Newbie Sense User Questions

I hooked Sense up with solar 2 days ago. It seems to be running ok. No devices detected yet. Only the “OTHER” bubble is seen, and the SOLAR bubble during the day. I hope it can detect a few items in the next week or so. I have a few early questions I has hoping to learn.

  1. How do I determine if my WIFI signal is strong for Sense? I have read that a strong WIFI signal is important to detection, but I am not sure how to check and see how strong the signal is according to sense.

  2. How does one define a “noisy” house or panel? I have an old house with BX sheething grounds for many standard outlets. The panel is mixed however and has a lot of new BX with grounds and Romex with grounds. My panel is 200 Amp and 100% full of breakers. The amount of draw on each breaker is minimal however, and each 120v breaker may serve only 2-3 outlets or lights. The 220V items (Central AC, electric base board, hot water, dryer, stove, etc,) all have dedicated 220v breakers.

  3. Is it far fetched to hope for at least one item detected within a week? Rather than seeing all clumped in an “other” bubble?

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Here’s a first stab at some answers:

  1. I’m not aware of any user-facing signal reading in the Sense app. However, many wifi APs provide this information in the user interface. I think you’re stuck checking there, or opening a Sense support ticket, for now.

  2. Noise, in the Sense world, mostly relates to the types of loads (and generation if applicable) in your house, not necessarily the wiring and distribution methods. Constantly varying loads, like variable speed pumps, plasma TVs, etc. can cause “usage noise” that makes the detection task more difficult. This is somewhat speculation on my part, but devices that can supply reactive power to your in-house loads, such as PFC correction capacitors, big motors, etc. also make Sense’s job more difficult by distorting or removing the reactive power signature from your loads.

  3. 1 week is realistic for a few devices to be detected. Depending on how often your devices cycle on and off, and their load profile, it could happen as soon as 24 hours after the self-check completes, or it could take many months. If it’s heating season where you live, I’d expect some heating appliances to be detected right off the bat, since they tend to cycle on and off frequently.

  1.  I’ve had Sense hooked to multiple WIFI around the house over the year and a half I’ve been installed, and I have never seen an issue with signal strength with three different WIFI servers spread across two floors and several thousand square feet. Do pay attention to the Sense antenna location, though. I can suggest using something like “Wifi Analyzer”, which is a great cell phone based took for checking out your particular configuration.
  2.  “Noise” varies, but can be as simple (and debilitating) as a single constant pressure variable speed well pump. My Franklin Electric pump has seriously confused Sense, even though the signature is highly distinctive to the human eye. Sense engineering hasn’t been optimistic about resolving that.
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Regarding (2): I don’t have a variable speed well pump but like Andy have also suffered from limited and incorrect detection from my Sense device (installed January 2017). I have assumed that it is due to the variety of loads we have (pool pump, aquarium, 2 EVs charging, plus maybe 80 misc devices… excluding lighting).

I’d also love to see some explanation from Sense engineers regarding how one defines a “noisy” house or panel, especially if it includes things I can do to improve results.

I saw my first device detection around day 3 or 4, our HVAC fan. I wasn’t too surprised to see it since electric motors provide nice signatures, and since I have our thermostat set to run the fan for at least 10 minutes per hour there was many on/off cycles for Sense to see every day.

I’m now about 2 months in and have about 15 devices detected, not including things I’ve opted to have measured via HS110’s.

Patience is key. As an impatient geek who wants everything yesterday the first week or so was painful, but yeah, it’ll come with time. :wink:

Thanks everyone.

Looks like you got lots of good answers already, so I won’t double up too much on those.

But regarding Wi-Fi, Sense will perform best with a signal between -70 and -35dB, which you can measure with a wide variety of free mobile apps.

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