AC detected but not showing up in the bubbles

Hi, new member to the Sense Community here. Just had the panel in my 100+ year old home upgraded yesterday and the Sense device installed. Today it says it’s detected My AC unit but when the AC is actually running the Sense App doesn’t say that it’s on in the device page and it doesn’t show up in any bubbles. I do have a couple stand alone AC units in other rooms so I thought maybe it was one of those but turning them on and off didn’t change the status of this device labeled as AC. I did connect my ecobee thermostat to the Sense monitor so I’m not sure if that is somehow related. Did the Sense add my AC using the data the ecobee shared with it? If so, why is Sense not detecting when my central AC unit is on or off?

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Two things…

  1. Give it a little more time than a couple days for the bubbles to show reliably. I know it’s exciting when that first device is detected, but sometimes the device is created and you see some of its history before you start seeing the bubble and changes in the device list. Other times you might see the bubble ahead of some of the history on the trends tab getting filled out.
  2. The Ecobee History integration that you ‘connected’ won’t create an AC device. But it will help Sense build and refine models for your AC unit. They can compare their detections against the cooling commands the Ecobee was calling for, to provide feedback on the quality of the model.
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Thanks for the quick reply. I’m getting the picture that being patient is a key part of owning a Sense :slight_smile: Luckily, I’m a very patient person. I’m excited to now be a part of the Sense community and to see what future updates and integrations come to the system!

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What’s not made clear by Sense marketing is that it takes weeks/months/years/never for Sense to reliably detect even the largest consumers. And, when it f9irst says detected, it takes days/weeks for the various displays to catch up.

The word always used is “patience”, and you should hopefully see Sense providing data and status better as it sorts out your consumption.

Yes - patience. Sense is using an unsupervised learning algorithm to listen to a symphony played by an orchestra of your electric devices. And the tunes played are changing every day, only time can reveal a pattern winch then will be looked in details, and finally a device will be detected and named. When a device is found Sense will create a model which will be connected to your Sense profile to momentarily recognize when your device starts, and stops (which is also a model).

Now since your AC was found (usually 240V device consuming more than 3000w), check if the device does consume more than 3000w, and if it is not it is not an AC, but still a device that was recognized by Sense, and now, you need to find and rename it (turn on all notifications for this device and monitor them). If the device’s stats (you can check on the device’s stats in the Appl Sense) confirm that it is an AC but the bubble is not shown you have several options: 1) wait more time; 2) delete the recognized device.

Option #2 works when you’re 100% certain that the device recognized by Sense as an AC is the AC; by removing the device you’re telling Sense to try finding the model again.

In some more complex cases, when you have multiple 240V devices Sense could confuse one device with another - it will need your help. I have a big 240V water pump which was found after my AC was already detected. Sense was reporting running AC when my pump actually was on - I helped Sense to correct the model for my pump by reporting “Device is not on” when my pump was running (and reported as AC), two days later Sense reported start/stop events correctly for both 240V devices.

In my case, it took Sense a month to recognized all my nine major devices, and to resolve 240V conflated devices issue.

Sense uses a simple, noninvasive way to connect to our electrical systems for the cost of running very complex mathematical analysis, we just need to let the math do its job, and help it where we can.

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Great feedback. BTW @tate, there’s a really good Q&A between a Sense user and Sense’s CEO that @JustinAtSense just posted. Answers a bunch of questions on the toughest problems associated with “detection” and unsupervised machine learning. One big challenge for detecting EV charging and some heat pump / mini-split style AC units is that they are hard to detect realtime (the power waveform ramps up slowly, rather than things turning fully on immediately).

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Thanks, this is very helpful. Sense has started giving more detail on when this device has been turning off and on and showed up in the bubbles today. Curiously though, it’s never gone above 655 watts and comes on intermittently throughout the day. I’m starting to think it might be one of my smaller stand alone AC units. I’ll investigate more when I get home and rename the device once I figure out which one it is.

Thanks Kevin! I just watched that yesterday. Great stuff.

@tate, also keep in mind that Sense may only be seeing a single component of a larger device.

Great point. I do have my air handler fan set to run at 15 min intervals throughout the day in addition to the AC compressor coming on when needed but the power usage in the timeline for the AC device it detected wasn’t lining up with those 15 minute intervals. I suppose the fan and compressor are technically 2 different components of a single system. Apologies if I’m asking questions that have probably been answered in other topics but does Sense list items like this separately or will it eventually combine/pair them into a single device?

It’ll find each component separately and then you can manually merge them. For instance, my fridge. Sense detected the compressor, the defroster for the freezer, the defroster for the ice maker, the solenoid that opens to allow more water into the ice maker after it dumps, and the ice dispenser.

I could have merged all those into just a single “fridge” but I didn’t. I did merge the two components of the ice maker together though.

