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My electric utility says my home uses more energy than the typical home in Portland, Oregon, but it can’t tell me why. A tool like the Emporia Vue Gen 2 Whole Home Energy Monitor can.
We’ve evaluated similar devices over the past several years, including the Sense Energy Monitor and Emporia’s first-gen product. Emporia’s app isn’t as sophisticated as Sense’s, but its hardware does a better job of identifying where energy is consumed because it monitors the energy flowing over up to 16 individual circuits in addition to the mains power.
Your electric utility bills you for the total number of kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity your home consumes. That rate might be higher if you exceed a given amount—my utility charges a higher rate once I pass a threshold of 1,000kWh—and it will vary if you participate in a time-of-use or time-of-day plan that rewards you for shifting consumption away from times when the demand for electrical energy is highest.
Installing a device like the Emporia Vue Gen 2 Whole Home Energy Monitor can disaggregate your electrical consumption, i.e., it can tell you how much energy is flowing over each individual circuit. If you have solar panels generating electricity, the system will tell you just how much they’re producing, too, whether that energy is fed back into the grid (in a grid-tied system) or is stored locally in on-site batteries.
How does the Emporia Gen 2 Energy Monitor work?
The competing Sense Energy Monitor uses two sensors attached to the two main electrical wires coming from your electrical utility’s meter. A sophisticated algorithm identifies the electrical patterns as the appliances, lights, and other devices in your home draw electricity while they operate.
The Emporia Vue Gen 2 also uses two sensors attached to your mains, but it comes with 16 additional sensors that you’ll attach to individual circuits inside your electrical panel. It reports total energy consumption and then breaks out consumption per circuit. For the sake of comparison, the $349 Sense Flex comes with just two additional pairs of sensors.
Each of the Emporia sensors plugs into a central module that also fits inside your electrical panel. That module has a small antenna that pokes through a knock-out hole in the panel, so you can connect it to your Wi-Fi network (only 2.4GHz networks are supported).
The module sends sensor readings in real time to the Emporia app, where you can view each circuit’s energy consumption expressed either in watts or, if you identify your utility and its kWh rate, in dollars and cents. You can also view this information in the app on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis, using a pop-out scrolling tool.
The sensors, module, and app will give you a precise measurement of how much energy your larger appliances use—e.g., your furnace, clothes dryer, water heater, oven, and so on—because there is typically only one on each circuit. If your appliances have different settings—an energy-saver mode, for instance—you can experiment with them to see how they truly impact their electricity consumption.
The picture gets a little murkier for circuits serving groups of electrical outlets supplying power to televisions, lamps, countertop kitchen appliances, phone chargers, clocks, smart speakers, and the like. The same is true of devices that are electrically hardwired: wall sconces, chandeliers, ceiling and ventilation fans, porch lights, and landscape lighting. In both cases, several things could be drawing power on that circuit at the same time.
That’s not to say you won’t have any idea how much power those individual devices are consuming, just that you’ll need to do a little detective work to figure it out. All it would take would be to turn on one device on that circuit at a time, look at the Emporia Energy app, and then jot down how much energy is being drawn in real time.
The app will also display energy consumption for each circuit over time, in one-minute, one-hour, daily, weekly, or annual increments.
Does the Emporia Vue Gen 2 work with smart plugs?
Your other option for tracking energy consumption by individual outlet would be to plug devices into Emporia’s energy-tracking smart plugs. The readings from those devices can be integrated into the Emporia app to provide a more granular view of your home’s energy consumption.
Here’s how that process would work: Once you’ve labeled the smart plug according to what’s plugged into it, you could go into the app and slot the smart plug under whichever circuit it’s on. The app will then split out the energy consumption the smart plug is reporting, so you know precisely how much energy is being consumed by whatever device is plugged into it.
Another one of the app’s great features is its ability to produce push notifications if the energy consumption on a given circuit exceeds or falls below a defined threshold. Anomalies in power consumption could be a clue that an appliance is malfunctioning, or—in the case of something like a freezer in your basement or garage, where you don’t interact with it every day—has stopped working altogether. That could be a disaster with a freezer.
Should you buy an Emporia Vue Gen 2 Whole Home Energy Monitor?
Whole-home energy monitors like the Emporia Vue Gen 2 deliver actionable information about your home’s electricity consumption. This product is particularly useful because it places sensors on 16 individual circuits as well as your mains, and its readings can be supplemented with Emporia’s own smart plugs.
While the detailed information it delivers is nerdy fun on its own, taking action based on the Vue Gen 2’s reporting will save you real money on your electric bill.
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Michael is TechHive's lead editor, with 30+ years of experience covering the tech industry, focusing on the smart home, home audio, and home theater. He built his own smart home in 2007 and used it as a real-world test lab for product reviews. Following a relocation to the Pacific Northwest, he is now converting his new home, an 1890 Victorian bungalow, into a modern smart home.