back to article Americans resort to padlocking their dumb meters

Campaigners across America are resorting to padlocks and metal cages to protect their 'leccy meters, convinced that the smart versions will damage their health. The Georgia Senate is busy passing a bill allowing customers to opt out of having a smart meter fitted, and without cost, but some of the locals are concerned that …


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  1. Jon Massey

    Dumb meters for dumb people

    Electrosensitivity loons are one of my favourite types of loon

  2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

    The most hilarious part of this issue is that most of the dumb meters in question already have radio transmitters. So do most gas meters and water meters. The "meter readers" just drive down the street and a RF scanner in the car reads the meters.

  3. JC 2
    Thumb Down

    Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

    Actually no most of the dumb meters don't have radio transmitters and I've no idea what makes you pretend to know otherwise.

    That doesn't mean I'd against smart meters, but I am against wasteful spending and throwing tech where there isn't any advantage for the customer while incurring cost to do so.

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

    What's it got to do with the customer? Business exists for the good of the shareholder.

    Smart meters allow them to increase prices as the market price for power goes up - in theory it could also allow them to reduce prices when the market price goes down ( snigger )

  5. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    Re JC2: Dumb meters for dumb people

    "...I've no idea what makes you pretend to know otherwise."

    The fact that I've owned 3 houses over the last 20 years and all of their water, gas & electricity meters had RF transmitters for remote reading. That's 9:0. One house was in Massachusetts, one in Florida, and one in California. In most States, meters have to be replaced by the utilities every few years. Where I live now, gas meters are replaced every 5 years, water & electricity every 10 years.

    The utilities have been switching to remote meter reading over the last decade or two is because one meter reader can read a huge number of meters compared to one who has to walk around people's yards.

  6. Daniel 4

    Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

    "Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

    Actually no most of the dumb meters don't have radio transmitters and I've no idea what makes you pretend to know otherwise."

    Bzzt! - No cookie for you!!!

    It depends on the area, but simple usage status radios of meters have been in use as early as 1978! (the Metretek, Inc. AMR). Of the last three places I lived, two were definitely AMR equipped. So yes, it is in use, has been for decades, and you, as well as millions of other the uninformed, simply don't know what you are talking about. Frustrating, as people complaining about such things distract us from real problems.


  7. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

    Not just for dumb people it's also for the ones who don't want to deal with the hassle of spending months complaining to SoCal Edison trying to convince them that you didn't actually use more than 3 times as much electricity during the month they "upgraded" the meter than any other month before or since the "upgrade". In fact I could probably show I wouldn't use that much electricity even if I left the door open and the AC on during the whole of August.

  8. bazza Silver badge

    Re: Dumb meters for dumb people

    Hey! Leave the 'electro-sensitivity loons' alone. You, me, we're all electro-sensitive. I'm especially so. I find that any kind of contact whatsoever with a mere 230V AC, even the sort that comes out of the socket on the wall, really knocks me off my feet for the rest of the day. How do you think that'd feel, every day of your life? I can tell you, it soon begins to pall.

    Now then, I must see to getting that bedside lamp earthed properly. Been meaning to do it for years.

  9. AndrueC Silver badge

    Re: Re JC2: Dumb meters for dumb people

    > In most States, meters have to be replaced by the utilities every few years

    I think it's too late to worry about them ripping you off then. Two of my three meters are as old as the house - 17 years. The water meter was replaced a couple of years ago. What is the logic in replacing the meters so frequently? Lousy build quality?

  10. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    Re: AndrueC: Dumb meters for dumb people

    "What is the logic in replacing the meters so frequently? Lousy build quality?"

    Maybe you should move to a less corrupt locale, where the politicians actually believe they serve the people who elected them...

    I live in a State with very strong utility regulation and consumer protections. My understanding from talking to the gas company is that the requirement (for the gas meter) was a combination of safety and proof of meter calibration. The old meter gets refurbished and recalibrated, then is placed back into the pool of meters to go back into service. My water meter was replaced last year, and they claimed it was to insure calibration, and again the old meter gets refurbished and eventually placed back into service. I presume the electricity meter replacement has a similar rational.

    I've no doubt that part of the periodic meter replacement is for the utilities protection. If nothing else, by replacing the meters every decade or half-decade, they can inspect the installation for tampering.

  11. Tom 13

    Re: Re JC2: Dumb meters for dumb people

    Did you read the list of states where he's owned houses? The state of taxachusetts, the state retirees from taxachusetts move to because they can't afford taxachuesetts anymore, and the land of fruits and nuts, who incidentally are going bankrupt even faster than Greece, but since they aren't a country all their own, aren't making international headlines.

    Short version: stop feeding the troll.

  12. Cosmo

    Smart Meters

    I agree with your point in the article about Smart Meters. I got one free when I switched to nPower. Looked at it for a week, and then put it in the cupboard where it's gathering dust to this day.

  13. cs94njw

    Re: Smart Meters

    Yeah - ditto.

    Realised what things were causing the high usage. Changed our behaviour. Meter uses electricity, so turning that off was next obvious decision.

