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Author Topic: Utility SMART METERS and RF EXPOSURE. Are they safe?  (Read 34061 times)
W8KQE
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Posts: 245




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« on: September 11, 2013, 08:57:23 AM »

The water company here in NE Ohio just came by today and installed their 'clear reads' smart meter.  I spotted some kind of new module they installed on the outside aluminum siding wall of my house (presumably a transmitter?).  Our bedroom (and bed headrest) is literally a few feet above from the outside installed module.  Should I be concerned about RF radiation?  Should I call back the water company and have them install the module further down the side of the house, away from the bedroom (such as outside the garage wall) to limit RF exposure?  Just how do these 'clear reads' smart meters work?  What frequencies do they use, how often do they transmit, how much output power, etc.?  Thanks in advance!
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WX7G
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2013, 01:44:23 PM »

If it was not safe it would not have gained FCC acceptance.

http://www.bge.com/smartenergy/smartgrid/smartmeters/Documents/SGCC-RF-Fact-Sheet1.pdf

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HAMMYGUY
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2013, 02:06:30 PM »

Now would YOU want this transmitter that close to your head?  I think not.

EVERY cell phone sold in the U.S. comes with a government-required safety warning (hidden in the legal fine print that no one reads) that using or carrying a phone directly against the body may expose the user to more microwave radiation than allowed by federal safety limits.

Both the "ahhh it won't hurt you" and the cellphone warnings are issued by the FCC. 

While the immediate damage from close RF exposure is probably minimal,  long term nobody knows.  There are lots of studies that support both sides. 

When I purchased my first digital cellphone it would give me horrible headaches.  As more cell sites were constructed it finally stopped bothering me as the phone was running at a much lower power level.

As hams we know that RF floating around the shack isn't good for you. What makes this water meter telemetry transmitter any different? 


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SIGINT11
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2013, 03:20:57 PM »

Our states 800 MHz trunk system was getting slammed by electric smart meters that were defective,  you should have seen the signals on an analyzer.  FCC acceptance assumes they are operating correctly.  I would upload a screen capture of the signal if there was a way to do it.   Signal was off the scale at about 50'.   If it were not for them interfering with us all 8,000 +/- defective meters would still be out there.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2013, 07:31:23 PM »

Kinda funny, most hams have no issues running a kilowatt over their heads and think nothing of it, then a QRPp smart meter shows up and suddenly RF is bad for you.

The problem isn't RF exposure, it's privacy invasion.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque,  NM
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K1CJS
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2013, 05:47:06 AM »

The problem isn't privacy invasion or RF exposure, the problem is the society we live in.  We're bombarded by RF radiation every day and have been for decades.  Although I won't deny that some types of RF are bad for you, the majority of the RF exposure we're taking from day to day isn't harmful to anyone--yet the 'nanny' government is instituting all these new rules because of ambulance chasing lawyers and people who are going to those lawyers to make a quick buck.

Those milliwatt transmitters in those smart meters are LESS harmful to a person that stepping out into bright sunlight day after day is.  Don't worry about it.  Cellphones are much more 'dangerous' than those transmitters are if you look at RF levels and frequencies, and only chicken little types are worried about cell phone RF exposure. 
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WX7G
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2013, 08:10:02 AM »

What "new rules" are these?
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AG6EB
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2013, 09:34:09 PM »

Safe? Sure. The ones around here are 900MHz and a few hundred mW in short bursts. But they're powered by crappy noisy power supplies that conduct all kinds of noise onto the house wiring at HF. Lots of them in a dense neighborhood also raises the noise floor on the 900 MHz ISM band, which has to at least somewhat impact other spread-spectrum users.

Besides that, they leave you vulnerable to power company messups: my upstairs neighbor had her electricity shut off remotely with no warning whatsoever the other day. In the past they had to come to the premises and leave a door tag warning that they were going to shut off your power in 24 hours, prior to actually disconnecting you. Now they can do it remotely over the "smart meter" network and they no longer give you warning.

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KD0REQ
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Posts: 931




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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2013, 10:53:02 AM »

the "smart meters" can be remotely shut off by ANYbody, they have horrendously lousy security, and they are on an internet.  often a powerline ethernet.  this has given some utility companies the thought, "hey, what about putting this on The Connected Internet (as we used to call it when all applications sat on a desk in Jon Postel's office at Commerce in monstrously tall stacks, and if you badgered them, your file was sought out and moved to the bottom) and let homeowners know when the water heater kicks on?"

that's even worse than the lifetime security passes the Department of Defense seems to give out to unstable folks with gun fetishes or flash drives stamped "property of h4ck3rz."

some things are supposed to be hard to get at.  and you can't tell the C-levels in the corner offices and the public relations folks any different.

but maybe the army of regulators should try.
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WB5ITT
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Posts: 100




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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2013, 08:22:37 PM »

They are using either spread spectrum 900MHz or 2.4GHz....should not cause any problems BUT we know how that goes.....it's low power to a repeater probably pole mounted down the street or on a special street light or some sort of connection to a network connection back to the company's internal network. They should not pose any RF threat to humans....but if they go nuts, they could spew RF all over the spectrum and cause interference to other devices.

Chris
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