When considering a new addition to manage your smart home more efficiently, Emporia may not be the first brand that comes to mind. But, if the company’s Emporia Gen 2 Vue home energy monitor is anything to go by, recently sent to Android Headlines for review, it really should be.
Now, that’s not just because this gadget can save you money over the long term. It can and it’s fantastic for that. It provides more consistency in terms of home energy bill expectations. And provides a clear indicator of where the energy has been used. That’s whether by homeowners or business owners. Moreover, the Gen 2 Vue offers a view of energy use on a day-to-day basis and at other time scales.
All of that, while also connecting directly to other smart home gadgets such as thermostats for more granular control. And for automation of some aspects of home energy usage.
So let’s dive right in and see how this gadget fared under review.
The hardware is good quality but not without flaws
Now, starting from the $69.99 Emporia Gen 2 Vue energy monitor — including only the mainline sensors — Emporia sells several packages for its home energy monitoring solution. The version sent out to us for review was the Emporia Gen 2 Vue with 16 sensors. That meant that, by comparison to other boxes that may arrive for buyers, we received the full package. Including a sensor for monitoring energy across up to 16 individual circuits in my breaker box.
Upon opening the box for the kit, it became obvious that Emporia aims to make installation and use as seamless as possible. Not least of all because Emporia packaged everything into neatly-organized individual boxes. And organized things in a way that made unpacking just one box at a time during the installation easy to do.
Aesthetics don’t really matter much for a system that will spend most of its time behind a breaker box panel. Particularly since, in many cases, we’re not talking about the door to the switches. But specifically about the panel that sits over the top of the switch hardware. Regardless, Emporia did a good job to keep things minimal and clean-looking. While also including enough extra wires, wire nuts, and guide materials to ensure an easier installation than might otherwise be the case.
In terms of hardware quality, there was really only one issue I could find. We’ll discuss that later in the segment about installation. But the quality of the hardware itself is mostly top-notch. The only real complaint is that the plugs on the main unit didn’t seat as firmly as I’d have liked. And the clamps on the sensors could stand to come down in size quite a bit for easier installation.
The sole missing component in the box is associated with a piece of hardware we have yet to touch on. Namely, the included antenna.
Emporia intends for homeowners and business owners to install the antenna through the casing of the circuit box. That way, the signal between the cloud, connected devices, and router can be optimized. Rather than trying to push a signal through the casing — typically made of metal.
That can really only be accomplished by drilling a hole in the exterior casing for installation. That wasn’t able to be accomplished for my installation due to my circuit box layout. But, in cases where it can be installed, it would have been nice to see a drill bit included for making an appropriately-sized hole.
Circuit boxes don’t have a pre-built hole for installing antennas. And the antenna is designed to go through the casing of the circuit box. Going out to buy a drill bit, if you don’t already have one, can push projects like this back. And generally just makes them more of a hassle. Fortunately, I didn’t need to drill a hole for installation. Since the device was still able to connect to my router with the panel reinstalled over top.
You should leave the installation of the Emporia Gen 2 Vue to the pros
Now, if this review showed anything, it’s that the Emporia Gen 2 Vue is absolutely not something that most should install on their own. The process is fairly straightforward. The instructions are clear and the steps shouldn’t take too long to complete. At the very least, it won’t if you’re familiar with working on home breaker boxes. Or circuit boxes at a business.
With that said, there are also some significant dangers involved. Not least of all from the need to shut off the power at the mains before installation.
But more importantly, the electrician hired to install the Emporia Gen 2 Vue for this review noted some serious noteworthy quirks.
Among those, Emporia does not appear to have given too much consideration to the design. At the very least, that’s with regard to how it might work with smaller breaker boxes. As was the case for my installation. The size of the nodes and the position of the wires on the nodes made installation a challenge.
The technology itself dictates another issue. Namely, the clamps also need to be installed with consideration for the directional position. And that didn’t make things better.
