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Power Science

Millions of Smart Meters May Over-Inflate Readings by up to 600% ( 249

"Lab tests carried out by Dutch scientists have shown that some of today's 'smart' electrical meters may give out false readings that in some cases can be 582% higher than actual energy consumption," reports BleepingComputer. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The study involved several tests conducted on nine different brands of "smart" meters, also referred to in the industry as "static energy meters." Researchers also used one electromechanical meter for reference... Experiments went on for six months, with individual tests lasting at least one week, and sometimes several weeks. Test results varied wildly, with some meters reporting errors way above their disclosed range, going from -32% to +582%...

The results of the study also matched numbers posted on an online forum by a disgruntled Dutchman complaining about high energy bills... Researchers blamed all the issues on the design of some smart meters, and, ironically, electrical devices with energy-saving features. The latter devices, researchers say, introduced a large amount of noise in electrical current waveforms, which disrupt the smart meter sensors tasked with recording power consumption...

Long-time Slashdot reader ClarkMills points out the researchers estimate that "potentially inaccurate meters have been installed in the meter cabinets of at least 750,000 Dutch households," while the article suggests that worldwide, "the numbers of possibly faulty smart meters could be in the millions,especially after some governments, especially in the EU, have pushed for smart meters to replace classic electromechanical (rotating disk) meters."

Millions of Smart Meters May Over-Inflate Readings by up to 600%

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  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @07:06PM (#54025215) Homepage

    Trust the computer. The computer is your friend.

    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @07:33PM (#54025405)

      Bad case of 'Paranoia' you've got there.

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @07:43PM (#54025453) Journal
      That's what they told one woman who complained about a 5 fold increase of her electric bill after the smart meter was installed: "Your smart meter is working fine. Possibly your old meter was faulty and we have been under-charging you all these years". Which might even be true, sadly the reporter didn't mention what the woman was paying (which should have made it instantly clear whether or not something was out of whack). But it does point out that they make it very hard to dispute these bills. The company told her she could have an electrician check out all of the wiring and appliances for any problems that would cause an increased power draw, or she could have the meter recalibrated, but she would have to bear the cost of around €900 (which seems unnecessarily high by the way).

      I think we're seeing deplorable but wholly expected behaviour in a typical case where there could well be a problem with a company's equipment, which could turn out very embarrassing and expensive for them if they admitted it. So instead they deny everything and chalk any complaints up to isolated defects or fraud.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Look at it from the electricity company's point of view:

        All they've got is meter readings. That's all. They don't know (and in most markets, they can't control even if they want to) what kind of meter is fitted to each house. There's a separate metering company that does that. To ensure fair play, there's a certification and testing requirement - but if that test is flawed (which is what the Dutch study suggests), then there's no real fallback.

        So now consider a small energy retailer with 10,000 customers...

        • by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @04:35AM (#54027337) Homepage Journal

          You would have to be clinically insane to think this is a happy scenario for the electricity retailer.

          Of course not. But it's the correct thing to do.

          And if there *is* a bit of sweeping under the rug, it goes from being a "simple" error in the metering mechanisms to good old fraud, which applies just as much to companies as is does to customers trying to cheat on their power bills. And fraud tends to attract the attention of government authorities and the press - and that's a big old shitstorm nobody wants.

          So your legal counsel will always suggest the path of due diligence once things come to a certain level of attention. That "certain level" is debatable, but if there's an increase in billing complaints and ANY investigations suggest that there's a systemic metering error going on, then you're on very thin ice if you choose to ignore it.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @09:17PM (#54025885)

        she would have to bear the cost of around €900

        A fair policy would be that she only bears the cost if the meter is accurate.

        Also, it is not that hard to test your own meter. Turn everything off. Make sure the meter is reading zero watts. Then turn on one device at a time, and measure the power bump. Use a Kill-o-Watt [] or other plug-in meter to measure what the device is using at the wall socket. If there is really a 5 fold discrepancy, that should be really easy to verify.

        • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @10:45PM (#54026303) Journal

          Also, it is not that hard to test your own meter. Turn everything off. Make sure the meter is reading zero watts. Then turn on one device at a time, and measure the power bump.

          And what if the error is not in the instantaneous reading, but the figures that get accumulated and sent to the power company?

        • Meter reading something? My meter reads nothing. I suppose i could leave just the TV on for a few days and then check the change in kWh consumption but most smart meters don't have an current consumption on display.

          I actually built a small display for mine using the IR pulse output of the meter. But even that is only accurate to the nearest 50ish watt over the aggregated monitoring period.

      • So their claim is that her old meter was defective by a factor of 5?

        I think it's likely that she has some devices that are causing the new meter to give the higher reading, it would be far more helpful for the electric company to help her identify those devices (and eliminate or replace them if they are unimportant or inexpensive), instead of a BS €900 calibration fee that will just show that their (sensitive/defective) device is working as expected.

        If the meters are so smart, they should be able to te

      • €900 is only unnecessarily high if there is a reason to doubt the meter. In the Netherlands all meters are periodically injection tested and calibrated every couple of years (way more than they need to be). If this was a one off calibration then i would say yes, it's unfair, however if this is a whining customer who's meter has been calibrated recently it looks more like a cost to prevent abuse of the already fully booked calibration guys.

      • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @09:23AM (#54028427)

        There are other methods to verify if the meter is performing as expected.

        A third party device that allows you to monitor your own electrical usage is available and dead simple to install. Ammeters clamp around your mains and track / log how much power you're using in real time. Will store said information locally as well as allow for export into something like Excel for long term analysis.

        They can tell you how much power you're using as well as what the current and projected costs will be.

        If the monitor and your meter are off by X margin, it would be a good time to get someone to check it out.

        One such device ( and the one I've utilized for over a decade now ) is call T.E.D. ( The Energy Detective ) Google it.

    • Skynet...What could go wrong?
    • This is precisely why when I build my own place it will be off-grid. Screw the incumbent utilities.
  • by steak ( 145650 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @07:07PM (#54025227) Homepage Journal

    The one thing people were afraid of when they were forced to switch over the smart meters happened.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      Yeah, same with IoT. How no QA got done before approving and buying so much defective product demands some investigation.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Not much to investigate. There's no law against selling shitty products.. at least as long as nobody can prove you were being intentionally malicious.

        Its supposed to be the consumers deciding whether a product is good or bad, by choosing to buy it or not.

        Unfortunately we're in a time where consumers not only don't make purchases with full information but often times full information simply isn't available.

        We're in a screwy situation where we use models of theoretically perfect capitalism to justify not cha

        • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @09:30PM (#54025911)

          There's no law against selling shitty products

          An electric meter is not a "product" anybody buys. An electric meter is an asset belonging to the electric utility company which they use to determine how much actual product (electricity) you buy. For most things you buy, the quantity is obvious at the point/time of sale. The closest thing I can think of to an electric meter is the flow measurement device in a motor fuel pump. You better believe those are regulated. The state calibrates and checks them periodically. They have stickers attesting to their accuracy as certified by the state authority. The weight scales at your grocer are regulated and certified as to accuracy.

          The electric utilities are getting a pass on these meters because it would be very difficult and expensive to test each one individually at its point of installation. And it stinks. Random testing should be done, and huge penalties should be assessed where it mismeasurement found.

          P.S. - there ARE laws against overbilling where wrongdoing or gross negligence can be shown.

          • It would be really easy for the manufacturer to test these meters before sending to utility company though. If only the electricity retailers asked. If an electricity retailer was heavily sued for false charges in a class action lawsuit, then I am certain they would start asking for assurances from manufacturers, or even testing a random sample of meters themselves before installation. At the moment it looks like the power companies and the manufacturers have a cozy co-conspiracy going on, where the manufac
          • by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @05:29AM (#54027499)

            Spot on.

