Sense Blog

How the Sense Home Energy Monitor Works

With the Sense Home Energy Monitor, you can track your energy usage in real-time down to the sub-second, identify energy hogs in your home and even set notifications to track the use of specific devices. How does Sense do all this? It all starts with the small orange box that is the Sense monitor.

The Sense monitor is the brains of the operation. It reads signals from your electrical panel, analyzes subtle changes, and sends energy data to your smartphone so that everything you need to know about your home energy use is in your pocket.

From the Grid to Your Monitor

Installation (which should be done by an electrician) is pretty straightforward and typically takes less than 30 minutes. Two current sensors snap around the mains in your electrical panel and another two wires connect Sense to a 240V breaker. The sensors take advantage of the relationship between electricity and magnetism (yay physics!) to non-intrusively measure the current, while the voltage is measured through the breaker wires that supply the monitor with power.

Sense home energy monitor in panel

Once the monitor is installed, it begins reading data at 1 MHz, meaning it samples a million data points per second. This may seem like a lot, and frankly, it is. But it’s necessary to be able to deliver accurate energy monitoring, device detection, and notification functionality. As this data is read from your electrical system, it is simultaneously processed onboard the monitor. Not doing all the processing in the cloud reduces the amount of data that needs to be transmitted and thus lowers the bandwidth usage of Sense.

Device Detection

The cloud is where the magic happens. It’s there that the machine learning algorithms our data science team have developed, analyze the data from the monitor and look for individual devices in your home’s electrical signals. Once the algorithms identify a signal as an individual device, a model is automatically developed to track that device within the home. The model is sent to the monitor so that device monitoring can be handled locally while the servers continue their analysis. Working together, the monitor and servers identify devices in the home and deliver real-time energy data to the client (that’s your phone or computer).

Sense Electrical Signals

The Apps

With such a long journey, you might think that the data would take a little while to reach your phone, but within a split second, it’s there to be viewed on the power meter. The Sense app allows you to view real-time energy data, historical trends in your consumption, and track the behavior of individual devices in your home with notifications. And it all starts with the unassuming orange box tucked away in your electrical panel.