Some of you may have noticed a link to this on the SenseLink thread, but I wanted to wait to post here until we had some confirmed and calibrated smart plugs.
ESPSense is similar to SenseLink in that it emulates the TP-Link Kasa energy monitoring smart plugs to report usage. However unlike SenseLink, which acts as an “intermediary” to help devices talk to Sense, ESPSense run on devices and reports power usage directly to Sense.
We/I have already identified 4 commercially available plug models that can be flashed “over the air” and will then report usage just like TP-Link Kasa plugs. Example configurations are provided for each.
ESPSense is a “custom component” for the ESPHome platform, which is a firmware system for the Arduino-like ESP8266/ESP32 chip commonly used in a lot of IoT devices and plugs. ESPHome gives you flexibility and control over the hardware, uses a fairly straightforward YAML configuration, and can integrate seamlessly with Home Assistant. It’s awesome for quick, homemade IoT devices as well - I used a $5 ESP8266 board and ESPHome to make a “Music E-stop” button to quickly pause my HomePods when I get a call while working from home!
Now for the “little extra effort” part:
- As noted above, you do have to re-flash the firmware of any device you want to run ESPHome and ESPSense. I’ve tried to provide guides and links on how to do that over the air, which is certainly the easiest way. It takes a little bit of familiarity with Linux and software configuration.
- The appropriate calibration for the power monitor chip does need to be determined for each device model - for example, here are the values that have to be determined on one of the confirmed plugs. That’s done by either using something like a Kill-a-Watt and/or a known load like a 90W lightbulb. That said, the idea is to keep track of nominal calibrations for plug models that are identified, so that others can benefit!
- Keep in mind that re-flashing: (1) this voids any warranty on the destination hardware, and (2) has a risk of “bricking” the device if performed incorrectly!
Like SenseLink, ESPSense is not an official solution and Sense is not responsible to provide support for it! Also keep in mind there is a ~20 plug practical limit for your Sense monitor.
And as a side note - while most of the interest would probably be regarding Kasa alternatives, ESPSense can also be used with development ESP boards and things like CT clamps or other power monitoring hardware to monitor things that simple plugs can’t. Similarly to SenseLink, you can configure it to measure and report more than one “plug” per device as well!