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Smart Meter causing problems with security alarm?

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  • Oct 26th, 2007 11:15 pm
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Deal Expert
Oct 20, 2001
18709 posts
1157 upvotes

Smart Meter causing problems with security alarm?

A couple of weeks ago, Mississauga Hydro ('Enersource') installed a "smart meter" at my house. And in the last week or so, I've been getting frequent low battery signals on my security alarm (installed by ADT over 7 years ago) -- at least once a day, and some days more. There have been no power fluctuations whenever the alarm has reported a low battery signal.

Maybe the timing is just coincidental, but I'm thinking maybe it's possible that the new meter interferes somehow with the security alarm? Has anyone else experienced or heard of this kind of issue?

I'm going to call Enersource on Monday and discuss it with them, and if they claim it shouldn't cause a problem then I'll just get ADT to replace the alarm console/battery. But in the meantime, I figured I'd also ask here...

TIA.
These folks have taken over RFD, so I'm done here.

Mutu qabla an tamutu
14 replies
Deal Addict
Mar 21, 2006
4155 posts
268 upvotes
Burlington, Ontario
I don't think one has anything to do with the other unless the meter people drilled through the line for your alarm power supply and it's been running off of a battery every since.

You could just have a loopy power supply or indeed a battery that is dying off or a bad connection on it.
Audio - Video - Data - Security - This is what I do
Sr. Member
Nov 24, 2005
697 posts
5 upvotes
Southwestern Ontario
Our community has been having massive problems with cordless phone interference with the smart meters.



Smart Meters aren’t that smart, Chatham man says
Device interferes with some gadgets, says Austin Wright

By Brian Cleeve
Wednesday July 04, 2007

Chatham-Kent Hydro should take out all the Smart Meters it has installed because they interfere with radio reception, a Chatham man says.
Austin Wright says the utility has spent $4.6 million to install about 20,000 of the Smart Meters in Chatham-Kent, but it hasn’t received the approval of Industry Canada, the body that regulates frequencies for the meters.
The meters use the 902-928 MHz band, the same one used by amateur radio operators such as Wright.
But he says the Smart Meters also cause “crackling and popping sounds,” and interfere with receptions on telephones, crib monitors and other devices set on that band.
Furthermore, alleges Wright, Industry Canada set up another band specifically designated for meters, but Chatham-Kent Hydro doesn’t want to spend the extra money to use that band.
Can’t use radio equipment
Wright says he has been unable to use his amateur radio equipment because it’s on the same band as the Smart Meters.
“There are crackling sounds on the phone,” he said in an interview with Chatham This Week. “A lot of people think there’s a problem with their phones and throw them away.”
He also says the meters cause interference with the crib monitor in his home.
“Because the Smart Meters take up all the frequencies on the band, I can’t switch to another one. I’m an amateur radio operator and I know how to find a signal.”
Mike Goodwin, supervisor of engineering and metering for Chatham-Kent Hydro, says the manufacturer establishes the frequency used by Smart Meters.

He says the meters use the band between 900 and 928 MHz.
Goodwin tells Chatham This Week that the utility has been getting “a few calls” about potential interference, but “we have changed how often the signals get sent out.”
But that change can affect the effectiveness of the meters.
20,000 Smart Meters in C-K
Goodwin says there have been about 20,000 Smart Meters put out in Chatham-Kent and there have not been a lot of calls complaining about interference.
Work is now being done in Wallaceburg.
So far, 215 meter customers are being billed for Smart Meters.
Smart Meters distinguish when power is being used. That information is then used by hydro for billing purposes.
Goodwin says the meters are an energy conservation initiative of the Ontario Ministry of Energy. They are expected to save customers money and take away the need for utilities to dispatch meter readers.
The meters also provide instant troubleshooting, allowing hydro to more quickly fix problems in its service, Goodwin adds.
The meters cost $135 each and are part of a pilot project that started in 2004.
Meter manufacturer determines band
Ron Wheeler is a spokesman for Industry Canada Spectrum Management, which deals with radio licensing and co-ordinating of radio frequencies. He says the meter manufacturer determines which radio frequency band will be used, based on the communication network and the radio licensing requirements of Industry Canada.
The assignment of a radio frequency ensures that radio equipment is certified for use in Canada, Wheeler says.
All utilities that operate Smart Meters must secure a licence for the radio frequency, and Chatham-Kent Hydro has been issued one. It received a developmental licence in November 2004 and it was updated to a radio communication user category in August 2006.
The one-year licence covers the 220 to 222 MHz radio band. It prohibits the operator from causing interference to “other communications users.”
But the 902 to 928 MHz band is not licensed and there is no such requirement, says Wheeler.
There is a fee to use the licensed band. Groups such as police, fire, ambulance and maritime radio users who want their signals to go out a great distance generally employ it.
The unlicensed band is capable of transmitting a distance from 50 to 100 metres.
Wheeler says the unlicensed band does not offer protection against interference from other devices. People with cordless phones or similar devices can change the channel, he says.
Part of the process involved in Smart Meters goes out of the licensed channel and that part is required not to interfere with any other devices, he says.



