Smart Plugs - reducing Always on & Other

Can I assume more of the devices I put on any of the Sense recommended smart plugs the more it will reduce both Always On & Other (depending on where Sense is aggregating it currently)?

Also - I noticed there is a limit of 20 smart plugs. Is there any consideration of extending this limit?

Oh - and last but not least. I assume there’s no support for unrecognized 240v circuits other than flex which doesn’t work for me since those 240v circuits are off of a subpanel that doesn’t have sense on it :wink:

Good questions:

  • Yup, smart plugs help reduce Other. Other = Total Usage - Always On - all detected devices that are on. So as you add more detected devices via smart plugs, Other will go down. The Always On part is a little trickier. Sense will calculate the Always On part of every device on a smart plug and itemize in the Always On device, so Always On doesn’t really reduce, but the Unknown Always On listed under the Always On “device” shrinks. Unless/until Sense says otherwise I also believe that smart plugs introduce some double counting of Always On - Always On is calculated at the house level, but devices on smart plugs include both dynamic power and always on power, unlike native detections which never see the always on power of a device. This means the always on from smart plug device is likely seen in both Always On and in the device, so Other might end up a little too small due to double counting of always on from devices on smart plugs.

  • The limit is sort of a guideline - I think a number of us have more than 20. But I would also say if you do a little earlier analysis using a couple of Roamer smart plugs before you more fully instrument your house with smart plugs, you might need less than you think. I have about 32 in my house, but probably only need about 20 to get near the same level of accuracy. There are couple cases where you can really consolidate or avoid using smart plugs:

    • For a bunch of devices that are always used together and you are unlikely to turn off. I put all my networking stuff - modem / router / main switch / a couple bridges / cable amplifiers on an 6 outlet HS300. If I had to do again, I would just use a dumb power strip attached to a single smart plug.
    • Many pieces of home electronics are mainly Always On. Those you just need to measure once and add manually to the Always Ons on itemization.
  • Flex is pretty much the main way to measure 240V usage. There are some folks here that have used other types of sensors from Shelly EMs to Tesla EV internal charging measurements to backfeed Sense using SenseLink software that emulates how a Kasa smart plug sends the data too the Sense monitor. One other option might be to use the Flex on the breaker in your main, that runs to the sub panel. I do that today.

Does using flex on the feed to a subpanel increase the likelihood of detection of the devices off that panel or does it simply calve off the total consumption for that sub-panel?

I don’t think it will help or hurt detection of devices on the subpanel - Sense just watches the mains. But it will reduce your Other by segregating off the sub-panel as a device. Best if you have a several similar function devices on the subpanel. For instance, my subpanel is all floor heating loops.

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From what I gather Sense treats the add on CT’s much like a smart plug in that Sense does not use them to help with device detection.
The flex sensors (add on CT’s) are great if you need to monitor a single 240 load, 2 separate hardwired devices/circuits, or something with a higher amperage than integrated smart plugs can handle. I currently use mine for my pool pump in the summer though I will be swapping them to my VS heat pump once it’s installed.

As far as trying to monitor a 240v load off a subpanel only if it’s close enough to the main unit. Sense offers a 40’ extension cable. One of the reasons why I will be running the new wiring when installing my new heat pump to my main panel instead of a closer subpanel.

I currently have 35 TP-link smart plugs (3 Kaza HS300 power strips that count as 6 each and a mix of individual plugs) and 3 Wiser integrations. The number of smart plugs is more of a suggested limit than an absolute. It really depends on your network capacity. I do think an excessive number like what I have might be a burden on the Sense unit itself, though there is no way of knowing the units load utilization so I can’t really say with any certainty one way or another, though I see no obvious ill effects.


A post was split to a new topic: What Percentage of House Usage is Usually Detected?

I have some Samsung Smartthings plugs and I have a few other switches/outlets that are not Samsung but are z-wave and connect to my Samsung Smartthings Hub.

Can I connect my Sense to my Smartthings Zwave network? Will this do anything useful for me? For example, Sense is reading the main power feed, and these will be reading a specific plug. How does this information get integrated?

@ta4 , good questions. Answers in reverse order:

  • The Sense Monitor uses WiFi broadcasts to detect and then solicit data from Kasa and WeMo power detecting smart plugs on the same subnet as the Sense monitor. If you want more information on the exact protocol, there is a fair amount of info floating around on this community forum.
  • You can’t connect your Sense directly to Smartthings - there’s no direct integration. On the other hand, Home Assistant, an open source home automation hub has an integration with Sense which lets you forward power data collected by Home Assistant (via Wave, Zigbee, EV charger, etc.) onto Sense by emulating a Kasa smart plug reporting the data.

While I would like to know how much power my house is drawing, there is the small matter of effort and money involved.

I was hoping the Sense monitor would get most of the data for me but it looks like that is not going to work. It’s identified 12 devices in my house that in total draw 25% of my power.

I was thinking I could use a smart plug per device I want to monitor. However, the price of these adds up. Don’t ask why, but I have four fridges/freezers. Assume I put a power monitor on them and could see what they are drawing, what could I usefully do with this information? It’s not like I can turn off my refrigerator.

The big power draws are my hot water heater (sense discovered it), my pool pump (sense has not discovered it), my heating (sense has partially discovered it), my air conditioning (not summer yet so don’t know), etc.

I guess I would be happy if I could measure how much energy each device uses that I can control the usage of. I could turn down the heat for example. Or change the water temp. Or turn off things I don’t need.

Another thing that would be helpful is reducing the Always On and Other categories. Will smart plugs actually help with this? If so, which smart plugs are inexpensive and effective?

What are other people doing?

