I bought a Sense Monitor.  

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I am thrilled to see technology that uses a non-invasive method to monitor our home’s power usage than figures out what device is using what power.  I have this thought it would be most excellent to build one as a DIY project….As their product page notes: “Over the next few weeks, Sense will start automatically identifying devices, reveal trends in your power use, and keep getting smarter!”  OOH – I just had to have one.

Thanks To Those That Went Before

  • Ken at Home Depot.  Ken is a major reason to shop at Home Depot over Amazon.  Ken is a retired mega-electrician-manager (truly exceptional) who works at my Home Depot most mornings.  Here is just one of the many examples of why I am a HUGE fan of Ken’s.  Which makes me a HUGE fan of Home Depot.  The Sense installation requires a 2 pole breaker.  Easy enough to Google and figure out about 2 pole breakers.  Easy enough to check in my breaker box and make room for one.  BUT…even after carefully measuring the dimension of the 1 pole breakers, I still would have not know they were QOs. After all, there is no marking on them and until I knew about QO’s I didn’t know to Google QO.  If I did, I would have gotten this Square D Wikipedia page and enlightenment would follow.  Prior to going to Home Depot, I removed a 1 pole breaker from our box.  (aside – silly me – I thought no devices were using this circuit.  Imagine my surprise when I open the refrigerator and it’s power is off…ooopssss….now the time crunch began or my left overs were going to go bad.  Not happening on my watch!).  I bumble my way to the Home Depot electronics aisle, truly delighted to see Ken (another aside – Ken is a really nice person although he wasn’t as enthusiastic to see me.  Perhaps he was being professional? 🙂 ).  I show Ken the 1-Pole switch.  Ken looks at it and starts walking to this bin I hadn’t noticed.  Since there are oh – I dunno – about a gazillion different circuit breakers spanning several bins (another aside – it’s about as confusing to me as the cereal section is in the grocery store.  I mean – how many variants of cereals do we need?  Seriously…but I diverge).  Then Ken pulls out the 2-pole QO and explains the story of QO versus the HOM model. The two different models look similar to me and the display I picked circuit breakers from were the HOM models – which wouldn’t work.  But I’m leaving out the best part.  The best part is the story of why our breaker box has the QO models.  Ken says they are the older model.  More recently, Square D started making the HOM model – for well, homes.  Now, yes.  Any electrician would have known this.  And indeed I could have had an electrician do this.  But what’s the fun in that?  I would have missed talking with Ken and hearing his narratives on why electronic components are the way they are.  Can Amazon provide that?  I think not.  Would I ask the electrician that came to install?  No….  So THANK YOU KEN.

Installation

I followed the instruction in the installation guide, ignoring the part…Installing the Sense monitor is easy, but should only be done by a qualified electrician.  

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the key to my living through the installation was using one of these:   

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What a wonderful tool. A must for this project.  All I need to do is touch the point to a wire in the break box.  If the wire is hot/live, the tip flashes red and the tool starts beeping. What a lifesaver (literally).

Turning off Power

Here’s the electricity setup in our garage:

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In between the active panel and the older panel is the “big gray” transfer power from the company that installed the generator.  We’ll make this area even more complicated when we install solar.  But that is in the future.

It was a bit of a search to find the mains switch.  Many years ago we installed a generator that kicks on when there is a power outage.  After googling a bit, I found terms like “sub-panel” that helped me realize the mains breaker switch was on the other panel labeled “sub-panel.”   

Connecting the Power

Connecting the power requires the use of a double pole breaker.  Luckily, we have room in our breaker box.

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I told the story of getting a 2 Pole breaker earlier.  Following the rest of the directions that came with the installation info with the Sense is easy.  

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All the pieces fit nicely into the breaker box.  I thought the design was well done.  The antenna fits nicely.  To insert it, I just removed a knockout.  The CTs fit easily around the main cables.  As I noted, installing the 2 pole breaker and connecting the three wires (red, black, and white) was easier than working with a breadboard.

Wait

So now I wait for the Sense to detect our devices.  The software says to give it a week…so I wait…I wait….but YIPPEE!!! I’m excited to see how well device detection is and what conclusions can be made about our current energy consumption.  Will what we find out change our behavior?  I come into this experiment assuming we waste a significant amount of energy we don’t even realize we are wasting.  I’d like to stop that.

 

 

Thanks for reading this far.  Please find many things to smile about.