I recently learned the hard way what’s happening with smart meters in Europe. The same type of smart meter they’re using here in France has already been deployed in many EU countries.
Mostly, we hear only about the negative health effects of wireless smart meters, but the ones here only send data back over the power lines.
Nevertheless, it turns out smart meters here are still being used to pretty much screw many over.
In short, smart meters may mean less juice to power stuff, and more frequent main breaker trips as people exceed their (now reduced) capacity.
Expanded explanation after the vid:
The Olden Days
In the olden days, dumb meters measured real power consumed – in kWh (kilowatt-hours). One kWh is when you use 1000W of power for 1 hour.
Let’s say you subscribed for, say, 9kW. Practically speaking, this meant you had a main breaker for 230V at 45A, which is actually 230 x 45 = 10,350W, or 10.35 kW. But your subscription to the power company was still called “9kW”.
A couple of years ago, bills changed… Suddenly, the “9kW” was written as “9kVA” – but nothing actually changed on the customer’s end.
Enter the Smart Meter!
So, these smart meters now have a circuit breaker built in. Your old main breaker is now useless since the smart meter is sitting between it and and the power from the electric company.
These new meters are also programmed for the 9 kVA value. Practically, this means that the max current you can pull is:
9000 W / 230 V = 39.1 A.
9 kVA = 9kW for a Power Factor of 1.0.
Obviously, 39 amps is much less than 45 amps! 13% less, actually…
YAY smart meters!
Is there an upside?
On the plus side, smart meters do record and send daily consumption to the power company, including how much power you use at what time.
The inclusion of the main breaker and the ability to communicate with the power company also means that service activation or deactivation can be done remotely. No more waiting for The Guy to come out and turn power on/off when you move.
Also, amperage upgrades can also be done remotely now without sending a tech out – most of the time.
These smart meters are being deployed all over Europe as far as I can tell. I’m not sure if the same shenanigans are happening in North America, Australia, Asia, etc. but I wouldn’t put it past them.
Finally, let’s consider the reasons we are given by the electric company as to why these meters are so much better. The main one is that it’s all about “going green”. Electric cars are mentioned, naturally.
Well, let’s think about this: Electric cars suck a TON of juice to charge their batteries. If everyone has less capacity with a smart meter, and they have an electric car, they’ll need to jack up their service and pay the power company more money.
Right now, if everyone in the world ditched their old car for an electric one, power grids the world over would literally collapse. Gasoline and diesel are extremely energy-dense fuels. A simple calculation you can do is 1 hp (horsepower) = 746 W. So, a 150hp engine outputs a peak power of 111.9 kW. That’s a lot higher than your 9kW / 9kVA subscription to the electric company, no?
But, but… solar!
Right. A modern standard-size solar panel outputs about 250W. Four panels will output 1kW.
That’s in good light, with an efficient inverter… That could work to power our Electric Car World, because the total energy output gatherable by solar panels on Earth is pretty darn high. But solar is still pretty expensive, and most people don’t have solar power.
In any case, I think you get the point. The idea that smart meters will save us all and make us “Green” is pretty much a marketing gimmick so that you’ll be happy to pay your electric utility more money for a higher capacity subscription.
And more :-). Here in Poland we we hear the same issues like this:
Fortunately, there is not yet in my region but like You sad I will watch power company closely. Thanks for post.
Yeah, I have read horror stories here about bills going up by 300%.
Apparently, it was a “bad smart meter”.
Well, yeah! 😉
What is wrong with the way we live today,a fuse backs up circuit breakers, Why? Because circuit beakers fail if an overcurrent or an overload positions exists. If the condition that caused the circuit breaker to trip is not rectified this same breaker can be reset until it loses it”s factory calibration. A fuse is a one time protection, it cannot be reset it must be replaced only after the problem is corrected. If you don”t have gold backing a currency the fiat currency can only be kicked down the road so many times until the underlying problem is fixed. The trouble is the damage that is caused when problems are allowed to be shunted until they can”t anymore and then it is 1929 all over instead of 1921 when a depression lasted only a year because the problems weren”t ignored. DT
Smart meters have several large advantages for the power company and consumer.
