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Old 11-28-2018, 09:34 AM   #1
hazel
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Smart meters: why I think they are a scam


I received a letter yesterday inviting me to have a "smart" electricity meter fitted for free. Actually I received it in error: I am no longer a customer of the company concerned but I remain on their books because the output of my solar panels is credited to them and they pay me a feed-in tariff for it.

At the beginning of this pamphlet are six reasons for getting a smart meter. Actually when you read them, there are three reasons and then all three are repeated in slightly different words. But there are six ticks, so it looks like a lot of reasons.

1) You will save loads of energy with a smart meter. Nonsense! Smart meters show you how much you are using (in kWh and money) but they don't save anything. You can only save energy by turning things down or turning them off. And you can do that without having a smart meter.

2) They show you how to reduce your energy use. How? The meter may show a spike when you turn your immersion heater on at 12 noon, but that doesn't help you save anything. You still need the hot water for washing up after lunch.

3) You won't get estimated bills. Big deal! No one has to pay estimated bills these days. You just take your own reading.

No, the real reason they want to install these things is to save themselves having to employ and pay meter readers. A bonus for them is that they can lock you into uneconomic tariffs because most smart meters stop being smart if you switch suppliers. It's just like those "free" BT routers that only work for BT.

At the end of the pamphlet, they admit that, by default, the damned thing will phone home by wifi every half hour. So they will know exactly when you switch things on and off. But in case that isn't enough, they want you to give "permission to use your smart meter readings to help us recommend other products and services to you".

Technically it isn't a scam because they are not asking for any money. But I think it's a confounded liberty and I'm certainly not signing up for it.
 
Old 11-28-2018, 09:48 AM   #2
petelq
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I think google and facebook and the like started a trend. Now big business wants to collect as much information as they can on as many people as they can. For their benefit not ours.
 
Old 11-29-2018, 11:25 AM   #3
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I like the idea of the "phone home" being by wifi, if that means connecting via a router that is not controlled by the same company as the smart meter. That makes it much easier to disconnect.

I gather some smart meters use mobile 'phone signals for their data-reporting, which might be harder to prevent.
 
Old 11-29-2018, 11:49 AM   #4
hazel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pastychomper View Post
I like the idea of the "phone home" being by wifi, if that means connecting via a router that is not controlled by the same company as the smart meter. That makes it much easier to disconnect.
Nope, other way round. These meters don't use the Internet so the connection doesn't go via your router. Obviously that's to reassure the public. Everyone knows by now that controlling things over the net means making them vulnerable. Instead the meter connects wirelessly to a company receiver outside your home. So it can't be hacked by outsiders, but you can't monitor or control the conversation when it phones home. I've been reading up since I started this thread, and apparently one thing the suppliers would like to do is introduce secret differential pricing on the Uber model. When there's high demand and they need to put extra power on line, they would simply charge everyone more.
 
Old 11-29-2018, 12:14 PM   #5
DavidMcCann
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As an engineer said in an article last year, they want to replace cheaper, long-lasting meters with more-expensive, more complex ones. Where's the sense? The idea seems to be as much a government idea as an energy company one, which guarantees stupidity. There's also the question of supplying electricity to the gas meter: how much hacking-up of your home will be needed to get a cable to it?

I got two phone calls last week asking when they could give me a smart meter. I said "Never, and don't you dare make unsolicited phone calls again, especially when I'm having lunch!"
 
Old 11-29-2018, 12:40 PM   #6
rokytnji
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Locally, We have no choice. New meters come with new pecker head feed.

https://scrot.moe/image/aayuQ
 
Old 11-29-2018, 01:40 PM   #7
camorri
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Take it from an area of the world that had "smart Meters" stuffed up their buts. The government decided to allow for different rates based on time. The cheapest rates are weekends, and after 7:00 pm. High rates ( double the low rates ) are 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

The results is you can only afford to use electricity on the weekend, and at night when you would rather be sleeping. Our electricity rates have more than doubled since we got dumb ass meters. They suck!

It comes down to the government manipulating our lives.

As far as accuracy goes, the reading system is full of problems. People being billed thousands of dollars per month. You wind up fighting with the electric company over this kind of stuff.

Where is this you say? Ontario, Canada.
 
Old 11-29-2018, 02:30 PM   #8
Turbocapitalist
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Six or seven years ago there was a lot of analysis of the "smart" meters and how poorly designed they are. Probably there is something in proceedings from Black Hat, DEF CON, Shmoocon, CCC, and the others between back then and today.

"Smart electricity meters can be dangerously insecure, warns expert" from 2016

"We spy trouble: Even GCHQ is worried about smart meters say experts who fear a Trojan horse-style cyber attack" from 2018

The "smart" meters still appear designed to make illicit access trivial while making legitimate access by the property owner / renter all but impossible. That hasn't impaired the rollout or reduced the vigor by which they are pushed.
 
