Smart Plugs for Partially Detected Devices?

Does it make sense to use smart plugs on partially detected devices? What I mean is, I have a few devices like my dishwasher and coffee maker, that have variable load through its normal usage cycle. Sense has detected them, but only part of their usage cycles. It’s been a few months, so I’m not sure if it will ever get better. Would it make sense to put them on smart plugs so their entire usage cycle are captured? Any downsides for doing so?

I have put smart plugs on several partially detected devices in my house. I have them on my two furnaces for a few reasons:

  • Sense was quite good at detecting the air handler but missed several other components of the furnace operation (igniter, gas blower) and didn’t seem likely to ever find those.
  • I also wanted a rock solid detection of the air handlers that I could use for doing correlation studies against AC detection in the summer.
    Sense vs. Ecobee: Round II - #13 by kevin1
  • I was also interested in the Always On component stemming from the logic boards and thermostats attached to the furnace. The smartplug interface was able to peg the Always On usage for both furnaces at 7W, which helped reduce my aggregate Always On number.

I can’t see any downsides except:

  • Using smartplugs on a detected device eats into your limit of 20 smart outlets total (current limit for Sense monitor)
  • You have to remember to attach the detected smartplug device (i.e. the dishwasher component found by native detection ) to the smartplug device to avoid double counting.

Beyond detection and ground-truth “rock solidness” (to partially quote @kevin1), I have found smartplug switching capability to also be very useful and a motivation to put partially-detected devices on smartplugs:

  • Kitchen hood goes ON, using IFTTT, a room-to-room fan gets switched off.

  • Non-Hue light switching … also triggered via IFTTT.

While device disaggregation is marketed as the core capability of Sense, I have found that it’s real (current) strength is as an accurate and reliable logging gatekeeper between the grid supply and my house “grid” along with the notifications that primarily (reliably) come with the smartplug integration. Over time I’m expecting that my little grid of smartplugs and so on will be simplified as Sense gains intelligence but there will always remain the tangle of copper and breakers, extension cords and power strips, roving vacuum cleaners and new things to plug in so a certain chaos is to be expected.

The futurist in me says devices themselves will eventually migrate toward having built-in line-voltage signalling … injecting into the household grid a higher frequency ID-like signal ("I’m here, I’m on, I’m off and so on) that future iterations of Sense will be sensitive to. On an industrial level this is precisely what (big) “devices” do. NDI has a little taste of that. In the meantime, for the rest of us, Sense + smartplug = upside.

1 Like

If your thinking along the lines that it will help Sense get a better detection of the device, it won’t.
If it were me, I wouldn’t use a smart plug on a partially detected device.
If your getting a bunch of notifications if a device is turning on and off a lot during a cycle, that normal.
I’ve requested they change timing so an off alert won’t be triggered for a few seconds so if it’s going to come back on, it will be seen as a single cycle.

Wow, I didn’t know that there is a 20 smart outlet limit! I already have 16, and have 4 more HS110 on the way. Good thing I didn’t order any more!

That’s how my solar monitor system works - the signals are sent via the power line (PLC) to the controller, which interfaces with a remote server. I still find Sense’s solar quite useful though, because it’s much more granular and high frequency. It’s also the power feeding into the grid, which is about 4% lower than what my inverters report due to DC-AC conversion loss.

1 Like

Why wouldn’t you use a smart plug on a partially detected device though? Wouldn’t you want accurate power reporting for that device?

Is there a limit to the number of smart plugs I can connect to Sense?
The number of smart plugs is limited primarily by Wi-Fi network bandwidth. Typical Sense users can use about 20 smart plugs without issue. Note that each used plug of the TP-Link HS300 smart strip counts as 1 smart plug.

1 Like

The smart plug would likely make it where the detection did not improve. It would be fully detected using th plug but not in the same way as the plug would be the actual detection

I see. I have 10 HS110 and 1 HS300, and have 4 more HS110 being delivered today. So that sounds like I’m OK.

1 Like

My thinking is that it’s been months and the detection hasn’t gotten better. That’s why I’m wondering if it will ever get better, or if I should just bite the bullet and put them on smart plugs.

That’s a tough one.
If you have hope then don’t use the plug.
If you’ve given up on it then go ahead and use it.

I personally don’t use a smart plug if there is the slightest chance of a good detection. It’s all personal preference