Wednesday June 10, 2015

Smart meters: Compliance with radio frequency exposure standards

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This brochure has been designed to answer questions you may have about compliance of smart meters with radio frequency exposure standards and whether there is a risk to health.

Smart meters use low power radio frequency signals to collect and transmit information about use of services such as electricity, water and gas. The meter reading data is collected and collated at access points and forwarded to the power company over the existing mobile networks in the same way as a call or text is sent. The radio frequencies and nominal powers transmitted are similar to those used for mobile phones and home wireless internet connections. However, as smart meters transmit for very short intervals and infrequently, the average transmitted powers are very low. A number of studies have concluded that the duty cycle (the percentage of time the signal is transmitted) is very small, typically less than 5% for most of the time (even for heavily loaded access points) and far less than 1% for most meters for the majority of the time.

Measurements of both single and banks of smart meters have been made by organisations in many different countries. The results are broadly similar from all the surveys. The exposure levels are similar to many common devices and transmission services including home WiFi, laptops, mobile phone base stations and TV/FM broadcast services.

The possible health hazards of radio frequency energy have been studied for many years. The consensus of expert groups and health agencies is that there are no established health effects below recommended exposure limits. Numerous national public health agencies have concluded that the radio signals used by smart meters do not pose a health risk and that there is no scientific basis to decline having a smart meter installed.

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