A smart meter is a device which records data like electrical consumption, voltage levels, electrical current, and kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity used each month. Smart Meters communicate to the user for better clarity of usage behavior, electricity suppliers for system billing and future customer billing, and the electricity provider for system improvement. The data is sent back to the centralized control unit (PCU) through an Ethernet cable or phone line connection. From the PCU, the data can be viewed real-time by the user or sent to a specific department for immediate action such as disconnection, or detailed billing for usage. The PCU is linked to the electrical distribution system (EDS) by a direct communication unit (CDU). This enables the subscriber to view and monitor his or her account in real time and with ease, anywhere he or she goes.
Smart Meters have many advantages. For one, they are a great way to track and record personal data usage. Some smart meters will also contain an LED screen which will allow the user to see the current usage and potential future usage based on date and time stamping. For instance, the meter could indicate if you plan to increase the amount of electricity used while you are away from home, or monitor your usage patterns to ensure that you conserve electricity whenever possible.
Another advantage to using smart meters is that they can alert you to potential problems before they become serious enough to be addressed. For instance, if you notice that there are unusually high or low voltage levels in your household, you can connect the meter to your computer and use the computer’s power optimization software to investigate the possible causes. If your PCU does not contain an Ethernet port, you may also use the Smart Meter’s RF modem to send the data over the airwaves. For more extensive investigations, you can attach a radio transmitter to the meter and use the PCU’s data transmission port to send the data over the internet.
The primary disadvantage of smart meters is that they can become outdated quickly. The most common way that this happens is because of the reliance on estimated consumption. This means that the estimated consumption is usually much lower than the true amount of electricity used at any given time. Although this can sometimes be acceptable, it is often necessary to periodically review and adjust the settings to take into account recent changes in usage. Therefore, it becomes necessary to periodically reset the parameters of your smart meter settings.
The third potential disadvantage to using smart meters is that they can cause cancer. A variety of diseases including lung cancer and leukemia have been blamed on too much electricity exposure. Although there is no direct link between the two, it is thought that prolonged or long-term exposure to high levels of RF radiation can alter the body’s natural DNA, altering cellular function and possibly leading to cancer. Another potential problem is the potential release of ionizing radiation, which can be potentially harmful to humans. Some experts feel that the release of ionizing radiation is the cause of tissue damage in people who are frequently exposed to the Smart Meters.
There have also been claims by various companies claiming that the devices will interfere with existing medical equipment. These companies claim that the increased transmission frequencies will interfere with implanted defibrillators and other implanted medical devices. To date, no evidence has been presented to suggest that this is true. However, if this were true, it would certainly change the way that doctors choose to operate their defibrillators and other implanted medical devices. Smart Meters may very well be an excellent invention, but there are still plenty of concerns that need to be addressed before these handy devices should be widely adopted throughout the UK.