Do Smart Plugs Hurt The Systems Ability to Learn

In some excitement, I purchased some smart plugs for some 100W devices I’d like to monitor but I wondering if I am hurting more than helping? I am concerned that Sense will no longer try to detect the item since it has been ‘identified’ with the smart plug. Ideally, I would like to just use Sense to detect the item and not have to use the smart plug interface. What have others done? Cheers!

Sense makes no special efforts to detect devices on plugs, so it can happen @bjf5051. I’ve personally experienced this with my Hot Water Kettle, so I moved the smart plug to a different device once Sense natively detected it!

Thanks! Just to re-phrase that, Sense still trys to identify the device even if a smart plug is being used? So if I have a tv plugged into a smart plug to get immediate data Sense may still detect it allowing me to remove the smart plug in the future. That would be great if that was the case, I have a smart plug on a light I want to keep tabs on as well as on our entertainment system which has multiple devices plugged into it. Cheers

That is correct. Sense detects using power signatures (which smart plugs ignore), smart plugs just monitor power and report that to Sense along with what Name you have assigned. I would note that re-naming is a bit tricky, follow the instructions carefully.


I have a few devices behind cheap smart plugs (not Kasa). It all depends on how the plugs are used and what type of device.

If the device is hard switched with no standby mode then they should be detected the same either way, even if you use the smart plug as a switch. A standard light for example.

If the device has a standby mode and you use the smart plug to switch on and off the device it likely wont be detected the same. ex: using the plug to power on/off the entertainment system, or anything with multiple devices.

If you give a standby device some time after turning on the the plug before turning on the device, and turn the device off before turning the plug off, there is a good chance it will detect the same with or without the plug.

If you leave the plug on all the time it shouldn’t make any difference. Sense wont know if it’s there or not.

The few plugs that integrate with Sense are an entirely different animal.

Thanks @andy can you elaborate on the re-naming? I would assume that once Sense finds a device that is connected through a plug that the naming would be all done in Sense as it is for any other newly discovered item.

@obscuredtrip That is good to know upfront, appreciate it as it will save me a headache later. Right now I have three kasa (KP115) which I am using only for monitoring. I have the ‘turn on/off’ feature disabled in the app and will not be manually turning them on/off from the switch. Cheers

I apologize for being unclear.

The detected device (assuming of course it stays detected) gets named in Sense just as if it hadn’t been on a smart plug. Once you re-name the Kasa plug Sense won’t see it anymore and you may want to delete that device history

My experience was difficulty with renaming a Kasa plug…one took me three tries and a second one took two. Both were HS-110’s. Not sure why, but I have seen mention that you need to be very careful with the steps and I’ve only done this two times.

BTW, relative to Obscuredtrip’s post, I’ve never used the Kasa plug to turn devices on/off, so I have no idea if the signature would be different enough to interfere with the detection. And, I have never had Sense detect a device behind a Kasa, so I can’t experiment with that. Given thea Kasa (and similar devices) use electronic switching and many devices use a physical switch, that might well be different enough to confuse Sense. It’s algorithms are incredibly sensitive.

That’s how I use Kasa too…never tried to use the On/Off feature. So my comments about it not effecting the signature much were all about monitoring, not on/off signatures.

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No problem and got it. Thanks for the heads up. If it does not find the obvious one (space heater in baby’s room) after a good amount of time, I’ll remove the smart plug and try again without to see if it detects it. Lol yes I am noticing that it is extremely sensitive. Have a good weekend.

@JustinAtSense, would you expect removing the smart plug to affect the quality of the native detection of that device? Technically the load that was natively detected was a smart plug with a hot water kettle plugged into it (+ the wiring between outlet and the Sense CT clamps, but forget this for now). Capacitors and other circuitry within the smart outlet contribute to the characteristics of the load natively detected. Could removing these circuit elements potentially confuse Sense to the extent that it may be better to delete the device that was natively detected thru the smart plug, and allow it to relearn this device natively w/o the plug in place? It seems reasonable that removing the smart outlet would have less of an effect on a resistive load like the hot water kettle you mentioned than it would on a reactive load like a fridge, so the best approach here may depend on the specific device.

Based on this, would an appropriate best practice be to hold-off on installing a smart plug on a device until it seems unlikely that device will be detected natively? Admittedly it would be hard to judge when the right time to turn to smart plugs is. I’ve been surprised that Sense hasn’t yet detected the Breville espresso machine I got back in December, but this could just be because it doesn’t get used often (1-3 times per week). Maybe it would be helpful to get a list going of devices that Sense has and has not been known to detect, especially those with relatively high power consumption – similar to my suggestion here.

I would not expect this, based on the fact that Sense sees the smart plug (and not the device). I can follow-up on this on Monday with some folks here to verify my hunch is correct :slight_smile: .

This is what I did. There were some devices that I realized Sense wasn’t going to see (my Macbook, some of my network equipment, etc.) so i was a bit more preemptive with adding a smart plug to those devices than I was for something like my Hot Water Kettle, which was detected after 6 months or so (I use it very sparingly.)

