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Automatic meter reading

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Older US residential electric meter location, retrofitted with a 1-phase digital smart meter. The meter
communicates to its collection point using 900 MHz mesh network topology.

Automatic meter reading, or AMR, is the technology of automatically collecting


consumption, diagnostic, and status data from water meter or energy metering devices
(gas, electric) and transferring that data to a central database for billing, troubleshooting,
and analyzing. This technology mainly saves utility providers the expense of periodic trips
to each physical location to read a meter. Another advantage is that billing can be based on
near real-time consumption rather than on estimates based on past or predicted
consumption. This timely information coupled with analysis can help both utility providers
and customers better control the use and production of electric energy, gas usage, or water
consumption.
AMR technologies include handheld, mobile and network technologies based on telephony
platforms (wired and wireless), radio frequency (RF), or powerline transmission.

Contents
[hide]

1Technologies
o 1.1Touch technology
o 1.2AMR Hosting
o 1.3Radio frequency network
1.3.1Handheld
1.3.2Mobile
1.3.3Satellite
1.3.4RF technologies commonly used for AMR
1.3.5Wi-Fi
o 1.4Power line communication
2Brief history
o 2.1Advanced AMR and AMI
o 2.2Benefits of advanced metering
o 2.3Disadvantages of advanced metering
o 2.4Notable deployments
2.4.1Australia
3See also
4References
5External links

Technologies[edit]
Touch technology[edit]
With touch-based AMR, a meter reader carries a handheld computer or data collection
device with a wand or probe. The device automatically collects the readings from a meter
by touching or placing the read probe in close proximity to a reading coil enclosed in the
touchpad. When a button is pressed, the probe sends an interrogate signal to the touch
module to collect the meter reading. The software in the device matches the serial number
to one in the route database, and saves the meter reading for later download to a billing or
data collection computer. Since the meter reader still has to go to the site of the meter, this
is sometimes referred to as "on-site" AMR. Another form of contact reader uses a
standardized infrared port to transmit data. Protocols are standardized between
manufacturers by such documents as ANSI C12.18 or IEC 61107.
AMR Hosting[edit]
AMR Hosting is a back-office solution which allows a user to track his/her electricity, water,
or gas consumption over the Internet. All data is collected in near real-time, and is stored in
a database by data acquisition software. The user can view the data via a web application,
and can analyze the data using various online analysis tools such as charting load profiles,
analyzing tariff components, and verify his/her utility bill.
Radio frequency network[edit]
Radio frequency based AMR can take many forms. The more common ones are handheld,
mobile, satellite and fixed network solutions. There are both two-way RF systems and one-
way RF systems in use that use both licensed and unlicensed RF bands.
In a two-way or "wake up" system, a radio signal is normally sent to an AMR meter's unique
serial number, instructing its transceiver to power-up and transmit its data. The meter
transceiver and the reading transceiver both send and receive radio signals. In a one-way
bubble-up or continuous broadcast type system, the meter transmits continuously and
data is sent every few seconds. This means the reading device can be a receiver only, and
the meter a transmitter only. Data travels only from the meter transmitter to the reading
receiver. There are also hybrid systems that combine one-way and two-way techniques,
using one-way communication for reading and two-way communication for programming
functions.
RF-based meter reading usually eliminates the need for the meter reader to enter the
property or home, or to locate and open an underground meter pit. The utility saves money
by increased speed of reading, has less liability from entering private property, and has
fewer missed readings from being unable to access the meter.
The technology based on RF is not readily accepted everywhere. In several Asian
countries, the technology faces a barrier of regulations in place pertaining to use of the
radio frequency of any radiated power. For example, in India the radio frequency which is
generally in ISM band is not free to use even for low power radio of 10 mW. The majority of
manufacturers of electricity meters have radio frequency devices in the frequency band of
433/868 MHz for large scale deployment in European countries. The frequency band of
2.4 GHz can be now used in India for outdoor as well as indoor applications, but few
manufacturers have shown products within this frequency band. Initiatives in radio
frequency AMR in such countries are being taken up with regulators wherever the cost of
licensing outweighs the benefits of AMR.
Handheld[edit]
In handheld AMR, a meter reader carries a handheld computer with a built-in or attached
receiver/transceiver (radio frequency or touch) to collect meter readings from an AMR
capable meter. This is sometimes referred to as "walk-by" meter reading since the meter
reader walks by the locations where meters are installed as they go through their meter
reading route. Handheld computers may also be used to manually enter readings without
the use of AMR technology as an alternate but this will not support exhaustive data which
can be accurately read using the meter reading electronically.
Mobile[edit]
Mobile or "drive-by" meter reading is where a reading device is installed in a vehicle. The
meter reader drives the vehicle while the reading device automatically collects the meter
readings. Often, for mobile meter reading, the reading equipment includes navigational and
mapping features provided by GPS and mapping software. With mobile meter reading, the
reader does not normally have to read the meters in any particular route order, but just
drives the service area until all meters are read. Components often consist of a laptop or
proprietary computer, software, RF receiver/transceiver, and external vehicle antennas.
Satellite[edit]
Satellite transmitters can be installed in the field next to existing meters. The satellite AMR
devices communicates with the meter for readings, and then sends those readings over a
fixed or mobile satellite network. This networks requires a clear view to the sky for the
satellite transmitter/receiver, but eliminates the need to install fixed towers or send out field
technicians, thereby being particularly suited for areas with low geographic meter density.
RF technologies commonly used for AMR[edit]

