Sense + Smart Plug = Improved User Experience

So, I’ve had Sense for probably 2 and a half years and I’ve been satisfied, but not thrilled with overall experience. Recently I got a pair of smart plugs and they’re starting to move the needle on my overall experience.

My disappointment with Sense has been in three main areas: 1) 10-30% of my power usage still falls into the “Other” category, 2) Sense has detected devices that I can’t actually identify, and 3) knowing my always-on load is great, but it would be better if i could actually identify the sources and reduce that number.

#1 just is what it is, I guess. But the smart plugs have been really helpful with #2 and 3. For the longest time I’ve had “mystery devices” like Fridge 3, Device 2, and Heat 4, but haven’t had any idea what those devices actually are. By plugging things like my fridge into my smart plug for the last several weeks, I’ve started getting real-world identities of these devices and been able to merge devices where needed.

For the always-on load, I’ve been able to identify about 65% of the various sources. And even if I don’t turn any of them off, I still have the data i need to make an informed decision about it.

Im still working through the mystery devices and finding the always-on culprits, but it’s SOOO much easier using a smart plug than Sense alone. I wish i would’ve done this earlier. I would even go so far as to suugest that Sense offer a bundle that includes smart plugs and instructions on how to use them to track down always-on load and eventually “name” the devices that Sense detects.

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I 100% agree. I went on a Kasa smart plug buying spree and most of my lower watt devices that can be plugged in are on one. This combined with most of my lights being Hue has made the experience much greater. The last major device that it needs to find is my gas HVAC system. It is an older system and the blower has a higher initial draw that falls off over time. If only it could real-time pull the data from my ecobee… I am sharing my ecobee data but it isn’t the same as the Hue/Kasa where the app instantly knows what turned on.

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@Drew , sadly Ecobee only reports every 5 min, so it can’t do the Hue kind of direct reporting. But it should help Sense figure out what kind of model might work for your HVAC.

@Drew, I recently created a thread that may be relevant to your higher-level thoughts regarding your HVAC

If you feel like posting your gas usage there it could be interesting to compare usage.
In the bigger picture of migration from fossils to all electric a major factor is quantifying real usage. e.g. How much gas goes to space heating vs hot water vs oven/range. For that reason I’m interested how Sense can be used to quantify fossil usage. IMHO it’s well worth getting an extra Sense (if necessary) to get ground-truth on the major energy users such as HVAC.

My furnace is hard-wired, but I’ve considered installing a plug and receptacle. My research seems to indicate that this is not exactly code compliant, but allowed in many jurisdictions. The main reason people do it is to allow a simple way to run your furnace on a portable generator without backfeeding. It would also allow the use of a smart plug for power monitoring. I’m not sure I’ll follow through… but I’m thinking about it.

For this type of analysis, I’d be inclined to use some other smart home platform. Home Assistant, for example, can get real-time status updates from the Ecobee (heating or cooling, not fan-only). Some clever hacking would likely enable monitoring of the gas valves in your oven, furnace, etc. Harder to deal with “manual” valves like a stove burner. Or better yet…try to read the pulses directly from your gas meter.