Smart meters becoming a big problem


Wednesday July 11, 2007

Congratulations to Chatham This Week for breaking the news about problems with smart meters. Chatham-Kent Hydro will now be getting calls from people complaining about interference to cordless devices.
And I will be digging through receipts so Hydro can reimburse me for the wireless equipment in our home which is now useless due to the interference caused by smart meters.
Your July 4 story contained some comments from the Hydro spokesperson that, in my opinion, were misleading. “All utilities that operate smart meters must secure a licence for the radio frequency, and Chatham-Kent Hydro has been issued one,” implies that the system is duly licensed, when it is not. The licence pertains to a data link at 220 MHz only; the smart meters are NOT licensed, nor are they required to be. But the smart meters do have to abide by the rules for unlicensed radio equipment (RSS-210), namely, they must not cause harmful interference to other users, and they must accept all interference, even if it causes undesirable operation.
Despite being informed of problems last fall, Hydro continues to mistakenly assume that they have priority over other users of the 900 MHz band. Industry Canada sanctions no such protection, and warned that spending $4.6 million on an unlicensed and unprotected system was “dangerous” since there is nothing to stop licensed users from rendering Hydro’s unlicensed system inoperative. The huge price tag doesn’t raise Hydro’s priority as a user.
Hydro also stated that, “People with cordless phones or similar devices can change the channel.”
But the smart meter system actually monopolizes the entire 902-928 MHz band, meaning there’s not one single channel available which is free from interference. Residents can’t change the channel because there aren’t any that aren’t affected. Industry Canada has expressed concern that one user is using the entire band in a way that excludes the possibility of sharing with other legitimate users.
The Radio Advisory Board of Canada, which recommends rule changes to Industry Canada, has already started examining this issue at its meetings.
Of all the options available for smart meter data, the Ontario Energy Board rated 900 MHz systems as rather weak, since better options were available, including a licensed and protected allocation at 1.43 GHz. This frequency is effective across North America, and offers exclusive and protected use by the smart meters. Industry Canada is already expressing concerns about the use of 900 MHz for smart meter systems. Despite being allowed under today’s rules (subject to the “cause no interference” clause), Industry Canada is “examining how to deal with a single user who muscles in on a band and pushes everyone else off, and how they are going to deal with the pressure on other unlicensed bands that will follow if all the present unlicensed users move away from 900 MHz,” according to RABC member Richard Ferth.
It’s hard to fault Hydro directly, since they likely relied on the recommendations of an outside consultant while choosing the system.
Hydro ought to have followed Ontario Energy Board guidelines and explored other options.
In any event, hydro is continuing to install a flawed smart meter system with a short life-expectancy which is guaranteed to cost far more in the long run than is being saved today.
Austin Wright
Chatham
Deal Addict
Dec 1, 2003
1268 posts
7 upvotes
It was probably caused by enersource but not in the way you may think.

I do alarms all the time and the cause I think that made the low battery signals start showing up was for a couple of reasons.

1. When they installed the new smart meter Im sure they had to disconnect the power for a little while to change meters. When they did so the alarm automatically switches over to battery standby since there is a loss of AC power (16.5-18VAC) from transformer.

2. Since the system is 7 years old it sounds like the battery is in need of replacing anyways. Most alarm batteries should be replaced every 4-5 years or so with little to no use (no frequent power outages etc) and since it switched over to battery standby the ailing battery probably had very little capacity left, so after the smart meter was installed and the panel started to run on AC again and began charging the battery, the battery just gave up the ghost and stopped holding a decent charge anymore.

The batteries are cheap like $12 or so for a 4a-5a sealed gel cell alarm battery. Most companies will replace it for free if your still in the contract with them.

I doubt they messed with your AC connection to the alarm itself as you would be receiving a AC cut or AC fail message as well as low battery and you would see the corresponding trouble on the keypad for it.
[OP]
Deal Expert
Oct 20, 2001
18709 posts
1157 upvotes
loudsubz wrote:
Sep 22nd, 2007 3:11 pm
The batteries are cheap like $12 or so for a 4a-5a sealed gel cell alarm battery. Most companies will replace it for free if your still in the contract with them.
ADT wants to charge $80+ for the service call, and then the additional charges for labor I guess. :| Is it something I can replace myself?

