A radiofrequency (RF) meter is an electronic meter that can be read from a distance, either by a meter reader carrying a handheld computer or by a communications network such as the one Hydro-Québec is currently setting up. The RF technology used in the meters is not new and is widely used in other devices, such as baby monitors and cordless phones. Hydro-Québec has three main types of radiofrequency meters:
1. 458 MHz — This meter transmits only when the meter reader is nearby. The meter reader’s handheld computer sends a signal to wake up the meter, and the meter responds by sending its consumption data.
NB There are very few meters of this type left in Hydro-Québec’s fleet, and they haven’t been manufactured for many years now.
2. 900 MHz — This meter transmits periodically, whether or not there is a meter reader nearby. When close to the meter, the meter reader collects data using a handheld computer. Back at the office, the meter reader transmits the data to Hydro-Québec’s billing system.
3. Next-generation — This meter registers electricity consumption and enables Hydro-Québec to read the data remotely without the need for a meter reader. It emits RF energy intermittently several times a day, for a few milliseconds each time, totaling less than 90 seconds a day. Next-generation meters are the new industry standard.
Hydro-Québec will be able to read electricity-use data from next-generation meters remotely. Eventually, other remote applications like remote disconnection and connection when customers move will be possible with the new advanced metering infrastructure.
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