New Critical Problem with ‘Smart’ Meters

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Opt-Out

Ironically, now that PG&E, Seattle City Light, Consumers Energy, DTE and other utilities is offering to disable the wireless RF function (for a hefty price) in their smart meters, we find that there’s yet another extremely critical problem with the meters.

Just when you thought you had mastered all the esoteric acronyms such RF Mesh, 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz ZigBee, and all the problems with ‘smart’ meters, here’s one more: Switching-Mode Power Supply or SMPS. This new element in the ‘smart’ meter controversy deserves immediate full official and public attention.

In our on-going investigation into why so-called ‘smart’ meters being installed by PG&E, DTE, Consumers Energy, Duke Energy and many utilities against rising public opposition are causing so many people to be sick, and so many problems with other electric and electronic equipment, we have been fortunate to obtain the advice of electrical engineers.

On examination of typical meters, including ABB, GE, ITRON and Landis+Gyr, and many others they report that, in addition to its RF transmitter, each wireless digital meter also has a component called the ‘switching-mode power supply’ (SMPS) – switching power supply for short. Its function is to ‘step down’ the 240v alternating current (AC) coming in from the utility pole power lines to the 3.3 to 12 volts of direct current (DC) required to run the meter’s digital electronics which record the electricity usage data and send out the various RF transmissions.

The SMPS function emits sharp spikes of millisecond bursts constantly, 24/7. The SMPS on the commonly used Silver Springs Network, OWS 514 NIC model, for instance, which is within the smart meter models widely installed by PG&E and other utilities throughout their territory, has been measured to emit spikes of up to 50,000 Hz and higher. This constant pulsing of high frequencies, in addition to the RF function, is causing not only interference with other electric and electronic equipment in many homes with smart meters installed, but also is causing havoc with biological systems in its field of exposure. (See Wikipedia and Prevention Magazine articles).

Dirty Electricity (also called EMC)

When current flows through the wiring of a building it generates a surrounding electromagnetic and radio frequency field that radiates outward all around the wires at right angles to the direction of the current’s flow and reaches out into the room. This actually a class of emissions call Electro Magnetic Conducted emissions formally called EMC. It is called a conducted emissions because the emissions travels on the wires of the facility or home. There is a FCC limit specification of this emission classified in two classes of devices, Class A and Class B. Class B is the most restrictive and is defined for typically a computer or other electronic device such as the Smart Meter. The Smart Meter must pass Class B specifications. If you read the attached reference here you will see the limits that it must pass.

There are a few issues in the FCC specification that are not obvious to the reader of these articles above. One is that the FCC specifications are all based on readings in Root Mean Square (RMS) measurements, what this does is reduce the measurement of the magnitude of the peak value to a lower value. For example we all know that the standard outlet in the wall of our home is typically called 120 Volts AC. However the peak value of 120 Volts RMS is actually 177 Volts AC at its peak. The same is true with conducted emissions so while the Class B specification limits the emission to 250 µV RMS starting at 450 KHz up to 30 MHz this does not indicate what the permitted peak voltages can be. Also if you study the reference in Module 11 in the link above you will see a discussion of a test setup called a LISN. For an electronic power supply to pass the FCC EMC tests it has to use this test setup. You will notice that the LISN has a reference to ground (called the green wire), however the Smart Meter has no connection to ground so it is questionable if the Smart Meter could ever pass this test for EMC. So if the Smart Meter meets all FCC requirements how it can be possible to pass FCC Class B specification since in Situ (in actual use) there is no ground connection is questionable.

It is well known that switching power supplies can generate spikes of so-called electromagnetic interference (EMI), or high frequency transients, which then travel along the wiring in the walls, radiating outward in the wiring’s electromagnetic field.

Such spikes are known as ‘dirty electricity’ and can be conducted to a human body that is within the range of the radiating field. This function is on all smart meters used by all utilities and is on constantly, 24/7.

[For more on dirty electricity check out Dr. Sam Milham’s website and his new book, DIRTY ELECTRICITY: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization.

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