            After supplying 1KW the company claims they gave you 5KW. Same issue in: Taxi meters; scales in the cheese shop; the calendar in the hotel calculating how many nights you stayed; your decorator painting by the hour; etc. And some professions' whole purpose for existing is to count, eg. quantity surveying.

            It's the government's job (usually is) to regulate and settle these sorts of disputes quickly so that they are not a drag on society.

        • by skids ( 119237 )

          Unfortunately we're in a time where consumers not only don't make purchases with full information but often times full information simply isn't available.

          Yup. Doubly so for healthcare -- someone needs to tell Ryan picking a Lasic clinic is quite different than choosing providers when you are in a pained or emotional condition and may or may not believe in voodoo.

          But in this case, there could be consequences for the involved parties in the legal system, and also internal consequences in the involved agencies. It's not like they couldn't have easily caught it out by leaving a few of the old meters in series and following up with some sample readings.

    • Naw, this is unlikely. Probably a bad energy provider. The utilities do test this stuff, I've seen them. We test some meters too.
        It's yet another "smart meters are evil" story, finding the tiny fraction that screws up and trying to make it look like everything is broken.

      • Last I checked, 78% of all meters used in the country the study was done in wasn't a "tiny fraction".

        The majority of meters did not correctly measure power usage. 56% of them measured power usage much greater than was actually being used.

        • by marcansoft ( 727665 ) <hector.marcansoft@com> on Monday March 13, 2017 @02:39AM (#54027087) Homepage

          56% measured power usage much greater than what was actually being used in a ridiculous corner case scenario involving a parallel string of identical low-quality LED lights with an absolutely dismal power factor, connected to a dimmer to make the power factor even more extreme. Read the actual article with the current waveforms. They looks like something a 2 year old scribbled on a piece of paper, not a sine wave.

          Yes, there's a certification failure here (meters are not tested with non-sinusoidal current loads), but no, nobody's meter is actually measuring 6 times real power usage in reality. The moment you have any reasonable loads in parallel the current waveform will start being something more reasonably approximating a sine wave and the meter will read more accurately.

          This is the actual list of tests from the article:

          • Resistive load 1800W: <3%
          • 20 LED + 30 CFL <3%
          • 20 LED + 30 CFL + Cx <3%
          • Dimmer 90deg, LED+CFL -28%, +64%
          • Dimmer 90deg, LED+CFL + line choke <3%
          • Dimmer 135deg, LED+CFL -32%, +575%

          So no, unless your whole house consists of crappy LED and CFL lights behind a huge shared dimmer at a 135 degrees setting, and no other appliances, your meter isn't going to read 600% of real energy consumption. To even get 164% readings you still need everything behind a dimmer at 90 degrees.

          • by Askmum ( 1038780 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @04:10AM (#54027275)
            Does it measure the incorrect amount of energy? If yes: it's defective.

            Does an analog meter measure the amount of energy correctly? If yes: it's criminal to impose a mandatory change to the new meter.

          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            56% measured power usage much greater than what was actually being used in a ridiculous corner case scenario

            As you say, 56% measured power usage much greater than actual usage.

            I don't give a flying fuck how corner case the scenario was, I don't want to pay for electricity I'm not using. Give me an accurate meter or face annual small claims court cases for refunds on your fraudulent charging.

            • You can go to small claims court all you like, just don't expect to cite this study and automatically get an 83% refund on your electricity bill. You're going to have to prove that you're actually being overcharged and that your meter actually has excessive readings in your case (unless this becomes a class action, which would probably involve a much more detailed study under practical conditions and yield some average refund given the average amount overcharged).

              All I'm saying is the chances of you being c

              • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                What I can do is point out several years of annual electricity usage in my house and ask why there's a big fucking jump the day the smart meter was installed.

                Yeah, I do have records.

