Love Sense but I am disappointed in Device Detection

I have had Sense now for going on 2 years and I think it is a great product. I truly think most people should have Sense and learn about their energy usage. We are 100% solar and think it is pretty accurate.

But….

I am disappointed in the Device Detection.

We live in Central, east coast FL. We have a pool with a Pentair heat pump. And of course A/C. Our A/C unit is about 10 years old and still going strong (everyone knock on some wood for me now).

Sense has never been able to distinguish between the pool heat pump and the A/C. Now mind you, it is not common for us to run both at the same time. By way of example, when it gets cool enough to turn off the A/C, it is then cool enough to have to run the pool heater. And vise-a-versa.

But after almost 2 years? With devices that are that different in age (technology)? 2 different brands, etc.?

And there are other detection “issues” that I think should not be happening.

And I have deleted the devices a couple of times, after months of allowing Sense to figure it out, as directed to delete them by Sense representatives.

And this is my final point: We should be allowed to name our own devices in situations like this. Where WE KNOW what the device is and how to label it correctly.

And my wife is a software engineer. She agrees with Sense about not allowing people to label devices but she also agrees that there comes a point in time when self-labeling also makes “sense.” Pardon the pun.

Anyway, I recommend Sense to anyone who starts discussing our solar panels with me. ANd I will continue to in the future.

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Yeah… I have pretty much given up on device detection and have gone with smart plugs to gain subsetted visibility to my energy consumption… I call it “subsetting” because I don’t necessarily attach a smart plug to a single device (but sometimes I do).

I am often not so interested what my notebook, attached storage, monitors and cable modem are individually consuming… It is much more interesting for me to know what my “home office” is consuming… So in this case, I put my smart plug in front of a power strip that powers my home office. I do the same with my living room entertainment set-up, as well as my master bedroom entertainment set-up.

From an individual device perspective, I have connected my space heaters and portable air conditioners (individually) to smart plugs because I am actually interested in how much I am consuming to heat and cool my home with these portable devices.

I currently own 16 KP115 smart plugs, all of which I purchased on sale between $3.50 and $10.00 each… It gives me instant and accurate visibility to my subsetted energy usage.

Device detection and reporting by Sense is frustrating, not only because it takes a long time to detect… But also because the detection often is not precisely identifying a single device (as you already reported)… My coffee maker, my microwave and my toaster oven are detected as the same thing in my household…

ALSO, when it reports usage, it only reports the usage of the “thing” that it recognizes… What do I mean by that? What I mean is that my refrigerator is clearly using some energy when it is plugged in. But Sense doesn’t really detect and report my holistic refrigerator energy consumption. It detects power transitions. So when the compressor kicks on, and it recognizes that…it will track the energy used by the refrigerator when the compressor is on…but it really does not report how much total energy is being drawn by the refrigerator at the plug. In order to do that, you need to put a Kill-a-Watt or a smart plug on it.

ALL THAT SAID, I am not trying to crap on Sense at all… I am a huge fan of Sense… I am saying it here, and I have said it in other threads… The main value I get from Sense is my total household usage… It never bothered me (at least not greatly) that device level information was not accurately or quickly available… But now that I have had a taste of subsetting my usage visibility through smart plugs, I have to admit that I do find it interesting… Example is when I “shut down” my home office for the evening…it’s always interesting to see how close I can get my home office to really “shut down” to as close to zero as possible…

Even though I would love to put my refrigerator on a smart plug, I have decided to keep it off the smart plug and let Sense report the different components that it has detected. Sense must really be tuned to refrigerator units because one of the few things that it has detected individually are my fridge compressor, freezer light, fridge light, defroster… I really love being able to see the last time the freezer or fridge door was open. And I can’t really do that by simply tracking the fridge as a single appliance…

So pros and cons… That’s life, right? :slight_smile:

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If I only wanted monthly total, I’d just wait for my monthly electric bill. It’s no additional charge than my amount due.

On the other hand, my bill usually shows about 10% more usage than Sense anyway.

