DO I HAVE A ‘SMART’ METER, AN AMR (AUTOMATIC METER READING) TYPE METER OR AN ANALOG METER? WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Every meter that transmits via microwave must have an FCC Equipment Authorization identifier number. To get the FCC Authorization Grant and often testing and other documents go to http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid/ – you might look for “co-location” and distance specifications.
Analog/Electromechanical that are glass and metal, have little dials and make a whirrring noise. Analog meters have been in use for many decades. True Analog meters do not transmit data – they do not have an antenna. They are made of glass and metal, tolerate surges, lightning, etc. and do not burn or melt. Beware, some wireless meters look almost exactly like old analog meters – if they transmit data they have an FCC or Rr number on the face or on a sticker (if it is still there) on the glass.
Think of these as 1950’s Schwinn bicycles. Solid, built to last.
Every meter that transmits data wirelessly must have, by law an FCC or Rr number someplace on the face (not necessarily where this picture shows) or possibly on a sticker, usually on the bottom of the bubble. Some (rare) meters actually use wires to transmit data so they do not require emit RF or have an FCC ID as they do not use ‘public airwaves.’ Itron is the meter being deployed in the Worcesteer, MA pilot program.
AMR (Automatic Meter Reading) -type meters transmit only in one direction – FROM your home. The simplest wireless AMR’s are rudimentary, they transmit data when the utility occasionally (monthly or so) activates it to so with a receiver, often when driving down the road or less frequently walking up to the meter. These may look like an analog meter or they may be digital. AMR-type meters range from rudimentary to much more sophisticated transmitting from a few times per day to a few times per minute. Most commonly, newer AMR’s transmit about twice per minute.
Think of rudimentary AMRs as 1970’s mopeds i.e. a scooter with a lawnmower engine and the mid-line AMRs as Vespa’s.
AMR capabilities range to incredibly sophisticated but as AMR they still only transmit – they do not receive instructions. Some AMR’s – more recent models can and do become ‘smart’ with a keystroke and/or microchip upgrade.
Think of the high-end-sophisticated AMR’s as Harley Davidsons that can go in the front door of the mechanic’s garage and come out the back ‘smart’ – as a Lamrboghini.
‘Smart’ is not a technical term perse – the technical term is AMI (Advanced Metering Initiative or just ‘Advanced.’ If you ask your utility ask about the number of antennae (physical, not functional), ask if the meter receives and use the term ‘Advanced’ and then ask for a letter or email verifying what the rep told you. The line of demarcation between AMR and ‘smart’ is generally accepted as AMR transmits only FROM the home, ‘smart’ transmits/sends FROM the home and sends/receives instructions FROM the utility. ‘Smart’ meters also generally have a functioning HAN (Home Area Network) chip/transmitter/receiver or the the the capacity for HAN in the future. HAN communicate with ‘smart’ or connected electric items in your home such as appliances and thermostats. The HAN asks the utility if certain appliances or A/C or pool fliter, etc. can function and the utility replies ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ The HAN is almost universally ‘Zigbee’ chips/software.
Booster/Repeater/Medusa ‘smart’ meters which look deceptively like standard ‘smart’ meters but are a bit ‘deeper’ have a third powerful transmitter/receiver and transmit not only that home’s data but the data of the neighborhood (hundreds or thousands of ‘neighors’) to the nearby WiMax antenna. These booster/repeaters (sometimes called Medusa Meters) are usually affixed to the utility’s best customers, long term residents who pay on-time.
In California under court order PG&E (utility) revealed that the meters they had installed transmit via microwaves between up to 132 times per minute or 190,000 times per day. All of these pulsed transmissions are not data, most are to maintain the integrity of the LAN (aka ‘mesh’) network of all of the ‘smart’ meters and infrastructure in the neighborhood.
Benefits of Analog Meters vs. Smart Meters:
|According to some experts / reports by consumers:||Analog (Electromechanical) Meters
||Smart Meters (Electronic)|
|RF Radiation Exposure||No||YES|
|Part of mesh network that blankets community with RF radiation||No||YES|
|AAEM physicians’ association warnings about health effects||No||YES|
|Santa Cruz Health Dept. warnings about RF radiation emissions||No||YES|
|Utility collects personal energy use data||No||YES|
|Data on your personal energy use may be provided to 3rd parties||No||YES|
|Can cause “dirty electricity” emissions on wiring||No||YES|
|Can be used to power down or shut off your appliances||No||YES|
|Can be used to remotely shutoff your utility service||No||YES|
|Can be used to charge for Time-of-Use rating||No||YES|
|Higher bills complaints||No||YES|
|Appliance Burnout Complaints||No||YES|
|Associated with numerous house fires||No||YES|
|Interference w/ wireless devices||No||YES|
|Can contribute to electrical grid failure||No||YES|
|Meter has short life||No – last 30-50 years||YES – last 12-15 years|