@ta4 , a few quick thoughts:

  • Your right - continuous monitoring of device power usage is much more valuable when the info are actionable. Devices that you are going to just let run, like your fridges, might benefit from a static one-time-only measurement, which can be accomplished with a Roamer smart plug.
  • I’m a big fan of using one or two Roamer smart plugs before you look at more widespread usage. You can learn a lot (and save a lot) by putting every plug-in device on your house on a Sense-compatible smart plug for 48-hours.
  • Sense will give you:
    • The Always On power usage for each device - so you can manually itemize in the Always On list.
    • Good idea of the average power usage for devices that are essentially static (your fridges) - so you can mentally subtract from Other
    • A view of the dynamic swing in power usage as devices cycle or are used, then turned off - so you can decide whether this devices deserves a smart plug. Devices on a smart plug will automatically be subtracted from Other and will have the Always On automatically added to the itemized list.
  • Smart plugs aren’t all that expensive if you catch them on special - I saw 4-packs of the Kasa EP25s for slightly more than 20$ (5$ each) on Amazon a couple weeks ago. Just don’t accidentally buy non-Sense-compatible smart plugs, because Amazon has a bad habit of recommending non-compatible and non-power-metering smart plugs when you search for the Sense-compatible ones.
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The Kasa energy monitoring smart plugs go for around $10 a piece. The HS300 about $45 on Amazon. I wouldn’t pay much more, sometimes you can find them a little less. Best Buy, Target & Amazon usually have the best deals as they run sales/deals on them every couple weeks.

I have my kitchen fridge, upright Freezer, wine fridge, bar/beverage fridge & a portable ice maker on plugs.
Putting your fridges on a plug allows you to keep an eye on how much power they are individually using. You can set up notifications to alert you if one of the fridges hasn’t turned on in a given amount of time (fridge failure, breaker trip, gfci outlet trip, unplugged, etc…), you can set up alerts if they have been running (above whatever you set as the standby wattage) for a given amount of time (fridge failure, door left open, bad door seal, needs to be manually defrosted, etc…).
Using a lot of power might be time to upgrade to a more efficient model or stop opening the door so much.

But the one thing these smart plugs will do is anything connected to the plug will be it’s own device in Sense an no longer lumped into other. This will make it a lot easier to start narrowing down the things in your house you can control.

Always on is tricky and confusing. If what’s connected the to plug has an always on value that value will still be included in the always on bubble and the plugs bubble but the always on wattage will be shown as an always on device and lower your always on estimated unknown. Only the always on wattage will be included in always on not the entire wattage of the plug.
For an example, My kitchen fridge has an always on wattage of 2w (circuit board, sensors, etc…) shown here:

The device screen for my Kitchen Fridge Plug looks like any other device.
When running it uses about 110w and the bubble looks like this :

My other bubble rarely appears, not for long and not much wattage as I have so many things on smart plugs.
My always on is still pretty high as you can see right now it’s about 425 with 218w known and estimated unknown is about 207w. Knowing that 218w consists of things that need to always be be or I want on leaves me with about 207w (because I have no other bubble) of usage I’m unsure about.
The plugs provide much better detailed visual insight into my usage. Trying to do the math when the wattage (total usage) is constantly changing is way to much effort than I’m willing to put in. If you have a simple home with not much plugged in, running, turning on and off the math would be a lot easier. For me the plugs make it much much easier, I don’t need to put in much effort at all into figuring out the knowns or unknowns at at given point in time in an ever changing environment.

Pool Pump’s are tricky for Sense, they typically run for many hr’s at a time. If it’s variable speed Sense will probably never detect it. Most pool pumps either use to much wattage or are 240v making them incompatible with smart plugs. I monitor my pool pump with an add on CT. I’m going to repurpose the CT as I’m in NY so my pool is only open a couple months of the year.


BTW, how did you put a URL in your post? When I tried a link to Amazon, the system wouldn’t allow me to post a link.

Guys, this has been super helpful! I looked on Amazon just now and see these, Kasa mini 4-pack. But I also see these on the same page, Apple Home Kit 4-pack.

I assume that I can buy the mini 4-pack and ignore the Apple kit. Is that right?

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@ta4, this is where you need to read carefully on Amazon, instead of relying on their recommendations.

The Apple HomeKit model is the Sense-compatible EP25P4 4-Pack

The Non-Apple model is NOT COMPATIBLE WITH Sense - It’s an EP103P4 4-Pack !

Amazon treats them like they are the same, except for the Apple HomeKit. But the EP103 does NOT MEASURE POWER.

Hence my warning about reading the Amazon Description for exact Model #'s


Doh! I’m glad I asked! I saw that you had mentioned it was tricky but I didn’t grok exactly what you meant. Now I do. Thanks for the detailed explanation!

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I just cut and paste links. It doesn’t seem like it works as a link in the edit/ draft screen but it will show in the preview screen and after you post the post.

Hi Guys,

Happily Amazon was selling the EP25s for $40/4 so I bought a bunch and installed them. This was super helpful in reducing my Other and Always On.

Question for you: after putting everything I can think of that draws material power on a smart plug, I have three “fridges” that Sense had previously identified, but which I was unable to confirm as fridges, left as “unknowns” for me. Any suggestions on what types of devices look like fridges to Sense, but aren’t? Is there a convenient way to see when a device was on on a daily basis? Or do I have to click through the device page a day at a time?

At the moment I have one big Other, my variable speed pool pump. Its drawing like 350 watts for about 8 hours a day during the winter here in LA. Summer will be a different story as you have to run it longer.

Things Sense detects as Fridges are likely 120V AC motors within some kind AI determined range and inductive signature. You can use the Device Timeline, at the bottom of the device in question’s tab, to see the schedule of ons/off over the past couple days. Just be aware that sometimes Sense collapses a series of short on/off into single pair of on/off, and sometimes it doesn’t.

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