With Smart Plugs, what becomes of Always On

Based on some other threads about Always On power now that we have Smart Plug integrations…

My question is:
What does everyone expect from Always On now that we can identify some of that Always On power.

Always On historically is “the low water mark”. Now that we have a way to identify Always On devices, do we need a new way to view Always On? Is it the lower water mark? Or only the low water mark of unidentified power, which means it isn’t actually all of the Always on power.

If we can identify Always On power, does that mean that Always On should go down? It is still Always on, but it is just identified. If we leave it as it is now, where the always on Bubble contains the always on number, but the smart plug which is catching some of the Always On power, we get bubbles that don’t add up to actual consumption because things are effectively counted twice. Do we now need more bubbles? Always On (Unidentified) and then an Always On Bubble per smart plug if Sense is able to calculate a lower water mark per plug. Then an additional bubble for the variable power from that smart plug above and beyond what it has detected as the lower water mark per plug?

Obviously its personal preference, but I sort of feel that no matter what, I always want “Always On” to represent the lower water mark for the entire house. Regardless of if I know what some of that always on power is. Otherwise I don’t have a quick way to look at that low water mark. The “two bubbles” idea above will just get clunky and I don’t actually like it, but was just tossing it out there as an idea.
I’m now more thinking that we need an Always on “bubble” for the bubble display. But then under Usage, we have two “Always On”'s lines. One for identified and one for Unidentified usage. For visual representation, we can see both. But for data export, and calculation purposes, it only adds the “Unidentified” always on when summing usage.

I know that it means that on the bubble display screen that you can’t add up the power on all the bubbles and expect it to match the live usage, but that sort of happens already because Always On is not live updating.

I think i’m talking in circles, but wanted to get a conversation going about it as I think its much more complicated from a UI/UX and data analysis perspective than it seems.


I think your suggestion of always on bubble and the two lines for always on usage is an elegant and simple solution. Works well for me.

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In my mind, Always On is important because it represents all the unidentified usage in the house that never goes away. Once identified, via smartplug or Sense machine learning, that component should be removed. But it’s a tricky number because it represents a long term (relatively) value, being compared to other instantaneous values in the bubbles or power meter. Plus it’s part of the arithmetic used to compute the instantaneous value Other. My sense (no pun intended) is that Always on should be the low water mark (min) for 24hours (or whatever), perhaps on a sliding window, of Total Usage minus all identified devices (smartplug and Sense).

I’m not so eager to see another Always On to be introduced per smartplug. I prefer the notion of “idle” vs “active” that Sense has already introduced for smartplug devices, though I think that that may need some fine tuning. And eventually we may even need to see more power “modes” for a single device (ex. a rangetop with a high, med, low and simmer setting)


I’m not sold on another “Always On” either, but I don’t know that the current implementation of idle really works either. Partially because if how it currently calculates idle, but also because there isn’t a place to view that idle in a summed way.

Thats why I’m stuck on the concept of always on and how to view it. I think part of the problem is who “knows” that it is Always On power. I know that I plugged a power strip with network gear into a plug, so that “device” contains Always On. But does Sense know? In either case if it knows or doesn’t, how should that be displayed.

If I’m understanding the general forums wish that smart plugs with Always On contents should be subtracted from the Always On bubble / statistics, then I think it would look something like the below?

An example:

Always on is say 500w.
2 smart plugs are added and each one contains 100w of always on sources in addition to other power that isn’t always on.

So now at a moment in time I look at my Bubble Screen, or my Devices:
Always on would now show as 300w
Plug 1 shows 100w because it only contains an Always On. This plug never goes to idle because it does not alter its usage
Plug 2 might show 220w because it has 100w of always on stuff (DVR, Apple TV) , and an extra 120w of variable power (lets say a plasma tv)

If I want to know what my Always On is, or my “low water mark”, how do I get that information? I can look at the usage history of Plug 1 and see its always at 100w, so I know “thats always on”.
But with plug 2… looking at usage won’t tell me its always on value.
I can look at its stats and see its Average Usage, but that isn’t the same as its Always On.

