Smart meter usage

SMUD smart meters save energy, reduce costs and increase reliability. 

Smart meters benefits

These meters help us improve your service and give you powerful tools to control your energy use, as well as your costs.

SMUD’s residential and business smart meters are a big part of the "smart grid," which delivers electricity using digital technology. This saves energy, reduces costs and increases reliability.

By installing smart meters at your home or business, we’ll have state-of-the-art technology to improve your service and provide you with powerful tools to monitor – and adjust – your energy use when you log in to My Account. 

You can also sign up for text and email bill alerts to keep on track with your energy use and your budget.

Don't want a smart meter? Learn how to opt out.

Can electric service be connected or disconnected remotely?

Yes. For example, if you're moving, you'll no longer need to wait for a field service technician, leave your gates open or worry about your pets.

How do I reset my meter if my service has been disconnected?

Once you’ve made your payment, please wait an hour and follow the instructions below to reset your meter. We want to get you reconnected safely. If any electric devices or appliances were on when your power went out, it could create a hazard when your power is restored.

  1. Please ensure that all electrical devices and appliances are off except one light, which will signify when service has been restored.
  2. Go to the meter located outside the residence. The meter will read “ARM” if it needs to be reset.
  3. Firmly push the black button at the front of the meter until it clicks. 

If you cannot locate your meter and you’re at a home, the meter is located on a wall outside your home. If you're in an apartment, please contact your landlord or Property Management Company. If you still need assistance, please contact Customer Service.

Will the smart meter interfere with my home electronics?

No. The smart meters are designed not to interfere with your home electronics.

Will my energy use information remain confidential and safe?

Yes. Your energy use information will be safely transmitted over secure servers to SMUD. The company that provides SMUD's wireless network uses the same types of security as the Department of Defense and the online banking industry.

How does the smart meter help protect the environment?

In several important areas:

  • By no longer needing a meter reader to visit your home each month, your smart meter will reduce pollution, cut back on fuel consumption and we’ll have fewer vehicles on the road.
  • You’ll be able to make informed decisions about your energy use, which can reduce the demand for electricity.

Can I read my own smart meter?

Yes, learn how easy it is to read your meter.

Can I opt out of having a smart meter?

Yes. Find more information about our opt-out policy and fees.

 

Electromagnetic Fields and Radio Frequency

What is EMF?

The term EMF (electromagnetic fields or electric and magnetic fields) is used for low frequency, alternating or direct current, magnetic or electric fields. An electromagnetic field (also EMF or EM field) is a physical field produced by moving electrically charged objects.

Where does EMF occur?
EMF’s are everywhere in our modern world. Here are some
examples:

  • They naturally occur from generation, transmission and distribution of electricity
    in buildings
  • Sources include power lines, internal building wiring and appliances
  • Low frequency systems are used to transmit electrical power into our buildings
  • Electric fields are created by the voltage present in the system, either in the wiring or power cords

What is the difference between EMF and radio frequency (RF)?
At much higher frequencies, EMF’s are described as "radio frequency" or RF.

  • Radio Frequency is used for radio transmissions, including wireless communication
  • Any frequencies of electromagnetic radiation between 1kHz and 300 GHz, including those for radio and television transmission, are RF.
  • RF is used to transmit power and signals through the air as wireless signal transmission
  • RF is used for AM and FM satellite radio, television, radar, cell towers, cell phones, cordless phones, Bluetooth, wireless computer and data transmission (WLAN, WI-FI, WiMAX) networks.

Do smart meters generate RF fields?
Yes. Smart meters emit about one watt. In comparison, cell phones and wireless routers emit from 1–2 watts. Your smart meter transmits radio signals only once every four hours, with each transmission lasting 5/1000ths of a second.

Smart meters create a network in order to function. They may act as a "repeater" (part of the communication chain) for other nearby meters. They may communicate throughout the day to report incidents such as:

  • Outages
  • Voltage fluctuations
  • Alerts about tampering and power theft
  • On-demand reads at your request
  • These communications are infrequent – occurring on average 60 seconds for every 24 hours

In 2012, we conducted a detailed analysis of transmission frequency and weighted average "on air" time across the smart meter network.
Here are the results:

Electric system message type Transmission frequency per 24-hour period: Average Transmission frequency per 24-hour period: Maximum (99.9th percentile)
Meter read data 6 6
Network management 15 30
Time sync 360 360
Mesh network message management 13,000 240,000
Weighted average duty cycle 61.4 seconds 1,262 seconds                                   

The results of this study confirm that, on average, meters communicate for approximately 60 seconds during every 24-hour period. This “duty cycle” is significantly less than other typical devices including cell phones, wireless routers, and cordless phones.

Comparison of RF power density in the daily environment

Device Relative power density in microwatts per square centimeter
FM radio or TV broadcast signal 0.005 microwatts
Smart meter device at 10 ft. 0.1 microwatts
Cyber cafe (wi-fi) 10-20 microwatts
Laptop computer 10-20 microwatts
Cell phone held to ear 30-10,000 microwatts
Walkie-talkie at head 500-42,000 microwatts
Microwave oven, 2 inches from door 5,000 microwatts

                                Source: Richard Tell Associates, Inc.

 

Are smart meter RF fields safe?
Yes. Key factors for exposure risk are the power and frequency of the emission and distance from a person. Smart meters emit only about 1 watt, and when installed, no transmitter is located within your home. Cell phones are considered riskier since they are held to your head. Our smart meters meet all FCC testing and certification. In addition, we took the extra step of conducting rigorous RF testing during the initial rollout. Even when grouped together such as in apartment complexes, their RF emissions are low when compared to FCC exposure guidelines.

Will smart meter RF fields interfere with my electronics or medical devices?
The smart meters we use have been certified by the FCC and shouldn’t interfere with devices in or around your home.

Read more about FCC guidelines regarding RF exposure.

Download the Smart Grid Fact Sheet (3.5MB PDF)