      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @11:32PM (#54026505)
        The problem isn't just some 0.X% being over charged, it's being over charged and being unable to do anything about it. The power company's response is always "you used more this month", and there's literally nothing you can do about it. It's in the same problem category as cops shooting black people. Nobody is saying we can avoid all the accidents, but everyone wants justice system to stop shielding the cops from any and all liability.
        • Here's how it works in California. PUC guarantees a fixed level of income to the utilities. If the utilities can conserve energy usage then they make more profit. So it's in their best interest to make things very accurate. If they swing things to charge customers more, then they can be in big trouble with the PUCs, who do investigate. Especially any industrial or commercial power user will be very intent on making sure their bill is accurate.Your assumption seems to be that every utility, even customer

    • My modern smart meter has a digital readout of instantaneous power consumption in Watts, and cumulative consumption in kWh. My old meter was just a spinning disc colored half black, half white, with an odometer-like counter. I had no idea how those numbers translated into kWh, or the spin rate to Watts.

      If this kind of problem had happened with my old meter, I would've had no recourse. With my smart meter, I can turn on/off stuff in the house and check the meter's reading if I suspect something fishy i
      • The spinning disc has a label saying that 1 revolution = X Wh. You can also read the counter once, wait ten seconds and read it again. Wait a whole minute if you want a more accurate reading.

    • by fedos ( 150319 )
      This is basically the only thing that I didn't hear as an issue from the people opposing smart meters. Every complaint I've heard has been conspiracy nut idiocy.
  • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @07:15PM (#54025271)

    There is no discernible reason to invest scarce resources in "smart meters" (which are looking more like "dumb meters"). Ordinary old-style meters do an adequate job, and give employment to a lot of meter-readers. (That's a good thing, by the way). They are sufficiently accurate.

    The arguments in favour of "smart meters" are ridiculous. Putting meter-readers out of work to save the company a small amount of money is a bad idea. Besides, most customers would be happy to read their own meters and send in the results by Web or phone. I do.

    Transmitting people's energy consumption by wireless is completely insane. This is private information that does not need to be broadcast insecurely to anyone with the right black box.

    Most normal people already have an excellent idea of how much energy they are using (often this is "too much", as in "I told you to turn off those lights!" or "Do you have any idea how much it costs to leave that running for so long?") If they really want to know in more detail, there are a lot of very nice cheap little meters you can install and read yourself.

    Controlling people's energy supply by wireless is beyond insane - it is literally criminal. It's bad enough that energy suppliers would be able to switch off the supply on a whim (or a computer error). But those guys with the black box could do it too.

    The only logical motive for installing "smart meters" is for the manufacturers to make loads of money. And that isn't a proper motive at all.

    • by skids ( 119237 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @07:20PM (#54025303) Homepage

      You're underestimating the value of predictive data in stabilizing the grid... and throwing the baby out with the bath water.

      Getting smart meters up to snuff on privacy, accuracy, and useful features is a worthy endeavor. Saying "hulk hate smart meters, hulk smash!" is not.

      • It is the bloody same to a power plant whether 100W go to John Smith and 900W to Joe User, or whether both of them use 500W.
        It is even much cheaper and more accurate to measure the power where a multitude of users are connected.
        The only reason for the introduction of "smart meters" has been to collect personal data to sell and to con people into more expenses for their particular pattern of power usage.
        • What happens when John Smith uses 100W, Joe User uses 900W, and Joe moves across town? If they know that 90% of that region's consumption has moved to another region, they can adjust accordingly before problems arise.

          Of course, they could do this before smart meters, as well, as we've had individual metering for decades.

          Smart meters, implemented properly, provide the consumer a fair bit of insight into their actual usage; I can sign in to my provider's site and get my instantaneous usage, as well as 15-
      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @08:38PM (#54025745)
        The amount one person draws, and hence the predictive power of any one smart meter is minuscule and nearly useless. For grid scale predictions you need aggregate data that is more efficiently and inexpensively acquired at aggregation points -- transformers, substations, etc.
      • If you start like this you would lose. Being rational in the game of chicken is the sure way to lose.

        Start with, "hulk hate smart meter". Then the utilities will salvage the data prediction at least for their use. Be rational, they will grudgingly agree to look in the matter at some unspecified level of sincerity at some unspecified time frame.

