New UK 'leccy meters remotely run via Voda 2G
Also have ZigBee for total control of your home
British Gas is to deploy meters with embedded mobile phones, and Zigbee networking, to ensure we know how much electricity we're using, and they do too.
The smart meters use Vodafone's 2G network to send back readings and allow British Gas to see exact levels of 'leccy consumption at any time, while the Zigbee connectivity pushes the same information to a touch-screen display we can use to set our own targets for saving energy and see how much our solar cells are contributing.
Unlike clip-on systems, which estimate how much energy is flowing but can be fitted to any supply by wrapping them around the incoming cable, the new system requires a replacement meter – but that's rather the point as this is all part of the industry's push for greater control over our electricity consumption.
Both the "pebble" display and the meter itself can have their software updated remotely, and the use of Zigbee means that instructions could be sent to (for example) a Zigbee-enabled freezer or washing machine, to reduce consumption at short notice or run when there's surplus power available in the grid.
But that's for the future: today it is just about getting the remotely readable meters into homes, which will apparently start next month, and letting people know how much energy they're using on a minute-by-minute basis.
Mobile networks aren't ideal for such things, as the White Space crowd keep reminding us. GPRS has a massive communications overhead, and connectivity won't stretch into every basement meter, not to mention the low priority attributed to data traffic. Mobile-data kit around Heathrow stopped working during last winter's snow troubles as travellers called home and knocked M2M communications off the network, for a few days.
But White Space technology isn't available yet, and with the government is committed to getting smart meters into every home by 2019, the cellular operators are the only ones able to provide blanket coverage today - even if the blanket is a little moth-eaten. ®
At what cost?
We are all being told to unplug chargers when not in use, so at what cost are these devices to run. I assume the power is drawn prior to metering - nope, didnt think so (just a wild guess).
What are they needed for anyway - we all know where our electric goes, and unless we are billed and charged daily, whats the point. For those of us on annual direct debits, just one read a year is all thats really needed (and I can do that - and enter the details into a website)
Perhaps the tin foil brigade was right, this is just another way to monitor us all!
Frankly, these smart meters, and their alleged capabilities, are starting to scare me...
Firstly, some petty crook at HQ can deduce exactly when the house is empty - and send his mates round with a van.
Secondly, some petty perv at HQ can guess when daughter comes home from school (10kW spike from the shower).
Thirdly, some senior crook at HQ can use flexible charging to make sure I'm only offered affordable power when I'm out, and max-priced power when I'm in.
Fourthly, some other senior crook at HQ can switch off all my appliances (or even all power to my home) on a whim.
Fifthly, never again will we have the slightest clue how much our energy will cost us in the month/year ahead cos they'll be changing the price on a minute by minute basis.
I'm not paranoid, but they ARE out to get me!
Smart meters installation starts next month
Smart meter hacking starts 1 week later.
Who can contain their excitement at such an announcement?