As it turns out, “smart” meters may not be so smart. A Dutch research team has published a paper demonstrating how these high-tech meters could be overbilling customers by as much as 582 percent. Ironically, it could be the power-saving features causing these inaccuracies.
The team from the University of Twente and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences noted that power-saving features introduce line-noise that interferes with wireless signals and “confuses” smart meters. Meaning, your dimmer switches and power-saving light bulbs could be boosting your energy bill.
Research that took place over six months revealed that five out of the nine meters tested were providing greater readings that the actual amount of energy utilized. Two of the meters were actually under-reading by -32 percent.
Issues with the design of some smart meters are what researchers say is to blame. “The reason for faulty readings appears to be the current sensor, and the associated circuitry,” said researchers. “The experimental results show that static energy meters can be pushed into faulty reading (positive and negative) if sufficiently fast pulsed currents are drawn by the consumer.”
If the overbilling isn’t bad enough, some researchers are calling smart meters health hazards. It is believed by some that they can cause a wide array of health problems, including cancer. Spontaneous fires have also been reported from smart meters, putting residents at risk.
Others have found privacy to be an issue as well. If data were to be hacked from a wireless smart meter, it could be used by criminals to find out when people are out of their homes. This would provide the perfect opportunity for break-ins.
Overall, 750,000 faulty smart meters are estimated to be in the Netherlands alone. Worldwide, that number could be in the millions, especially after some governments have pushed to replace classic meters with the newer technology.