First off, the power company can lay off or reassign a large number of people who walk through your yard to read the meter. This leads to less trucks, fuel, and dog bites…lower cost and less intrusive.
Second, smart meters give data continuously, allowing for load shifting and more acurate plant design. The old meters were only read every several months and only estimated in the other months. It is very hard to use a computer to maximize plant efficiency or find losses if you do not have data on useage that is accurate.
Utilities don’t generally deploy expensive technologies unless they save money in the long run. Take away smart meters and both the utility and you will pay more for same service.
Also if you are worried about RF exposure, then leave the city, stop holding your cellphone to your head, and get rid of your wifi router. Our typical rf exposure is far above what your smart meter puts out. Most of this is just irrational fear of the unknown…
Except for your cell phone, it causes brain cancer due to high transmit power and close proximity to the organ (Brain). Might also caution against using bluetooth remote while phone is in pants pocket. Again keep it away from valued soft tissue organs. 🤔 😲
Great site Scotti, thanx
Yeah. Unfortunately, here in the Land of Stinky Cheese, the power company decided to try to screw consumers out of 500 million euros plus.
It was related not to the meters themselves, but to some “fancy financing” where we pay less in the short term, but fork over more in the long run to pay for smart meters that were supposed to be “free”. Fortunately, they were caught.
So, ideally everyone would have lower costs, but alas those corporate types love to squeeze the rest of us.
Hi you may be able to answer this question.
I have noticed on my smart meter that the power factor goes from about .9 to .3 when the hot water is on and when my solar is feeding in it goes to pretty much 0 is this normal?
I have read that if the power factor drops under a load then you may be charged more is this correct?
If the hot water is just a normal electric water heater, then the PF should be just about 1 since it’s a purely resistive load. When the solar is feeding into the system, it may actually be providing all the juice you need, so PF drops to 0 since you consume nothing from the grid. Maybe…
In most places, you’re not charged for having a low PF unless you’re an industrial connection. Homes are usually just charged for consumption in real power (kWh) terms. But they will usually charge less money during off-peak hours for the juice you do consume, which a smart meter can actually help with since theoretically, it’s reporting your usage + time of day.
Thought I would throw my tenant’s problem regards Smart Meters (SM) into the mix, in the hope someone could maybe suggest what is going on?
May 2016 – tenants switch to E.org – no problem.
March 2017 – had Top-Up via App PAYG SM installed and immediately the RCD/fusebox starts tripping intermittently – every few hours, every day, after few days.
I contacted E.org and they stated that SM not cause switches to trip, fault is fusebox. Accept what they say.
Tripping continues and tenants check and monitor if appliances causing problem. None found.
BG electricians check home electrics 4 times and state domestic side and RCD all ok – Dec 2017, Aug 2018, Sept 2018 and Oct 2018.
Customer Top Up – when tenant tops up via app and then credit shows up on phone then RCD immediately trips.
Supplier reading – when E.org do On Demand reading from their end RCD immediately trips.
E.org change SM Oct 2018 and tripping now worse. BG check after SM change and state domestic side and RCD all ok.
E.org state that fault is RCD as have changed SM. BG believe it is SM. I am between rock and hard place.
Requested E.org replace SM with Dumb meters, but will only do if I pay.
Now starting case with Energy Ombudsman… And tenants’ life not good as now 3/4 times a day have to reset RCD. Any ideas/advice?
Wow. So, my first hunch would be NOT the SM because of course it should not cause this problem. But if the tenants + electricians checked out everything on the premises, then we can probably safely assume it’s not a problem on the domestic side of things.
What sticks out to me is that if the RCD immediately trips whenever a Customer Top Up or Supplier remote reading is done, then there MUST be something wrong with the meter – even though that makes no sense because it shouldn’t happen.
