After owning for several months, I wanted to share my Sense Flex Energy Monitor Review.
Opening the electric bill every month became a painful chore. Regardless of what I did, which included keeping unnecessary lights turned off, shades closed in summer, intelligent thermostats, still it seemed my electricity was through the roof.
Consequently, that did not yield the results I was hoping for with regards to savings. I did some quick research on the internet and became aware of an innovative electronic gadget available to me. Most of my research still left me wondering Does Sense Energy Monitor Work?
They say knowledge is power, and I was looking to acquire more knowledge on the source that uses so much power in my home. That search leads me to the Sense Energy Monitor.
What is it?
Sense Home Energy Monitor gives you real-time information regarding your electrical consumption. Sense monitoring takes advantage of the fact that every electrical device has its unique signature.
When you turn on an electrical device in your home, the device will capture the signature then Sense will analyze and compares against a database. A simplistic overview, I know, but it is a lot harder than it sounds. False or duplicate identification of devices does occur and will be annoying at the beginning.
The process to analyze the unique signature is not a fast process. It was three days before the app identified its first appliance, the refrigerator. Then, slowly more loads came into the app.
Sense Monitor App gives you the ability to confirm the detected electric load based on the probability it has the right one.
The Sense Energy Monitor will take that information and display it using interactive bubbles in an app. In addition, one can see in real-time the wattage your whole home is drawing from the grid. Sense Monitor offers CT a separate addon or part of their Flex package to monitor solar production. I added solar after the initial purchase, but it was easy to add to my existing unit.
Install to Electric Breaker Panel
I am not an electrician but to install Sense requires the removal of the breaker panel cover. The entire household wiring runs to the individual breaker for the dryer, water heater, and lights with the panel off.
I have a healthy respect for electricity. If you do not know the difference between a Phillips or flat-head screwdriver, get some help. It is not a difficult task for most DIY’ers.
The instructions are straightforward, and support from Sense is excellent from my experience. The one thing I’ve read is to make sure the CT clamps fit securely around main power leads from utility connect.
It can get cramped in some breaker panels. Also, the Sense capture box and CTs installs on the main breaker panel, not sub-panels downstream. All data gets transmitted via WIFI, so the main breaker panel needs a decent signal from the wireless router.
Detecting Home Electrical Consumption
Once I had the app downloaded on my phone and created a free account, I was good to go. Sense has what I call a bake in time before identifying loads from the grid. The process took at least 4-5 days before notifications showed on the app. Once an electrical load is detected, you will receive a notification on your phone. For example, Sense has detected a dryer. You confirm the event, and the load will show up in-app.
In some cases, it was spot on in detection. My wife got annoyed with me asking her if she turned a light on or ran the dishwasher. It is all part of the process to see the different loads of electricity consumed.
The detection is OK. But not great. Sometimes. It would detect but then never show up again. The summary at the end of the day will assess how much each appliance usage in electricity. There’s also a real-time graph that will show your current energy usage.
How To Use This Data to Trim Electric Consumption
Now that you have all this data. How can it help you save on electricity? You can combine the Sense home monitoring with smart plugs from Wemo and Kasa. The Sense Energy Monitor will essentially speed up identifying the load source for the outlet plug.
I noticed a spike of 500 watts every 30 minutes all day. I soon realized, with the help of Sense my water cooler’s hot water switch was on. Over 24 hours, it was almost 10 kwh a day.
Another example includes phantom loads such as TV, chargers, nightlights, and other electronics. With Sense monitoring and smart plugs, I can get an idea of energy consumption.
In the smart plug app, it’s possible to schedule these plugs off when not using. I have a smart plug on the big screen TV to turn off overnight and most of the day.
It may not seem like a lot, but I can add up over months and years to keep a status light-lit. If your TVs have an energy savings mode, consider using it.
Another energy hog I found using Sense was my 55-gallon electric water heater. It was getting old and combined that with our hard water, it was becoming extremely inefficient.
I could replace the unit with an efficient Energy Star rated model before going out ultimately and leaving us without hot water.
Is Sense Home Energy Monitor worth the money? In my case, yes, for a couple of reasons. Sense provides helpful insight into my home’s energy consumption.
I was able to take tangible actions to curb usage and verify via my electric bill’s usage comparisons to years past. In addition, I caught a faulty water heater in time before going out.
Here is a list of the pros and cons of the Sense Monitoring system based on my real-world usage.
- Valuable insight into electrical usage in the home
- Easy install for DIY or professional
- Free data storage via an app from Sense Energy Monitor
- Keep tabs on critical loads such as sump or well pumps, fridges, or heaters.
- High upfront cost
- Machine learning not consistently accurate.
- Identifying household loads takes patients and time.
- It uses “always on” as a catch-all for loads that Sense can’t identify.