Narrow Band (single fixed radio frequency)


Spread Spectrum
Direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS)
Frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS)
There are also meters using AMR with RF technologies such as cellular phone data
systems, ZigBee, Bluetooth, Wavenis and others. Some systems operate with U.S. Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) licensed frequencies and others under FCC Part 15,
which allows use of unlicensed radio frequencies.
Wi-Fi[edit]
WiSmart is a versatile platform which can be used by a variety of electrical home
appliances in order to provide wireless TCP/IP communication using the 802.11 b/g
protocol.
Devices such as the Smart Thermostat permit a utility to lower a home's power
consumption to help manage power demand.
The city of Corpus Christi became one of the first cities in the United States to implement
citywide Wi-Fi, which had been free until May 31, 2007, mainly to facilitate AMR after a
meter reader was attacked by a dog.[1] Today many[which?] meters are designed to transmit
using Wi-Fi, even if a Wi-Fi network is not available, and they are read using a drive-by
local Wi-Fi hand held receiver.
The meters installed in Corpus Christi are not directly Wi-Fi enabled, but rather transmit
narrow-band burst telemetry on the 460 MHz band. This narrow-band signal has much
greater range than Wi-Fi, so the number of receivers required for the project are far fewer.
Special receiver stations then decode the narrow-band signals and resend the data via Wi-
Fi.
Most of the automated utility meters installed in the Corpus Christi area are battery
powered. Wi-Fi technology is unsuitable for long-term battery-powered operation.
Power line communication[edit]
PLC is a method where electronic data is transmitted over power lines back to the
substation, then relayed to a central computer in the utility's main office. This would be
considered a type of fixed network systemthe network being the distribution network
which the utility has built and maintains to deliver electric power. Such systems are
primarily used for electric meter reading. Some providers have interfaced gas and water
meters to feed into a PLC type system.

Brief history[edit]
In 1972, Theodore George Ted Paraskevakos, while working with Boeing in Huntsville,
Alabama, developed a sensor monitoring system which used digital transmission for
security, fire and medical alarm systems as well as meter reading capabilities for all utilities.
This technology was a spin-off of the automatic telephone line identification system, now
known as Caller ID.
In 1974, Mr. Paraskevakos was awarded a U.S. patent for this technology.[2] In 1977, he
launched Metretek, Inc.[2], which developed and produced the first fully automated,
commercially available remote meter reading and load management system. Since this
system was developed pre-Internet, Metretek utilized the IBM series 1 mini-computer. For
this approach, Mr. Paraskevakos and Metretek were awarded multiple patents.[3]
The primary driver for the automation of meter reading is not to reduce labor costs, but to
obtain data that is difficult to obtain.[citation needed] As an example, many water meters are
installed in locations that require the utility to schedule an appointment with the homeowner
in order to obtain access to the meter. In many areas, consumers have demanded that their
monthly water bill be based on an actual reading, instead of (for example) an estimated
monthly usage based on just one actual meter reading made every 12 months. Early AMR
systems often consisted of walk-by and drive-by AMR for residential customers, and
telephone-based AMR for commercial or industrial customers. What was once a need for
monthly data became a need for daily and even hourly readings of the meters.
Consequently, the sales of drive-by and telephone AMR has declined in the US, while sales
of fixed networks has increased. The US Energy Policy Act of 2005 asks that electric utility
regulators consider the support for a "...time-based rate schedule (to) enable the electric
consumer to manage energy use and cost through advanced metering
and communications technology." [4]
The trend now is to consider the use of advanced meters as part of an Advanced Metering
Infrastructure.
The First Commercially Available Remote Meter Reading and Load Management System - Metretek,
Inc. (1978)

Advanced AMR and AMI[edit]


