Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sense Home Energy Monitor App Won't Connect

I'm very excited to learn about my personal electricity usage with my Sense Home Energy Monitor, now that it's working, but installation did not go smoothly.

The Story

I physically installed the device in my electric panel as described in the install guide:
  1. Connect the WiFi antenna external to the box
  2. Plug in the black and red wires to a 20A, 240V breaker
  3. Clip the two current sensors around my mains  
I turned on the breaker, got a happy little chime from the orange box after about 20 seconds, and saw an internal light blinking. Easy.

Unfortunately, using the app to make an initial connection is where the frustration began.

The short story is that the device refused to connect to my WiFi router, until after it upgraded its software version, which it does over the WiFi connection... Catch 22.  But figuring out this problem was painful, due to a highly simplified phone app, almost no other physical interface on the device, and very slow tech support.

First try, Android app continually fails at "Verifying Install":

Second try, iPad app continually fails at "Registering":

Both apps after failing in two different spots, with no helpful error messages, gave a page that says "Try Again".

I tried this about 15 times, power cycling the device each time, until finally it worked from the iPad.  I made no changes of any kind between the failures, except trying again. So it's still a mystery why the 15th time WiFi connected. I was able to create a log in, get the app past initialization, and then I'm given this:

The device is "Offline".

So it managed to join my WiFi network, but can't send any packets (which I confirmed from the router). More power cycling, and switching to 2 different WiFi networks, and still offline. Thankfully, a friend also has a working Sense, showed me his app, and we noticed that my device software version was older than his.

Mine: 1.0.1277-be639d4-master
His:    1.1.1353-d08ad0f-master

So guessing/hoping that "fixed in the next version" was true, I turned on tethering on my phone, and tried connecting the device to it from my iPad. This worked and he device got online. Then I left my phone sitting next to my electrical panel, checking back periodically, if it had auto-updated itself. There is no "Update Software" option in the app.  After 24 hours and 82MB of data, my device now showed version 1.1.135.  Switching back to my normal WiFi network... it still didn't work! But remembering the first rule of Windows tech support, I turned it off then back on again, and hallelujah it showed "Online" and connected to my home network.

So after 4 days of troubleshooting, my Sense is now happily measuring and learning my energy usage.  We'll see what insights it comes up with over the next few weeks.


If you're having a problem getting your Sense to initially register, or after registration connect to your WiFi network, here are some tips:
  1. Try setup with both the Android and iOS app.  Though they look the same, they obviously work a little differently with the iOS app being more mature it appears.
  2. Set up a separate WiFi network, with a different physical router. Tethering my phone worked best for me. The device likes some WiFi access points and not others. 
  3. Once connected to a temporary WiFi network, leave the device alone for 24 hours to download updates. There is no way to force an update, you just have to wait.
  4. After software update, turn it off and back on, and reconnect to your original home network.

Closing Thoughts

I contacted Sense customer support while having this issue and while they were very courteous and helpful with basic debugging steps, they were not very responsive. Support is only available over email, no phone, and it took 48 hours for my ticket to even be answered initially. I'm guessing the small team is overwhelmed with recent publicity.

Here's the start of my feature request list for the device:
  • Better/any error information in the app when something fails. "Can't connect to WiFi" would've been a lot more helpful than "Try Again".
  • There's no "Upgrade Now" button in the app. Having one would've saved me 24 hours.
  • There's no hard reset, or even factory reset option in the software. Having this *may* have helped when switching from Android to iOS setup.


  1. I am experiencing the same "won't connect" issue, except that I did finally get a connection to my home WiFi router after hours of trying. The unit seemed to work for a day or so then won't connect to any WiFi device. I purchased a WiFi extender and located it within 5 feet of the device and then attempted to change the WiFi connection. Initial reset request found the new WiFi and showed a couple of connection bars, but would never connect, even after multiple off/on's and iOS app reset.

  2. After numerous attempts to get sense to connect blue tooth unsuccessfully they are calling me to do this start up over telephone. No beeping, only two times, and light is just on steady, no flashing. No bluetooth, no wifi.

  3. My solution was to place a router in bridge mode within inches of the Sense monitor. All connections are now immediately responsive with successful connection and registration. Obviously, the Sense monitor has a very weak WiFi system as all of my other Wifi devices have medium connection strength when located in the vicinity of the electrical panel.

  4. I tried for two hours, found this blog, tried my Samsung tablet and it worked first time. So, brand new Samsung 2 year old Samsung tablet...yes. Could not connect to my main wifi at around -55db but does connect to my other one at -60ish, so it is picky on incoming wifi signal strength. Also, setting up solar, it doesn't seem to set up when it is low production like 300w in the morning right now, hopefully it will when it is noon today and 5kw is going through it but I gotta wait on that setup. Otherwise, excited about this product!

  5. I cannot register either, trying three different devices, 2 android,one ipad. chokes on "registering". Cannot connect to servor

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