Smart Meters: A Key for Energy Evolution

The evolution of technologies has always been built on the backs of past or current technologies and its applications. By working on these existing versions, the evolution can be in sync with the changing times and need. Similarly, the traditional energy meters or analogue meters need to evolve in the new age of digitization and data. As all the devices and technology around the world are becoming ‘smarter’, the energy meters also need to follow suit. For a world moving towards a more sustainable approach to energy consumption, the need for smart meters has become a vital component in building that sustainable future envisioned.


What are analogue meters and what are their limitations?

Traditionally, the energy consumption of a house or a building was tracked with the use of simple electric meters, also known as analogue meters. These meters are electro-mechanical devices that show the total energy usage by the house or building up until that point. For decades these meters have been relied upon to measure energy usage.

However, there are limitations with these legacy devices. For an average person, the spinning dials and denotations are confusing and can be hard to understand how much energy was actually consumed. Qualified professionals are needed to decipher the actual amount of energy consumption.

In addition to that, the analogue meters require that the consumers or professionals constantly keep track of the readings separately at regular intervals of time. These energy meters are not made to store the usage readings that it shows. This means that the reader needs to periodically keep checking these meters and are limited in their understanding of their energy usage behaviour.


Smart Meters: An evolution of analogue meters

Unlike analogue meters, smart meters show energy usage data in a much simpler format that can be understood by a layman. It makes it much easier for consumers to read and understand their energy consumption. These devices also take away the need to regularly and manually monitor the readings as they can communicate the data to the energy suppliers (and even the consumers) directly and automatically at regular intervals and sometimes even on a near real-time basis.

The capability of these devices to directly communicate on their own is what makes them truly smart devices. By utilising wireless digital radio frequency networks, similar to mobile phones, the data can be securely sent and almost instantaneously. This also helps in detecting anomalies or any security interferences to have more accurate energy bills and secure supply.


Smart Meters’ role in Energy Management

Measuring and understanding one’s energy consumption behaviour is a fundamental part of energy management. It is one of the bases on which the optimisation actions for energy efficiency are decided. This means that smart meters naturally become an integral part of energy management systems.

The ability of smart meters to accurately read and communicate the energy consumption readings forms the Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) technology. However, their capabilities can be made much more advanced by making them a part of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) that incorporates other smart interactive devices and systems. AMIs give way for smart solutions such as Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) and Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) that are gaining popularity.

Having smart meters integrated into energy management systems, like the ones mentioned, brings additional possibilities and benefits. The AMI enables the smart meters to indulge in two-way communications with a central system, for example, a Customer Energy Manager (CEM) that can function as a decision-maker on what is the best way to improve the energy performance of the house or building. The CEM or any other central unit can factor in multiple inputs such as consumption data from smart meters, customer preference settings, and internal or external power supply signals.


Ready to take the next step in energy evolution with KNX?

KNX offers a range of solutions that can help households, businesses, and organisations to adopt energy management or improve their current practices. ABB, Lingg & Janke, and Theben AG are KNX partners with years of experience and expertise in the field of smart meters. Find out more about their smart meter devices via the links below.