Before purchasing Sense

After reading recent threads about some users that were not satisfied with their monitor, I wanted to create a thread, hoping others will add to the conversation about what they would say to someone getting ready to or thinking about purchasing Sense.
I have long felt that the marketing doesn’t fully address everything in a way that reflects what real world experience will be.
Sense absolutely does everything they say it CAN but they don’t do a good job at all about giving accurate expectations. When we are seeing and reading what Sense is capable of doing, for some reason, we expect that is what it WILL do in our homes.
If your thinking about Sense;

You will not get every single device in your home detected and there are no guarantees about how many or which ones will be. I’ve installed Sense and used it for almost 8 months, at which time there were about 28 detections. I reset and two months later, I have 20. Detection can come fast for some people and slow for others. Committing yourself to being patient is just part of it.

While you watch the real time graph and see different things turn on and off, you will know what these devices are. In a sense, you will have detected it but you will wonder “this is east to see, why hasn’t Sense detected it?”. This is a tough one and can be very frustrating. You might have something that turns on and off at exactly the same times every day and think it should be east to detect. We are looking at it from the human perspective and it doesn’t translate over to how Sense works. The majority of devices I’ve encountered like this have eventually detected, but there a few that haven’t and possibly never will be.

The devices that make up the “Always On” value add up to a lot of electricity in most homes (>20% in mine). So this number will probably be important to you. This is where smart plugs are best used. These devices don’t have the on/off signature Sense needs to see for detection and these also use lower amount of energy individually. Using smart plugs for these can lower your frustration level when your trying to find where all your electricity is going.

You CANNOT train the monitor or really help it detect devices or speed up the process. You will likely think of cycling devices on and off many times or at certain times hoping this will net you a detection. Sorry, I’ve tried every single crazy idea to help Sense along but don’t believe it helped at all. There is a way to let Sense know it has identified a device being on that is not on but that’s the extent of our tools to help.

This is mentioned on their site but if you have tiered billing or the day of the month your meter is read changes, you won’t be able to get completely accurate numbers for projected cost from Sense.

One thing they don’t mention is there are certain devices that are so electrically “noisy” that the can make it so Sense can not detect other things in the home. I personally only know of one, a “variable speed well pump”. It doesn’t mean that it will absolutely block all other detections but has limited one user to having only 4 detections after a couple years. Having that few detections is not the norm.

My personal opinion about Sense is I love it and it is hands down the best electronic purchase I ever made. The $300 price tag is very low in my opinion. If Sense did nothing else but allows you to see the electricity being used in your home, you will subconsciously make behavior changes that will lower your usage. You will do things differently than you have in the past and notice things you never though of before. For some, this may drastically lower their bill and Sense pat for itself quickly. For the ones that make minute changes it will take longer, but it will pay for itself.

Your expectations are going to determine your satisfaction in the end. There is a tendency (myself included) to expect too much too quickly. When you get some detections and especially if they come fast or in groups and it slows down to few or none, then we think “that’s it?”. You just have to be happy with what you have for now and do your best to be patient. There are likely more detections coming and even things that haven’t been detected before have a high likelihood being detected as the whole user base grows. Each one of us contributes to each other’s detections.
Patience is a word that should be stressed with using Sense.

I’m not trying to deter anyone from purchasing Sense, quite the opposite. I think everyone should have it. I would like to help others avoid being disappointed in any way with it.

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Only Sense owners can read this forum, I returned my Sense initially and they kicked me off this forum tout suite

That must have changed because I am a recent buyer and I was able to view the community before purchasing. I just confirmed too by viewing the OP in an incognito browser.

It didn’t change. I think @israndy is slightly mistaken. You can’t create an account and post on the forum without a Sense. But you can still view the forums without an account.

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I believe you can read the community as a guest but cannot create an account without first making the purchase.

Great assessment @samwooly1 . I would only add that the these two blogs should be helpful for folks who want to know more:

https://blog.sense.com/can-i-train-sense

https://blog.sense.com/2019-data-science-update/

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Having just watched a bunch of fail videos of people using the Tesla Smart Summon feature I’m compelled to compare full autonomy to utility and put things in perspective.

Sense, as is, offers great utility without yet achieving it’s equivalent of full autonomy. Unlike the Tesla Smart Summon feature, Sense doesn’t introduce serious risk with advances in either theoretical or actual autonomy.