All of which left a less-than-brilliant installation in my smaller circuit box. In terms of cleanliness, as made evident in the above image.
At least on my unit, the wires entering the main unit were not firmly seated when plugged in. The small connectors popped lose repeatedly as well. They unplugged while zip-ties were being put into place in order to ensure the cover on the circuit breaker could be reinstalled. So some back-tracking to plug them back in was required.
The result was a process that was tedious, even for the experienced electricians at Hawk Electrical who installed the unit. It took hours to complete, despite the owner’s 30+ years in the business. Emporia has already done a great deal of work to make this an easy product to install. But this is one product that would easily be better installed at a home with a large circuit box or at a business.
The Emporia Gen 2 Vue Energy Monitor features, and associated app, nearly make up for installation woes
Fortunately, the software, AI, and features of the Emporia Gen 2 Vue Energy Monitor fared better under review. At the very least, compared to the installation process. In fact, this aspect of this gadget was nearly enough to push our rating for the gadget to 5 stars. Simply by virtue of how feature-rich and useful the app is.
To begin with, Emporia Gen 2 Vue Energy Monitor provides clear and concise details about day-to-day energy consumption. And, in fact, it also provides second-by-second, minute-by-minute, day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year data. The Emporia app provides those via a variety of easy-to-read charts and graphs.
Better still, depending on your utility provider, you can view the energy use in dollar amounts instead of kilowatts and watts. The app allows you to select your provider during setup. So you can see, in near-real-time, a near-exact approximation of how much your bill is going to be. And the app can go one better. Helping to control some smart home products, including smart plugs sold by Emporia which we also used for this review.
The Emporia Gen 2 Vue includes support for ecobee thermostats, EV charging solutions, and solar power systems. So you can better optimize usage for cost and green efficiency.
In addition to app integrations and smart home integrations, the app sends alerts when energy usage is unusual. Costs can vary depending on where the energy is pulled from — burning fossil fuels or green, for instance. Or based on the time of day or year. The system helps account for that too. All of which are based on the service provider chosen in the app.
The Gen 2 Vue comes with the added ability to add custom names to each circuit in the home as well. Namely, to match the cables to the circuits themselves in name as well as users’ likings. That allowed me to see where the energy was being used most and when.
For instance, allowing me to see when certain appliances and plugs were drawing energy when I wasn’t home. That allowed me to both manually control things for more efficiency and to set up automation. Specifically, to get a better handle on consumption.
Overall, that equated to just pennies saved on a daily basis during my test period. But that will equate to much more over longer periods since my test period was just under a month. And further optimization should equate to dollars saved every month and year. That’s without putting forward too much effort. And without consideration for the helpful energy-saving tips and services on offer via the app itself.
All of those features worked exactly as I’d expected them to during my review.
Is Emporia’s Gen 2 Vue Energy Monitor worth the cost and should you buy it?
If my review tests showed me anything it’s that Emporia Gen 2 Vue is not, by any stretch, perfect. If anything, because of the amount of hardware involved, it’s inherently flawed. At the very least, until technology catches up to what, exactly, Emporia is trying to accomplish. This is, namely, to save users money by putting a connected gadget in their circuit boxes.
Setting aside the trouble installation caused, however, it still doesn’t fail either. In just under a month, I was already starting to save money on my home energy bill. With some tweaking of habits and better integration with further gadgets, the associated numbers will go up. So it’s easy to see how this system will save money over the course of a year. And that’s potentially hundreds of dollars.
That, in turn, means that Emporia Gen 2 Vue pays for itself within well under a year. Especially with the ongoing discounts at the company’s site and retailers. For instance, the standard starter system starts at just $84.99. Right now, that cost is down to just under $70. At its most expensive, with the system sent to me for review, the cost is still only $169.99. And those who need more flexible hardware for the installation can pick that up for just $214 instead.
All told, Emporia Gen 2 Vue is a great value for a product that will invariably save you money. And that’s in both the short and long term.