[RFI] So-Called Utility "Smart Meters"

Tim Long tlong8 at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 12 14:31:51 EDT 2008

Hello All,
Here in upstate New York, Niagara Mohawk (now National Grid) installed 
replacement power meters on everyone's electric service and added a 
remote transmitter on everyone's gas meter so they could also be 
remotely read.  I called Nimo and asked to speak with an electrical 
engineer because "I was experiencing interference with my ham radio".  I 
wasn't really but I wanted to be sure of a call back.  In a few days 
they called.  I confessed that I wasn't really experiencing 
interference, that I was also an electrical engineer, and  wanted to 
know how they worked.  The guy explained that: (1) they transmitted in 
the 900 MHz band, (2) the transmitter on the electric meter constantly 
transmitted because it had a source of power but the transmitter on the 
gas meter was battery powered and only transmitted for a few minutes 
upon receiving a wake-up signal from the truck,  (3) they used a random 
frequency hopping technique (not really spread spectrum) to guarantee 
that as the truck slowly cruised the neighborhood, the receivers in the 
truck would hear your transmitters in the clear at least once and be 
able to read the data being sent, (4) the battery in the gas meter 
transmitter is supposed to last 10 years.  Elegant and simple.  I have 
not detected any interference whatsoever from these transmitters in the 
few years I've had them.  On the other hand, I pick up every neighbors 
television (ARRRGHHH).  73, Tim, W2UI

EP Swynar wrote:
> Good Morning All,
> The good folks here at the Ontario Hydro generating outfit (or WHATEVER it is that they might call themselves this week) have elected to install so-called "smart meters", in place of the regular old-fashioned ones, at the street AC drop point outside of everyone's house...
> For the uninitiated, "smart meters" automatically keep track of power usage in each home, and then charge rates according to whether or not it's "peak / prime" time, or otherwise...apparently (as I understand it) these odious devices are in constant communication wirelessly with "Big Brother", feeding the data to some central collection point, to calculate final billing...and they mark the end of days for the old-fashioned, traditional humanoid meter reader.
> Oh yes, did I mention that this is all a "...GOOD thing" for Ontario...?
> Anyway, I'm VERY curious if any Hams reading this, who may have already had smart meters installed at their respective QTHs, have experienced any sort of RFI either to, or from, the readers...? I wrote a strongly-worded letter to the local co-ordinator of this effort, and received a phone message back from one of his minions that I would be hearing from them shortly...that was about a month ago.
> The monitor was installed at my QTH here a coupla days ago, but the system is not yet operational.
> Any sage words from the ranks of the knowledgeable...? 
> Thanks in advance, & my vy
> ~73!~ Eddy VE3CUI - VE3XZ
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