Getting Serious about Always On

It was interesting to see that CEO Mike Phillips highlighted the role of always on devices in his year end update. Perhaps it is time we become serious about managing always on devices. Here are some ideas.

It will be helpful if the Always On device page included a notes section like the notes section provided for all other devices. This will allow users to record notes about always on levels, list devices, record ideas for improvements, etc. It seems fitting that the largest category of energy using devices allow for notetaking and recordkeeping.

It will be helpful if users can identify devices in the device inventory as always on. This will help users track them. Sense could also aggregate this information to identify the most used always on devices.

Easy access to an idle load database like the one at could help users identify the greatest contributors to their always on load. Knowing the most used devices would allow efforts to focus on those devices, accurately measure and report their loads, and enable actions to reduce the loads caused by those devices. This may include notifying users, notifying manufacturers, identifying alternative devices, or sharing ideas for managing the on times.

Data could be aggregated to identify the “vampire king”—the always on device that consumes the most power system-wide. This notoriety could energize actions to reduce the associated energy consumption.

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My always on is only about 125W (and I’ve only identified 13W of it), but I’ve been trying to inventory contributors to that (if, for no other purpose, than to know what those devices are). Some things that I know are contributing (that I haven’t gotten a reading on yet; some will be easier than others):
DSL modem
Wireless APs
Hardwired smoke detectors (I have 10 Nest Protects)
Thermostat (Nest)
Several GE Z-Wave smart switches
Several Amazon Echo and Echo Dots
Sense itself

Various other loads which I hope would be negligible (but maybe aren’t):
LCD 8-segment display on my coffee maker, microwave, and oven
LEDs on GFCI outlets
LEDs on garage door opener buttons
Garage door opener (it listens for wireless openers, so there’s load there, right?)
Base load from three Kasa HS300s (that aren’t attributed to any of its plugs)
Base load from fridge and chest freezer (not when a fan or compressor is running, but just the electronics watching the thermostats, etc.)

I think that’s it. I’d really like to know where that 125W is going.

@qrnef, one thought - get one more HS110. Use it as your exploration “power probe”. I found a couple of surprise Always On users with that technique. Very helpful in assessing Always Ons plus finding additional smart plug candidates.

  • Garage door receivers - my older ones had an Always On of 12W per opener (3). My new ones are only 8W - still significant.

  • Furnaces - have an electrical control board that is Always On and power the thermostats. 6W per furnace for 2 furnaces.

  • Also discovered my Sonos AMP:Connected have a good sized standby, maybe 8W. Nowhere near the 1/2 W of some other AV devices. I turn them off from the smart plug except when in use.

Some of my experiments with smart plugs and devices with Always On components here:

Here’s a view of a few typical Always Ons

In order to identify my Always On devices, I start at the house power panel.

  1. Shut off all devices in your house that you do not continuously use.
  2. Shut down all devices that don’t like having the power cut (Computers and DVRs for example).
  3. Then go to your power panels and, 1 at a time, shut off a breaker, and look at the drop in power usage on your Sense app. Do not power off your Sense though. This will tell you which breaker is associated with specific power usage in your house.

If you don’t know what outlets and devices are associated with a circuit breaker, you can install lights or other devices in each, and have a friend tell you when they go on and off as you throw single breakers. I have mapped every one in my house. It sometimes is nice to put a little sticker on each outlet or hardwired device indicating it’s circuit breaker number (or make a list).

Now that you know how much Always-On power is used by a circuit breaker, try to figure out which devices and how much power is used for each. If you don’t know, just turn off or remove that device while watching the sense app and see how much it changes.

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Fun trick - if your Amp is plugged via ethernet, turn off the wifi on the amp. It should save you 3w. You can find the setting on the Sonos mobile app. Thats 26kWh saved for the year.


Please tell us more about that display. How did you get a report of always on devices with watts for each?

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You’ll see wattage (and control functionality) if those Always On devices are connected devices, i.e., via our smart plug integration or via our Philips Hue integration.

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All of those individual device Always Ons come in the Device display for devices on smart plugs that have an Always On component.

It has been suggested previously, but that was before Always On had subcategories, so I will bring it up again: could the 4W usage of the Sense monitor itself be displayed under Always On? I know this is not a value measured at each house, but it was measured at several places and got about the same value, so it is a good approximation.

I have another idea for approximate Always On data. I say approximate because it would not be measured in the actual home, but it is real energy usage. The idea is based on some work I did with a Kill-A-Watt meter. I plugged both my HS300 and my HS110 into this device when they were new, and found that TP-Link / Kasa technology uses up some electricity just measuring current, even if the current is zero. I also found that if the device is set to OFF, it does not use any current. Whenever it is ON, the Kill-A-Watt was getting 0.6W more than reported by the smart outlet. For the HS300, each of the outlets contributed 0.6W, for up to a total of 3.6W if all six are ON. Therefore, my idea is that the Sense app would would count the number of Kasa smart plugs that are currently ON and multiply by 0.6W, and display this total as a sub-bubble in Always On (rounded to the nearest whole Watt, of course).

I’m sorry if this suggestion should be placed in another thread, I’m kind of new here.