17 Dec 2013 -Got this email from PG&E today, in response to
my query to see why I could not see any on line indication that
there was a smart meter here.
"We sincerely apologize; however, at this time your meter is not being read remotely. Pacific Gas and Electric Company will establish a remote connection with your meter once the SmartMeter Network is in place. This usually takes 60 to 90 days. Keep your eyes open for communications from Pacific Gas and Electric Company that will help you take advantage of this new technology."
I thought they would not install a Smartmeter if there was no way for it to communicate in the direction of downtown, but they did. I'm guessing that once they've installed a bunch of them the next step will to make a connection diagram, i.e. have a computer in a vehicle drive around and query meters and see what other meters they can talk to. This would be needed to determine how many and where to install pole mounted units to allow all the meters in this area to communicate with the rest of the system.
I'm guessing that the guy who used to read my meter manually now can just drive down the street and probably not even slow down to read the meter.
meter reads: 1178. Last month usage was 652 kWh, but that last couple of weeks has been the coldest in the past 20 years. There is snow on the ground that's over a week old, that's never happened before.
Installed 16 Nov 2013 (Saturday). If I refused the
installation there would be a one time charge like $50 and a
monthly charge of $10.
The SmartMeters have a wireless module, typically made by Silver Springs Networks (Wiki), that receives and transmits in both the:
902 to 928 MHz ISM band (peak power out 1.5 to 2.5 Watts) and in the (for meter to meter mesh networks)
2.40 to 2.45 GHz Wifi band (peak power out about 0.1 to 0.2 Watts). (for the HAN mesh network)
Note both these bands are in the Industrial, Scientific & Medical (ISM) frequency allocations (Wiki).
My guess is that the Wifi is to support both the Home Area Network (Wiki).
It's not clear which frequency my meter is using. As far as I can tell the meter transmits once each 15 minutes and with a duty cycle that's way below 1 percent so it's not an easy thing to catch it transmitting.
Installation by Wellington
Energy (see their web page for the hand held optical
interface test set).
If you know the name of the test set let me know. It's something like TruGPSE01
26 Dec 2013 - A technician came to confirm that the meter was
provisioned correctly. He said they are doing that to some
percent of all Smartmeters that were installed, but it also may be
related to my asking PG&E why it wasn't working.
It's possible that the WiFi radio is for ZigBee (Wiki). If that's the case it would be for the HAN.
The technician who installed the smart meter had a hand holdable
test instrument on his tool belt. It had two cylindrical
protrusions which I'm guessing are an ANSI C12.18 Type 2
This my works with the two horizontal dots just below the lower right corner of the LCD. The left (darker) is the IR LED and the right (clear) one is the photo transistor
One IR LED pulse for each Kt (1.0 Wh in this case) in calibration mode. Each pulse is about 25 ms wide.
The PG&E My Energy page is not updated to show any SmartMeter
data until a full billing cycle after the installation (about 30
|Fig 1 Analog meter just after being removed.
Total reading since house was built: 80215 kWh
Year of construction about 1992 or about 3800 kWh per year
or about 300 kWh per month.
|Fig 2 Smart electric meter just after being
Model: GE I-210+
Wireless: Silver Springs Networks NIC 314 (Wiki)
mfg date 09/13
CL 200 -> 200 Amps
3W -> 3 Wire
ANSI C12.10 Form No. FJ2S
TA30 -> Test at 30 Amps
Test constant (Kt) 1.0 Watt hour
|Fig 3 LCD
1 Main kWh display cycles between:
segment check: -88888 and the
"ERROR" will alternate with the kWh total if there's a problem
2 Watt hour disk emulator - use stopwatch to time between
--- and then ---.
Wh = Kh (10.0 Wh) * Number of rotations
3 subsidiary display cycles through:
247 Volts (voltage of mains feed 240 is nominal)
on (maybe shows off if you don't pay your bill)
Ad1 (maybe showing rate structure)
2.28 kW showing current energy usage
I expect the area 3 display will change when the meter has
been programmed to other electric rate schedules or
if time of use billing is implemented.
Note: There is NO clock shown now.
PG&E: Reading the SmartMeter
The lower right "Delivered ->" shows energy direction
|Fig 4 Video of LCD display cycle
The flickering may be caused by the Terralux flashlight since it does not show up in other videos.
|Fig 5 Green LED blinking on right side
This is not my meter, but belongs to a friend. It's setup for Time Of Use metering.
Landis Gyr (Wiki) (Now owned by Toshiba) model: Focus AXR SD
Fig 1 Line Voltage
I expect that the triangle with two dots is the
ANSI C12.18 Type 2 Optical Port.
Fig 2 TOU 01 total kWh
Fig 3 TOU 02 total kWh
Fig 4 "CLS" Clear Screen?
