Installation and first metering report questions

First post here. I installed my Sense yesterday and everything seem to have worked OK, since I heard the “installation successful” chime.

However, overnight the Power Meter report seems to have gone crazy.

As the screenshot shows, during the night when everything was turned off (except for the electronics’ vampire currents) Sense indicated a spike in the power consumption.
The value also seems quite high.
Is this expected during the learning phase?
If not, is there something I need to review in the installation or configuration?

I have solar, and am using a different color scheme (below), just so you can see another view. But in my books, the Sense power meter is quite accurate and showing you something that actually happened.

You can progressively zoom into the deep orange (in my case blue) regions to see what is going on in more detail (lots of on/offs)

All of this is quite normal. I postulate that something you’re not aware of turned on late night. It also looks like some that uses 1000W or so is cycling on and off. Not related to learning and highly unlikely due to wrong configuration. Time to dig in and investigate it as a real device.

Thanks! I also thought about something turning on (e.g. water heater or a baseboard heater). However, it keeps going today and I don’t see anything pumping heat or turned on. The total kW consumption also seems very high.
Yesterday it was following up my wife and I turning appliances on and off (oven, air frier, microwave, etc.). Today it’s that long spike that keeps going.

I’m waiting to see how Sense identifies it. I understand I should wait for a few days before Sense starts populating the devices list.
Worst case scenario, I’ll start switching circuit breakers off and see how it impacts the Power Meter reading.

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Sound like a good plan - two additional thoughts.

  1. you still might want to zoom in and look more closely at the structure of the waveform. Sometimes the cycle time / periodicity gives additional hints. I would also note that Sense keys off of (mostly) on transition / off transitions pairs, so if you have a complex device, Sense might only identify one pair at a time as a device.

  2. One feature in your waveform for concern - the two places it drops to zero. Those indicate data dropouts. There can be many sources for those including you turning off the breaker. But they are not a good thing - for some reason data got lost between your Sense monitor and their mothership.

Good hint, thanks!
Just for a quick experiment, I turned off a few breakers, one at a time, and got this.

a) when I turned off the breaker feeding a couple baseboards the little pikes stopped. So, it seems that it’s their thermostat maintaining the set temperature. No drop in the big power draw, through.
b) I turned off the oven breaker and no change.
c) then turned off the water heater breaker. No change.
So, it seems that it’s something different going on.

Another thing that just occurred to me. My house is very old (1920s) and the panel also.

As you can see by this photo, the two mains are not far from each other as in the Sense’s installation manual. It’s actually a problem because I cannot rotate the left one out of the way to put the cover back in place. Therefore, will need to figure something else on.
However, the question is whether the two clamps being too close could be causing some interference. I think that if this was the issue, it would have showed-up since the very beginning and not several hours later.
Thanks again!

Clamps being close should not be an issue if they are fully closed. But for some folks with panel space constraints, closing the panel can sometime push clamps open. That usually greatly reduces the measured current, but can also let in electromagnetic leakage / noise.

Based on your investigation so far, it looks like you might have a big long-term devices using power. Might you have another hidden heater somewhere. One of my favorite Sense stories here about old houses was one where a guy found a heater he didn’t even know he had.

LOL! Yep. I found a lot of stuff when doing the remodel several years ago. The original wiring was the knob-and-tub type, which was scary, since the insulation was so old that it was turning into powder when we touched it. Therefore, I changed everything to the new code and cable types. Also changed most breakers in the process.
I went to the suspect thermostat and made a few adjustments that got rid of the spikes.

So, first one for Sense. :slight_smile:
Now need to figure out what is the device that suddenly powered up and is causing all that power draw.
If Sense cannot identify it in the next couple days I’ll keep turning breakers off to figure out.

Good to know about the clamps. I don’t want to push them when closing the panel because it could also cause some problems with the mains, which isn’t a good idea. It would be nice if the clamps were smaller.


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I have a personal problem when there’s a problem that needs a solution and I cannot rest until I figure it out. :slight_smile:
I continued chasing the mysterious power draw source and went after the other baseboard panels. After tinkering with their thermostats, managed to bring the power consumption back the the expected levels.

Now I need to keep an eye on them. One was my wife who readjusted (incorrectly and it remained on) and the other seemed to have a “glued” relay/contact and if it happens again needs to be replaced. Great use for Sense also.