One odd thing, btw -- it seems like whenever the battery signal goes off on the alarm panel, my router loses its Internet connection as well. Is that normal when an alarm signal is sent to the monitoring center? I have only one phone line in my home, and I use that for my DSL connection to the net.
These folks have taken over RFD, so I'm done here.

Mutu qabla an tamutu
Deal Addict
Dec 1, 2003
1268 posts
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Rehan wrote:
Sep 26th, 2007 8:13 pm
ADT wants to charge $80+ for the service call, and then the additional charges for labor I guess. :| Is it something I can replace myself?

One odd thing, btw -- it seems like whenever the battery signal goes off on the alarm panel, my router loses its Internet connection as well. Is that normal when an alarm signal is sent to the monitoring center? I have only one phone line in my home, and I use that for my DSL connection to the net.
Replacing the battery is easy

open panel door
take off leads from existing battery
replace with new one making note of polarity

close door
wait a few minutes for panel to recognize battery level is ok

Done

As for the DSL cutting out when the panel dials, it is normal but can be worked around. Since the panel cuts all the phones to the house when it dials out (for 1st priority) it cuts the line going to your modem too.

A workaround is to run a dedicated line before the alarm panel to just the DSL modem, and make sure no phone lines are plugged in on that circuit as well.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jun 14, 2003
23140 posts
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loudsubz wrote:
Sep 26th, 2007 8:39 pm
Replacing the battery is easy

open panel door
take off leads from existing battery
replace with new one making note of polarity

close door
wait a few minutes for panel to recognize battery level is ok
I have another question. Where can I buy the alarm battery? Home Depot or somewhere special.
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[OP]
Deal Expert
Oct 20, 2001
18709 posts
1157 upvotes
Thanks, loudsubz. The DSL cutting out is not a problem... I was just thinking maybe it was related to the cause. But I guess not.

I took a look at the panel and the replacement seems very straight forward. I have an Ultra Tech UT-1240 battery in there. So where can I buy a replacement for it?
These folks have taken over RFD, so I'm done here.

Mutu qabla an tamutu
Deal Addict
Dec 1, 2003
1268 posts
7 upvotes
Rehan wrote:
Sep 26th, 2007 9:40 pm
Thanks, loudsubz. The DSL cutting out is not a problem... I was just thinking maybe it was related to the cause. But I guess not.

I took a look at the panel and the replacement seems very straight forward. I have an Ultra Tech UT-1240 battery in there. So where can I buy a replacement for it?
Well the DSL cutting out is definately cause by the alarm dialing out, but if it doesn't dial out often for check-ins then you should be fine, but the work around is straight forward.

As for the batteries, they are the same as USP batteries, so if you can find a computer store that sells UPS batteries your good to go.

http://besabattery.com/great_northern.shtml

or

http://www.nhsmediastore.com/index.asp? ... &ProdID=29
Deal Addict
Mar 21, 2006
4155 posts
268 upvotes
Burlington, Ontario
Find your local Sayal. They stock all sizes of SLA batteries.
Audio - Video - Data - Security - This is what I do
Newbie
User avatar
Jul 13, 2006
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When I was looking for a replacement for Alarm Battery, I found it at theSource though it was not available at 2 of the 3 locations I checked. If I remember correctly, paid close to $35-40.
[OP]
Deal Expert
Oct 20, 2001
18709 posts
1157 upvotes
The old battery is 12V, 4AH... A different 12V battery with a higher capacity (4.5 AH or 5 AH) should work fine, right?
These folks have taken over RFD, so I'm done here.

Mutu qabla an tamutu
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 8, 2007
1655 posts
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Mississauga
could this smart meter interference be affecting my wireless router? i haven't had problems in months and in the last 2-3 weeks, my computers consistently lose the wireless connection with the Linksys wrt54G....
[OP]
Deal Expert
Oct 20, 2001
18709 posts
1157 upvotes
Okely dokely... Battery has been replaced. I got a 12V 5AH battery from Sayal for $22.50, and it was a cinch to replace. Thanks to everyone (especially loudsubz and BuildingHomes) for the help!
These folks have taken over RFD, so I'm done here.

Mutu qabla an tamutu
Newbie
Oct 25, 2007
9 posts
4 upvotes
Ok, so how do we view the bloomin' data from our new SmartMeters? I'm with Enersource Mississauga. Not sure where else to post this.

Cheers
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