Emporia Energy Monitor Review
Emporia Energy Monitor Review
How Much Energy your Home Use?
You can take the word energy company for it, or you can measure your use yourself. With a device like Emporia Vue, you can do this fairly simple and without having to complete any major reconnection.
Like the Sense Energy Monitor we reviewed in early 2019, Emporia Vue uses a pair of electromagnetic current sensors that are installed above two electrical tubes that enter the circuit breaker. Sensors can detect the total amount of electrical wiring your home pulls from the network, and this information is fed once per second to a connected device.
The screen, via Wi-Fi, transmits this information to Emporia servers in the cloud, and from there to an app on your smartphone. This allows you to monitor the energy consumption of your home in real-time and historically.
What Sense does and Emporia does not offer is a method, via machine learning, of “identifying the fingerprint of different devices” depending on how the devices in your home use energy. Over time, Sense can define your refrigerator, oven, oven, and more. Add the Vue Expansion Module, and you can add up to eight additional clips that connect to individual circuits in your home and monitor them directly, without any guess.
However, the Emporia system costs much less than the Sense system: the Emporia Vue base unit is only $ 50, plus another $ 60 if you choose to add the eight circuit sensors (you can buy the combined devices for $ 100). A 200-phase 3-phase current sensor is also available for light commercial applications at $ 15. This represents a significant saving in any way. But, of course, you’ll encounter some caveats along the way.
First of all, the fixing is not entirely related to just cropping the sensors in the wires. Vue itself must be running to work. This means completely shutting down the electrical system (the controls for which I discovered were in a completely different location outside my home) and connecting the wires to unused circuit breakers and the neutral carrier tape. If you do not have an unused circuit breaker, a wire pigtail is included with a tap in the box that allows you to borrow a little energy from the cutter in use.
Connecting all of this is not a big deal, even if (like me) you don’t do anything inside the electrical panel. It’s easy to follow Emporia’s instructions, and the only hiccup I encountered included a Wi-Fi antenna from Vue. Since the electrical panels are metal and (of course) full of electrical equipment, Wi-Fi signals do not penetrate away from the box. The antenna must be operated out of the box by bending the cable through a knockout and securing it to the outside of the plate.
My problem: The circuit breaker is hung on the wall, which means they need to run the wire not only through knockout but also through the drywall. For my testing purposes, I chose not to drill holes in the wall, and instead, I only used Vue with the cover of the breaker box removed during the test.
The problem with other devices in Vue is that all of these sensors and wires accumulate quickly, consuming a lot of space inside the cracker box. It may be difficult to install the Vue Basic Unit, along with two sensors, a power adapter, and related wireless equipment, inside the box. My fracture box, with about 40 nearly circles connected and virtually nothing unused, is incredibly full of wires, and finding a place to stash Vue wasn’t easy. This was compounded when I added the expansion unit and additional sensors, which are not the smallest. I managed to find a space for four of the eight inside the box before my plate started to look like a spaghetti plate – and the plate cover became reconnected. (Emporia sells alternative styles of clips, but we haven’t received them for review.)
Once the Vue device and its mobile-friendly application are installed, the system begins to collect data immediately. The Vue platform works exactly as advertised, and I’ve been able to watch my power consumption escalate from 500W at night to nearly 2000W at prime time. You can split usage anywhere from second to year, but the most useful views are the daily and hourly consumption views, which give you a more comprehensive and actionable understanding of your energy withdrawal.
If there was a way to consolidate all of this information and display it on one screen – so that I could more easily see how much the air conditioner drew as part of total energy consumption, for example – that would have could be more helpful. Also note: the circuit sensor in my dishwasher never recorded data, for reasons I never could determine.
The Vue does not have a connection to other smart home systems or IFTTTs, the latter of which can be useful, for example, to alert you if energy consumption is increasing more than expected or is increasing when it should not. Again, Vue could infuse features like this directly into its application over time, which would only improve its overall usefulness.