  14. deshepherd

    Re: Smart Meters

    Sounds like an electricity monitor and not a smart meter - smart meter replaces your exisitng electricity meter and is intended to send meter reading automatically via a wireless/mobile connection to remove the need for meter readers to come and read your meter. N.b. in the US (well at least 10-15 years ago when I was there) meter reading must be a significant expenses as PGE read our meter *every* month (as did the water company) - compared to the UK where it seems to be about once every 18-24 months to check that your reading/their estimates are sufficiently accurate


    Re: Smart Meters

    An electricity meter can only be fitted by an authorised agent of the electricity distribution authority. In the UK it is illegal to tamper with one. And you can't turn them off.

  16. Daniel 4

    Re: Smart Meters

    " And you can't turn them off."


    Yes!!! Are people even paying attention to the topic here?


  17. Tom 13

    Re: Smart Meters

    Sure you can turn them off. You don't think the installer is damn fool enough to put it in while the feed is live do you?

  18. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    $300 savings for the company perhaps,

    but what about costs incurred having to visit people to measure usage?

    Very high levels of shortwave radio signals (we are talking powerful radar here) have been documented to have adverse health effects. I think some people do a linear interpolation between zero effect at zero W to a handful of points of massive problems in the MW range, with little or no data in the intermediate range. I very much doubt that damage at the levels experienced is real. All the symptoms described (including those of the diabetics) could be explained by stress (caused by the fear of the effects of radio signals, perhaps?). BTW, I am not saying the complaints are not real, I am saying that the cause might be different.

  19. Jimbo 6

    All the symptoms described...

    ....(insomnia, ringing in the ears, heart palpitations - and irrational technophobia) could also be explained by them watching too many Republican Party nominees' speeches.

  20. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Re: All the symptoms described...

    "watching too many Republican Party nominees' speeches"

    that is a major cause of stress ;-)

  21. Gerard Krupa

    Re: All the symptoms described...

    could be attributed to eating at American chain restaurants (mentioning no McNames)

  22. petur

    Re: $300 savings for the company perhaps,

    It always reminds me of the woman who started to feel all these bad things after they installed a GSM antenna next to her home. Some journalists dug a bit in, went to the mobile company, where they found out the antenna wasn't in use yet... It's all in the head ;)

  23. GotThumbs

    Re: All the symptoms described... Re: Trolling

    Stick to the topic of the story and STOP Trolling.


  24. L0ki

    Re: All the symptoms described...

    Republican Party nominees' speeches generally cure insomnia...

  25. Tom 13

    Re: Stick to the topic of the story

    The topic of the story IS trolling. They just used synonyms to say it.

  26. Hoagiebot

    Radio transceivers unhealthy?

    I have to wonder how many of the people who claim that they are getting sick from having these SmartMeter radio transceivers around also have mobile phones, 802.11b/g/n wireless routers, and cordless landline phones and yet have never experienced any so-called health problems with them.

  27. IglooDude

    Re: Radio transceivers unhealthy?

    Indeed, given that the SmartMeters use GSM (or CDMA, here in the US) cellular wireless connections exactly the same as the device people hold up to their head for hours at a time, except that the connection is a few seconds per hour and not three inches from their skull, it baffles me how the SmartMeters could be causing health issues that are not already endemic from mobile phones.

    However, the people that take issue with the SmartMeters giving the utility company free rein to turn off electrical mains connections during a billing dispute, or accidentally, or while blinded by red tape have an argument that I can sympathize with.

  28. Jeebus


    Your children, pets and spouse will all be dead by thursday of serious pain disease, probably RADIO CANCER.

    It's all an illuminati conspiracy.

  29. Crisp Silver badge

    All I hear is

    Radio goo goo....

    Radio ga ga.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All thise RF noisy plasma TVs oh noes they want to give us all cancer :P

  31. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    That's just what the brain rays want you to think !

  32. tempemeaty

    Not writting it off....

    If I can't see it with my eyes then it isn't there, isn't hurting me. Scientists and technical people throughout history have acted like that. Surgeons would never wash there hands. 100 years later oops that stuff we couldn't see well...we make sure ER's are clean of it now.

    So I DON'T write off the whole issue out of hand without some good amount of UNBIASED time and scientific testing to prove or disprove. For all we know there might be a electronic noise threshold for complex organisms like humans before it begins to cause biological disruptions in them.

  33. dotdavid
    Thumb Down

    Re: Not writting it off....

    But how do you prove something is *not* causing something bad to happen? You can't.

    As soon as someone comes up with some solid evidence that radio waves cause any of these problems, that's fine. But until then it would be just as valid to claim my cat is the leading cause of global warming as to claim that smart meter emissions are harmful.

  34. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Re: Not writting it off....

    Look up "softenon" and "thalidomide" ..

    Not that I say that the issue is as grave - we simply don't know yet. For all we know, it may even help. The problem is indeed the lack of funds for doing a study which is without bias. A mobile company sponsoring the research doesn't inspire trust in the results, however good the intentions may be - the tobacco companies have taken care of that..

