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How do they read the gas, hydro and water meters from distance?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 16th, 2021 6:25 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2015
2281 posts
435 upvotes
East York, ON

How do they read the gas, hydro and water meters from distance?

My water meter is inside and they never came to read it
Then there is the power meter and the gas meter which rhey could read from distance or directly as they are on the side of the house.
Which one of these could we read as they do? I am interested to add these to a smart home project that I am designing

PS: I am in Toronto
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24 replies
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
22770 posts
21599 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
Water Meters in recent history have now included a remote sensor / transmitter that appears on the outside of your house as a small box
Whenever your municipality sends out a person to confirm water usage (versus estimates)
It’s this sensor / transmitter that they use to read the data from
https://secureservercdn.net/72.167.242. ... _water.jpg

Both the Gas & Hydro Meters are outside your home

Again, most of the year your bills are based on estimated usage
With technicians typically coming by to confirm usage readings once or twice a year
Usually in the GOOD WEATHER months … Spring thru Fall
Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
11944 posts
7117 upvotes
Paris
My old water meter had a weird little black thing that was mounted on the outside of the house they stuck a scanner too. My new water meter is a smart meter. Gas meter is still a visual check, hydro meter is smart as well and reports usage.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2015
2281 posts
435 upvotes
East York, ON
PointsHubby wrote: Water Meters in recent history have now included a remote sensor / transmitter that appears on the outside of your house as a small box
Whenever your municipality sends out a person to confirm water usage (versus estimates)
It’s this sensor / transmitter that they use to read the data from
https://secureservercdn.net/72.167.242. ... _water.jpg

Both the Gas & Hydro Meters are outside your home

Again, most of the year your bills are based on estimated usage
With technicians typically coming by to confirm usage readings once or twice a year
Usually in the GOOD WEATHER months … Spring thru Fall
I am not worried about the accuracy of the bills, I just want a clear picture of our consumption for the above
It is interesting that I do not remember to have seen that water meter transmitter, I would look again
Yes the others are probably visual :-(
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Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
11944 posts
7117 upvotes
Paris
CuriousC wrote: I am not worried about the accuracy of the bills, I just want a clear picture of our consumption for the above
It is interesting that I do not remember to have seen that water meter transmitter, I would look again
Yes the others are probably visual :-(
At one time, our local utility had a live dashboard you could monitor your usage but then they were amalgamated with Cambridge and if it exists, I cant find it. So the data stream exists, but getting access to it in a dashboard for you is beyond my programming skills.
Penalty Box
Jun 24, 2015
7193 posts
2227 upvotes
0 downvotes
20-30 years ago All the companies used to come out and physically read the digits on your meter. Today the Hydro is a smart meter so it sends the readings electronically to the billing department, same with Water. Gas is still read manually, every other month. so one month they estimate, the other they read. or you can call them in yourself if u wish, i have done it during snow seasons
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[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2015
2281 posts
435 upvotes
East York, ON
GoodFellaz wrote: 20-30 years ago All the companies used to come out and physically read the digits on your meter. Today the Hydro is a smart meter so it sends the readings electronically to the billing department, same with Water. Gas is still read manually, every other month. so one month they estimate, the other they read. or you can call them in yourself if u wish, i have done it during snow seasons
How do I read/capture the Hydro and the Water messages? Are then sent over the power grid or they are sent over wifi or similar and read by a car that passes by from street level ?
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Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
11944 posts
7117 upvotes
Paris
CuriousC wrote: How do I read/capture the Hydro and the Water messages? Are then sent over the power grid or they are sent over wifi or similar and read by a car that passes by from street level ?
Power grid as far as I know.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2015
2281 posts
435 upvotes
East York, ON
Jerico wrote: At one time, our local utility had a live dashboard you could monitor your usage but then they were amalgamated with Cambridge and if it exists, I cant find it. So the data stream exists, but getting access to it in a dashboard for you is beyond my programming skills.
Hmm that raises a good question, Ontario Hydro should make these available via APIs somehow.
I have no issues with programming with any sort of APIs that are out there ...I can't find anything on their website
You can still view your current consumption via their web page but I need to login, I think I need to wait for my wife to get back to get the password for our account
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[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2015
2281 posts
435 upvotes
East York, ON
Jerico wrote: Power grid as far as I know.
I wonder if I could sniff those, this must be Ethernet over power lines. Probably I could capture the data for the entire street if it is not encrypted
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Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
11944 posts
7117 upvotes
Paris
CuriousC wrote: I wonder if I could sniff those, this must be Ethernet over power lines. Probably I could capture the data for the entire street if it is not encrypted
Just like the old days with cable internet where you could find the IPs of all computers in your neighborhood. I’m sure its possible, but beyond my personal skill level.
Penalty Box
Jun 24, 2015
7193 posts
2227 upvotes
0 downvotes
Jerico wrote: Power grid as far as I know.
its a private wireless network that they with their own antennas and transmitters, I can confirm it does NOT use the power grid but its installed along the power grid corridor
Say NO to the WAR!
PEACE is the answer!
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 13, 2008
6246 posts
2886 upvotes
Durham
There is a sensor on the side of your house (black rubber thing) close to the hydro & gas meters.