Fig 5 *** All LCD segments on
Although the smart electric meter was installed in Nov 2013, it was not until Jan 2015 that it worked. The problem was the mesh network could not reach to the collection center. To fix that PG&E installed a repeater on a power pole on a ridge line that has a very long line of sight.
Since PG&E already has a center tapped 240 VAC transformer on the pole (120-0-120) they wired up the 120 VAC power to the repeater directly to the transformer.
Green and white to the center tap and black to the right side 120 VAC terminal.
Also see my telephone pole web page.
Select "My SmartMeter™" and view your Energy Highlights for quick facts on your monthly energy usage, like what your next bill is projected to be, and your average daily cost for energy.
Select "Usage" and view your Hourly/Daily usage to see your gas usage by the day or your electricity usage by the hour.
Select "My SmartMeter™" and sign up for Energy Alerts to receive your choice of a phone call, text message or e-mail letting you know you're projected to move into Tier 3 or higher during your billing cycle. You'll also receive additional alerts if you move into Tier 4 or Tier 5.
The idea is to have various appliances connected to a network
including the smart utility meters so that they can be turned on
remotely in such a way as to use energy when it's not in demand.
This network will not be a normal home WiFi type network because each appliance needs it's own URL and there are not enough of them. But it can operate using WiFi protocol.
Residential customers may elect to enroll in PG&E’s Smart
Rate program, which is designed to encourage customers to reduce
their electricity usage at during peak periods.
Participants in Smart Rate may also elect a bill protection
option for the first full summer of participation."
ACLARA does networking and smart meter readers.
Meter in downtown Ukiah on retail building.
You can see that it's a applique that's been added between
the body and analog readout rather than a whole new meter.
A friend's meter.
This is a Badger-Meter, Recordall Transmitter Register Model 25 for 5/8" or 3/4" lines. Reads in Gallons. The transmitter is marked Orion.
Note: there are 4 digits with white background and 3 digits with black background. The rightmost digit is the 10 gallon test circle so does not move.
That leaves 4 + 2 = 6 digits that are live meaning the maximum reading is 9,999,999 or 10 million gallons.
The ideal location for the Orion RF (902 - 915 MHz ISM Wiki) transmitter would be in the lid of the utility box rather than below it for better transmit range.
Badger-Meter also makes an In Home Display that might work with this meter. That would be great for detecting leaks. But that might require repositioning the Orion transmitter so a stronger signal could get to the house? It turns out that the In Home Display only works if the utility company is using a Wi-Fi network to read the meters (i.e. if there's a Wi-Fi signal to feed to In Home Display. But Millview Water has not installed the smart meters with the antennas above ground and has not built in relay infrastructure needed, the meter reader still needs to get within a few yards of the meter in order for his laptop to get the wireless signal.).
The meter uses a piezo spark generator to send a high voltage pulse to the Orion transmitter. That may be it's source of power or it may have a long life battery?
Badger Meter, Inc., Sep 19, 1989, 340/870.3, 324/157, 310/339
4868566 Flexible piezoelectric switch activated metering pulse generators,
Called a "High Resolution" meter in patent 5298894.
Utility meter transponder/antenna assembly for underground installations, Badger Meter, Inc., Mar 29, 1994, 340/870.02, 343/872, 340/870.01, 343/719, 324/745476731 Field-replaceable battery pack and method for underground installations, Badger Meter, Inc., Dec 19, 1995, 429/97, 429/98, 429/99, 429/100
This is a walk by automatic meter reading system.
6300907 Antenna assembly for subsurface meter pits, Badger Meter, Inc., Oct 9, 2001, 343/700.0MS, 343/846, 343/719, 343/850
AMR transmitter and method for both narrow band and frequency hopping transmissions,Badger Meter, Inc., Dec 1, 2009,
340/870.02, 340/870.18, 370/310, 370/338, 340/870.01
The water bill was way too high so looking for a leak.
Here's a plot supplied by the water company:
My interpretation of the above plot:The spikes are the irrigation timers because those are set to open once every other day for an hour.
The spikes appear to alternate where one is high the next is lower the next is higher and so on.
These spikes are mostly over 170 gallons and the time between the high and high (or low and low) is every other day, the same as the timer programming.
That amounts to over 5,000 gallons in a month, far exceeding normal total water usage, so a major problem.
Although the actual number of gallons varies a little that's probably due to changes in water pressure.
So there's two different irrigation circuits that each have a leak.
The drip irrigation emitters are about 1 gallon/hour and the timers are set to be on for one hour every other day.
A typical drip string has maybe 30 emitters, or should use 30 gallons in the hour and do that once every other day, but the actual usage is 4 or 5 times too high.