Speaking of components, just so nobody is under the illusion that a modern mini-split is a relatively modest number of Sense-disaggregatable components – to reinforce the idea of what a Device represents: in the case of my new Mitsubishi mini-split, Sense needs to aggregate the signals of at least 10 disaggregated “components” by my count. On top of that, the timing of component load is of course all over the place.

[All buried, of course, under the electronic power supply and control. Check out C61/62 “smoothing capacitors” in the MUZ. A smoothing capacitor to Sense is like a dog’s breakfast wrapped inside a bag of cats.]

My experience with looking at the unit in Sense, knowing that I am seeing the entire waveform because I have a Sense dedicated to it, doesn’t help one bit when, for example I hit a button on the remote to move some vanes or change fan speed and I don’t see any corresponding change to the overall load! Buried!

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Sense sees “devices” as on/off patterns of power consumption. So, when you have a system consisting of multiple devices, even though we think of it as one thing (refrigerator, A/C, HVAC, washing machine, dishwasher, etc), what Sense sees is each power consuming component that has a detectable on/off signature. Note: not all devices (or components) do!

So, my refrigerator has (at least) four different parts, each with its own separate timing and power signatures. Those are the compressor, fan, ice maker, and defrost heater. And, my modern refrigerator, like so many now, has a variable speed compressor with gentle ramp up and down (something Sense apparently can’t cope with), so for now and the foreseeable future, Sense thinks my refrigerator consists only of fan, ice maker, and defrost heater. From what I read, it probably will never get the whole thing.

My A/C (geothermal) is even more complex than that, with well pump, compressor, circulator pump, mini-duct blower, ERV, etc. Sense sees these each as individual consumers, with their own distinct on/off signatures. What most folks would think of “the air conditioner”, is far more complex than one simple device with one simple on/off.

Over time, you can group those separate components (if detected at all) into one composite device, but it takes a long time, lots of effort, and remarkable “patience” to get it all right.

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Exactly, Sense is like a veterinarian doctor… here is a joke: A vet doctor got sick, everyone can get sick, right? So he goes to to a physician and he was asked to wait for a doctor in a room after a nurse took his blood pressure measurement. Finally, a physician arrives immediately asking: “What seems to be a problem?” The vet doctor pauses, and replied: “Huh! That’s easy?”

Sense is like a vet doctor, old school - observe, analyze and diagnose… and sometimes it finds a problem (a device) that you are not even aware of - good doctor Sense.

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Ok, now I’m confused. The device labeled as AC says it hasn’t been on for going on 5 hours now (which would be odd for any AC unit in the summer.) I got home and all my AC units are on (central and 2 stand alone units) Turning the stand alone units off didn’t trigger the AC device to register a power state change. I’ve attached 2 screen shots from the AC device page. Does this power signature look familiar to anyone? Whatever it is turns on and off every few minutes for about 3 hours then goes silent again for several hours. Always peaks around 650 watts.

Big ticket (price & energy) hogs like most HVAC will likely get dedicated monitors eventually. Some HVAC manufacturers already do that if you’re willing to pay real money. From an HVAC tech perspective (and given the cost of the average system and maintenance) it makes economic sense IMHO to dedicate a Sense monitor to such a device. Unlike a non-intelligent current sensor, having ground-truth Sense data will allow for deep inspection and monitoring of device behavior.

Ironically, the mini-split I just installed has barely peaked above 500W. A smart plug would suffice (240V issue aside). That said, I think the higher resolution data from a Sense monitor is crucial to performance monitoring and failure detection.

An interesting way to ponder the really hard-to-ever-detect devices is the potential of them being the only ones that aren’t detected. On some level, that means they can be tracked! Ideally something like Other = HVAC.

Can’t resist a Werner Herzog reference:

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Ok, lots more devices detected since yesterday. Another ‘AC’, 2 Fridges, Microwave and 3 ‘Heat’. I’m still having trouble identifying which is which though. AC 2 seems to match with my Central Air unit but ‘Heat 2’ also comes on at the exact same time as AC 2. Is Sense confusing my fan as a heat source or is there a heating element in my system I’m not aware of. I know for sure I do not have a heat pump system.

Hey @tate! Welcome to the Sense community.

Besides the great feedback/advice from community members above, I’d recommend giving Sense some time to self-correct here. At only a couple days in, you’re essentially watching Sense figure out your home. As it’s learning, I personally recommend letting these new devices sit for some time so Sense can see more run cycles for learning. This way, when you do make adjustments or go around your home and verify specific appliances/detected devices, you’ll be working with more defined detections. Adjusting things now, as they’re being actively detected, might be less productive than giving Sense some time here.

Thanks for the feedback Justin! I’ll put the App aside for now and let Sense do it’s thing.