In Oshawa ... they come by and BEEP it every December to take a reading. Water is billed quarterly in Durham ... so they send out a card to you via mail ... you take your reading and then call it to the number on the card and punch in your reading.

Hydro is billed monthly in Durham and is not required for you to submit any readings.

With Enbridge, I go to the side of the house ... take the reading monthly (you get an email) and then submit online on their site.

All my utility bills are ACTUAL readings NOT ESTIMATES.
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Deal Addict
May 23, 2009
3337 posts
1932 upvotes
Mississauga
My Gas meter (Enbridge) is still visual read even though the meter was replaced in 2018. FortisBC in British Columbia is installing Smart Meters.

My Hydro meter (Alectra) is Smart so has some sort of remote read.

My water meter (Region of Peel) used to be the black interface that needed a scanner but got upgraded to the smart water remote read last year. My City (Mississauga) upgraded a few houses on my street before suspending the installation due to Covid and indoor access. The installer told me that the meter reading will be done by a vehicle that drives aroung the neighbourhood.

I think there is a way to read Smart meters using a raspberry pi. Most Green/Health forcued websites which discourage the use and installation of Smart Meter still reference the wireless radiation. Last year I also recall a guy on youtube in Colorado who had a guide on how to use a raspberry pi to read the meter broadcasts from Smart meters. He could see his meter and a few of his neighbours.
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4529 posts
1093 upvotes
Toronto
In Toronto, power and water readings are transmitted wirelessly to neighbourhood hubs, that then report back to "head office" for billing. There are various DIY projects that provide access to what the power company or water company sees by intercepting or reading the meter, but they aren't trivial.

Examples:
https://hackaday.com/2017/12/21/read-ho ... h-rtl-sdr/
https://hackaday.com/2019/09/06/reading ... n-esp8266/

For power consumption, in the case of Toronto Hydro, I don't know of any API that allows you to view the data they put on their website. Additionally, that data is delayed by a day (or at least used to be) so not too useful for monitoring real-time consumption.

You can buy systems based on current clamps that go inside the breaker panel, or ones based on reading power meter "flashes" (all modern smart meters have an LED, often infrared, that flashes every time an additional unit of energy is consumed -- every 1 Wh in the case of my meter IIRC).

I home-brewed my system for measuring power consumption, but would buy a commercial one if I were to do it again.
Penalty Box
Jun 24, 2015
7193 posts
2227 upvotes
0 downvotes
that maybe the case for US of A but here in Canada they use a private wireless network on a different frequency that is not the same as Wi-Fi networks use.. i highly doubt this can happen in Canada. how do i know this? because i met a guy who worked for a company that created the circuit boards that house the radio.
Say NO to the WAR!
PEACE is the answer!
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2015
2281 posts
435 upvotes
East York, ON
JHW wrote: In Toronto, power and water readings are transmitted wirelessly to neighbourhood hubs, that then report back to "head office" for billing. There are various DIY projects that provide access to what the power company or water company sees by intercepting or reading the meter, but they aren't trivial.

Examples:
https://hackaday.com/2017/12/21/read-ho ... h-rtl-sdr/
https://hackaday.com/2019/09/06/reading ... n-esp8266/

For power consumption, in the case of Toronto Hydro, I don't know of any API that allows you to view the data they put on their website. Additionally, that data is delayed by a day (or at least used to be) so not too useful for monitoring real-time consumption.

You can buy systems based on current clamps that go inside the breaker panel, or ones based on reading power meter "flashes" (all modern smart meters have an LED, often infrared, that flashes every time an additional unit of energy is consumed -- every 1 Wh in the case of my meter IIRC).

I home-brewed my system for measuring power consumption, but would buy a commercial one if I were to do it again.
So I was right they do not encrypt
Using a cheap RTL-SDR, it didn’t take long for [k-roy] to tap into this transmission and stumbled across the power readings for his entire neighborhood using a simple command:

~/gocode/bin/rtlamr -msgtype=idm --format=json -msgtype=scm+
https://blog.kroy.io/2017/12/19/monitor ... ,and%20use.

I might already have one of those receivers that can be hooked to wifi
Sig abuse not tolerated on RFD - mods
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4529 posts
1093 upvotes
Toronto
GoodFellaz wrote: that maybe the case for US of A but here in Canada they use a private wireless network on a different frequency that is not the same as Wi-Fi networks use.. i highly doubt this can happen in Canada. how do i know this? because i met a guy who worked for a company that created the circuit boards that house the radio.
No, the smart meters connect with neighbourhood hubs on the 900MHz band, far lower than Wi-Fi.

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