Installing a Sense Energy Monitor
In this project I’m going to show you how to monitor your home’s energy usage by installing a Sense Home Energy Monitoring Device that you can monitor right from your phone or tablet. This device allows you to view your home’s energy usage in real-time on your phone. With that information you can determine which areas of your home to focus on improving.
Disclosure: This video and article contains an unpaid product integration by Sense. All views and opinions expressed herein are my own.
One of the things I’m very passionate about is finding ways to make my home more energy efficient. A few months ago I learned about a product called Sense. Sense is an energy monitoring device that installs into your breaker panel and allows you to see how much power each device in your home uses. You can use that information to make more energy efficient improvements to your home.
I’d like to remind you that I am not a licensed electrician. If at any point you are not comfortable tackling this project on your own, please reach out to an electrician that can help you with the installation. This is designed to be a guide to show you how it can be done, but does not replace the expertise or knowledge of a licensed electrician.
Installing the Device:
The first step to installing this device is unpacking the box and taking a look at all the components. The package contains with a device monitor, an antenna, 2 sensor clips, a power cable, and an optional mounting bracket.
Next you’ll have to get access to your main breaker panel, and shut the power off. Remove the cover panel and have a look at your breaker setup. This device requires that it be wired into a dual pole 220v breaker which is not included in the kit so if you don’t have one available that you can tap into, you’ll have to buy one that matches your panel. If you do need to purchase a breaker, you’ll also have to verify that your breaker panel has space available to install it.
Installing the Antenna
Once you’ve verified you have space available for the install, remove a knock out from the panel box and install the antenna into the hole. From there you can connect the antenna to the device monitor itself. If you don’t have room inside the panel, you can use the optional monitor bracket to install it outside the panel.
Wiring the Device
Install your new breaker if you need to or connect the wiring to your existing breaker. The black and red wires connect to the breaker itself, and the white wire attaches to the neutral bar in your panel.
Connecting the Service Clips
Now this is where things get dangerous if you’re not familiar with your panel box. You’ll need to connect the current sensor clips around the service legs coming into your panel. These 2 wires ARE ALWAYS LIVE even if your panel box is shut off. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TOUCH THEM. In my case, these wires are hidden underneath the meter on the panel which is secured by the power company with a lock which I didn’t have a key for. So I called my local power company and asked them to come out and shut off the power and remove the lock so that I could access those wires. Since they shut the power service off to the house, there was no danger of me being shocked when I connected the clips. Once I had them installed, they replaced the meter and turned the power back on.
Once I had the wiring all connected, I removed the necessary knockouts on the cover of my breaker panel, reinstalled it, and turned the main power back on at the breaker. From there, the device fires up and starts it’s process.
Download and Set Up the App
Next I downloaded the Sense App on my phone, and began the setup process. It connects via WiFi and prompts you to setup your device. Once logged in, it takes a couple days to calibrate and then it starts the process of identifying devices around your home.
The device shows exact energy usage in real-time and starts to identify different devices around your home automatically. It has a smart learning algorithm that can determine which devices are which and starts to label them around your home. You can verify or change the name of the device right in the app. As more homes connect to the app, it continues to learn and define new devices.
You can go around and flip devices on and off and see the effect on your energy usage in real-time. And you can set goals with notifications to keep your energy consumption down, see which devices are using the highest percentage of power, get pretty accurate estimates on your energy bills by inputting your typical costs. They also offer a solar option which will tell you how much energy your solar panels are producing and how much they are offsetting your energy bill if you have solar panels.
Overall, this is a really cool device. It’s helped me realize how inefficient my home is when it comes to heating and air conditioning. I didn’t realize how many hours those devices run on a daily basis which drastically affects my utility bill. Moving forward I’ll be taking that information to continue to invest in ways to offset that energy usage.
I think a device like this can definitely be useful for someone like myself who owns an older, fixer upper that is looking to improve its efficiency. The Sense device can help tell you where your energy and thus where your money is going. This can help you prioritize where you focus your remodel efforts. And over time, this could save you a lot of money.
I hope you guys enjoyed this project. I’d like to thank the Sense team for sending over this device and allowing me to test it out.
Check out some of my other home energy & electrical tutorials: