Sense + Smart Plug = Improved User Experience

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.

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I agree over the past three years I have added over 20 Smart Kasa plugs to my system. Every major/minor appliance, computer and TV in the house has its own plug. This has completely cleaned up all of the unknown/other power and since I have Solar, I am able to track load consumption even if the Solar/battery system carries the load. I did have to ditch my router and install a network to keep up with all the devices, but that’s another topic.

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Instead of buying smart plugs for a bunch of appliances, could I put a few devices on the smart plugs, once they are identified, move the plugs elsewhere? Is there a particular brand that works best with Sense? Putting a bunch of appliances on smart plugs runs up into real money. Particularly when I have no plans to turn the devices on/off with the plugs.

Why does a smart plug help Sense identify a device?

3 notes on your question.

  • Right now, the smart plugs that are compatible with Sense actually MEASURE the power/energy used by the device (albeit at far a far lower sampling frequency than the Sense inputs) and feed it back to the Sense monitor and mothership. So there’s no direct “learning” going on.
  • When you move the smart plug to another device, it will just start measuring the next device plugged in. But that has real value in teaching you about the usage of each device. Based on my experience, I recommend rotating a Roamer smart plug or two around your all the plugin devices in your house, for 48 hours per device before you decide if / when to use smartplugs on various devices.
  • What’s the rational for trying smart plugs all around the house ? 2 reasons - 1) the rotation around the house taking a month or two should buy Sense enough time to discover many of the devices that it can discover, leaving you with a better picture of what might need smart plug help, and 2) Sense provides valuable guidance from the 48 hour trace for each device that can help you decide what to do (below)

For every device you put on the Roamer smart plug for 48 hours, you can glean two key numbers - Dynamic power is the difference between the highest usage and lowest usage during that 48 hour period. Always On power is number computed by Sense that is the near lowest usage of the device over the 48 hours. For me, Dynamic power = High happens around 25W, and High for Always On about 5W.

Dynamic Power Always On Power What to do ?
High High Use smart plug
High Low Use smart plug
Low High Use Always On measurement from smart plug to itemize Always On power in Always On Devices list. No need for permanent smart plug.
Low Low No permanent smart plug needed.

As for the list of compatible plugs, you can find it under the link below. I’m partial to the Kasa ones - you can find single plugs for about 10$ each.


In addition to @kevin1 's excellent comments, I will add one more use (#2 from my original post): Helping to identify “unknown” device detections. I was able to positively ID a handful of “Unknown Heat/Motor/Device” by comparing Sense’s power meter graph for the device with the Power Meter graph from the smart plug. Sometimes I was able to merge several devices into a single entity. A good example is my fridge. Sense detected 4 devices as Fridge 1, Fridge 3, Device 2, and Ice Maker. Now they’re just a single merged entity named “Kitchen Fridge” and the power usage data represents the total use of the appliance, nut just 4 individual components. Oh, and I learned it has 10 watts of “Always On” power that I could account for. I have two plugs that I move around from time-to-time for this purpose.

And there are some loads the Sense is likely to never detect, or detection is unreliable. For me, this included my water heater and furnace. I use dedicated smart plugs to monitor these because that information is valuable to me.


Well drat. I just looked and I have some kasa plugs I bought about 10 months ago, but they aren’t in the compatible list. I’ve got the EP10P4.

I want to think all for the answers. Is it because sense can identify the smart plug quickly and I know what’s plugged into the smart plug that makes it easier to identify devices? If this is true, I plug my fridge into the smart plug, the smart plug is identified so that’s the fridge. But there’s a light in there, an ice maker, a fan surely. Sense will give me several different devices and I can combine them into one?

There’s a new standard coming out for smart home devices and the name has slipped my mind. I think would want to wait for a plug that is compatible to that or updatable to it.

That’s a bummer. The EP10s are a little cheaper but they don’t have power measurement hardware, just on/off.

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With the Kasa Integration, the Sense monitor sends requests out to the smart plugs every 2 seconds and the plugs respond with the most recent power usage measurements. So detection and power usage is directly communicated to the Sense monitor - all via your house network.