Great sleuthing. I have several floor heating coils in my house and Sense has “detected” all of them. One of them gets conflated with my dryer heating element (they are very close in wattage), but I really haven’t done anything to try to separate them because I know each tend to turn on at very different times.

Nice to know that your Sense was picking up real “bogeys”, huh ?

Wow, talk about jumping head first into the deep end. :grinning: :grinning:
Within a day Sense may have paid for itself.
Helping you discover and track down an issue you didn’t even know you had, potentially saving you a ton on your electricity costs.

Your panel sure is limited, not really anything you can do in the panel itself and sill put the cover on. I’m guessing the mains go right out to the utility meter with no box or anything in-between?
Utilities generally (really) frown upon opening up and putting anything in the meter box.


Indeed. This has probably going on since this past Winter, which was probably one of the coldest, First time in more than 20 years that we had a pipe burst because of freezing. Because of that we readjusted the baseboard heaters.

Sense detected the first device during the night but identified is incorrectly as the oven, when it was a baseboard heater turning on. They probably have similar signatures, since both use resistive heating.
To its credit, the app showed the baseboard heater alternative to identify the new device even though saying that more than 90% of users identify it as oven.

An interesting feature to add, if possible, to the detection process is the user “teaching” Sense what the devices are. For example, I turn on the oven and when Sense detects the energy consumption increase, it asks what is that and I tell that is it’s the oven. Then I turn on and off other devices such as water heater, baseboard, microwave, air fryer, toaster, TV, etc. That would make the learning process much faster and precise.

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It surely helped. :slight_smile:

My house is from the 1920s and that panel probably added in a remodel eons ago. My photo shows a secondary panel also added sometime in the past, but it’s downstream from the main panel. When remodeling the house, I found some knob-and-tub type wiring, which was promptly replaced. However, there’s still some wiring that I did not touch because it used the newer thermoplastic-type insulation, even though they are old.

The distance from the meter to the panel is around 10ft and there are no junction boxes in between. I am thinking about changing the main neutral (that large cable on the top left with the white wrap) for a slightly longer one, just enough for it to make a small curve that can accommodate Sense’s left sensor and allow me to put the panel cover back. I was able to get an owner’s permit to make most of the cabling overhaul downstream from the panel but will probably need an electrician for that, though, since I am not sure I can turn the power off at the meter to replace the neutral.

This has been the request of many, many users over time. Unfortunately, and perhaps counterintuitively, a “training mode” does not improve detection. Why do I say this:

  • Sense has some of the best and most experienced data scientists working on this and they vociferously claim that “training mode” will not work for a variety of reasons..
  • Several other products similar to Sense emerged in the 2015-16 timeframe. A couple of them notably added a “training mode” to differentiate themselves. Neither of them is around today. The one I almost bought, Neurio, still has videos of “training mode” lurking out on YouTube, but that feature seems to have been the bane of their existence per a couple of their forums. You can still find remnants of Neurio around today, but they eventually retreated from “training mode”, did a deal with Tesla for PowerWall monitoring (that I think has expired), and then were bought out by Generac who seems to offer a second generation product, that doesn’t seem to be purchasable anywhere.

So I’m reasonably sure that “training mode” is not currently a feasible feature. If you do want to see a little bit more a about what Sense is doing in the space of detection, you can look at their long list of patents with the search below:

Very interesting article and makes sense. However, I see that it opens a Pandora Box, since within all the variations one device has, it’s possible to overlap others’, correct?. Therefore, it explains why Sense may confuse them sometimes.

Another thing I am waiting to see how Sense will deal with are devices behind others. For example, all my PCs, their monitors, the NAS file servers, switch, modem/router, etc. are all connected to UPSs (multiple). The entertainment system’s components (TV, AV receiver, streaming box, subwoofer, BD player, etc.) are all connected to a power conditioner. Are these identified individually or Sense only sees the “first device” (e.g. the UPSs, the power conditioner, etc…)?

It’s possible for detected devices / transitions to overlap or be shared / conflated between devices. It’s also fairly common that a single appliance can show up as multiple detections. An electric burner can show up as Heat1, Heat2 and Heat3, etc. for different settings. Central AC will typically create Motor (blower) and AC Compressor detections.