Old 11-29-2018, 09:02 PM   #9
frankbell
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It's sort of a side issue, but it's related: I recently had to replace my furnace, including, of course, the thermostat. I contracted with a relatively large, well-established local form that I had used satisfactorily several other times.

I had on hand a thermostat that the power company had sent in the mail several years ago (we had been using one of those old round Honeywells that have been in use for years). The installers recommended against using it, saying that it gave the power company the ability control my system when it suited them to do so. A quick web search tells me that this capability exists, but does not verify whether my power company exercises.

So far as I can tell by looking, we do not yet had "smart" meters where I live.
 
Old 11-29-2018, 09:36 PM   #10
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About 15 years ago in northern Wisconsin, the local co-op installed devices they called 'turtles' which they installed inside the normal meter. It sent a signal back, not via WiFi or radio signal, but via packets of data snuck in between the sine waves on the power line itself (60 Hz frequency gives you lots of time to work between waves). It was admittedly just a cost-savings measure, to eliminate the need for a human meter reader. Plus, they said they could now track usage by the second, not by the month. Worked well, except it caused one of my electric desk clocks to 'tick' almost twice as fast as it should. When i complained, they installed another device to block the data packets from entering the house circuits.

They also offered (not related to the turtles) a couple discount rates which you could get if you installed a separate radio-controlled meter. I did so, opting for the very economical 'off peak' service, which was only available nights and weekends. Used this second meter to run my electric baseboard heaters only on very cold nights so i wouldn't have to get up at 1:00 am to build a fire in the stove to keep the pipes from freezing. Would typically do this 2 or 3 nights per winter, setting the thermostat at 50 degrees. It would keep the entire two-story farm house at that temperature for about 50 cents a night. The heaters would kick in about midnight or so (when the fire was burning low) and turn off automatically via their radio control at 7:00 am, when i was up and about and could build a new fire.

I was quite happy with these services, and saw them as common sense efficiencies, and not at all as an intrusion. Perhaps the difference is that this was a member-owned electric cooperative.
 
Old 11-30-2018, 03:27 PM   #11
dogpatch
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Despite the positive attitude described above toward my electric coop in Wisconsin, I'd like to offer the following future scenario, given the technologies that already exist:

After a phase-in period of time, all electric appliances and fixtures, from light bulbs to computers to washing machines, would contain a chip that would identify the fixture to the power panel. Any non-registered draw of power would cause the entire circuit to shut down. You would not be able to use older or non-registered fixtures or appliances.

This would be promoted as a safety feature, with good reason. Any foreign object (such as a human being) that started to draw electric power would cause the circuit breaker to open, much like a GFCI outlet does. No one could ever receive a harmful electric shock in such a system.

It would also be promoted as a cost-saving technology, also for good reason. Under such a system, there would no longer be a need to install ground wires in new construction.

The central power company (and government) could therefore monitor and control electric power consumption on a per-appliance basis.

I leave it to you to discern the possible sinister ramifications.
 
Old 12-01-2018, 06:51 AM   #12
hazel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogpatch View Post
After a phase-in period of time, all electric appliances and fixtures, from light bulbs to computers to washing machines, would contain a chip that would identify the fixture to the power panel. Any non-registered draw of power would cause the entire circuit to shut down. You would not be able to use older or non-registered fixtures or appliances.
We already have that with print cartridges. They contain a microchip that identifies them to the printer as genuine oem. It also tells the printer if they have been refilled at any time. Use lower cost refilled cartridges or copies and the printer mysteriously stops working.
 
Old 12-01-2018, 08:25 PM   #13
dogpatch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
We already have that with print cartridges. They contain a microchip that identifies them to the printer as genuine oem. It also tells the printer if they have been refilled at any time. Use lower cost refilled cartridges or copies and the printer mysteriously stops working.
Yes, all the technology for the above scenario already exists
 
Old 12-06-2018, 03:15 PM   #14
Celtic Yokel
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There is a work-around which doesn't need smart meters or meter readers to read meters. My electricity supplier reminds me when my monthly reading is due, I read the meter and send it via the company's website.
I use compatible ink cartridges in my Canon iX6550 printer without any problems (touch wood!!).

Last edited by Celtic Yokel; 12-06-2018 at 03:31 PM.
 
Old 12-06-2018, 04:09 PM   #15
hazel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Celtic Yokel View Post
There is a work-around which doesn't need smart meters or meter readers to read meters. My electricity supplier reminds me when my monthly reading is due, I read the meter and send it via the company's website.
I have a similar arrangement except that I give them the readings over the phone. Once a year they send a meter reader, just to make sure that I'm not scamming them.
 
  


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