Smart Meters Causing RFI

SmartGridElectronics.Net is reporting that some smart meters are causing RFI. In an article published today, they say:

The smart meters that Central Maine Power Company (CMP) is installing throughout its territory pursuant to Commission approval are causing radio frequency interference with some customers’ electrical appliances, personal computers, and communications devices. To date, over 200 customers have contacted CMP about problems with a variety of appliances and devices including phones (cell, cordless, and landline), answering machines, Internet routers and wifi, personal computers, TVs, garage doors, fire alarms, clocks and even electric pet fences. The most common problem is interference with wireless internet routers, because they use similar radio frequencies. The problems can often be resolved by simply changing a setting on the device. Other concerns include malfunctioning phones, Internet routers crashing or freezing, damage to computer hard drives, static and clicking sounds on communication and computer gear, inability to stream Netflix, failure of TV remote, and other appliance malfunctions.

Fortunately, they’re not using BPL for this project. They’re using some kind of wireless networking in the 2.5 GHz band. Even so, it makes you wonder if anyone ever did any EMI/RFI testing on these devices.

ZDNet Australia has also published an article on this situation.


  1. Hmm. I’d say that a number of issues attributed to them are likely red herrings. Most of the complainents likely never did any A/B/A testing, to see if their particular problem went away or returned if the device was turned off, then back on. Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire, of course, and I’d say that CMP has a tiger by the tail. The bad press will likely force them to do something to shut everyone up.

    On the home front, the Ann Arbor water company has been installing those water-powered remote-reading transmitters in folks’ basements over the past few years. They transmit a burst of data every minute or so to a neighborhood receiver perched on a nearby utility pole. I checked the FCC ID on the box in my basement, and found that it was licensed for somewhere in the 450+ MHz, if I recall correctly. However, I found that my unit, and ones I could also hear in my neighborhood is parked squarely on 433.92 MHz, which is a favorite frequency for Part 15 remote transmitters, like car key fobs, and tire pressure monitoring sensors. With a whole neighborhood of these water meter readers, that portion of the 70 cm band sounds pretty busy. The readers seem to be putting out a good deal of energy, and likely exceed the limit normally imposed by the FCC for Part 15 devices in the 70 cm band.

    I wonder if it will ultimately be found that the thousands of meters in Ann Arbor are all operating illegally…

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