It’s not that all I want is a monthly total… You are right…if that’s all I wanted, my utility bill is all I need…

The realtime meter is the main benefit that I get from Sense… The ability to turn something on, and immediately see the impact on my household consumption … The ability to turn off household appliances and see how much I save when something that is normally in “standby” is unplugged (or on a power strip that has been turned off)…

After 3.5 months, mine still hasn’t detected my pool pump, hot water heat pump, Tesla car charger, woodshop tools…

I have a main breaker box (where Sense is installed) and an auxiliary box in garage for other half of house. Can Sense detect anything off of aux box?

I have something similar - a 400A main service with one 200A subpanel tied via bus bars to the main and a second 200A subpanel 40 feet away in the garage. Sense has found devices on both (most of my 240V devices are on the nearby subpanel). Detected devices on the garage sub panel include garbage disposals, microwave ovens, oven, dishwasher and dryer heating elements, in sink hot water tap, central vacuum unit).

I don’t think the subpanel division will prevent detection unless current flow to that subpanel is not being monitored by Sense. The bigger issue is likely to be the nature of the devices themselves. I did a list of detectable and unlikely to be detected devices based on my experiences:

Sense can’t distinguish my A/C, my spa pump and my irrigation pump. Sense used to provide the option to tell it that the device isn’t actually on but that took that ‘feature’ away since it was apparently not doing anything.

It’s even more frustrating because I have an Ecobee thermostat and had the integration turned on so one would think Sense would know exactly when my A/C is running but according to tech support the data received from Ecobee does nothing for your detection and they are just collecting out data.

I’ve all but giving up on Sense at this point

Same here. I have Sense for several years now. Some devices that were detected before are no longer detected. I am currently on Pump 6, AC4 and Heat 5. I have no idea what those devices are. They might come ON randomly or not at all. I replaced my fridge, its been 7 month now and new fridge is not detected yet. None of my TVs have been detected. It detected pool pump, but then it is not shown ON when it is working. Instead it is shown in the Other section.

One of the Sense’s selling points is to help you identify and reduce power usage. The way it has been working I have no idea what is working on a date to date bases.

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Also my experience. Pretty useless, overall, and I certainly do not love it. But I spent a lot, so I’ve left it running.

I had very accurate monitoring of my overall use and solar generation with my WelServer system, including lots that Sense never claimed to provide (like temperatures all through my home, circuit by circuit on/off, etc), and I bought Sense based on a This Old House show that claimed it could provide detailed consumption monitoring. That turned out to be seriously incorrect, which TOH later admitted to completely mistating.

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Another long-term user with the same experiences. Had high hopes, but after several years and multiple instances of the same devices, I’ve honestly only pulled up Sense a handful of times in the past year. And that was mostly to see if it magically started working better with device detection…sadly my Other bubble just seems to be getting bigger as it has “forgotten” some devices. At this point, for me, the only useful feature is real-time monitoring when I install something new in the house. Still would love for this to work as advertised, but time has dashed my expectations of it being anything more than an energy monitor at this point. Other companies are understanding that per-circuit monitoring/control is a lot easier goal to reach.

Unfortunately. Yes indeed. My experience also. The reality lags the wild claims substantially. Very difficult problem, of course, so it’s understandable why they have failed so badly. But shouldn’t have made such claims.

I see comments like these occasionally (Amazon reviews, etc) and it just makes me wonder what’s different from user to user… I’ve had Sense for a few months and it has located:

Washer
Dryer
GE Geospring Water Heater heat pump
GE Geospring Water Heater electric element
Almost every bit of our main fridge (Compressor, water dispenser, ice dispense, ice cube flipper, heater that warms the cubes before flipping)
Most bits of our “drink fridge”
Ninja Oven
Coffee Maker
Instant Pot
Baby bottle warmer
1 of 2 pool pumps (found single speed booster pump, but not variable speed main pump)
2 bathroom exhaust fans
2 bathroom heaters
small undersink hot water heater
Laser Printer
Microwave
Elevation motor on NordicTrack bike
Top portion of dual oven (we almost never use bottom portion)
3 of 7 heating zones on the stovetop (I’m not even sure we have used the others)

I have the following items on smart plugs because they haven’t been detected: Samsung tv, Network tech (router, modem, etc), 2 different desks, Milwaukee tool chest

I have the following on smart plugs even though they were detected: Ninja over, washer, main fridge, drink fridge

I have flex sensors on the pool pump circuit (2 pumps, timer, etc) and the variable speed hvac. Admittedly, if the flex sensors weren’t available, it would bother me that it hasn’t detected the primary pool pump or any of the hvac.