It is looking at that stats screen that makes me think of adding the “per device” Always on that can then be summed up on another screen somehow. Maybe its just me, but I still want to know what the “low water mark” is for my house. Whether its called Always On, or something else, I feel there still needs to be a summation somewhere. Because really, Always On is no longer Always On as soon as you start taking things that are Always On out of it. It becomes Always On**
**Items that are Always On in your house but not yet identified.

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Here’s my thought on what I’d like to see for this example.

On the Bubble screen: The Always On bubble shows the “low water mark” of the whole house (so 500w), but the Always On bubble shows as a divided pie chart with a slice for each identified source and a slice for unidentified (so the pie would be divided into a 100w slice for Plug 1, a 100w slice for Plug 2, and a 300w bigger slice for unidentified always on, and the whole circle sized appropriately for a 500w total draw). The individual plugs would only show a bubble when they were drawing beyond their idle state (so no bubble for Plug 1, and a 120w bubble for Plug 2’s draw beyond idle). In this way, the bubbles all add up to the total draw of the house (rather than the double-counting that appears to be happening now).


On the Devices Screen: Always On shows as the whole house low-water mark, and then directly below, an indented list of how the Always On is divided up. So something like the following:

Always On . . . . . . . . . . . . 500w
. . . . . Plug 1 . . . . . . 100w
. . . . . Plug 2 . . . . . . 100w
. . . . . Unidentified . . 300w
Plug 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120w

Some advantages of this approach (in my view): (1) you can still see the household low-water mark for Always On (a useful thing to know), yet also see how it is divided up; (2) the total of all bubbles add up to the total house draw (as opposed to the double-counting of always on in the Always On bubble and individual smart plug bubbles that seems to be happening now); (3) it reduces the proliferation of bubbles if you connect lots of power strips to smart plugs (additional bubbles only appear when things are turned on, not for every smart plug which has just “idle” draw).


Every device shown below is plugged into a HS110 except for Always On. Numbers don’t make sense…

What if the always on value wasn’t represented as a bubble, but instead a metric? Maybe centered between solar and house wattage. You can then make the statement that all bubbles are real-time and double-counting it won’t be an issue as the metric is standalone.

You could then label (or color code) the bubbles that have an always on state. The existing “always on” and “other” bubbles could be repurposed as “unknown” with an “always on” color or tag, and “unknown” without any tag. Those will then all be live numbers and they would total properly with all the other bubbles.

This could help gamify the interface encouraging us to shrink both the “unknown” bubbles and always on number.

Sounds simple on page of course, but wanted to toss out a different angle to ponder.


I Like the distinct color idea for always on, coupled with the ability for us folks that have installed HS110s for Always on devices to have a toggle in setup to indicate this device is always on as an option.


I like having an always on bubble and see all of these workarounds as half measures. All that needs to happen is for always-on to subtract any always-on HS110 power. Let’s not overcomplicate this and wait for an answer from the Sense team.


Except its not that simple. Not all power on a smart plug is Always on power. So you can’t just subtract it. I am eager to hear from the Sense Team, but their radio silence on this thread and the other thread where double counting was brought up makes me think that they are thinking about this and don’t have an answer ready yet.

I started this thread to see what us users thought. Many of the other topics on this forums end up with people talking about what they wish Sense did better or differently. Since the beta tests only seem to run for about a week or two tops, I was hoping that by starting a conversation, maybe we could help Sense start thinking about it now, vs them spending time and effort programming something that then people are unhappy with.
Granted, this is a community forums, so they can choose to ignore it all anyway, but no harm in some conversation, but some free thinking can’t hurt.

I think @senseinaz is suggesting that each smartplug needs to have the always on calculation process run against its load profile in the same way that the process is run against the monitor-measured load profile. Then this value needs to be stored for each individual smartplug and the sum subtracted from the monitor-measured always on value. This would remove the double-counting problem (for the most part…) and make sense from a user perspective, at least in my mind.

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Ben please re-read my post. Only smart plugs that account for always on power should be subtracted to avoid double counting. This topic is also one that just recently came up and most discussion has taken place over a long holiday weekend so the Sense team hasn’t had much time to react, please have some patience.