      • You're underestimating the value of predictive data in stabilizing the grid... and throwing the baby out with the bath water.

        Time-of-use meters do the job just fine, because they can't switch your house on and off remotely anyway. (Smart meters with this functionality do exist; as far as I know, it is usually an additional-cost item and seldom installed.) The smallest unit they can switch remotely is the substation. In order to switch anything smaller, they have to send out a human. And it was working fine before to monitor usage at the substation level, but to charge people for their monthly usage using tiers based on the old me

        • by ColaMan ( 37550 )

          Plenty of places have electric companies who send tones down the line to receivers in your fusebox that switch various loads in your house. Electric hot water is one, pool pumps are another. For a lower rate, you get a certain number of guaranteed "on" hours a day and the power company gets to turn off your pool pump during peak hours.

          Of course, you don't need a smart meter for this, you can use a "ripple control receiver", like they have been doing for the last 40+ years..... but that isn't shiny new tech.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "Getting smart meters up to snuff on privacy"

        You're a fucking moron if you trust your power company to keep shit private, given history.

        "Hey, LEO, this guy's using a lot of power, looks like a grow operation going on with regular 12-hour and 18-hour power spikes on a timer."

        That you think privacy even exists is fucking laughable, it demonstrates just how ignorant of reality you truly are. Bet you voted Democrat, Republican, or Liberal, didn't you? It would figure, since none of you fuckers have a goddamned

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          Well fucking sign up for commercial power supplies if you don't want your abuse of a consumer supply to be noticed and addressed.

      • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @12:58AM (#54026819) Homepage Journal

        If the majority of the meters are giving us bad data, their predictive data may well have a negative value.

    • Old style meters were broken, very difficult to calibrate, and the mechanics wear out over time. Ordinary people often screw up. Ie, in Bakersfield they blamed cost hikes on PG&E even though they were in the middle of a heat wave and using more air conditioning than normal, independent investigation found no fault.

      • Old style meters were broken,

        How so ? Do you mean accounting for power factor ?

        very difficult to calibrate,

        Isn't this done only once at the factory ?

        and the mechanics wear out over time.

        Original meters (had off-peak service, so extra meter) lasted 40+ years on this house, and were only replaced when the utility went to the first generation wireless meter that could be read by the utility truck as it drove by the house. Those of course were then replaced less than ten years later by a smart meter. I honestly do not see modern equipment lasting as long as those mechanical meters. Even if they don't fa

      • Broken? Not unless you used too large a magnet to stop them.

        It was best to use an electromagnet on a timer, so the meter would be running when the reader came by and your bill wasn't 0.

    • the smart readers are either paid for by the tax payer direct or a surcharge on the bill (which looks like a tax to anyone). Meanwhile the cost savings from firing all the meter readers went straight into the pockets of the folks skimming 10%-20% off every power bill.

      Privatize the profit and socialize the expense. This is why you don't let companies run essential services for profit.
    • by jemmyw ( 624065 ) on Sunday March 12, 2017 @08:33PM (#54025719)
      A few years ago I was working for a power retailer who were the first to start pushing smart meters in my country. The first meters were still read by human meter readers, and the data was downloaded. We were also collecting meter readings from customers who wanted to track their usage on a more regular basis than the meter readers would come round.

      Anyway, what we discovered from these various collection mechanisms was that the human meter readers were making up an awful lot of readings and not actually visiting the meters at all in many cases. If they're not going to bother going it'd have been better for our customers if they just didn't report rather than making up a number, we could model a more accurate number .
    • Ordinary old-style meters do an adequate job, and give employment to a lot of meter-readers. (That's a good thing, by the way).

      Here's a better thing, then: employ pairs of meter readers, where one does odd digits and the other does the evens.

      Belay last pipe! Stupid idea. They'd have to read the digits to know if they were odd or even.


      Have a third guy who looks at the meter and tells the other two which digits to read.

