Rj45 port - to solve wifi issues?


A few users mention they get terrible signal where there Sense is, and suggest a RJ45 on the device. That or you can get an extension for the antenna, to bring it closer to the WiFi signal.

why does title have to be 15 characters?


Considering some significant percentage of Sense installations will be in basements or locations where WiFi connectivity is problematic, having some form of wired connector makes sense.


While a wired connection sounds good, I can see two potential problems. Many panels are in basements or garages an it is quite likely there is no wired connection there and might be very difficult to get one there. Next, I believe in some situations it might be a code violation to route a low voltage wire into a breaker panel. My solution was a TP-Link powerline adapter. They make them that are just ethernet or wireless access points. In my case I just used the ethernet and plugged a wireless access point that I already had into it. Now I have a dedicated WiFi SSID that is just for Sense only about four feet from the unit.


I’d resist the urge to treat a temporary workaround for a bug or design problem as a permenant system requirement. It’s unreasonable for Sense to expect owners to split an existing network, or add an additional one, just for the purposes of providing a dedicated SSID to work around their unit’s WiFi problems. It’s just as important to note that WiFi has transient problems, it’s just the nature of the beast, but their design needs to deal with those problems at least as well as other WiFi devices that don’t manifest the same issues as Sense.


Agreed - I don’t understand half of what you’re saying about routers or signal, but to have heard I’d need to spend more to upgrade my WiFi in order to get this to work would’ve been a deal breaker for me. But to your point, an ethernet connection is yet another crutch where a dozen other devices in my home are connecting to WiFi just fine from where they sit. It would be another thing that would take sense off the table for me. My box is outside our garage, and would require extra work to get ethernet out there.


I have mixed feelings on this. I think the biggest issue is that in regards to this and detection Sense has over promised and up until this point has under delivered. Not the way a company should operate. I think they should have been very aware that most people have breaker panels either in basements or garages which quite possibly could have had limited connectivity. Had we been aware of that it would have precluded much frustration. They should should actually offer a low cost option to buy a repeater or access point directly from them.

Further they need to keep in mind that many users probably have no clue how WiFi even works. It would be great if they could just do simple things like tell you which direction to place the adjustable antenna they provide to get the best possible signal. Also they should have a link to apps that you can install on your phone or tablet to see if you have the proper signal perhaps before you even buy the unit and face issues.


Totally understand the frustration here. We are actively looking into what we can do to help out, including running speed tests on the monitor and reporting low signal in the app, providing a pre-purchase way to see signal strength by your panel in our app, and better connectivity trouble-shooting tools like live signal strength from the monitor as you position the antenna. One thing we are worried about is that showing signal from your phone or laptop will be misleading since the wifi chipset and antennas are different. We would be interested to hear if you think this would still be worth doing considering that. We are also frustrated by the state of consumer wifi - we have tried to make the right balance of signal strength (long enough antenna in the box, expensive but high-quality wifi chipset) and safety (non-electrically coupled antenna, so there is no way in the case of major failure or water incursion that the antenna could be come electrified.) Basements are a challenging signal environment and we are continuing to evaluate other solutions including other antenna types and RJ-45/ethernet.


There is a good free android app called WiFi Analyzer by Kevin Yuan (another user on the Facebook group brought this to my attention) and I used this to diagnose my weak wifi signal. It provide signal strength, dB of the signal, channel graphs and shows all available signals. Great program for seeing what is going on. I think you need to make people aware of the possible issues before they buy to prevent disappointment. Most people probably have no clue what the signal strength is in basements or garages as not many people use WiFi there. It would be great if your system would be able to text or email the user when telemetry is lost, that way at least we can take more timely actions where needed.


FYI, for Mac OS X I like NetSpot which has a discovery and survey mode for WiFi. KisMAC used to be my go-to but it’s latest distribution is pretty sketchy and I ditched it.


I’ve been using WiFi analyzer for years. I recommend it highly.
Unfortunately for iOS users, there’s no free alternative.
For osx there’s iStumbler to analyze network and bluetooth connections.


I also recommend WiFI Analyzer for checking signal strength around the home. It also found an issue I was having with my 5G signal from the Xfinity router. A very handy tool to use. I’d like to see them make a version for Apple products, but the Android version works fine.


