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Author Topic: RFI from Utility Company 'SmartMeter"  (Read 20249 times)
G3UXB
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« on: July 06, 2010, 03:35:49 PM »

Has any one had experience with RFI from the new utility company 'Smartmeters", they are about to install them at my existing QTH and they are already installed in my (hopefully) new QTH, we did get a letter stating that if we had sensitive medical equipment in the house to call them, sound ominous, thanks In advance Geoff
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KA7GKN
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2010, 07:04:54 PM »

go to:  www.elster.com

This is the type REX meter we recently had installed.
per its data communications frequency 902-915mhz UNLICENSED!!!!!
900mhz radio 17.600bps
signals are via a wifi system for the meter to be read/tracked.

According to my local power company no RFI challenges or errors have been reported [so far]

Martin  KA7GKN
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G3UXB
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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2010, 09:13:58 PM »

Thanks, looking good but I did see an article from the UK that I can't seem to find anymore, I have contacted my utility company (PG & E) in California and they are sending me all the specifications, quite a good response from them I was surprised, we will see but it can't give any more interference than my kitchen fluorescent though HI, 73 Geoff
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W2MV
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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2010, 01:16:52 PM »

We also recently had "smart meters" installed, one for electric service and the other for gas.
I had concerns about RFI (surely there's enough of that), but have not experienced any noticeable interference from the meters. According to the utility company, they are only activated for a few seconds once per month, as the guy drives by for a reading. The meters must be functioning to some degree 24X7 in order to receive the "wake up" signal in the first place. The meters are manufactured by Itron.

Alan, W2MV
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KG6YV
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2010, 09:41:47 AM »

PG&E installed my smart-meter last October. My traditional noise level is very low, around S1-2 most days on most bands (residential power lines are underground). 
I have noticed no RFI since the installation, the bands are still very quiet when using my Carolina Windom or my Cushcraft R-6000 on 20-6 meters.

No issues here,

Greg
KG6YV
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W5LZ
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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2010, 05:52:31 AM »

I think it will depend on the particular meter that you are issued.  Several businesses locally have those type meters, most are 'clean', one or two are not.  I've noticed them by just driving by.  No idea the brand or model, and since I'm not really near them that much, I'm not too interested in finding out.
Good luck!
Paul
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KD6KWZ
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2010, 10:33:55 PM »

Quote
This is the type REX meter we recently had installed.
per its data communications frequency 902-915mhz UNLICENSED!!!!!

Well, I wonder what happen if you get a 900mhz rig? Free electricity?  Grin

We just got one, but what little I listen to on 900mhz on my FT-50R show no noise increase. I'll find out if my new smart meter is "allergic" to my new 10 meter rig as well.  Wink
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KD6KWZ
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2010, 06:17:42 AM »

This just in from my local paper:

http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_15743434?source=rss

Action Line: PG&E SmartMeters make home appliances go snap, crackle, pop

By Dennis Rockstroh

Readers are reporting bizarre behavior by some household appliances.

The suspect? PG&E's new SmartMeters installed to monitor household electricity and gas usage and report back wirelessly to a central location.

It has been happening frequently on certain frequencies common to both or because the signal is broadcast over home wiring.

Sometimes it is loud pops and cracks on AM radios and baby monitors; sometimes it is wireless speaker systems and wireless headsets receiving loud pops and crackling.

Owners of HDTVs and remote garage door openers also reported interference.

Here is what some readers are saying about this:

"Our portable phones started crackling and popping after the SmartMeter was installed. "... I think the SmartMeter is interfering with our wireless phones." P.W.

"My husband and I have a vacation home near Arnold. After a SmartMeter was installed, we had ongoing problems with our outdoor motion sensor lighting going on all the time.

"PG&E finally replaced the meter with the old model, and the problem was resolved." Melissa A. Look

"For the past few days my home alarm keeps getting set off as if it's sensing something opening. It happens randomly during day and night, so basically my alarm system is now useless." Brian

"I have a pair of Sony wireless headphones I use when I watch TV. I noticed the static immediately after PG&E installed the SmartMeter."