Agreed - I would like to see Sense double check on what’s up with some of these situations since I see my Always On with smartplugs as working just fine. Perhaps share a bit more on how Always On with smartplugs is determined. Plus I would like to see Sense make smartplug Idle detection work as intended, before we start speccing new capabilities.


@senseinaz Sorry. I understood what you meant, but I don’t think that answer the question of what does Always On become.

@kevin1, I didn’t realize that Always On was calculating correctly for you with your plugs, so I guess they do have something doing the math, just not working for everyone.

Assuming that Sense does the math correctly and subtracts always on power that has been detected in a smart plug from the always on bubble… what does that mean Always On is? Kevin, you said that you still like to see the “low water mark” but now if we are subtracting detected always on, the bubble isn’t the lower water mark. Its part of it, but it means adding other UI to give us the rest of the low water marks from each detected plug, which was part of the reason for the topic. How would one want to see that other data.

Also, Keivn, what are you hoping idle will do or what isn’t it doing. Is it just the 50% usage point that makes it not work for you currently, or is it doing other things incorrectly.
In some ways i’m wondering if Idle and Always On could be similar? Idle is the low water mark for the plug. Once it goes above that lower water mark, it is no longer idle.

In any case, I’ll sit tight and wait for @RyanAtSense’s updates.

The way I see it, once you are able to identify, quantify and track a device/outlet strip, it’s no longer part of the amorphous Always On of the house. I guess I have a device-first philosophy - I want to see power data categorized by device first. Always On and Idle are secondary traits, though they are extremely helpful in accounting for and reducing your power as well. We may get to a point where we might want to be able to categorize via both tags (device, active vs. idle).

As for Idle, Sense seems to be somewhat inconsistent when finding idle, even when the 50% rule is followed (though there might be other secret rules). Examples below:

Sense found “idle” in these three waveforms:
Washing Machine

Playroom Smartplug - League of Legends Gaming computer on and off

Family Room - AV system on and off

But NOT in these four:

Office - removing and adding my laptop

Sonos - blaring the speakers at 50W then back to off.

Toto bidet - the spikes are the spray washer…

Recirc pump with off timer…

ps: Note occasional dropouts from smartplugs as well. Most of those do NOT show up in my Power Meter, though the longer ones are more likely to - in some cases firmware updates.

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@senseinaz just to clarify, you prefer to have the “always on” bubble shrink as you extract out any HS110 power for devices that are also always-on? That would fix the double counting issue (main topic), leaving the always-on bubble inaccurate, which is something I think everyone here agrees is a valuable metric to have.

To keep that metric relevant, they would need to rethink how always-on is presented so it accurately represents all devices whether they be unknown, detected by signature, or identified through 3rd party integration.

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We’ve been doing a lot of digging into this.

The recent smart plug integration does indeed complicate Always On and we’re working on ways to better incorporate them together. That work is ongoing and your ideas in this thread are incredibly helpful. They’re definitely giving us a lot to think about as we consider what Always On looks like going forward.

In the meantime, some of the issues being experienced (i.e., the double counting and smart plug devices not being reflected in the Always On number) seem to be the result of specific bugs and we’re working to solve those in the short term. But yes, the functionality with smart plugs should be that if they’re actual 24/7 Always On devices, they will be subtracted from the Always On number. Keep in mind that the Always On number is an average over a period of time and thus will not immediately reflect your smart plug devices, but they should be included in the subsequent calculation.

I’ll post more as I know more. Thanks for the patience and for the great feedback.


Here you can see the drop in my always on when I put HS-110’s on 3 of my always on areas of the house. It dropped a considerable amount but it did take a few days, it stayed close to the same until we had 20+ people over for Thanksgiving and it jumped up, since then it has slowly dropped. I have made no changes to those 3 plugs.


I have been wondering why some users’ always on bubbles shrink as expected when always on smartplug loads are added, others don’t, and some (like mine) shrink some but not by the correct amount. I have a feeling that the algorithm that determines the amount of always on attributable to each smartplug is being fooled by momentary data dropouts (a result of packet loss on the network or other transient conditions) into thinking that the always on value for that plug is actually 0. Error correction or sanity checking the input data might be helpful here, if that’s indeed what’s going on.


We’re working on some ideas to get the math right, but will also keep this in mind. Thanks for the suggestion!