Perhaps obvious, but given that the Sense is connected by default to the “powerline”, couldn’t you inject Ethernet there? Sure, you would also then need a powerline transceiver at the Ethernet router/switch end but it would obviate the need to crowd the electric panel with more wires. I’m guessing this was already considered and deemed too “costly” but I wonder, with that philosophy in mind, if ALL electrical devices were capable of injecting Ethernet down their power feed how nicely “Sensing” could then happen! “Hello World I’m a fridge”; “Door opened”; “Light on”; “Compressor on”; etc.
It would seem in the long term and even for Sense 2.0 that wifi is something to avoid if possible since if, let’s say, Sense becomes a breaker-sized device that you just snap in, how are you going to get a reliable RF signal without a mess?
[I also imagine multiple Sense’s communicating with one another autonomously [mesh], if one had such a configuration – i.e. multiple units in a building’s electrical room]


I really like that powerline transceiver idea. I’ve used powerline ethernet modules before and powerline monitoring devices for solar installations (Enphase for example). These can work really well. Sense would need to add that to their product, possibly increasing the power consumption (if being used) and they would have to develop a power line adapter with network port to plug into your router (hopefully with a passthrough AC plug!!!).

In the mean time, I am going to experiment with WiFi antennas. The antenna that comes with the sense unit is a 3dBi Omnidirectional. You can get 6dBi (twice as strong) or even 9dBi omni antennas (4 times as strong as the Sense antenna. Also, considering the Sense doesn’t move once it is installed, they really should consider offering a directional antenna. This can help filter out noise from outside networks and greatly increase signal strength / distance achieved on a good connection. Think of it this way: Would you rather have 3dBi worth of gain / power spread in 360 degrees around the antenna…or would you like to focus that 3dBi worth of gain / power pointing towards your router and make the antenna that much more sensitive in that direction. (Directional antennas usually have somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 to 45 degrees field of view… so with many of them you really only have to get a little “close”.

I guess I could get something like a TP Link CPE210 and connect it to my router and aim it at my Sense and create a dedicated WiFi network for the Sense to connect to. The challenge there is finding a set of non-overlapping channels to avoid interference. So, if I can’t improve the Sense antenna enough, maybe I can focus a WiFi network over to it.


I installed my Sense yesterday. I live in Arizona like NJHaley. It is common here for the service drops to be located on the garage for accessibility by meter readers. We don’t have meter readers anymore but when my home was built we did. The thing that might be easily addressed in the installation instructions would be to suggest placing the antenna on top of the box or on the side facing the house. I couldn’t mount mine on top as there is a cover over the top of the box and the box is imbedded into the stucco. I mounted it on the house side as high as possible. Perhaps a simple instruction such as mount the antenna as high as possible and as unobstructed as possible. My two cents.


A RJ45 would be great for those able to wire their Sense to their network, but my power panel is outside and my router is in the middle of my long house.

The “higher gain” omni directional antenna that I tried didn’t work. As far as I can tell it was garbage quality to begin with. A better quality one could have worked, but then I found a TP Link directional antenna that let me replace the antenna on my Sense with one that I could point towards my router. This could help some people with borderline or no connections because of interference and/or long distance / walls between their Sense and their router. This is the one I’m using right now and it is working much better so far: http://amzn.to/2EwSV7a I hope this helps.


Whether you extend Ethernet to your breaker box for Sense or extend Ethernet to the breaker box and add a decent $15 pocket Access Point is nearly the same effort… Tiny enough Access Point or Power Line Ethernet to fit inside breaker box next to Sense… Please don’t bloat the sense hardware. lol. Also, power-up the dinky Access Point or Power Line Ethernet from a breaker with a chopped-off lamp cord. :slight_smile:

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I believe that Sense will be reluctant to add RJ45 as hardware changes are costly. It’s also possible that the circuit boards inside Sense are off-the-shelf from a third party and will not support it. Software changes are easy; hardware changes, are, well, “hard”. Another obstacle might be the introduction of “signal wiring” (the ethernet cable) into the panel. Electricians and code experts are welcome to chime in; I suspect that there would be code issues with this.

It’s getting into a major redesign but Sense could change the form factor of the device to an outside of the panel default. The device could have a flexible conduit leading from it that would enter the panel through a standard 1/2" knockout (much the way the antenna leaves the panel now) and present connectors for the CT’s and the power cable inside the panel. With that done you’d have liberty to mount Sense anywhere within the length of the attached flexible conduit from the panel to optimize Wi-Fi. Sense could then have an RJ45 connector without any issues of running ethernet cable inside a panel.


per #MachoDrone’s last post, Let’s help each other help ourselves To-The-Max so Sense can focus on back-end, firmware, IFTTT, and ground-truth… It’s ok to plant seeds of hardware feature requests, but #MachoDrone hopes hardware v2.0 is far, far away.
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Agreed! My post is more of a speculation of what could eventually happen than a request to change hardware. If you can get Ethernet hardwired near your panel you can put a cheap router or access point there and have it usable for Sense and for other devices . Surely an extra outdoor or garage or basement Wi-Fi would be useful now or for future IOT goodies. If the location is wet you don’t need to install an outlet; just use an access point that’s powered by PoE with the power injector somewhere dry near another router or switch that is also your source of Ethernet connectivity.


Ethernet would be a good option for those of us that can accommodate. I would prefer to run some cat6 down to my panel as opposed to using wifi.