Power all weird, comparison base?


#1

So my power is all weird, which is why I got Sense in the first place. Our bill is much too high. I’ve had Sense installed for about a week and a half now and I see patterns that don’t seem normal to me, but it’s hard to know since I don’t know anyone else with a Sense meter whose readings I could compare against or use as a baseline. How do I go about troubleshooting my power consumption through the Sense?

I’ve tried deactivating devices and even whole breakers but it’s always been without luck. I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with our electricity from the utility’s side of things. I don’t know how we’d show/prove that definitively. What are some tell tale signs?

Here are some shots of my Sense readings, fwiw. All help appreciated.


The last week – weird large spikes around 6pm.

Does anyone have any idea what this is? Thanks in advance.


#2

Just for background…single family home? Do you have solar? Anything else unique? pool heater? Death ray? Etc?

When you turn off some of your breakers, do you see any of these things drop off? If not, have you left thise breakers off and kept trying to turn more off to find it? I have done this a few times, mostly when wife and kids are away so I can reset all the clocks before they get back.

Just as a reality check, 10 days is a short period of time in this game. You will start to see devices pop up…when you do, wait until they are on and hit the breaker or pull the plug on the device to verify it went off. Label it and move on.

Lols like your graph takes off late morning and stays high until mid evening…AC unit maybe? I am interested in what you find.


#3


A few minutes in detail. This is the weird thing and this condition is not constant but occurs most of the time, probably 18/24 hours per day, there is a constant 50w oscillation for most of the day.


On some occasions the oscillation quantity exceeds 50w, occasionally being several watts cycling on and off.


#4

The large sharp spikes are generally indicative of a motor or compressor startup surge which is normal for those devices. As Jasonemoyer mentioned - give it a little time to detect those devices. As far as your strange squarewave pattern - I am in the same boat trying to determine the source of a very similar scenario. I have only been using Sense for a few months and it has not been identified.


#5

Your baseline usage is really high, and it’s impossible to know why without knowing more about your home. You have one or several things chewing up power like it’s their job - vampire loads from stereos, TVs, water pump, a group of 7-8 lights on in the attic or basement, etc., something that’s always on.

Need more details about your home and the appliances in it.


#6

Some of those patterns look like refrigerator and/or freezer cycling on/off.


#7

Yes, “always on” usage is around 750w. Sense says the average “always on” is 220-something watts. I get that from leaving my workstation on basically 24/7 (there is a panel on the UPS that says how many watts are being drawn, which fluctuates between 100 and 200 if the screens are off (most of the time), or 200 and 300 if the screens are on, but even then, I still have ~350w above the “average” usage to account for).

I understand the motor kicks and I’m not concerned about those really. I’m concerned about the constant activation and deactivation of the 50w consumer because I think it may portend the larger issue. There have been occasions where I see spikes like that up to 300w for a period of time.

I just went through and hit almost every breaker. There was little change. It’s the middle of the night and most of the stuff in the house is off and we’re baselining usage at ~1kw. The lowest I got it was by shutting off the office breaker, which dropped us to a baseline of 500w, which, with everything else already off, is still far too high.

There is no pump, heater, or other unusual appliance here. Just a fridge, washer and dryer, central AC, electric range, toaster, etc.

Is it possible that there is a bad signal coming from “the mains”, or some other feedback/harmonics issue that is making more-than-normal usage come into the house? What are some explanations or potential solutions besides “test random stuff”? Is it possible, e.g., that a neighbor is inadvertently tapped into our connection?

If I can’t just wait around 6+ weeks for Sense to figure this out, do I call an electrician (potentially the same one who installed my Sense) and ask them if they can troubleshoot/do something? I don’t know what type of diagnostic materials they’d have or need.


#8

Here’s a graph showing my adventures in breaker-flipping, fwiw.


#9

I found my 80 watt square wave last night. It is a UPS powering my network - modem, switch and router. The UPS is on 24/7 so will never be detected. You might check your UPS by unplugging it while watching your Sense meter line. That’s how I found mine.


#10

If you are taking aim at the baseline, look in other unexpected places for always on. My old garage door opener ate a constant 10W just to keep the radio receiver going (x 3 for 3 openers). Feeding the UPS might another big chunk. My hot water recirc pump was a big component of “Always On” until I put it on a timer. That your Sense “Always On” drops to 220W indicates that somewhere during 24 hours there’s a perfect moment when some of the things that look essentially always on, stop eating power.


#11

I would start by doing a daily calc of Sense vs. your meter. If your meter is digital, then your provider should have some insight into which readings you’ll need to consider. If it’s analog (not even sure those exist any longer), then you’ll need to figure out how to read it.

Make sure your Sense readings match up roughly (+/-1-2%) to your meter. This would require some additional calculations on your part, or you’d have to be up at midnight to read your meter for a couple days.

If they match up, then you’ve got more detective work to do. Which breakers didn’t get turned off?