Originally AMR devices just collected meter readings electronically and matched them with
accounts. As technology has advanced, additional data could then be captured, stored, and
transmitted to the main computer, and often the metering devices could be controlled
remotely. This can include events alarms such as tamper, leak detection, low battery, or
reverse flow. Many AMR devices can also capture interval data, and log meter events. The
logged data can be used to collect or control time of use or rate of use data that can be
used for water or energy usage profiling, time of use billing, demand forecasting, demand
response, rate of flow recording, leak detection, flow monitoring, water and energy
conservationenforcement, remote shutoff, etc. Advanced Metering Infrastructure, or AMI is
the new term coined to represent the networking technology of fixed network meter
systems that go beyond AMR into remote utility management. The meters in an AMI
system are often referred to as smart meters, since they often can use collected data
based on programmed logic.
The Automatic Meter Reading Association (AMRA) endorses the National Association of
Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) resolution to eliminate regulatory barriers to the
broad implementation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). The resolution, passed in
February 2007,[5] acknowledged the role of AMI in supporting the implementation of
dynamic pricing and the resulting benefits to consumers. The resolution further identified
the value of AMI in achieving significant utility operational cost savings in the areas of
outage management, revenue protection and asset management. The resolution also
called for AMI business case analysis to identify cost-effective deployment strategies,
endorsed timely cost recovery for prudently incurred AMI expenditures and made additional
recommendations on rate making and tax treatment of such investments.
Benefits of advanced metering[edit]
Advanced metering systems can provide benefits for utilities, retail providers and
customers. Benefits will be recognized by the utilities with increased efficiencies, outage
detection, tamper notification and reduced labor cost as a result of automating reads,
connections and disconnects. Retail providers will be able to offer new innovative products
in addition to customizing packages for their customers. In addition, with the meter data
being readily available, more flexible billing cycles would be available to their customers
instead of following the standard utility read cycles. With timely usage information available
to the customer, benefits will be seen through opportunities to manage their energy
consumption and change from one REP to another with actual meter data. Because of
these benefits, many utilities are moving towards implementing some types of AMR
solutions.
In many cases, Smart Metering is required by law, with Pennsylvania's Act 129 (2008) an
example.
The benefits of smart metering for the utility.[citation needed]

Accurate meter reading, no more estimates


Improved billing
Accurate profile classes and measurement classes, true costs applied
Improved security and tamper detection for equipment
Energy management through profile data graphs
Less financial burden correcting mistakes
Less accrued expenditure
Transparency of cost to read metering
Improved procurement power though more accurate data - de-risking price
In cases of shortages, utility will be able to manage/allocate supply.
The benefits of smart metering for the customer.

Improved billing and tracking of usage.


Disadvantages of advanced metering[edit]

Utility can possibly control amount allocated to users.[3]


Risk of loss of privacy - details of use reveal information about user activities[6]
Greater potential for monitoring by other/unauthorized third parties[6]
Potentially reduced reliability (more complicated meters, more potential for interference
by third parties)[6]
Increased security risks from network or remote access[6][6]
Notable deployments[edit]
Construction practices, weather, and the need for information drive utilities in different parts
of the world towards AMR at different rates. In the US, there have been significant fixed
network deployments of both RF based and PLC based technologies.[7] Some countries
have either deployed or plan to deploy[8] AMR systems throughout the entire country.
Australia[edit]
AMI in Australia has grown from both government policy which sought to rectify observed
market inefficiencies, and distribution businesses who looked to gain operational
efficiencies. In July 2008, there was a mandated program being planned in Victoria for the
deployment of 2.6 million meters over a 4-year period. The anticipated peak installation rate
of AMI meters was 5,000 per day across Victoria. The program governance was provided
by an industry steering committee.
In 2009 the Victorian Auditor General undertook a review of the program and found that
there were "significant inadequacies" in advice to Government and that project governance
"has not been appropriate".[9] The Victorian government subsequently announced a
moratorium of the program[10]

Public Utility Commission of Texas Report 2006


Pennsylvania, (Exelon-PECO) 2.2 million meters deployed
Missouri, (Ameren) 1.7 million meters deployed.

See also[edit]

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Power line communication
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References[edit]
1. Jump up^ EarthLink Dedicates Wi-Fi Network In Corpus Christi
2. Jump up^ U.S. Patent 3,842,208 (Sensor Monitoring Device)
3. Jump up^ U.S. Patent 4,241,237 and U.S. Patent 4,455,453 and Canadian Patent #
1,155,243 (Apparatus and Method for Remote Sensor Monitoring, Metering and Control)
4. Jump up^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-03-03.
Retrieved 2014-07-02. US Congress, Energy Policy Act of 2005
5. Jump up^ Resolution to Remove Regulatory Barriers To the Broad Implementation of
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (from NARUC Committee on Energy Resources and the
Environment Resolutions of 2007-02-21)
6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Privacy on the Smart Grid
7. Jump up^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-15.
Retrieved 2007-09-24. PPL 1.3 million residential and commercial electric meters
8. Jump up^ [1] Sweden, (Vattenfall) 850k meters
9. Jump up^ http://www.itnews.com.au/News/160398,auditor-general-slams-victorian-smart-
meters.aspx
10. Jump up^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-03-
26.