"Thank you for your column on SmartMeter interference (Action Line, Aug. 10). I've been having to turn off our baby monitor purchased in 2008 for a while since it has become very noisy with static.

"Now I know the reason! We recently had a SmartMeter installed by PG&E." Veronica Wong, San Jose

PG&E says the SmartMeter is a legal transmitter and meets all Federal Communications Commission standards.

If this is happening to you, you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission online at http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm. Then tell me at drockstroh@mercurynews.com.
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KD6KWZ
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2010, 11:53:49 PM »

Another local piece on SmartMeter RFI hitting the average person:

http://www.mercurynews.com/action-line/ci_16007725?source=rss

Readers: SmartMeters interfere with baby monitors, other household gadgets

By Dennis Rockstroh

drockstroh@mercurynews.com
Posted: 09/06/2010 09:15:39 PM PDT

You've read about problems with PG&E's SmartMeter, especially the folks who claim it's causing huge increases in their electrical bills. But that's not the only issue with the vaunted high-tech device.

As Pacific Gas & Electric's SmartMeter installation has rolled across Northern California, dozens of readers have contacted Action Line complaining about newly found erratic behavior with their household electronic gadgets. A conflict occurs, apparently, when the SmartMeter electronically transmits information back to the utility.

Cordless phones and crib monitors, patio speakers and wireless headsets are spitting out static and startling pops and crackles, they complained. Also affected, they said, are wireless microphones, security systems, motion detectors and remotely controlled garage doors. This equipment operates largely on the 900- to 928-megahertz radio spectrum.

"Right about the time that SmartMeters were installed, our phone went insane," wrote Jane Meckman of San Jose

This is something PG&E is loath to talk about even though the company promised transparency when it brought SmartMeters to our homes.

When Action Line asked PG&E about the complaints, the utility said little and put up a bureaucratic hurdle to get responses to readers' concerns, going so far as to require notarized waivers of confidentiality.

That's the definition of stonewalling.

PG&E knew it had a problem as far back as early 2009.

"During the second quarter of 2009, PG&E discovered a limited number of cases of SmartMeter radio interference with customer electronics," the company wrote in a report to the California Public Utilities Commission. The report indicates that PG&E was working on a solution, but officially it is mum.

Of course, it is unlikely that all of the problems with household electronics are the fault of the SmartMeter. Radio spectrum pollution is all around us. But the SmartMeter makes a major -- and for many people, unexpected -- contribution: When it communicates with PG&E, it is sending data from a house to local data-gathering points and back to PG&E central. Many folks, of course, don't realize that's happening -- until the buzzing starts.

Action Line became aware of the interference when members of a mothers' group in the Palo Alto-Menlo Park area started reporting that they were suddenly awakened in the middle of the night by loud crackles and pops on their baby monitors. They suspected their recently installed SmartMeters were the cause.

I asked PG&E about it. Nothing, at first. I asked again. Then a month after I asked about this, PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said that the families needed to update their two-year-old baby monitors with improved shielding. (Action Line tip: Make sure any new equipment you buy is "shielded." Ask to make sure.) In one case, PG&E paid for a new monitor.

Moreno finally responded in an e-mail: "We are sorry the customer encountered this inconvenience. The SmartMeter device meets all Federal Communications Commission standards, so in cases like this, the baby monitor wasn't built to a standard where it would not receive interference from legally transmitted equipment like a SmartMeter meter. It is likely that the replacement monitor was designed so it would not receive interference from legally transmitting equipment, which is why it is no longer experiencing interference. This reader might want to seek a refund from the store or maker of the first monitor she purchased."

Then PG&E started to take a different approach to my inquiries: stonewalling.

The company decided that written complaints to Action Line could be responded to only if the customer signed a waiver of confidentially. "These either need to be notarized or signed in front of a PG&E employee at one of our service centers," said spokesman Matt Nauman.

Meanwhile the complaints keep flowing in to Action Line, about 60 so far.

"Your article concerning the PG&E SmartMeter was exactly what I needed to see," wrote Mario after one of my earlier columns. "Ever since PG&E has installed that stupid device, our DirecTV has been having massive signal issues."