  35. Matthew 3

    Re: Not writting it off....

    We've been meaning to talk to you about that cat.

  36. Jinxter

    Re: Not writting it off....

    " But until then it would be just as valid to claim my cat is the leading cause of global warming "

    Lets not be silly here. Its been irrefutably shown by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster that the rise in Global Warming is a direct result to the decline in the number of pirates over the years.

  37. Chad H.

    Re: Not writting it off....

    Again Fred, how do you prove something is not happening.

    We're still waiting for any evidence - any whatsoever - that links cancer to radio waves. How many studies is it going to take until we all accept the universe just doesnt work that way?

    Funny how when we agree with something its "Fair and objective" but when we don't its "biased".

  38. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Re: Not writting it off....

    Satellite TV and GPS are beamed to earth along with other communications. The frequency is very high to get through the ionosphere of the planet. You don't hear many people complaining about that?

    WIFI, mobile data and smartmeters must use much lower transmit power than GPS or Satellite TV.

  39. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Re: Not writting it off....

    Placebo is the only way. It is why that test is done, in many cases people get symptoms when you suggest the idea.

    Just like telling people they are looking at an original oil painting makes them say they like it even though its not. The human mind is pretty suggestible, probably why blind taste tests are required too.

  40. Swarthy Silver badge

    Re: Not writting it off....

    I posted on a similar article a while back with a simple, effective study that while not 100% infallible should be easy to run and fairly cheap (in terms of equipment; the educations needed to observe the results properly, not so much).

    Still waiting for someone to do something similar.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Not writting it off....

    Many years ago, they did a study in Philadelphia (I think) and may have demonstrated a correlation between 60cycle RF and cancer. They tracked the cancer rates in a of a row of houses with aboveground power and found that the incidence of cancer peaked at every pole on which there was a transformer.

    On the other hand, the coolant in those transformers was later designated toxic waste and had to have special handling....

  42. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Not writting it off....

    And those silly AGW fanatics are still coming up with ever more tortuous arguments to explain the recent not-warming-much-at-all spell.

    Nothing to do with the upsurge in piracy off the horn of Africa of course.....

  43. Donn Bly

    Re: Not writting it off....

    WiFi, Mobile Data, and Smartmeters have a much lower transmit power than Satellites (which have half a kilowatt ERP), but you don't sleep next to the Satellites (or, at least, I don't - I can't vouch for Giles) and by the time they reach your roof you are looking at an RSSI of around -155 dBW - barely above noise floor.

    I haven't heard or read anything about what frequencies and transmit power the smart meters are using - but I also haven't been looking. I have read that many of the manufacturers of Smart Meters have already exited the market because they foresee it as being unprofitable.

    In WiFi, the maximum output power is less than the amount of allowable leakage around the seal of of a Microwave Oven (which is why your WiFi drops out every time you fire it up).

    Personally, I am of a mindset that the power company should not be able to tell me what I can and cannot do with the power that I purchase from them. It is their responsibility to project estimated peak loads and be able to handle them. If they can't, certainly don't want them to be able to remotely shut down the air conditioning and have my servers fry because they overheat. I would rather that the grid goes dark and have everything go to backup generator.

  44. Richard 81

    Re: Not writting it off....

    But it says it's dangerous on the walls of men's toilets, so it must be true.

  45. HelenaHandcart

    Re: Not writting it off....

    Has the number of pirates declined? There seem to be quite a lot about these days.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Not writting it off....

    well here's a really daft idea, why not *monitor* your AC like every decent Op does and switch in the backup generator when the power goes off before the servers cook themselves?

  47. alan buxey

    Re: Not writting it off....

    I dont sleep next to my electric meter - its 2 floors down in the cellar...but I do sleep next to my mobile phone - on my bedside table. The smart meter is using GSM - my mobile phone has WiFi and 3G on. I'd still worry far more, like others have mentioned about the phone...given that its next to my brain for quite a large amount of time...and if not in use...right next to my chest in my coat pocket, yes, we'll find its a killer technology, literally, in maybe a few decades and a cause of new, currently unknown cancers...but we'll also find that other tech that we've lived around for a long time and these smartmeters ARENT a cause of ill health...and if used right should help save the human population from its own doom (peak oil gone, lack of any natural resources and all that good stuff) - people blocking the install should be charged more and pay for not having smart meters

  48. Chris Walton
    Big Brother

    Subtle mind control

    I can't help but think that the objections based on seemingly loony concerns about radio waves and health issues are being presented very vocally to make ANY objection to smart meters seem rediculous, rational people won't want to be associated with the loonies and so will accept smart meters without question.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Subtle mind control

    Rational people rational. They think, they don't simply accept the lunacy, or buy into snake-oil cures or causes of illness that are so easily accepted by the loons.

  50. Grease Monkey

    I love the idea that that the emissions from a smart meter could somehow harm you, but the emissions from all that electrical gear in your house won't. Like those idiots who campaign against mobile phone masts while spending half their time with a mobile phone stuck to the side of their heads and the other half complaining about the lack of signal.


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