First off, most of the post UPS / conditioner devices you mentioned won’t be identified via Sense native detections because most electronics don’t have clear on / off transitions. Same for PCs, Servers and Monitors. Sorry if that’s a surprise. I have adopted a methodology of intelligently using smartplugs to help with the clusters of electronics around my house. Info on that approach here:

If there was a box you may have been able to put the CT’s there or find enough slack.
Swapping the neural is a good idea. 10’ wont be too much $.
Depending on where you are an electrician should be able to do it pretty painless.
Pop the meter (cutting the power) run new cable, pop the meter back in & be done.
It’s when your dealing with some smart meters with tamper detection, or in an area with (overly) strict codes, permits, inspections, and an abundance of bureaucracy, relatively simple things turn into a huge project.

Sense doesn’t care what is connected to what. Sort of…
You can look at it the same as how Sense often detects a component or multiple components of a device rather than the entire device.
For example detecting a refrigerator compressor motor as one device, and detecting (or not detecting) the ice maker, defrost, light, etc…
Sense can still natively detect a device that’s connected to a smart plug. However turning a natively detected device on/off using a smart plug (mainly devices with a standby/always on) vs turning the device on/off normally can confuse sense. The whole thing powering up/down at the same time vs’s the detected component can look differently to Sense.

As far as UPS’s specifically. I have 7 (maybe 8), powering computer, CCTV DVR, aquariums, networking router, etc…
The UPS’s themselves use so little watts themselves, mainly to keep the battery charged. It is extremely unlikely Sense would ever detect them. However Sense can still detect the devices connected to the UPS as individual devices.
My aquarium heaters were natively detected pretty quick. The detection is the same weather they are plugged into the Battery backup or Surge protected only side of the UPS.
Sense is really good detecting resistive heat loads. Fortunately my aquarium heaters are all different sized and use relatively low wattage, which makes them a lot easier for Sense to differentiate. It’s when you get into kitchen appliances Sense really gets confused. Out Electric oven uses about the same wattage as the large burner on our stove top so Sense can’t tell the difference.
Toasters, toaster ovens, air friers, slow cookers, pressure cookers, some coffee maker and so many other devices use similar wattage heating elements. Sense (understandably) really struggles differentiating them which causes a lot of aggravation among users. Sense has been working to overcome this for many years as part of ‘progressive device detection’ which will be a huge improvement if the project ever comes to fruition.

Power conditioners can be tricky depending on how it filters passive, active, regenerative, etc…
Generally they shouldn’t effect device detection. However they can definitely have an effect on overall electrical ‘noise’ so I’d say it really depends on your individual home and devices.

PC’s, TV’s and other AV type devices use variating wattages. PC depending on it’s load intensity. TV’s screen brightness. Volume of audio, etc… Sense is less likely to detect any of them comparted to things with a set power consumption. Networking equipment, router/switches, etc… are all always on so Sense will never see enough transitions to natively detect them.
AV equipment is a great use for integratable smart plugs, weather it be a single plug to monitor everything or a strip (HS300) to monitor each component.
A lot of people use a smart plug to determine the wattage of always on devices (like your networking equipment), add it to their always on device list (using mobile app), then move the plug somewhere else, and so on… This helps lower the “estimated unknown” portion of your Always On which is one of the biggest struggles most Sense users have.

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Based on what info did you make this statement ?

Based on what I have seen, there has been a lot of research on real-time electricity disaggregation (or NILM - non-intrusive load monitoring), and a bunch of companies that have taken their shot at it, but Sense is the only one that’s been able to really commercialize in a meaningful way. A lot of others have gotten lost along the way.

This presentation is interesting in its age (2011) and the contents of slides 7-9 which highlight the industry sweet spot and capabilities.

There are also companies like Bidgley coming at this challenge from the (mostly) non-real-time perspective via utilities and existing meter technology.


So nothing more than a personal opinion of a volunteer moderator.

You made me think you have money invested and were doing a sales pitch for another funding round for a second…

Nope, no money invested in Sense. Just a personal opinion, but based on facts - lots of smart people have tried to tackle this problems for the last 15 years. Sense has made the most progress as measured by commercial deliveries, and many competitoros have gotten lost along the way, likely because the problem is harder than it looks. Same phenomenon as we have seen in autonomous driving - literally hundreds of market entrants 10 years ago, but the market has been whittling down.

ps: You’re a solar guy - if you do want a pitch deck and a pitch for a company we did invest some money in 2018, here’s one to look at.

Solar that Works in the Shade