    • by swell ( 195815 )

      " There is no discernible reason ... "

      It seems you haven't looked very hard. Where I live, we get a billing statement with a graph showing our usage for each day of the month, and highlighting the peak usage period(s). The recent month is compared to the same month last year. This, and related information, can be useful for the consumer and the utility.

      More importantly, the meters are necessary for the near future when Uber pricing is imposed (you pay more during peak demand periods). I'm sure there are oth

    • Transmitting people's energy consumption by wireless is completely insane. This is private information that does not need to be broadcast insecurely to anyone with the right black box.

      Putting it on display in a location where a meter reader can get to it also, necessarily, means putting it on display in a location where anyone with at least one good eye can see it. The black box is a red herring.

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        Not really. My meter is inside my house, so a meter reader needs to knock on my door and ask for permission to enter.

        On the flipside, I let anybody wearing some random badge come in and check the meter, so just knock if you want to take a look.

        • by fgouget ( 925644 )

          Not really. My meter is inside my house, so a meter reader needs to knock on my door and ask for permission to enter.

          On the flipside, I let anybody wearing some random badge come in and check the meter, so just knock if you want to take a look.

          And you have to take half a day off whenever the meter reader comes by.

    • by ras ( 84108 )

      There is no discernible reason to invest scarce resources in "smart meters" (which are looking more like "dumb meters"). Ordinary old-style meters do an adequate job, and give employment to a lot of meter-readers. (That's a good thing, by the way). They are sufficiently accurate.

      I don't know what reasons you were given for using smart meters, but where I live accuracy and saving the wages of people wasn't the ones we were given. It boiled down to one thing: being able to pass the real cost of power to the

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      give employment to a lot of meter-readers. (That's a good thing, by the way)

      I disagree, but more importantly, so does my power provider. They ask me to take my own meter readings, and submit them online.

  • So it's like inflation, but more of it? Does it mean that regular meters also inflate their readings, though not as much?
  • Everyone here should know that the best possible and worst possible cases are usually extremely artificial and almost never happen.

    So I am curious about what has the actual impact of this has been? Because if companies managed to charge 5X what they did before, while delivering the same amount of power, the profits would have soared in an amazing manner. And that probably hasn't happened, because then this would have been noticed far sooner.

    So I am curious about if a measure of the resulting average error c

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      Exactly: this demands investigation to see who dropped the ball and why (incompetence? proft?). And while we are at it, let's take them to task for the privacy/security issues, and see whether they are buying units that are actually providing useful features for the future grid, or just short-sightedly checking off legislative requirements.

      Anyway, since this is a tech site, this is the part of the article I would have pulled out:

      After finishing their lab experiment, researchers dismantled the smart meters to understand the problem. Following their efforts, the three-man research team discovered that smart meters which gave abnormally high readings used a Rogowski Coil in their setup, while the smart meters that gave out low readings used Hall effect-based sensors.

      • There is equipment that is not too expensive to calibrate meters. Any reputable utility would have used them. Blame the dumb dutch utilities and not all smart meters everywhere.

        • The problem AIUI is that you won't see the overreading with a simple resistive test load hooked up. Only when you start shoving a heap of harmonics down the line.

      • this demands investigation to see who dropped the ball and why (incompetence? proft?).

        Some countries at least seem to be getting it right. Here's coverage of this from New Zealand [] in which the meter vendors point out that they use mostly current transformers and shunt resistors, a tiny fraction use Hall effect sensors, and none use Rogowski coils.

    • These tests are done using cheap switchmode power supplies and maybe even capacitative droppers, behind horrible 'chopper' dimmers. The power waveform in that setup would be horrid, and really hard to measure. It is also wrong, as those sort lights should no be used with dimmers.

      Incidentally, problems with measuring works like this are the secret behind 'free energy' demonstrations!
      • That sounds more like an 'ugly; but not unrealistic' case than a 'worst possible' case.

