Sense vs competitors

I’m happy I bought a home energy monitoring, but I’m wondering what some of your thoughts are on Sense vs. competitors. In particular, I’m debating whether I should have instead purchased the Emporia Vue with 4 CTs + a handful of smart plugs for a similar price.

I had 2 main goals when buying the Sense. First was to find out why I seem to be using a lot more energy than my neighbors. Second was to monitor major appliances that might be having problems. To do this well, I need very consistent and accurate monitoring of just a few devices.

Sense has the opportunity to identify a ton of devices in my house, including a lot of smaller ones. That is really cool and interesting, but doesn’t directly help me meet my main goals. And it hasn’t detected all of my major appliances (I know I still need to give it more time), and it has been inconsistent in categorizing energy to devices that had been detected.

A more basic monitor like the Vue that has 4 CTs would be able to accurately measure my total energy usage, as well as the energy used on 4 circuits (which I could put on my 4 dedicated 240v circuits). 5 or so smart plugs should then get my other major energy hogs in the house. Together, that would leave me with a very accurate picture of at least 75% of my energy usage.

A Sense alternative wouldn’t have the potential for the granularity that Sense has, and wouldn’t have the fun of device detection. But, given the ability to more accurately and consistently track just the biggest energy users in my house, I think an alternative might have been the right choice for me. What do you guys think?

Sense’s business model is as much about long-term granular data storage (and user access!) as it is about the hardware. Sense’s abilities, in the near term, with device detection in its infancy, seem limited but it’s data vacuuming ability is in a different class than other options. The incremental introduction of seemingly-magical deductions from that data (not only about device detection) and carefully staged integrations is Sense’s core strength.

For example, applying the “detection” paradigm to the Solar input data may be unnecessary but with the right data analysis you can expect that Sense will be able to optimize your solar usage for emergency escapes and beyond. These are not things that observing rudimentary energy usage information is going to tell you.

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I haven’t seen any compelling competitors to sense. Nobody else uses machine learning the same way.

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I think you captured my thoughts @ixu. When I first looked for an energy disaggregation product a few years ago, I had a few criteria:

  • Had to have a minimal number of CTs - I have a huge number of circuits in both my panels, plus a half panel. Couldn’t be a CT per circuit solution.
  • Had to be dedicated to disaggregation for the long haul.
  • Had to be open and have a user forum
    I looked at Sense, Neurio and Smappee. Both Neurio and Smappee seemed similar, with Smappee more aligned with European power systems, vs. North American. Sense seemed the most committed and best financed.

Looking back 3 years later, Sense was the right choice. Both the others have veered somewhat from their original missions, plus still don’t have users forums or the data export I get from Sense (AFAIK). The long term access to historic data has also been a big differentiator for me as time has gone on. I don’t want run my own data server. Which reminds me, my SolarCity portal goes away tomorrow, rolling functionality into the Tesla App that only shows limited history data. So I gotta archive my 6 years of production data tonight :frowning:

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Yep @kevin1, it definitely seems like sense is the best aligned product with your goals, especially back when you signed up for it. I’m realizing that for my goals of more short term identification and precise monitoring of the largest power draws, there might have been better products currently available to me. I guess my take-away is that in the world of home energy monitors, there is currently no clear single best for everyone; right now, the best device for you would depend on your specific goals.

I wish there was a good article reviewing all the home energy monitors, clearly stating their pros and cons, and which devices might be best for you depending on what your goals are. Maybe the article exists, but I wasn’t able to find it when I was searching for a device.

@kevin1

MySolarCity app has been extended by Tesla to August 15th! You have a little more wiggle room.

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I already have a script to download every day of data already and have ferreted away most of the 6 years. Just have to check for integrity, plus capture the waning days.

I know it is an old post, but just want to say that I am sharing your doubts. I installed Sense couple of day’s ago, and I will definitely give it couple of weeks to learn, but what I see by now is not encouraging. Most of the devices are not recognized, my 2 AC units shown as one, etc. The words like AI seems cool, but as I work in this area, I know that it really depends what Sense are really using for their AI. It maybe a buzzword as well. I actually think that this approach (detecting devices based on power signature) is not so good and will not provide adequate detection. I am not sure if there is anything better (other than have smart outlets that will report the usage - something that will get into our houses one day).

Anyway, I also ordered Vue (44$) as I realized that the only real benefit for me from Sense is to see current and history of consumption.