This sounds confused. The question was whether a device that Sense had detected while it was also plugged into a Kasa smart plug would lose the Sense detection after removing the Kasa plug from the circuit. Some think yes, because Kasa does introduce some circuitry into the path and some think no unless you have been using the Kasa to turn the device on and off.

I’ve done a bit of experimenting using my trusty oscilloscope (remember those???) and I can’t see any difference between using the heater’s mechanical switch with or without Kasa in the circuit. Of course, my eyes aren’t as fussy as Sense.

I do think I see a difference in the waveforms between using Kasa to do the switching and using the heater’s own mechanical switch. If I’m correct, then I’d expect Sense to lose the device when you stop using Kasa as the switch.

I assume that Sense engineering can take a look at possible differences using the waveforms captured by Sense…very different than an oscilloscope and eyeballs.


@JustinAtSense , it may just be a matter of phrasing, but… to my memory from when Smart Plugs were first introduced, Sense actually actively tried NOT to detect devices that are behind a smart plug. That isn’t to say that it was impossible, but I feel like the few people I remember getting device detections from behind a smart plug, it ended up just that an old data set was finally processed and the device model pushed out.

I did find this old post from Ryan, but of course things could have changed.

@matthew_lasorsa, if Sense is looking at on/off transients as its main method of detecting a device, I would expect that using a devices built in power switch vs the Kasa plug relay could appear differently to Sense depending on the switching mechanism. I think @andy’s comment about a change in waveform makes sense. Depending on the kind of solenoid / solid state relay or whatever the switch is will make the start up ever so slightly different. Its why it is recommended to not go turning on/off breakers to try to make a bubble appear/disappear when trying to track down a new unknown device. The action of flipping a break may introduce or cut power to the device in a different manner than what the device usually does, therefore not looking like what Sense expects.

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To be clear my comments were regarding non-integrated (dumb) smart plugs.
I cannot speak for the KP115 as they are far more precise, capable of integrating with Sense and I have no experience with them.

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As far as dumb smart plugs (non capable of integration).
My experiences have been with a space heater (non digital dial type) it made no difference how it was switched.
I have a few aquarium heaters of various wattages behind generic energy monitoring smart plugs. I switch them off before moving or cleaning and back on when finished they detect on/off the same as it does using it’s internal switch. I also have a couple behind a digital temperature controller same thing. As well as with the smart plug entirely removed.

Oddly we have an inverter wine fridge that was detected behind a smart plug. I accidently turned the plug off. I was not monitoring Sense for the off but it did show up when I turned the switch back on.
I imagine standard fridges and many other compressor cooling devices would detect as well as most have a delay start relay (to protect them when the power flickers). But who really knows can’t imagine anyone using a plug to switch such a device. They do detect the same (for me) with or without the dumb smart plug in place.

The only other device I have with an auto on (resume last state) feature is a Sony LCD tv. I use a smart plug through Alexa to turn it on and off, mainly off as the couch always eats the remote. I suspect it may never be detected by Sense due to that. But I haven’t had any other tv’s detected yet so only time will tell.

@matthew_lasorsa The issue with flipping breakers is many look at the bubbles expecting a bubble to disappear when flipping a breaker not realizing the significant off signature change of many individual devices like you said. It is further compounded if more than one thing is on that specific circuit turning on and off at the exact same time. Sense doesn’t like that.
The key is to completely ignore the bubbles and look at the meter for a decrease of equivalent or greater wattage.
Then turning the breakers on one by one giving it a minute and looking for the bubble to reappear. Then go around looking for what turned on. You may or may not get lucky using this method.
I find flipping breakers far more useful for narrowing down Always On and Other. Especially so with the countless wall-warts, charging and standby devices we all seem to have an overabundance of.

The answer to this is no, Sense should not lose the native detection of a device that is also detected via a smart plug if the smart plug is removed from the device.


Thank you. That’s what I expected unless the Kasa plug was being used to switch the device on and off. That would almost certainly look different to Sense than the devices own switch.

So, if Sense finds a device plugged into and being monitored by Kasa, the Kasa can be removed and used for something else and Sense will continue to monitor the device it detected. Correct? I’ve not seen any instances of Sense detecting devices I have plugged into Kasa, but then I didn’t expect to. All the places I’ve used Kasa are “Senseless”.

Are the items you are using Kasa on low wattage? i.e. would never expect Sense to find them or are they something large like a fridge which you would expect to be found.

I am using a Kasa on my desktop because based on what I have read there is no way Sense will ever find it.

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I am using Kasa on low wattage, zero prospect of finding. Devices (like my extensive home office). I’m also using it on relatively high wattage devices like my modern fridge, which I understand Sense has no change of finding because of its ramp up and down behavior.

What I keep wishing for is a Kasa-like device I can wire into my very high wattage 240v devices (like my constant pressure deep well pump) that Sense also can’t detect.

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