At what point did you decide to buy smart plug?

My sense has been installed for about a week now with a couple detections so far. I’ve read a lot online on community forums and Sense’s website and have high hopes to detect most of the devices in my house eventually.

Always On is of course a big mystery, I have many electronic devices in my house as my wife and I both work IT, I’m curious whether will ever be discovered. I’ve looked into Kasa smart plugs, it was said quite a long time ago that smart plugs would eventually be able to direct sense’s learning into what is attached but that still isnt in production.

How is everyone using their smart plugs and for what purpose, since network congestion, monetary expense, and not being as integrated into the sense as native detection are issues when you start talking about a higher number of plugs.

I owned a couple of TP-Link HS110s before I even bought Sense, so I was overjoyed when they added the integration. The bottom line for me is that Sense has discovered many of my biggest consumers (EVs, AC compressors, furnace fans, oven, one of two microwaves, central vacuum, garage door openers, and the Nespresso), but I also realize that pretty much anything that is driven by a power supply (DC garage openers, general consumer electronics, communications / PC gear, and various chargers) are unlikely to be detected by Sense in its current inception so smart-plugs fill a valuable role.

My recommendation as someone who has about 30 devices on smart plugs (12 HS110s, and 3 HS300s).

  • Highest priority - Use smartplugs on larger usage devices that Sense is going to have difficulty with - I have on my digitally controlled washing machine and furnaces (gas-fired but plugin for the electric). Sense eventually found the furnace fans.
  • Next focus on high usage electronics - PCs, laptops, monitors, big TVs, plus any other devices you suspect of having greater than 30W of consumption
  • Dedicate one “Traveller” HS110 to sampling the remaining electronic and other devices in your house. Look for the ones where you can glean the best long term info. Some people like to use a Kil-A-Watt for sampling individual devices, but 24-48hrs on a Traveller HS110 will give you far more insight in the Sense GUI.
  • The “Traveller”, plus all the other smartplugs in the house, are also ideal for finding Always Ons, since they can the monitor and calculate the Always On of each individual device, something the central Sense unit can’t, as long as the device uses a 120V plug and draws under 2kW. Even though Sense quickly detected the opening/closing of my 3 garage doors, but it took the “Traveller” to find the 7W Always On that each of the garage openers consume listening for the remote control.
  • Use on modern consumer electronics sparingly - not super useful to individually monitor a device with very low standby and active power (Apple TV = 2W standby, 6W active, cable amplifier varies between 4 and 8W). HS300s givevyounmorevbang for the buck, making it expeditious to sample all the devices in the given location, but some are less interesting than others.
  • The max for smart-plug outlets is actually 20, but Sense has helped me with a less than perfect workaround, since I accidentally exceeded the limit.

A bunch of hourly device power profiles from many of my smartplugs here.


Spot-on response, which is clearly beneficial to all Sense-users! Smart Plugs were my first smart home items purchased, preceded only by the Amazon voice assistant. Sense was the final purchase of technology.

Smart Plugs allows me automated control and mitigation of Vampire Power. Both actions directly impact “Always On” values within Sense!

Although, none of my (33) generic plugs are integrated with Sense, they do serve their intended purposes exceedingly well!


+1 for @kevin1’s prioritization of devices to add smart plugs to.
I started with a few smart plugs and hooked them up to my entertainment center (PS4, XBOX, Samsung TV). My next priority is to add a KASA smart strip to my home desk (custom built computer, monitors, speakers) after seeing @kevin1 addition to the device library.
I also have a TP-Link Smart Plug hooked up to my Fellow Electric Kettle.


+1 +1 for @kevin1’s list.

I will call out specifically though my highest priority: fridge/freezer.

My rationale for that, despite adding, if ever-so-slightly, to failure potential for the fridge’s electrical supply is this:

  • Failure alert!
  • Fridges, especially with a modern DC-compressor, are a real challenge for Sense to track in any detail.
  • Fridges are like batteries. If you stock up the freezer compartment (“charge the fridge”: even if it’s only with ice) the fridge will more likely sustain an outage.

I also have a soft spot for:

  • Toaster + kettle: stress indicators.
  • Shredder: paranoia and OCD indicator.
  • Printer: patience indicator and possibly eyesight. TBD.

I would like to give Sense the benefit of the doubt that it’ll discover devices in my house on its own, I’ve eyed Sense for a couple years now and there were a lot of gripes regarding the detection shortcomings, so I decided to let the technology mature. Fast forward a few years to now, I still see the same gripes from people but I decided to give it a shot, since the technology relies on crowd sourcing data I’d be curious to know how often improvements to machine learning happen by the Sense team, I dont believe I’ve seen any announcements from the past regarding this, despite that being what everyone’s hoping for to improve Sense detection.

