Wireless Gas/Electric Meters

Discussion in 'Wireless Internet' started by Sqwertz, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Sqwertz

    Sqwertz Guest

    I just got a new, spiffy, wireless gas meter that has an FCC ID on it.
    HTH do these things manage to have a battery life of "20+ years" when
    I'm 70+ yards from the hub and have about 6 CMU walls in that line of

    It's an ingenious scheme, really. With the help of the wireless
    electric meter, they are sniffing everything in my neighborhood and
    uploading it to more powerful supercomputers that are busy crunching
    all my top seekrit data 24/7. I notice my new meters didn't come with
    a Privacy Statement.

    OK, so I didn't look for kook sites yet, but when I was looking for
    info on the meter (mine is
    http://onrampwireless.com/applications/gas-utilities/) I did see one
    site screaming about "exposure", but I'm not sure to what.

    Sqwertz, Jun 23, 2012
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  2. Sqwertz

    miso Guest

    They just tweet out the reading. It is not like the gas meter is spewing
    out continuous data. So the power of "duty factor" and long life lithium
    gives them long operating life.

    That was the explanation I read when we first got them. The electric
    meter has an easier time. ;-) I think the electric meter is around
    1.2GHz or so. I see something pinging out there on the spectrum analyzer.
    miso, Jun 23, 2012
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  3. Sqwertz

    Sqwertz Guest

    It's 2-way so it can't sleep *too* deeply. I suppose it could wake up
    every week or so and when phoning home ask if there's anything it's
    supposed to so (upgrade firmware shut off gas etc...) rather than
    being on constant standby to receive.

    It's interesting to note that the meter still seems to be analog cogs
    and sprockets on the dials. I wonder how/when that gets translated
    into digital.

    Sqwertz, Jun 23, 2012
  4. Jeff Liebermann, Jun 23, 2012
  5. Sqwertz

    miso Guest

    I see it has a FCC ID on it. I'll have to see if my meters have FCC ID
    numbers visible to the outside world.

    So the Star meter is one way, that is no receiver. In general, that
    isn't a good scheme. ACK is your friend.
    miso, Jun 23, 2012
  6. They do. Locally, PG&E uses Silver Springs smartmeters:

    PG&E’s electric SmartMeters operate in the 902-928 MHz
    frequency-band to communicate customer electricity-usage
    to PG&E. PG&E’s gas SmartMeters operate in the 450-470 MHz
    frequency-band to communicate customer gas-usage to PG&E.

    The 900MHz stuff is spread spectrum. The 450MHz is NBFM.

    SmartMeters communicate intermittently, with each RF-signal
    typically lasting from 2 to 20 milliseconds. These intermittent
    signals total, on average, 45 seconds per day. For the other 23
    hours and 59 minutes of the day, the meter is not transmitting
    any RF.

    I pointed a yagi antenna at my electric power meter, and threw
    together an RF amp, filter, detector, and data logger to see how often
    it really transmitted. I'm rather far away from the network node, so
    mine only belched bursts of RF 1-3 times per day. However, when I did
    the same at a customers location, closer to the node, the store and
    forward traffic was substantial, resulting in 20-50 transmissions per
    day. I screwed up and didn't log the total transmission time per day,
    only the number of transmission bursts. It is my understanding
    (possibly wrong) that the battery life is calculated on the basis of
    one bursty transmission per day and might be rather optimistic.

    I gave a short talk on the alleged RF hazards of smartmeters to a
    rather hostile audience a few months ago. I'm still recovering, so no
    more questions about biological RF effects please. Just read the RF
    FAQ above.

    Now, go away. It's Ham Radio Field Day weekend and I'm somewhat busy.
    Jeff Liebermann, Jun 23, 2012
  7. Sqwertz

    Sqwertz Guest

    That's a lot of communicating of pretty boring data, IMO.
    We expected no less.
    And I was being pessimistic thinking maybe it wakes up every week.
    Don't forget your decked-out helmet.

    Cheers :)

    Sqwertz, Jun 24, 2012
  8. Data is boring. However, when enough data has been accumulated and
    massaged, it becomes information, which is far from boring and often
    quite valuable.

    45 seconds per day is 273 minutes per year. That's about half my cell
    phone use in one month.

    Over the 20 year life of the meter, you would be exposed to about 91
    hours of RF, which certainly qualifies as useless information.

    If you're really worried about RF exposure, I suggest gifting with
    orgonite. That should also keep you busy for a while:
    I won a free dinner because if this test and a few others I threw
    together. I was also thinking of making a "Smartmeter Meter" that
    would detect and log emissions from smartmeters. There are plenty of
    paranoids out there with money.
    I'm able to download hourly electric usage from my house. Here's a
    sample screen for 3 days ago:
    The big peak is my morning use of the bathroom electric wall heater. I
    can also download monthly CSV and XML data since June 2008. What's a
    little brain cancer when you can obtain such nifty data?
    The one with mouse ears or the propeller on top? I brought my
    aluminum foil wrapped plastic helmet (with the ear muffs for chain saw
    work), but nobody was interested in taking my photo. Sniff...
    Jeff Liebermann, Jun 24, 2012
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