How Automated Meter Reading Works

In virtually all parts of the country, utilities are now monitored with individual automated meters. These are sometimes called “smart meters” but they should not be confused with other types of “smart” devices.

There is a lot of confusion about how automated meter reading works and what information is being transmitted. These devices work very much like any other number of devices in use today. Safe, effective and efficient, these meters provide higher levels of accuracy on billing and on information on how water consumption varies in the residential or commercial property.

The Basics

The new smart meters are equipped with a very low-powered radio frequency transmitter. This is contained in the unit and cannot be accessed or tampered with in any way.

The radio transmitter will be set to provide readings to the water management service on regular intervals. Each transmitter has a unique identifier that corresponds with the customer information saved in the water management company’s database.

As the meter readings come in on the set schedule, the data is entered in the system in an appropriate part of the database. For many utilities, this automated meter reading occurs three or four times a day. It is impossible to hear or note when the transmission is occurring.

The use of the low-frequency transmitter will not impact any other electronic equipment in the area. It will not interfere with computers, cell phones, garage doors or any other devices working off of remote controls.

Checks in the System

One of the important benefits of the automated meter reading system is that it is possible to set parameters on the meters to flag a meter that is over the normal reading.

This can be set up through the database and indicate an increase of a specific amount on the meters over so many consecutive readings. The flag on the meter then triggers the property owner or manager to the possibility of a leak or a plumbing failure. It is an effective way to prevent leaks that can add hundreds of dollars to a bill in a very short period of time.

Property owners will also be able to monitor water use by meter. This includes vacant properties, where readings should consistently be zeroed. Should water usage be noted for any reporting period, the property manager is immediately alerted in real-time to the possibility of someone using the water at the property or the presence of a leak or a running tap.

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