Do smart plugs do anything to help device discovery? Is it logical to wait to see if Sense discovers devices on it’s own?

I’m going to chime in one more time… Tell me if I’m talking too much.
It’s best if you think about Sense in terms of things it will naturally find, special cases, and things that it will be unlikely to detect in the medium term.

  • Sense identifies devices based on finding recognizable on and off “signatures”, where the signature includes things like power level, phase, speed of transition, and a bunch of other features that you can’t even see in the Power Meter.
  • Many devices types like heaters/ovens, AC motors/compressors, transformer-based microwave ovens, incandescent and fluorescent lights, have distinctive signatures linked to their physics. I’m a little surprised that Sense hasn’t found some of the heating-oriented things in your house, but your home may have more “noise” than most.
  • Some devices like heat pumps and EV chargers have transitions that are longer than the time window of the main detection mechanism Sense uses. Sense has special “detectors” for those two flavors of devices, but those detections are more challenging since they aren’t based on fundamental physics, but instead based on electronic controllers, resulting in waveform cycles that can vary widely (heat pumps) and change with software updates (EVs). Read the Sense blogs on AC and EVs for more info on these kinds of waveforms.
  • Most electronic devices that use DC (direct current) on the inside (computers, TVs, stereos, dc motors, dc-inverter-microwave ovens) don’t produce discernible physics-based signatures, so they also won’t likely be detectable by Sense.
    Sense’s smartplug integrations with Kasa and Wemo are useful for watching these devices.
  • A single device that has multiple modes/power settings, like an electric range or oven will typically show up as multiple devices. Sense may eventually combine.
  • One device might have multiple components that are detected at different times. Examples include dryers (heating element separate from the motor), fridge (ice maker heater and motor, interior light, separate from compressor(s)). Sense may eventually combine these if they are linked in time.
  • Two or more devices that have a similar type and power usage can be conflated or seen as one device by Sense. All three of my garage door openers (all the same make/model) are detected as one. One of my floor heaters is detected as my dryer - both have similar 6000W cycles.

As for improvements in the data science and machine learning, you won’t find those in announcements on the forum covering new releases of the Sense app, but you can see some of the progress in the technical blogs:


Thanks Kevin, great info. Have you looked info how much network congestion the kasa plugs create? I’m not happy that Sense wont be finding my computers and such on it’s own, and I value the quality of my wireless network so I’m a little concerned about this.

Much to my chagrin, I don’t yet have a Ubiquti network, so I can swag but I can’t measure exactly (I have an expansive, 5 access point Apple-based network that refuses to be made redundant, despite all the home networking improvements in the past 10 years). Several other folks on the forum have looked at general Sense traffic with the mothership and within their home network. There’s a good view into how Sense talks to smartplugs here. Suffice it to say that TP-Link is more bandwidth efficient - Sense sends out a broadcast for power info every 2 seconds and all the HS110s/HS300s respond with data. No handshakes.

At one point in time, I thought the congestion from my 32 Kasa outlets (mix of HS110s and HS300s) was causing data dropouts, and moved all my Sense traffic to a different subnet (same physical hardware) to try to improve things, but it turned out the Sense monitor was the weak link. Sense helped me with an adequate workaround, but I probably shouldn’t have changed subnets because I couldn’t move my Hue to the same subnet, so now I can’t use that integration.

Thinking about data flow in my house now, with both kids home from college, I realize that Sense / TP-Link is a very, very small part of the packet traffic.

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Yes. Here’s a typical 24hrs in the life of an HS110 on a UniFi network:

And here’s the Sense it’s connecting to along with 17 other Wemo(2) and Kasa plugs (counting a couple of fully-propagated HS300s as 12 in total) for the same time period:

While I’m at it, here’s an HS300 for the same period (all plugs active):

Oh, and what the hell, here’s a Wemo (foolishly on a fridge, I know, but that’s another story):


Thanks @ixu ! @peter.katsur, your answer… Biggest part of the traffic with the TP-Link Kasa is the 3-6kbps back to the Sense per plug.

ps: You guys with UniFi networks keep taunting me. But I have just found another reason to squeeze out another year of life out of my aging infrastructure:

I just used an old 2.4Ghz WAP (I rarely use 2.4Ghz as there are a hundred 2.4Ghz WAPs near my house). Set it to 802.11b(the old 11Mb/s standard) and give it a channel on one end of the spectrum. Say channel 1 or 11. I have one wap in the basement in the front of my house that connects to devices in the 2nd floor back of my house and garage at the back of my house.
It is better if all sense devices use the same wap as some of the smarter ones block the broadcast packets.
I have been running this way for over a year with no issues.

Wifi 6 or 802.11ax will be good when devices support it. I doubt Sense or Kasa support it today.

