Sense Blog

Stay on track when the power goes out during fall and winter storms

It’s hurricane and blizzard season. Here’s how to keep track when the power goes out.

As climate change warms the planet’s oceans, storms are growing bigger, stronger and more destructive. The storm season now stretches from spring to winter, with tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards blowing down trees and power lines across the country, leaving homes in the dark for hours or days.

To keep essential appliances working, standby generators can restore at least part of your home’s electricity. With the debut of new Flex add-on sensors for the Sense Home Energy Monitor, you can track your standby generator to check on whether it’s turned on (or off), monitor how long it’s running and find out how much energy your home is using while on

generator power. When you’re away from home, an alert in the Sense app will tell you if the generator has switched on.

Here are some facts to know about using Flex add-on sensors with Sense to track your generator.

• Flex add-on sensors are plugged into the middle port in the Sense home energy monitor.

• An electrician should handle the installation because it requires opening the electrical cabinet and exposing the live mains. If your electrician is installing your generator or a Sense Home Energy Monitor, it will be easy for them to install the Flex sensors at the same time. (For more details, check out the Sense installation guide.)

• You can add Flex sensors if your generator is powering the main panel or a sub-panel. Flex sensors don’t currently support setups where the generator feeds directly into a breaker in the electrical panel.

• You must have a standby generator with an automatic or manual transfer switch in order to monitor your generator using Sense. See supported configurations in our install guide here, and if you have questions about compatibility, reach out to Sense customer support.

• When you install Flex add-on sensors with your generator, be sure to set a notification in the Sense app in the Settings menu, then in Notifications, to alert you when the generator turns on or off. You’re likely to know if the power is out when you’re home, but a Sense notification can alert you when you’re away from home.

• If you don’t have a standby generator already, do your research before choosing and installing one. If you live in an area that experiences power outages, don’t wait until the power goes out. Prepare in advance. Use the Sense Home Energy Monitor to figure out how much electricity you need to keep essential appliances working in your home. With this data, you can decide on the size and type of generator you’ll purchase.

• Flex add-on sensors give you additional choices. Instead of tracking a standby generator, you can install Flex sensors to track a dedicated circuit, a solar installation or a 400A panel.

Once you get a standby generator and install it with Sense and Flex add-on sensors, follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a deadly risk while operating home generators. The good news is you can now choose a generator with automatic shutoff. A built-in carbon monoxide sensor turns off the engine if carbon monoxide gas builds up to dangerous levels.

With some advance planning, the lights will stay on in your home no matter how bad the weather gets.