There are two kinds of problems with drip: First the end of the 5/8" tube opens or second, the emitter or 1/4" line opens. Since there are a lot of the 1/4" emitters and lines these easily get broken. Since there was a deer (although a fence is supposed to keep them out) in the exact place the emitters are located, i.e. at the Rose bushes, it's probable that a deer has broken many of the 1/4" lines.
Along the bottom there's a pedestal keeping the usage from going to zero and these are constant leaks.
These are the classical leaks, things like a toilet that never stops running, a faucet that always is dripping, a garden hose on all the time, etc.
I think these small leaks are what's keeping the curves from actually touching the zero use line, but instead being a few gallons above it.
On very hot days (the plot includes many days that are in the area of 100 to 110 deg F) the auto fill for a swimming pool will be adding water with a long time constant, i.e. it may take many days to make up the evaporation since the valve is identical to those used to fill toilet tanks.
This may explain the pedestals.
A rough estimate for normal evaporation would be 1/4" per day. If the pool was 16' x 40' that's 640 square feet times 1/48' of evaporation is 13.3 cu ft or 100 gallons/day.
If the meter sample rate is once peer hour then 4 gallons/hour would account for evaporation.
It turns out that one drip irrigation line uses 10 gallons in 2-1/2 minutes and a different line uses 10 gallons in 3-1/2 minutes, this is consistent with the spikes on the plot.
This brings up the idea that while drip irrigation conserves water when the system is new, it can waste more water than it saves when something goes wrong.
I've experienced a couple of occasions where the end stop on a 1/2' or 5/8" line opened up, wasting a lot of water. If 1/8" line is used to feed an emitter it's very common for the line to get pulled out of the main line by an animal. It's also common for an emitter to break creating a water fountain (if it's pointing up) but if it's pointing any other direction you don't see that there's a problem. So for the most reliable drip irrigation system only use large (1/2" or 5/8" line) and only install the emitters pointing up so you can see when there's a leak. Do NOT bury the system since that will hide problems.
Because my friend has strange numbers on her bill, I checked my bill and for Aug 2014 it shows:
Last year 23
This year 3355
But there are no units of measure.
I looked at my water meter and it's been changed to a smart meter and they never told me they did that.
The radio transponder is made my American Meter Co.
Analog Water Meter
Analog water meter reads in cubic feet.
Notice the 4 white background digits are hundreds of cubic feet (748 gal/unit)
These are the units on my old water bills.
The rate in 2008 was $1.29/100cu ft.
There are other items on the bill that are fixed amounts related to the meter and cost of capital.
In 2014 the rate is $0.00192 per gallon
The old rate $1.29/100cu is equivalent to $1.29/748 gal or $0.001725/gal
So the new rate about 11% higher.
Reading shown is:
1057|780|1 (format: WWWW|BB|P)
which is 105,778 Gallons since the meter was at zero.
If the typical monthly usage was 3355 gallons the meter was installed about 35 months ago,
or October 2011 is when it was installed.
Note the new meter reads in gallons and the prior analog meter read in hundreds of cubic feet.
The difference is the new meter reads 748 times higher numbers.
That's why the new meter has 4 digits with a white background,
i.e. the units on the white background are hundreds of gallons.
The billing rate needs to change to account for the change in units and that in turn depends on
how the meter is being read.
My current bill has the numbers for previous and present all jammed together like this:
00105347001056828 which is a 17 digit number not easy to divide into two numbers.
The Model 25 has 4 white digits, 2 black digits that change and the pointer which takes 10 gallons to make a full circle. So my readings are as shown below.
WWWW is the white background, BB is the black background and P is the pointer.
Previous: 1053|47|0 Gallons
Present: 1056|82|8 Gallons
Difference: 3358 Gallons in 30 days or 111 Gal/day. ($ 6.44 for the water)
The bill shows a difference of 3355 Gallons, why?
The rate is $0.00192 per gallon, or 0.192 cents per gallon, or about 20 cents per hundred gallons.
Hose Bib Digital Water Meter
Got this as a way of checking for leaks.
Top and bottom reading to 999.9 Gallons or Liters.
RainWise RW-9FM Digital FLow Meter
5 Gallon Bucket
11-1/4" dia at top
10" dia at bottom
average diameter: 10.625
Bucket: 14" tall
Fill to 13" for 5 Gal. (1155 Cu In) Ridge at fill line.
5 Gal Bucket filled to 5.0 Gal
Meter after filling bucket reads 4.4 Gal
InstructionsPress left button to zero top reading.
Press and hold right button to zero top & bottom reading.
Press and hold left button until Gal or LIT flashes, then press right button to toggle between GAL and LIT, then press left button to set.
- self installed utility meters
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