@eshapurov,
You should take a look at my experiment with my AC units in the link below. I compared my Ecobee data for my 2 units against my Sense AC detections over the course of this past summer. It took several months for Sense to separate my two compressors into different detections and for those detections to become extremely consistent.

https://community.sense.com/t/sense-vs-ecobee-round-ii/6945/13

If you understand correlation you’ll be able to see the monthly evolution for both my downstairs and upstairs units. Down_Cool represents the hourly runtimes of my downstairs compressor taken from my Ecobee. AC, AC2, and AC3 are the hourly power for the 3 native AC detections from Sense. Furnace_ Up and Furnace_Down are hourly power for my upstairs and downstairs furnace blowers, as measured by smart plugs. Bottom line is patience - it took half the summer for Sense to sort things out.

$`2019-04`
            Down_Cool
AC                 NA
AC2                NA
AC3                NA
FurnaceUp          NA
FurnaceDown        NA

$`2019-05`
              Down_Cool
FurnaceDown  0.96457804
AC           0.40228237
FurnaceUp    0.38490212
AC2         -0.02461567
AC3                  NA

$`2019-06`
            Down_Cool
FurnaceDown 0.9923947
FurnaceUp   0.6044697
AC          0.3183210
AC2         0.2872561
AC3                NA

$`2019-07`
             Down_Cool
FurnaceDown 0.98625399
AC3         0.56490245
FurnaceUp   0.51139072
AC2         0.32950875
AC          0.06935545

$`2019-08`
            Down_Cool
FurnaceDown 0.9939775
AC3         0.7953435
FurnaceUp   0.6062248
AC2         0.1969622
AC          0.1884249

$`2019-09`
              Down_Cool
FurnaceDown  0.99038421
AC3          0.95855777
FurnaceUp    0.56123100
AC2          0.55809594
AC          -0.01585636

Up_Cool is the hourly Ecobee runtime data for my upstairs compressor.

$`2019-04`
               Up_Cool
AC           0.9791817
FurnaceUp    0.9769824
FurnaceDown -0.1541840
AC2                 NA
AC3                 NA

$`2019-05`
                Up_Cool
AC           0.99412114
FurnaceUp    0.97723727
FurnaceDown  0.14122794
AC2         -0.02226503
AC3                  NA

$`2019-06`
              Up_Cool
FurnaceUp   0.9892451
AC          0.6702095
FurnaceDown 0.5909811
AC2         0.1680601
AC3                NA

$`2019-07`
              Up_Cool
FurnaceUp   0.9850746
AC3         0.5987115
FurnaceDown 0.5123134
AC2         0.3918143
AC          0.1948437

$`2019-08`
              Up_Cool
FurnaceUp   0.9980361
FurnaceDown 0.6066122
AC3         0.5671459
AC2         0.4513146
AC          0.1011073

$`2019-09`
              Up_Cool
FurnaceUp   0.9968743
AC2         0.9321167
FurnaceDown 0.5697145
AC3         0.5522579
AC          0.1669208

AC3 eventually lines up with my downstairs compressor and AC2 eventually does the same with my upstairs unit.

ps: I don’t know anyone who understands machine learning, that would have doubts about Sense using machine learning to do identification and classification of significant power transitions. I do believe that there are devices that have non-causal signatures - signatures that don’t give enough information about what’s happening, but that’s not an AI problem. That’s a lack of data issue and is best solved by smartplugs.

Thank you for the information, it looks interesting. My point was that after almost 3 day’s (and I agree - this is a short period, relatively), Sense identified 5 out of ~100 different devices I have, missing many large appliances, including EV charger (ChargePoint). I may be wrong, but it seems to me that even after 6 months it will have less than 20-30% of the devices. And the maximum I can wait is 60 day’s :slight_smile:

P.S> I am not saying that they do not use AI, I just say that these day’s many companies claim they use AI, but in many cases it is not precise. However, they may use Google or IBM Watson, I really have no idea.

BTW, one thing Sense is definitely does better than many others - it does pull the voltage from the poles, and can calculate usage with much better precision. (VUE just assume 120V on each pole)

I think things can be hit or miss with Sense depending on the nature of some of the devices in your house. I have been pretty lucky. I have over 100 devices in my house but my “Other” is down around 15.6% and none of the biggest consumers are on smart-plugs. All the major users have come via native Sense detections, but those detections have certainly taken a number of months to mature. Here’s a view of my last week. And thanks to smartplugs, I know where 40% of that 14.8% Always On comes from.

There are really two metrics associated with detections. How long until the first detection, then how long before that detection has high reliability. My chart for initial detections over time is below. Some device are going to take a while for initial detections. And some, like AC units can take a while to become reliable.