You point out something important - detection of different on/off components of a device (a fridge) presents a different picture than direct measurement of the fridge, using a smart plug, which measures all the components together - light, defroster, ice maker, compressor and always on. That’s why Sense has options to merge devices, plus the option to wrap all the components of a device plugged into a smart plug into the smart plug device, as they emerge.

BTW, Amazon is selling a pack of 4 EP25P4 for about $38. Don’t know how long it will last.\\.

I just got a pack of 4 Kasa plugs. Sense identifies the plug as a plug. I have assumed I should change that to the type of device plugged into it, in this case a freezer. I then entered the model number and name in the details. Anything else I should do to help out Sense?

I don’t think Sense had picked up my garage freezer at all, but I have some mystery devices. What would happen to them? Would sense be smart enough to combine a mystery device if it was now plugged into the Kasa?

I was very pleased with how easy the plugs were to setup.

Yes, the Kasa plugs really do seem to “just work” for most people. Seems like you set up the Settings correctly. Given a little bit of time history (24-48 hours), you should get an Always On value for your Freezer. You should also look at your device waveform and see if there is any reason to set a Standby power threshold for your smart-plug (so you can see an On/Off and Standby).

As for what to do for mystery devices - I would work backward. Try all the plugin devices in your house and do this:

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Sense wont automatically combine a smart plug and a detected device. You have to tell Sense what is plugged into the plug.
Which is a good thing. As you know factually what is plugged into the plug and what wattage it consumes. Whereas Sense only guesses what a natively detected device is an it’s wattage. Meaning Sense would have to guess what is plugged into the plug, which is not always a good thing.

Not telling sense what is plugged into the plug, keeps the (natively detected) devices separate which can be extremely handy when trying to figure out what a mystery device is. Moving the plug around to see if the plugs wattage matches up to the mystery device, by comparing the two separate bubbles/devices. Especially when the mystery device may only be a single component of the device and what’s plugged in.
Some also use the plugs to determine a devices always on wattage. For example plugging a device into the plug, until you figure out it’s always on, entering that into the always on device section. Then moving the plug to another device.
As you can see there are a lot of reasons why auto merging devices to a plug would be a bad thing and piss a lot of people off.

When you tell Sense ‘what is connected to this’. If it’s a detected device it’s combined with the plug. When you tell Sense a non-detected power strip or other device, you get the icon and the engineers can look at what you put in, but the backend ai doesn’t do anything with it.

From what I gather, telling sense what’s plugged in prevents a detected device from being double counted, Sense displays what it gets from the plugs stats, not the native detection. Something could still be natively detected that is attached to a plug.
Sense states the plug is not supposed to and shouldn’t interfere, effect or help with native detection. A lot of people report odd coincidences. So that appears more of a simple answer than a definite.

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I did a similar thing where i purchased a few Kasa plugs off Amazon that didn’t have the power management option…kept those for controlling simple lamps on a timer…Having these plugs is a great way to isolate fridges/freezes and other devices that may have unusual power patterns. Good way to control a dehumidifier too…

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I plugged my LG OLED TV into the Kasa plug and set it up, my Denon receiver also. So I want to add these to the always on list too, don’t I? I know my TV isn’t in the list of devices so I will “Create it”. Having the TV as a recognized device and on the AO list won’t cause it to be double counted, will it?

While I’m asking about the AO list, how does sense come up with the total watts when it doesn’t know all the devices? I assume Other is total usage minus Identified Devices and minus Always On? How does is come up with Always On total? Is that Always On amount dynamic, i.e. does it change?

Right now Always On edges out other for biggest consumer. I don’t understand how it comes up with the amount (487W and unchanging) that it does.

Always On for your whole house and for your devices on smart plugs are statistical numbers that are computed from a 24-48 hours history on a moving basis. More explanation here, but the gist is that Sense picks a number that is near lowest, though not the exactly lowest, power number over the past 24-48 hours. Unless your house is really weird, that calculation catches the moment in your house that is the quietest from an on/off usage basis.