Five Things to Know About Sense Integrations

Sense Integrations are a particularly useful way to pull-in power usage data from devices that don’t fit the main Sense AI detection model and to pull data from Sense to run home automations. Here are some of the most important things to know about the integrations.

  • There are more than you might realize. There are currently seven measurement-type integrations supported in the Sense code base, though a couple more entered beta and were retired due to various technical difficulties. I consider Sense DCM (dedicated current monitoring) as an integration, even though it operates entirely within the same Sense monitor. By “measurement-type”, I mean integrations that help Sense measure and identify power usage of devices and either expand the range of devices Sense can monitor or provide an auxiliary route for Sense to pick up on/off detections. There are also three more that help out with home automation, though one is user-developed (Home Assistant integration). The table below covers all the publicly discussed integrations, including one that never passed beta, plus highlights possible caveats.

  • Each integration speaks has own “language” or protocol - to talk and listen to smart devices. Until very recently, there haven’t been any widely adopted standards for communicating power usage information between smart devices. So Sense has had to develop separate bodies of code for each integration. The chart below highlights one major difference in communications - some integrations communicate directly between the Sense monitor and the smart device via your home network (intra LAN) without going out to the cloud. A couple more need to go out to the cloud to pull data from another cloud-based monitoring system. But even between the Intra LAN devices, the protocol is different. Even though it is not a true standard, people have reverse engineered the TP-Link Kasa protocol and have used it to provide “measurements” back to Sense from many other sources, including the Home Assistant home automation hub. This is very useful for code-savvy users that want to add more smart devices to Sense’s repertoire of integrations.

  • Even within measurement-type integrations some provide different data to Sense than others - Several report direct power measurements back to Sense as one would expect. The Hue hub doesn’t measure the the power, but uses the on/off and brightness settings for each bulb to provide Sense with estimated power usage. The NDI integration simply listens to the network and tells the monitor when it sees a specific smart device turning on or off so Sense can match up an on/off transition to the device. And the Ecobee Historic integration provides Sense with what your HVAC devices were doing over previous intervals of time.

  • Different integrations have different update intervals - You can see the update intervals for some when you watch the Device Power Meter for that device. You’ll actually see waveforms get updated, perhaps with a couple second lag for the ones that rely on the Cloud as the data source). In most cases the update happens every 1/2 second to 2 seconds. NDI doesn’t really fit the sampling model - it’s always “listening”. The Ecobee integration only lets Sense pull data every 5 minutes even though the Ecobee data is updated every 5 seconds. That means that the Ecobee isn’t useful for realtime detection, but is very useful to Sense for verifying and improving their HVAC models, especially for customers that have the Ecobee integration turned on.

  • Teach me something - I use most of these integrations, except I don’t have any NDI devices that shows up in my device list, and don’t have any WeMo plugs. If you have either of those, feel free to contact or add more in the thread below.

Type & Integration Name Smart Device Provided Data Update Interval Data Source
Measurement-Type Integrations
NDI (Network Device Identification) Smart TVs On/Off & Device Info NA Intra LAN
Sense DCM Flex Sensor Power 1/2 - 1 sec Intra Sense
TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Power 1-2 sec Intra LAN
Home Assistant using TP-Link Kasa protocol Many Power 1-2 sec Intra LAN
Belkin WeMo Smart Plug Power 1-2 sec Intra LAN
Wiser Smart Plug / Smart Switch / Smart Dimmer Power 1 sec Cloud
Philips Hue Lighting Hub Estimated Power 1 sec Intra LAN
Ecobee Historic Thermostat HVAC Mode & Runtimes 5 Min Cloud
Google Nest - Did not pass Beta Thermostat HVAC Mode & Runtimes ?? Cloud
Other Types of Integrations Type Data Sent by Sense Data Source
IFFFT (If This Then That) Home Control On/Off Alerts Cloud
Home Assistant Home Control Many Cloud / Sense Informal API
Alexa Sense Status Many Cloud
Type & Integration Name Caveats & Comments
NDI (Network Device Identification) Have only seen this work for a few specific models of Samsung SmartTVs
Sense DCM Works well, but cannot be used if you have Sense Solar - uses the same sensor port / CTs as Sense Solar
TP-Link Kasa Sense must be on the same subnet as the Kasa plugs. Does not work with new Matter plugs like the KP125M or the v2.6 EP25. Practical limit of around 25 outlets due to network congestion
Home Assistant using TP-Link Kasa protocol Not directly supported by Sense. Requires Home Assistant hub and some YAML “programming”. Sense must be on the same subnet as the Home Assistant
Belden WeMo Only discontinued WeMo Insight supported. I don’t have one so I can’t give much more info
Wiser Works but has some issues with standard Sense (orange) monitors - bubbles are a little delayed and Wiser plugs occasionally output 1MW power spikes. Support might be better with Wiser (green) monitors
Philips Hue Sense must be on the same subnet as the Hue Hub (wired). Grouping lights into groups and rooms can potentially cause issues
Ecobee Historic Requires authentication - not sure 2FA with Ecobee works with Sense yet. No realtime feedback that the integration is working, because it mainly supplies data to Sense to improve models over the long term
Google Nest - Did not pass Beta Google completely changed Nest API when Sense was working on integration
Other Types of Integrations
IFFFT (If This Then That) Works, but I haven’t found much use for it - limited number of Applets
Home Assistant Useful for controlling home functions based on power use, but requires Home Assistant hub and “programming”
Alexa Works, and can answer a range of questions