Bottom line - You either want Sense to work or your don’t. If you do, you can make certain accommodations (smartplugs and patience) and with a little luck you with see good results. If you don’t, it’s easy to find reasons to feel cheated. The challenge is that you are probably going to need to go beyond the 60 day return period to know that all your major devices are completely and reliably detected.

ps: Thanks for the info on Vue.

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I’m building my best-of list quietly in the background and you’ve just been added to the list:

I would absolutely agree that 3 days is very, very short. Give Sense more time. Shoot me a PM once you get close to that 60 day mark, and we can discuss options from there.

Given that this is a thread about Sense and competing products, I should chime in a bit on that front: I could wax poetic on why I, personally as both a Sense user and someone on the other side of the fence, think Sense is a superior solution. But, I’ll avoid you that. There’s many, many posts on here and in our reviews that speak to that. Happy to answer questions though :slight_smile:

I do want to mention one place we do shine though: safety. Sense goes through rigorous testing to ensure that it’s safe to install. Our hardware was designed, from the ground up, to be safe and reliable and a lot of the cost of Sense is in the hardware (it’s also pretty highly specc’d, but not pertinent to this topic). Take our CTs for example: off-the-shelf CTs require two hands to install. In the event of a dangerous electrical situation in your panel, you don’t want two hands in there. Ours are designed to require only a single hand. Beyond that, we pass all industry standards for electrical immunity (8kV electrostatic discharge, 1kV transient, 2kV surge). You can see all of our certs at the link above. The lack of openness about safety certifications by some other energy monitors on the market is somewhat concerning, as integration in the electrical panel presents certain risks that just any enclosure and i/o may not be able to handle if a dangerous situation presents itself. I would urge anyone on the market for a device that installs in the critical infrastructure of a house to keep this in mind.

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I gave the sense 6 weeks, then returned it and bought a vue. Sense will be better for some people, and the vue better for others. If all you want to do is track overall energy usage over time, and you want to do it cheap, then a vue makes sense. As you’ve mentioned, the Sense is much more accurate than the vue. Though, the vue’s inaccuracies are pretty consistent (mine is almost always 2-3 kwh/day too high), so it is still very good for looking at trends. I’ll also say that the app on the Sense is much better. But the Vue is only a few months old, so hopefully they will make some big improvements over the coming months.

My current setup is a Vue with 8 cts + 4 cheap smart plugs (give monthly and daily energy usage). The CT’s go on 1 branch of a 240v circuit (for 240v appliance–except my dryer–both legs have the same draw, so I can just double 1 cts usage) and on circuits that have a lot of lights/small appliances. I put the smart plugs on devices that use a lot of energy but aren’t on dedicated circuits. Together they cover ~90% of my home’s energy usage. It has let me see a few specific inefficiencies in my house that I didn’t see with the sense, and I’ve lowered my energy bills by 20-30% by adjusting some settings and fixing a broken component in my AC that it helped me identify.

If the sense also had CTs, I would be happy to be paying a premium for it. Machine learning is more accurate when it has more/better information. Being able to take into account what circuit usage is coming from would be extremely useful to it. Even more so when people have trouble getting devices detected because they have something that is creating “noise”; with that noise isolated to a single circuit, it can be isolated to make for a much cleaner signature on all other circuits. It’s $90 for a vue with 8 CTs. If the Sense also had 8 CTs along with their device detection, I would very happily pay $300 for it instead of the vue. But the way things are right now, the vue was a better fit for my situation.

@SperlingJason
I’m glad you gave Sense a try even though it didn’t quite fit your needs.
I’ll be curious if after you’ve used the Vue for some time if you’ll miss having Sense, please let us know.
While the six weeks you used it is a start, my opinion is at least four months and somewhere between four and six is a better evaluation timeframe. Hopefully they change this in the future from the 60 days.

There are some aspects of the sense that I miss, primarily the app. If the device detection was a bit better and/or I could also use CTs to monitor a handful of specific circuits, then I would definitely pay more for the sense.

But I mostly wanted to see where my biggest energy draws were and what I could do to use them more efficiently. Sense never identified most of my biggest use appliances, and some it did identify were detected inconsistently. Vue + a few smart plugs immediately covered my biggest users. With the sense, I quickly found out my AC was short cycling (by looking at the net metering, since it never properly detected my AC or identified my furnace fan at all). The vue quickly identified 2 other appliances drawing more energy than I expected… though with the vue’s worse app, it would have been harder to identify the short cycling.

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