1. Appliances that were identified and reporting correctly no longer do so.
  2. There 3 and 4 separate loads for an appliance and no way to group them.
  3. Two separate loads are identified as the same device regularly (sense can not distinguish between a garbage disposal and the washing machine)
  4. The most power hungry devices in my home have yet to be identified. Winter is almost over in North Carolina so I guess I will need to wait a year for Sense to identify my furnaces.
  5. 2 Refrigerators identified… I can not assign them to an actual refrigerator.
  6. For 67% of my found devices I have no idea what they are and can not identify them.
  7. Negative Loads appear regularly.
  8. No one from Sense ever reply’s to the problems on this board.
  9. There is no feature roadmap or communication on when things will be fixed.

and lastly and the most important issue

  1. There is no way to fix any of the issues. You simply need to “be patient” as Sense is learning.

The most obvious fix to most of this is some sort of feedback loop allowing the customer to tell Sense it got it wrong and what the actual device is.

Also a training mode which allows sense to capture a relevant sample size of electrical signatures would help greatly in device identification. If sense had me turn on and off my garbage disposal 5 - 10 times why would it not be able to correctly identify it?

This is the biggest miss in my mind. Sense should be after the data and motivated to get the data as quickly as it can. Having your user base help in this activity would both improve your customer satisfaction and significantly reduce the workload on Sense. @MattAtSense most of us want to be able to fix the problems. Provide us a mechanism to help so this product can get to its potential much faster.


I agree with you on many points. Their support for the most part is a day late and a dollar short. They have some good people, but it appears they are greatly understaffed. They seem to be selling these things like hot cakes all of a sudden too. I would not be at all surprised to sooner or later see a law suit over false claims.

They need to have telephone support, it would solve a lot of problems quickly and end user frustration. In the long run it would be a plus for the company as they would be able to explain things better and quicker and improve satisfaction.

While they may be the smartest technical people they seem to be unable to talk in plain English to users. They tell us we cannot train the unit or help with data; they also have stated during the original beta they had users training; further they say they may open this again in the future. Which one is it? If they cannot explain the concept of why training won’t work in plain English so that at least 80% of customers understand the concept once and for all then they have failed big time.


I would suggest, if you’re on facebook, to write a very articulate review if you haven’t already. There are few sites for the average buyer to see honest to goodness user reviews (not overhyped media reviews), and facebook is one of the best.


Not on Facebook… yes one of the few people who can say that.


I avoided it for the longest time, about all I’ve done since joining a couple months ago is post a review for Sense :wink:


Hi everyone -

Sorry we have been super busy lately and we clearly need to work on increasing our attention to the community. My name is Hilario Coimbra and I just joined Sense recently as a product manager - I have a lot I’m getting up to speed on (and learning a lot from reading all of your posts!). In fact, the Sense team is still growing and we are close to hiring a new community liaison to better (and more frequently) participate in a dialog with all of you! And I myself hope to respond more often here from time to time, and taking all your great feedback & thoughts & frustrations into decisions of how we can improve the product experience.

Now, for the major topics I’ve parsed from this thread:

  • Ability to “group” devices: This is clearly a big issue today, and I’ll be devoting my time to this very problem in the coming days. My hope is we can come up with an easy way in the UI for you to group devices together, which will both help users see them as single devices rather than multiple devices, and should also help our data science team’s algorithms for learning!
  • Reporting incorrect devices: We are actually adding this ability now and it should be coming soon! You’ll be able to easily report to us if the device is not actually on if we are saying it is on, or the ability to hide/remove the device entirely if we’ve incorrectly identified something as a device.
  • Training Mode / Feedback Loop: Check out this blog post: http://blog.sense.com/articles/training-sense/. We know users (like you!) are willing to help us, and we are trying to come up with better ways of soliciting feedback in the app at appropriate moments that will help Sense learn devices faster. This is another big area I am focusing on so hopefully I’ll have an update for you guys in the future!


Thanks for the response, Hilario. This all sounds very promising. Sense is at an interesting stage: so much potential, and so many problems yet to be solved, against the backdrop of an absolute survival need to make a simple value proposition to the average homeowner/consumer. The first wave of Sense users likely consists largely of energy enthusiasts, home automators, and technical people. These users are a mixed blessing: proficient and dedicated at providing feedback, but easily disappointed as well. I’ve been enjoying Sense very much, but I can see so many potential areas of improvement. Someone on the FaceBook page is working on a list of requests that might make a good summary of the community’s near term interests; it might be a good way to take the pulse.


Bingo. And yet we’re the ones who - if cultivated and have our suggestions addressed - make the product that much more awesome when it hits the mainstream. Certainly something the average user might take for granted when they buy a finished tech product that does everything they want and more.


Thanks @jdtsmith! I did see that list of requests on the Facebook group - we’re definitely paying attention!

@NJHaley - completely agree with you in that listening to your feedback is incredibly helpful. I will be dropping by occasionally and reading (and sometimes posting!) so please keep it coming. We have a lot of exciting things in our roadmap that I’m sure will get everyone excited over the coming weeks and months (and longer!).


@jdtsmith and @NJHaley Completely agree.

@HilarioAtSense Roadmap and features are cool and needed, but please get your MVP (minimum viable product) right first. Walk before your run.