        Incandescent lighting is substantially dead; and that's a bunch of neat resistive load that has been handed off to the low-bidder PSUs crammed into CCFLs and LED 'bulbs', consumer electronics widgets often have slightly nicer quality; but also produce all kinds of weird line noise. That pretty much leaves you with the refrigerator, stove(if electric), and AC(if any). Doesn't mean that measuring is going to be easy; but
        • by robbak ( 775424 )
          I wouldn't consider this a realistic case - it is having almost all your power being used by cheap lights connected to chopper dimmers, turned down low. The result of this is that the power is all delivered in a sequence of sharp spikes, and that is all. Houses draw most of their power with normal appliances, or lights without dimmers turned down low. This normal load would reduce the effect of the current spikes, meaning that the meters would measure more accurately - probably within the proper margin for
  • If I stick a webcam in front of an analog meter, couldn't it be considered a 'smart meter'? If so, is it the chips []that measure current, an internet data corruption problem? Maybe a problem with the universe that makes all things that people don't like, not work properly. Is it a design problem, requirements problem, QA problem?
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Depending on the nation a lot of the smart meters are also solar ready and can help with different solar payments that might have changed over the years.
      An older analog meter spinning would not give the correct solar import, export data.
      Once the analog meter is replaced the new meter is solar ready or solar and battery account ready.
    • Exactly what I thought. A very simple device could be attached to the front of the meter and simply count the number of times the little black mark goes by. Not really a web cam, just a very simple system much like in an optical mouse. And there is probably enough EM radiation in the area to power the thing.

      This would avoid the huge cost of having electricians come out and rewire the house.

      But if one was installed, I'd like to keep the old meter in series, as a check.

      • You really do want a webcam. If you must combine it with counting the black marks for relatively real-time power consumption, then by all means, do that. But you want to read off the dials so that you don't get confused if there's a period during which you can't count marks.

        I've been emailing photos of my meter to my meter readers for over a year now... I would automate it, but it's not exactly a hardship to bop out back with the cellphone. We're treed up enough here that I can do it in... my robe.

  • No really usefull comments yet. How do I use this to get something for nothing.

  • We've had the same thing happening in Ontario and in BC. [] Because of similar problems Just remember the bullshit they peddled [] that that it was supposed to lower electricity costs too. Which is why every place they've been installed, the cost of electricity has skyrocketed. And in many working. []

  • I doubt it (Score:2, Informative)

    From the picture you can see their set up is flawed. The current sensor they are using can be inaccurate but more importantly they are likely measuring power as current*voltage which is only correct in AC for purely resistive loads. The switching power supplies in the LED light bulbs or the ballasts in florescent lights or any inductive motor will cause this reading to be incorrect.

    I didn't recognize any of the meters in the pictures. The big makers L+G, Itron, Elster and Senses go through an insane a
    • by ghoul ( 157158 )

      Actually PG&E has time based rates. However they charge more during the day and less at night. This is because even though Solar is more available during the day most of the Industrial load is during the day when factories are running. However as more and more people are adding solar and selling it back the equation is changing. However PGE still wants its profits so now it buys Solar during the day at the rates it charge folks at night but sells it at the higher daytime rate. This means its more profit

    • Lastly ask some former meter readers from Texas and the US south how much they miss being bitten by dogs and shot at while reading meters.

      I'm not so sure, because they are unemployed now, since the smart meters took their job.

  • There should be a roughly equal number of people who have been undercharged, rigtht?

  • Ask yourself a question: given that inflate (in a context like this which is not to do with footballs or Zeppelins) means to make something bigger than it should be, what would under-inflate mean?

    So why the fuck so you feel the need to stick over in there?

  • by aglider ( 2435074 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @04:39AM (#54027347) Homepage
    But our accuracy is far better: +50% to +400%.
    Their smartness is undeniable. It's the point of view to be questioned, though.
  • FTA:"The greatest inaccuracies were seen when researchers combined dimmers with energy saving light bulbs and LED bulbs"

"It is better for civilization to be going down the drain than to be coming up it." -- Henry Allen