The criticism that Sense, a small company, has received from (theoretically) over hyping the device detection (to the point of “full autonomy”) can be compared, unfairly, to Tesla, a large company, failing to convey the limitations of their underlying tech: Tesla certainly implicitly states something like “If you intend sleeping while driving your non-fully-autonomous vehicle, DO NOT BUY IT!” … but people will still buy a Tesla and sleep while driving.

Obviously there’s a huge difference between Sense disaggregation not meeting expectations and a Telsa’s partial autonomy being mistaken for full autonomy or a Summons being mistaken for something that can be done unsupervised.

Again, I just offer this as perspective.

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Astute observations, Sam. My background: I have an electrical engineering degree and find the Sense technology fascinating. I have worked in a couple high tech startups and several other large tech companies. I have experience in design and operations.

I offer these general Sense experience and specific multiple monitor observations.

After reading everything I could find (put on anal engineer hat) I purchased my first Sense unit in Feb 2017. I installed, let it stew for a couple months, saw some interesting results which seemed to validate the concept and purchased my second Sense unit in April 2017. I have two 200 amp panels. There is physically no way to use a single Sense unit and was aware of the limitations around account aggregation.

My experience mirrors yours in many ways. At first I was diligent at trying to specifically identify discovered devices. Yes, there was frustration that it was not quicker, but things kept popping up, so again, reading a lot, I let it stew. Then I became more frustrated as it decided to automatically rename items I had definitely nailed. And then more frustration at not discovering obvious (to me) items (but again that internal engineer has to agree that this is a tough nut to crack reliably). With the addition of the second sense monitor, all of these issue were compounded greatly.

I do believe the statements around multiple monitors on a single account were a bit disingenuous at the time I acquired my units. I sorta felt it was just a matter of time, maybe six to eight months (equivalent to the PC web status at the time, not now but soon, then delivered). But now, it is basically no longer on the list (but certainly a must-have for a big commercial installation, so sometime, huh?).

Then I got busy. Sense was no longer the shiny object in front of me and I lost interest. The engineer in me said not-ready-for-prime-time. I consciously decided to put my interaction with Sense on the back burner having enough other items to keep me interested, a lack of burning desire to help debug their product (even though I thought I did at the time contribute many cogent items in the beta blog), and a general frustration at a seemed lack of progress. Did I mention account aggregation?

It turns out that having two Sense monitors really adds a lot of complexity. You don’t necessarily know which panel feeds particular circuits and some things move between panels (shop vac, for example). You can’t be logged into both accounts at once, so when you are logged into one of them and something new pops up, it might not be that running thing right in front of you since it is on the other account. (I know, my bad, engineer and all, next project is to trace/label every outlet and circuit to its corresponding panel; overkill I know, but a definitive solution :wink: ) Plus, some things that really, really should be trivial have never appeared (smart plugs anyone - 9 months later it has never discovered any, yes detection is enabled, but why try and debug it, I will just wait it out…)

Just to be accurate I did just log into both accounts (separately, of course) via the web and between the two there are a total of 58 devices. A handful are probably duplicates that move between panels, but a generic motor is a generic motor until I nail it down. This is the first time in many months. I do notice that some things have been fixed (previously one had to stand on their heads and click their heels to log out of one account and into the other, that is now fixed). But it is still impossible to have two tabs open, each showing a separate account. Only one account active at a time app or web. This is simple web/browser technology (yes, I know I can open a second incogneto or a different browser, but that is not the point).

So I continue to monitor the Sense forum, get the updates, read the issues, but mostly lurk in the background. Sense continues to find new items every now and then (an inordinate amount of motors, I think), but I rarely do anything with that discovery. I have probably subconsciously been waiting for account aggregation to happen before I re-engage and spend some quality time sorting this out.

Sense is generating lots of good information, and I still find it fascinating technology, but just tired of waiting for it to get better. I agree with Ixu’s autonomy vs utility comments. I am not looking for full autonomy, but better utility? Uh, yeah. I think there are some simple tweaks to the UI and underlying that would help tremendously in this area as discussed throughout the forum, but as you said, maybe 1 in 10 suggestions have been implemented, so I will continue to lurk with the very occasional comment.

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I can empathize with your view @vertreesc.

I perhaps come from a more nebulous, but no less lazy-centered, perspective that incorporates the engineering, mathematical, physical, along with the economical, anthropological & indeed philosophical components of the Sense ecology … it is after all a system to monitor energy. Whatever that actually means?!?

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