Violeta Perez of San Jose wrote that, "Ever since my SmartMeter was installed, my home alarm system has been going off randomly."

"A mystery has been solved for us," wrote Veronica Wong, complaining that her baby monitor has suddenly picked up static.

PG&E -- which was dinged by the Public Utilities Commission last week for its customer service -- has handled this poorly. Radio interference from the SmartMeter and other electronic devices is an irritating fact of life. But when the company brought this device into homes without giving us a choice about whether we wanted it, PG&E owed its customers an honest discussion of what we could expect.

Failing to do so has turned an annoyance into a major pain.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2010, 05:49:47 AM »

There are a variety of smart meter technologies in use around the world. Try a Google search on smart meters. One type is normally in receive mode monitoring for a wake up call from the meter reader. It then wakes up and transmits the meter reading information. Other types transmit information all the time and the meter reader just has a receiver. Other types use various types of communication to transmit the information all the way back to the power company central site so a meter reader doesn't have to come out to your house. Some of these can vary your rates depending on the companies overall usage. Electricity used during high demand times costs you more than electricity during low demand periods.

The potential for interference depends largely on what type of smart meter technology you have. If indeed you have the first type, the potential for interference is minimal.
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NJ3U
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« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2010, 03:48:02 PM »

Smart meters come in many shapes and forms.  Most of what you read and hear about these days are "Smart Grid / Meter projects".  Dependent on the utilities interest and the local utility commissions support you may be involved with a AMR or and AMI project.  So what is the difference between AMR and AMI ?

Let's start with the basics, Automated Meter Reading refers to the "drive by" or "dial up" styles.  Primary reason for this approach is that the utility no longer needs to have someone walk up to each meter and read it.  The reading or gathering of the consumption is done automatically hence the name AMR. 

Automated Meter Infrastructure ( AMI ) refers to a more sophisticated concept, essentially it means that the meter and the utility are able to have bi directional communications.  The meter is programmed to record your energy consumption data and send it to the utility.  The utility can also send you messages or signals that alert you to high demand periods or high energy cost / rates.  These communications of data and signals can take place on demand, push or pulled.

No mater if you have a AMR or AMI meter the technology for communication varies.  The most popular options include cellular, RF, power line carrier.  Cell technology is well known, power line carrier is data sent over the energized lines, the RF seems to be what we are speaking about.  Interesting thing is that these systems also take advantage of many technologies to provide communication between "smart devices" such as water meters, gas meters, or smart appliances within the home.  Blue tooth, Zigbee and other modes are used to allow the data from one to another to be collected and routed to the utility.  As well it's interesting that your data could be better received by the neighbor and finds it way back to the utility by that route.

The power levels are very small for the meters in the homes, they are later picked up by concentrators
( repeaters ) in the area to move the data to a high speed "backhaul" network. These can also be using any of the previously mentioned technologies or it can go to copper or fiber. 

So, If the interference is intermittent and they are using RF chances are that it is coming from you or your neighbors meter, if it's continuous then it could be a concentrator.

Either way treat it like any other interference source, directional finder and report it to utility for resolution.
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KG6VPU
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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2010, 04:09:15 PM »

What does this "smart meter" look like?

I've been getting this noise as well,,, as described from the above posts Roll Eyes

73 Bill KG6VPU
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W0BTU
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« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2010, 09:26:00 PM »

Since those meters have been installed here in the boonies, in the Ozarks in SW MO (where REAL hillbillies live ;-), I haven't experienced problems. Apparently, they are smart enough to operate them only in the wee hours of the morning. That's the only time I hear them (MF radio and ceiling fan motors), once (or at most) twice a night.
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K1DA
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« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2010, 03:39:15 PM »

What happens when you are on your 902 cordless when the "reader truck" drives by?  Hmmmmmmmmmmm
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W3LK
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« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2010, 04:00:00 PM »

I have one on my water meter, one on my gas meter and one on my electric meter. In the three years I've been in this house I can't say that there's ever been any RFI from any of the units, at least not while I've been on the air.

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