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Thanks for the information - I didn't know that such a device as the Powercost Monitor exists. Turns out it's also not compatible with Oncor's smart meters.
Oncor's meter manufacturer (Landis & Gyr) has its own monitoring device which supposedly will be sold through retail electric providers. It's called ecoMeter and will be receiving real-time energy use every 7.5 seconds from the meter via RF connection:
It's just frustrating that the meter broadcasts this information every 7.5 seconds but doesn't display it. I read the meter's specs online and it can apparently scroll through up to 48 different display values. Perhaps Oncor decided to have it display only what it considers the most important ones. I might not even need the ecoMeter if I can read real time power off the meter directly. Then again, having the information displayed conveniently inside the house on the ecoMeter will be nice, I'm looking forward to it.
While we're at the topic ... I've been resisting getting wireless devices in our house since electromagnetic radiation is a health concern. Is anyone else concerned about these smart meters being an nearby source of EM radiation into the house 24 hours a day?
Hmm, I'll have to check out that product -- Landis+Gyr is the same kind of meter I have. Wonder when we'll be able to buy it? I would *love* to have the ability my powercost monitor gave me again.
.. on the EM thing, are you sure the Landis+Gyr is emitting any signals? I mean, data can be transmitted over the power lines, seems like that would be the easiest thing for it to do.. any wireless signal would only be good for a certain distance, anyway. Not terribly useful for the utility company to read the meter that way. I'm guessing if the ecometer product is similar to the powercost, then it comes with it's own transmitter (or better yet because it is Landis+Gyr, maybe reads it over a powerplug in the house).
atxcio, I didn't realize Austin Energy also used Landis + Gyr, thanks for informing me. Specifically, the meter we're getting in the Oncor Area is the Landis + Gyr Focus AXR-SD which, among other features, can turn the power to the customer remotely on/off - so everyone in the Oncor area better remember to pay their electric bills on time!
You are right, the signal can be sent over the power line (power line carrier, PLC) or it can be sent wireless via RF. Oncor is planning to use two systems - an RF mesh network in densely populated areas and PLC in less densely populated areas. This presentation has a map and lots of other good information about the system:
The meter I (and probably everyone else in my area) is getting is RF mesh. It has a sticker with "Zigbee" on it which is its communication protocol. I tried to read about what kinds of signals it emits but would probably have to study electrical engineering to understand it (Zigbee? reminds me of honey bees!).
My understanding is that the ecoMeter will be wireless and will have a range of about 100 ft from the power meter.
Of course, I know nothing about the Landis + Gyr meters or the grid solution that Austin Energy uses!
There are many news reports these days of consumers questioning the accuracy of the new meters. Oncor has been getting many complaints particularly from the Temple-Killeen area recently. A state senator is now asking the PUC (Public Utility Commission) to order Oncor to halt its installation of new meters until further testing has been completed. Oncor filed a request with the PUC yesterday that proposes a verification plan which includes free meter testing, free in-home monitors for 100 customers, and 24 side-by-side comparisons of old and new meters (all limited to the Temple-Killeen area). Here's more information:
Here's an update with our first bill following the meter change! Our kWh usage was reported 5% higher than last month, and adjusting for the fact that there was an extra day in the billing cycle this time, it was 1% higher daily usage. The bill showed split usage for the old and new meter, and the final reading on the old meter matched exactly what we recorded when the meter was swapped out.
I expected close to the same usage as last month and that's what we got. So far we've been lucky not to have seen large swings in our bill after the new meter install as many people have reported. Now I'm hoping that March/April usage will be the same or perhaps slightly less, with the heater blower fan motors working less if the temperatures go up (heater itself is gas).
I'm curious about the bills of others in the area who got their new meters installed last month!
My meter was installed today in Round Rock at about 2pm. I hear some racket on the side of my house and all the sudden I lose power. Then about 5 seconds later the power comes back on. I wasn't pleased because I was watching a movie on my PS3 and transferring files to my server at the time. Fortunately no major issues.
I never answer the door unless I am expecting someone. I guess this time I should have responded to the knock.
I will be interested in seeing if I have any billing issues.
Oncor will be setting up a website for useage tracking sometime later this year. I was thinking of getting one of the monitors but maybe I will wait on the free website.
Maybe the hand-held device was a can of pepper spray to fend off angry gangs of mechanical meter loving residents?
Perhaps they are reading the meters remotely this way for now? Or they are testing their functionality? I wonder if all of the wireless infrastructure to read the meters is already in place in this area. I check our usage on oncormeterdata.com and it still lists our meter as being read monthly. A new item that popped up is "billed kW" which was 8 (in prior months always zero), which I think might be our highest demand power usage.
tourbound129, I think the website you are referring to will be http://www.smartmetertexas.com and it will be sponsored by a coalition of TDSP's, including Oncor. The website is supposed to go live this month for consumer use. I believe it will display your prior day's usage on a graph, whereas the in-home monitor will sync with the meter every 7.5 seconds. I read somewhere that it will take about 2 months for a new smart meter to show up on the website (not sure if this is true). Apparently, about 600,000 smart meters are already streaming 15 minute data to the website but it's not accessible to consumers yet.
I've read about some privacy concerns with the 15 minute power data which are interesting. For instance, thieves could find out when you're usually not home if they can get their hands on the data.
The Smart Meter Texas (SMT) web portal, where consumers can track their 15-minute interval consumption next-day, went live on March 15. I read surprisingly little press (actually none) about this. Here's the info directly from the PUC working group:
I tried to register our account but ran into a problem with the "meter number." The meter itself has several numbers on it. I called Oncor and asked for the number, got a number from them that matches one of the many numbers on the meter, and proceeded to register. Registration always fails with the error "smart meter does not exist."
Has anyone else tried and succeeded? Perhaps our meter is not in the system yet (it's been approx. 1 month)?
What is the location of the number on the meter that is supposedly the right one to use?
The Smart Meter website says you need an ESI ID and meter number to register and both should be located on your electricity bill. Well I have paperless billing so I figured I would just log on and check and see if I could find the numbers. Wrong. Reliant has their entire website down for maintenance from today through Sunday. They do have a nice message that says to call the 866 number if you need anything. So I called only to find out the only thing they can help with is an emergency. Their entire system is down for maintenance.
Last edited by tourbound129; 03-19-2010 at 08:59 PM..
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