Kevin, thank you for another chapter in your Five Things to Know series. I like the series, even though there isn’t much to say about most chapters since the content is information only. This time, I wanted to comment because I do use IFTTT with Sense.

IFTTT controls my dehumidifier. My dehumidifier has been found by Sense, but only the compressor part. There is also a fan component in my dehumidifier which uses 50W and never stops blowing while the unit is in Run mode. The compressor does cycle on and off via an integrated humidistat. I know this via the traveling smart plug that you suggest. The traveling smart plug also told me that the native device detection for the dehumidifier’s compressor is very solid. Based on that information, here is how I used IFTTT to control my dehumidifier.

I replaced the traveling smart plug with a non-energy-monitoring smart plug. That is, the new smart plug is not compatible with Sense. The plug model I got is made by TP-Link since I wanted to stay with a known supplier, although any make would have worked. I used a “dumb” smart plug since there is a limit on the number of Sense-compatible smart plugs, and I wanted to preserve capacity. The new smart plug is only able to control on and off, which is all I needed since the native detection was so solid.

Here is where IFTTT comes in. I use only one of the two “free” rules. The IF condition for my rule says that when Sense reports that the Dehumidifier [compressor] has turned off, THEN the rule tells TP-Link to turn off the smart plug for the dehumidifier. I’ve noticed that since this rule is based in the cloud, there is a delay of 1-2 minutes before the rule takes effect. My dehumidifier thinks the power has gone out, and when power is later restored, it comes back on in Run mode like nothing has happened.

The purpose of this rule is to save 50W of power while the compressor is not in use. It also makes the basement more pleasant since the dehumidifier fan is noisy. A benefit inside Sense is that this IFTTT rule keeps my Always On bubble small. The disadvantage of this rule is that it only turns things off, so I need another way to turn things back on.

I previously used my other “free” IFTTT rule to turn on the smart plug when the humidity level as monitored by a separate integration rose above some threshold. That rule worked most of the time, but when it occasionally failed (as things are prone to do), then the basement ended up very humid. To top it off, the integration which measured humidity failed last year and I haven’t gotten it working again. Therefore, now I have programed the smart plug to come on at 12-hour intervals. This actually works pretty well, as shown in the graph below.

Although I get some wild swings with this method, the average humidity is right where I want it. As an aside, with this system the basement temperature has become inversely correlated to humidity. That is, when the dehumidifier is running and humidity is dropping, the temperature is increasing. Conversely, when the dehumidifier is resting and humidity creeps back in from outdoors, the temperature drops. I attribute this temperature rise to the 600W of electricity that the dehumidifier itself is using, which all becomes waste heat after useful work is complete.


@jefflayman , appreciate the use case example. Great explanation and charts. I guess I don’t use IFFFT because I use HomeKit in a similar way, often with Sense-compatible Kasa plugs that are doing double duty with HomeKit. For instance, I have a subwoofer that is supposed to turn on and off based on signal availability from my receiver, but it doesn’t always go off reliably due to 60Hz noise, even though the cable is shielded. And even when off, it uses about 4W Always On to listen for the signal. So HomeKit turns the dumb smart plug (no power measurement) connected to the subwoofer on and off when the AppleTV (our main movie and music source) connected to the Yamaha receiver turns on.