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@jonhawkes, not counting on Sense or Kasa to support Wifi 6E / 802.11ax. But I am hoping that basestations/access points will support older 2.4GHz standards/channels. I’m stuck spreading my TP-Links across multiple basestations from the Sense, mainly because my Sense is in a service closet that is on the far side of my garage from the whole rest of house. But good point on the single access point if possible - one of the things that has kept me from “upgrading” to new switches and the hot new meshes is that they all default to blocking broadcasts, and I haven’t wanted to learn different suppliers secrets (switches, access points), for tuning configuration.

Sense has been doing a decent job finding various devices around the house since I installed a week or two ago. Two things I’m not sure if it will ever find though are our desktop computers and my home theater.

Since power usage is pretty variable with computers, as well as the AVR/OLED/subwoofer, has anyone seen Sense discover those kind of devices? Or is the only way to track them with a Kasa?

My second thought is I’d guess those things for one create a lot of electrical noise that masks detection of other more obvious devices in the house. Have people had better luck not turning them on as often so Sense can get a better view of everything else in the house? Also if you were to put a Kasa on your computer, does Sense correlate what it sees through Kasa and what it sees in the rest of the house to filter out the noise that way?

Good question. Tricky!

Kasa sampling (by the plug, as sucked in over wifi by Sense) is in a different realm than Sense is using. Sense is sampling at a much higher rate (fast DSP at the edge) than the Kasa plugs so there is an inherent mismatch in physics, including the temporal delay. That said, with some magic it is certainly possible for Sense to employ the Kasa data to do some post-DSP larger scale detection … but “filtering” is less straightforward than it might first appear. Realtime filtering: no. Delayed filtering: possible.

There are a few things to consider (IMHO) for computers and Sense:

  • Yes, potentially, to a certain extent a computer’s “noisy” signature may create some detection issues but you would have to have an otherwise very minimal (electrically) household to start trying to pare that back. Switching it off would only (maybe) help if it were done in a very regular fashion but then you can think of it as almost adding to the problem because Sense may be thinking “where did that noise go?”. Switching it off for a night or two, in the scheme of things, isn’t going to help. If you have, say, an OLED TV, that’s going to present to Sense with a similar (even noisier) signature = the hardest things for Sense.

  • If you want smooth you could put all your computer gear behind a pure sine wave UPS. Sense will not then detect anything behind the UPS but you could have HS110s or HS300s on the gear. My method is to have computer and peripherals (second monitor and drives) on a power strip plugged into one HS300 outlet. The other outlets on the HS300 are occupied by my network gear. The HS300 is plugged into a UPS.

  • While it might seem near impossible to track an OLED TV (or computer) there are what I’ve called meta-signatures (for want of an official term). Devices get used by humans and humans do things in recognizable patterns. As do machines for that matter. Sense may not be able to track the true wattage of an OLED but in theory it could use other (meta) patterns and data to at least identify when the device is on or off. Sense’s “Network listening” is currently doing this in a limited way. Philips HUE integration uses a similar method. “I’m on”/“I’m off” rather than what the smart plugs do: broadcasting energy usage. Post-processing is where the real potential is … going back over historical data and determining when an EV was plugged in seems like the low-hanging fruit in that regard.


@ixu, covered a lot of the bases, but I’ll give you a little more food for thought. One Kasa sample (every 2 sec) is probably longer than the window the Sense “transition detector” built into the Sense monitor is looking at. That makes it pretty much impossible to use the data coming in from the Kasa for filtering or noise cancelation.

And as an electrical engineer, I don’t have much confidence that current Sense capabilities can “identify” on and off signatures for AVRs or OLED TVs for a several reasons:

  1. Sense relies on transitions to detect on and off events. Most modern DC power supplies obscure their on and off events via energy storage (capacitors) and switching electronics. Plus they really don’t have a consistent phase space fingerprint.
  2. Even if Sense could detect the on and off, it would be poor at estimating power consumption since power utilization of these is volume-dependent and AV content-dependent.
  3. Content dependent power usage for video is anything but predictable… Consider this
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Thanks for that info, as an IT guy I understand and appreciate it.

I’ll take those answers as Sense will find just about everything in my house except the home theater and computers, so I shouldn’t bother holding my breath get Kasa plugs for those (I was trying to determine if it’s worth waiting long enough for Sense to figure them out, or if it’ll ever happen at all and just buy the Kasa now).

I’ve been happy with the current rate of detection, about one device a day, and Sense is pretty usable now. I’ve caught more than once curling irons and such being left on in the house…


I’m in the process of getting another KASA plug for my computer and desk right now, actually.
Really glad to hear about your experience so far.

Have to be careful with those curling irons, @peter.katsur.
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