What You Need to Know About Metering Technology

With all the hype about mesh networks, bridges, and other "low touch" solutions, it's important to understand what you have today and what the optimal path to a digital metering infrastructure is.

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Video Transcription

Hello, my name is Pavel and I’m Co-founder and CTO here at Enertiv. Today, I’d like to cover “what you need to know about metering technology.”

Why are we talking about this?

Lately, there’s been a lot of hype about solutions that are quick to install or don’t require any installation at all. And that’s very confusing because, while some of these “low-touch” solutions are feasible, it comes down to the type of building you have and the type of metering infrastructure you have in place.

But what’s the goal?

For this video, we’re assuming that your goal is to get to a digital metering infrastructure, meaning a setup where meters can transmit data in real time to streamline your billing operations.

There are other uses for digitizing metering infrastructure, but today we’re focusing specifically on tenant billing and meters with revenue-grade accuracy.

Quick heads up, please check your local laws and municipal regulations regarding submetering requirements and the differences between commercial tenant and residential tenant submetering.

Now let’s talk about the how.

The first step is to figure out what you currently have in place. I’ve made a quick flow chart to help you understand the best path to that digital metering infrastructure.

First, you need to determine whether the meters you have are digital or analog. If your meters look like this, these are analog meters and we’ll talk about them towards the end of the video.

Now if your existing meters are digital, the main thing to determine is whether they have a machine-readable output. If they do, they could be sending data over an open protocol, such as Modbus, BACnet, or even a simple thing like a pulse output, or they could use a proprietary protocol.

Let’s look first at the open protocol meters.

Here are some examples. This is a branch circuit meter, and these are examples of panel mounted meters. Regardless of the model, the main thing to look for are ports that look like this, or like this.

If your existing meters have one of those, it’s very likely that you will be able to collect data from them digitally and your building is ready for things like mesh networks, and bridges which make it very easy for submetering companies like Enertiv to come in, collect the data, and send it to the cloud immediately.

Your submetering provider will also install communications hardware to get the data from the metering infrastructure into their cloud. I would like to quickly show you what it looks like.

Depending on your building layout, the most cost-effective setup could either be wired, with gateways that collect data that look like this. Or wireless, using bridges and hubs, which are commonly available from many manufacturers and look like this, or this.

And of course, in the best-case scenario, if your meters have built-in servers that can send data directly to the cloud, you can use commonly available cellular gateways that look like this.

Now let’s talk about the proprietary protocol meters. Here are some examples. Your submetering provider would need to have an established contract with the metering manufacturer that lets them access this data.

That is why we recommend open protocol meters when we’re consulted on new construction. For more information on that, please check out our blog post “How to Avoid the Tenant Submetering Death Trap.”

Let’s talk about the meters without an output and what we can do there. The next thing to determine is whether they are upgradeable. If they are, and here’s an example of that meter, you can see with this model, it indicates all the different options that can be installed.

And here is an example of an option card that enables a digital output for this meter. If you have one of those, it does make sense to spend the money and do the upgrade.

But what if you don’t? What if you have a digital meter that does not have an output and is not upgradeable? Here’s an example, these are commonly found in residential environments.

In this case, like the analog and, in some cases, the proprietary protocol meters, we do recommend replacements. There are options to streamline manual readings using software to help you with the process of collecting this data, but we will address that in another video.

Clearly, there are lots of paths to get to that digital metering infrastructure. Let us do the hard work for you, call and we’ll be happy to help.

Thank you and I hope you have a good day.

Want to see what is needed to get a digital infrastructure? Contact Us today!