Thing is, smart meters are like all other fancy electronics: they are frequently not designed very well. It’s entirely possible that there is some flaw in the SMs that only manifests in certain conditions – like when the Top Up service is added! I’ve seen weirder things, believe me. They are often very difficult to track down.
If everything has been changed/checked, and the problem started with the Top Up on the SM, then logic would dictate that’s where to look. What should happen is that E.org send out an engineer to dig into the problem. Since that probably won’t happen without the intervention of God, the Queen, or some other higher power, I’d either eliminate the Top Up thingy, or switch to a dumb meter.
Geez… Isn’t technology wonderful? Let us know how it goes!
Problem Solved – An Update for you and others who may have similar problem. Taken me long time to find solution.
E.org have at no time attempted to find solution, instead just repeat that SM is not faulty. I have always agreed to that and instead have suggested many options for them to test that how the SM Functions is the source of the problem.
WHY ELECTRIC SM CAUSES MY RCD TO TRIP
SM was exchanged for standard pre-pay in exact same position – BUT the property Consumer Unit(CU)/RCD is also located in Meter Box directly above the location of the Electric Meter – 0.5 cm apart. (Did not mention this initially as did not know this could be an issue.)
A SM is basically a mobile phone – a Sim and antennae.
– In areas of poor phone signal reception, which this SM is in, the SM increases transmitter antenna power and output to get a better signal. The increased power of the phone signal causes interference in the CU resulting in the RCD electronics to detect a fault and so trip the device.
– The Radio Frequency (RF)/ElectroMagnetic (EM) interference for electrical and electronic equipment, and that will include RCDs, only have to be immune to a signal strength of 3 volts per metre under the EMC Regulations. Close to a mobile phone or a Smart meter, the levels are often over 20 volts per metre.
So what causes the RCD to trip is how SMs function – when activated, they output intense, pulsed bursts of non-ionising microwave radiation, RF/EMF. The SM should not have been installed so close (directly underneath) to the CU/RCD.
So simple and something that E.org or their SM installers really should be aware of and suggested as a solution or test.
Faraday shield – a block to RF/EMF waves/signals/interference
My DIY Faraday shield – Aluminium foil wrapped around cardboard ! – inserted in 0.5 cm gap between CU/RCD and SM.
The shield blocks RF/EMF entering the CU
– immediately the RCD stopped tripping
– remove shield, RCD starts tripping again
Fact – SM is not faulty but HOW functions causes RCD to trip – it is now testable and provable, no more is it a probable.
BUT, E.org will not address or even hear my solution as they state they sent out Deadlock Letter over 12 months ago. I did start with Energy Ombudsman but did not carry on as I did not have clear information on my part for cause of tripping. For over 2 years E.org have placed my tenants in a position of atrocious quality of life as the electricity constantly tripped every day and night about 4 plus time.
1. My only option now is legal action – any ideas who to contact, how to go about it – because I really want to. Especially now my tenants do not have to suffer constant electricity trips 🙂
2. Also, if the SM is causing the RCD to trip is it then not CE compliant? How do I find out what tests were done to get CE compliance for my SM?
3. Any other suggestions?
(BTW, I have since found out that they fitted the GAS SM illegally, breaking all Regulations and Laws. Backed up by Cadent who came out on an emergency as there was a gas leak, and BG who fixed the leak and brought the Gas SM up to current regulations. Am awaiting a response from E.org – been 5 weeks!).
I noticed an appeal from someone in Denmark about help concerning smart-meters. He is asking for help to find a copy of a court case in France from 2019, which ordered the removal of smart meters for health reasons. Perhaps you or some of the other followers of Scottie’s Tech have an answer to it. Here is the link to the case, (first in Danish and then in English) https://www.gofundme.com/f/stoet-retssag-mod-smartmeter?viewupdates=1&rcid=r01-15855708621-fbf3939c754e439d&utm_medium=email&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_email%2B1137-update-supporters-v5b