That 50w oscillation is a drop in the bucket. You’ve got 3-400W coming from somewhere that’s constant. A perfect example is a set of 3-4 incandescent lights in the attic that you forgot were turned on. Happened to me - I was working in the attic and later checked Sense. Saw the 400W jump and remembered I forgot to turn them off, and also made a note to replace them with LEDs next time I was up there.

If they don’t match up, then you have an install problem.

You can also go into the settings of the app to see the two legs of power. See if one is unreasonably higher than the other. That will at least tell you which leg the power is coming from in your panel.


#12

Thanks, I think you’re right now that you mention this. Last night while I was testing was the first time that I actually looked at the UPS’s display to see the power draw, but it jumps around in blocks of about 50w. I’m glad to know what this is, even if I don’t understand why it behaves that way. It at least puts my mind at ease re: that pattern.

I’ve tried every breaker except the ones that the Sense itself is connected to, which I actually did try, but obviously the Sense wasn’t working at that point. I’ll have to see if I can figure out what exactly is plugged in there so I can disconnect it and test it separate from the Sense. Other than that, I’ve been pretty thorough and don’t think I’m missing any clusters of lights or similar.

To be clear, I never noted that a drop down to 220w, but 500w showed up momentarily. This later appeared to correct to about ~750, so it may’ve just been delayed processing on the Sense backend.

What should I see from the mains? I have seen the numbers with a pretty wide gap between the mains, but I don’t know if these are numbers are supposed to be roughly synchronized or not. Right now, there is about a 700w difference in the draw. Could someone with “healthy” mains post theirs for reference?

image

(after this screenshot, the draw updated to 2250w/2916w)

I will begin checking my meter and seeing if it corresponds with the reading from the Sense. Thanks for the help thus far. This community is great!


#13

If the Sense Always On drops to 220W, that means that the power dropped to 220W for at least a moment during a 24 hour period - kind of a low water mark.


#14

Kevin, I understand. I’m not sure where the miscommunication is – I probably mistyped something up there – but the lowest I have seen the Sense report for any value is 550w, and I believe that later got updated to around 750w, which is my typical baseline. Sense currently identifies my “Always On” at 615w.

I mentioned the 220w as the number that Sense the Company claims is the average (on the “Always On” info blurb – checking it now, it actually “The Sense average Always On is 288 watts.”). This is not a number I have ever seen actually get measured by my equipment.

Here’s a screenshot of my meter as it stands, for what it’s worth. The values on the left side of this graph are basically as low as they get, at +/- 700w.


#15

OK, then your lowest water mark for a recent 24 hour period is 615W. That’s high. It might be worthwhile trying to see which leg most of the Always On power resides on.


#16

Just a guess, but it looks like the right side is about 700w higher, for what it’s worth. That could be normal, or it could mean that whatever is chewing up power is on the right leg. Of course, he’d have to figure out which one that is by some trial and error (depending on how his CTs are placed)…which, come to think of it, may indicate that one of the clamps is slightly pressed open.

Might want to check that, @jeffcook2150 - see if when the box cover was put back on it wasn’t preventing the clamps from closing completely. Sometimes things are tight in there and you’re left with a clamp partially open.

Do you have LEDs or incandescents in your home, Jeff? Just trying to get an idea of how efficient your home is. If it’s a pretty typical 4BR house with standard appliances and 2 adults, 700w is pretty high. If you’ve got incandescents, that’s basically 8-10 lights on, but if you’re LED than that’s quite a bit of power.


#17

Checking in after several months. We still have issues with high consumption, though as the weather has cooled we’ve been getting lower bills overall. Sense has detected several devices but I’m not sure I trust them … they are mostly a variety of stoves and motors. Here’s what the consumption looks like over the last month:

Here are the mains right now:

[nevermind, “new users can only post one image in a post” still … six months later.]

and Feb usage summary:

[nevermind, “new users can only post one image in a post” still … six months later.]

I still don’t know what’s causing this. The usage is not really consistent, it comes and goes. It’s typical to fluctuate by several hundred watts in the course of 15 minutes.

At this point I’m hoping I have enough data to point an electrician or someone in the right direction. Note that I got the Sense because the power bill was way out of whack, so this isn’t just an issue in the Sense over-detecting things.


#18

This is to prevent spam and trolls, but I just lifted your restrictions so you should be able to now.

Does your Sense data match what your seeing from your electric bills? What’s your Always On look like?


#19

Appreciate bumping the restrictions on images. Will try again. That’s an annoying but understandable restriction one or two days in, but six months is a bit of a stretch IMO.

Here’s a recent last 15:

As far as I know no one has activated anything that should be consuming this much power. Sense has detected this as a “water heater”. We have two gas-powered water heaters which I don’t think typically take up ~1kW of electricity (?).

Here are the images from yesterday:

Mains:

Feb usage:

Thanks again for any and all insight. :slight_smile:


#20

Yes, Sense’s readings match. Feb usage reported by Sense (made by summing “Total Usage” column on data export) is 1038 kWh. The bill from the power company includes Jan 30 and 31 and comes to 1056 kWh, which sounds right.

Always On right now is 505w.