Anyways, I would definitely be frustrated if everything was showing in my other bubble, so I get it. I’m wondering if the people with detection issues just have more going on that I do and maybe it’s easier for Sense to detect things when the power use is relatively quiet.

-Matt

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@MattL, you ask a good question - what causes the big YMMV (your mileage may vary) effect with Sense ? In my mind it is 3 things:

  • Device Type Detectability - There’s no getting around the fact that Sense is good at detecting some types of devices and poor with others, just because of way it does detection based on transitions (mostly). Many devices kick out clear, consistent on and off transitions, while many others don’t. I have tried to put together a very incomplete list here.

  • Device Type Noise - But even if most of your house is producing crisp and clear transitions, a single large usage device that is continuously kicking out lots of random transitions of different sizes has the potential to obfuscate all the other transitions. I think one of @andy 's pumps has been identified as “noisy” which has to be horribly frustrating. In a similar way, a house with too many transitions from actual on off cycles may also reduce native detection because it is too difficult to isolate individual devices. More on native detection requirements here.

  • Expectations - I’m an electrical engineer so I entered my Sense experience with a reasonably good idea of how Sense operated and what it’s limitations might be, regardless of Sense’s early marketing. I didn’t expect Sense to detect consumer electronics and was willing to put undetected large-usage devices onto smartplugs.

So far I’m seeing reasonable and useful results, especially with the smart plug integration, though I can understand why others are not as satisfied.

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Man, it has been so long since something has been detected by my Sense… I forgot auto-detect of devices was even a feature!!! It took me revisiting this thread to remind me of this fact…

Just to explain a bit, Sense engineering says that our deep well constant pressure, variable speed, 3 phase 400 hz, pump confuses Sense, and the power waveforms it generates (in the power converter actually, not the pump itself) creates a “noisy” power environment that makes it difficult/impossible for Sense to detect other devices that it might otherwise find. Since the pump drives not only our domestic use but our geothermal heatpump that provides heating/cooling/hot water, the pump runs at various speeds (e.g. pressures) pretty frequently.

Other than getting rid of the pump and switching to a MUCH less capable system, we’re pretty much out of luck. Since we already had a WELserver system monitoring total power, solar, major device on/off, and about 40 temperature nodes, we only bought Sense to provide the claimed device by device tracking…something it fails at for many kinds of devices and fails entirely in our home. Experiment gone wrong.

BTW, Sense’s power and solar tracking are VERY accurate, matching closely our calibrated WELserver and the power company’s revenue grade meters within about ½%.

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In your case @andy I guess I would suffer the consequences of a noisy device in favor of the other benefits of Sense but I’d also be really tempted to run the pump phases (wires) backward through the matched Main CTs to see if the negated noisy current could be “removed” and free up Sense to see your other devices. Of course that would screw with your overall power tracking and is likely not easy to wangle in your electrical panel.

I think we’ve discussed this before but your case also makes me wonder if Flex CT signals on a noisy device can be subtracted-fast-enough from the Mains signals to allow the local processing algo to do its thing.

And a question for all you EEs … which method has the potential to generate the cleanest signal?

Just out of curiosity, would a signature softener like Micro-air Easystart help?

I am a newer sense owner ( going on 9 months now ). I too am incredibly dissapointed in the device detection. So far it has discovered 6 devices. All were discovered within the first week and none since. The usage over the course of the days and months are accurate, but everything is just in the “Other” category.

Is there something I am supposed to be doing? I wish I could manually add devices and have it register them. I mean I know I can add devices as I have done that in the app, but they don’t actually come up in the metering, they just happen to be around. It’s quite confusing to be honest.

@predictable.nectarin,
Take a look at the list of Likely Detection and Unlikely to Detect in this posting.

Do you have home devices in the Likely part that aren’t showing up. Or are most of the devices you are hoping to see in the Unlikely list ?