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owlyn
Premium,MVM
join:2004-06-05
Newtown, PA

1 recommendation

Smart Meters Blamed for Fires

»www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/c···008.html



Lone Wolf
Almost Retired
Premium
join:2001-12-30
USA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon Online DSL

Thanks for posting that. I recently received the new smart meter.

Further investigation reveals it's the Sensus meters that are being blamed,

quote:
Engel Menendez said the overheated devices were all Sensus brand meters. The utility will replace some Sensus meters with another brand, L&G, to test if the device itself plays a role in the malfunctions, she said.
»www.philly.com/philly/business/b···ire.html



Just checked mine and it's a Sensus.


Raphion

join:2000-10-14
Samsara
reply to owlyn

Cheap chinese crap.

I wonder how they're implicating "existing conditions with equipment on the customers side" in the meters overheating... Either the meter is rated to handle the current, or it's not, how do you blame the customer's stuff?


sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10

Some jurisdictions require you to provide your own meter socket, most of which are probably decades old. The utility will probably write it off as malfunctioning/poorly maintained customer equipment (old socket not gripping meter properly, etc).



The Pig
I know you want to be me
Premium
join:2009-09-11
reply to owlyn

Oh great!
They are changing my meter to a Smart Meter within the next 3 weeks!



Coma
Thanks Steve
Premium
join:2001-12-30
NirvanaLand


The electric co changed mine on Tuesday. I asked the service dude to install a surge suppressor, he didn't have one on the truck and said he would return yesterday . . . but guess what, now it's time to call the CEO.

--
August is National Eye Exam Month



jack b
Gone Fishing
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
kudos:1
reply to sk1939

said by sk1939:

Some jurisdictions require you to provide your own meter socket, most of which are probably decades old. The utility will probably write it off as malfunctioning/poorly maintained customer equipment (old socket not gripping meter properly, etc).

said by Raphion:

Cheap chinese crap.

I wonder how they're implicating "existing conditions with equipment on the customers side" in the meters overheating... Either the meter is rated to handle the current, or it's not, how do you blame the customer's stuff?

I used to work for a large northeast US gas and electric utility and serviced and/or exchanged thousands of socket meters over many years.

In virtually all cases (excluding the meter itself) the meter mounting equipment and wiring is customer owned. They (utilities) are blaming a condition that is referred to in the business as a "hot socket".

Typically this condition occurs when one (or more) of the jaws in the socket (meter pan) that grip the meter blades lose tension from heat fatigue and is usually caused by a loose or corroded connection on the lugs that connect the line/ load wiring conductors to the socket jaws. The majority of the time these conductors are aluminum and either have no antioxidant paste applied or were never torqued properly in the first place, or just corroded over time.

It's perfectly normal to blame the utility when something goes south being "it was working fine till you came along and touched it..."

This is not to say the new meters themselves that are being installed are not cheap pieces of foreign made crap and prone to catching fire. The failure rates seem extraordinarily excessive.
--
~Help Find a Cure for Cancer~
~Proud Member of Team Discovery ~


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom

1 edit

The meter and meter base is company owned in a lot of areas which makes them responsible for it. Here the POCO is responsible for the service drop to and including the meter and meter base.

I had a friend whose house almost burned down because of a fire in the meter base caused by loose connections.

The 200 amp switch in the smart meters is of concern to me. Cheap Chinese junk purchased by utilities to pretend they are advancing conservation is trumping the safety of their customers.


Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
·Embarq Now Centu..
·Comcast
·CenturyLink
reply to owlyn

If the 200 Amp Switch contacts carrying the Neutral conductor fails then we have an open neutral condition. That can lead to very high voltage on one phase and low voltage on the other phase.

A friend of mine had an open neutral that almost burned down his house. Luckily his wife was home and saw smoke coming out of some of his electronics. Some incandescent bulbs got real dim and others real bright and burned out. She called her husband and he told her to switch off the main breaker. It turns out that the neutral wire opened at the aerial drop power connections at the pole. It was estimated that one phase had 160 to 180 Volts and the other phase 60 to 80 Volts. He had a lot of electronics destroyed including a $2,000.00 VCR and $3,500.00 Projection TV plus allot of other damage. I think the cost to repair was around $10,000.00. POCO did not want to pay full cost for the damage until he went to the public utility commission and POCO was forced to pay up.



SparkChaser
Premium
join:2000-06-06
Downingtown, PA
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

said by Mr Matt:

If the 200 Amp Switch contacts carrying the Neutral conductor fails then we have an open neutral condition. That can lead to very high voltage on one phase and low voltage on the other phase.

A friend of mine had an open neutral that almost burned down his house. Luckily his wife was home and saw smoke coming out of some of his electronics. Some incandescent bulbs got real dim and others real bright and burned out. She called her husband and he told her to switch off the main breaker. It turns out that the neutral wire opened at the aerial drop power connections at the pole. It was estimated that one phase had 160 to 180 Volts and the other phase 60 to 80 Volts. He had a lot of electronics destroyed including a $2,000.00 VCR and $3,500.00 Projection TV plus allot of other damage. I think the cost to repair was around $10,000.00. POCO did not want to pay full cost for the damage until he went to the public utility commission and POCO was forced to pay up.

It doesn't break the neural.

But I had a problem like your friend and it was the meter pan which is probably the problem we're seeing here.

BTW - PECO is my utility so I guess I will eventually get on of these. I'll be poking my head over the installers shoulder, for sure.
--
--
--
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley

"I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.." - Mitt Romney

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·callwithus
reply to Mr Matt

Do the meters switch the neutral? If the goal was load shedding or shutoff when an account is closed then I don't see where that would be necessary (and it most definitely carries big risks).

Edit: SparkChaser answered my question while we were typing at the same time -- thanks!



SparkChaser
Premium
join:2000-06-06
Downingtown, PA
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to Mr Matt

Remote Disconnect
• iCon A type iSA3 - Forms 1S-RD, 2S-RD, 12S-RD
• 2-Pole, single-throw
• Magnetic latching
• Rating: 200 A, 230 Vac, 60Hz, PF 0.7/0.8 lagging
• Endurance: 6000 cycles, 200 A, 240 Vac, 60 Hz,
PF 0.7/0.8 lagging
• Overload: 50 OPS, 300 A, 230 Vac, 60 Hz, PF 1.0
• Current Withstand: Per IEC 1036, ANSI C12.
1: 7,000 A Peak (5,000 Amps rms) 230 Vac, 60 Hz,
for 6 cycles at 0.7/0.8 PF with normal operation after
exposure; 12,000 Amps rms for 4 cycles with fail safe
conditions after exposure.

»www.sensus.com/documents/10157/3···heet.pdf
--
--
--
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley

"I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.." - Mitt Romney



Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom

1 edit

Of course Sensus will claim their equipment meets requirements but a lot of companies make similar claims that turn out to be completely false. Especially the cheap Chinese manufactured equipment. Their equipment is causing fires which means something is not quite up specs or the installation was faulty. The installer should be checking the physical condition of the meter base. Stabs and bolted connections. The action of the POCO potentially can be lethal/or cause great harm to customers. They should be held accountable.

quote:
Worried about your new "smart" electric meter?

PECO Energy customers with any concerns about newly installed "smart" electric meters can call 1-855-741-9011 to schedule and appointment to inspect the meter and surrounding equipment.
They should be doing this on each and every installation.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

said by Jack_in_VA:

quote:
Worried about your new "smart" electric meter?

PECO Energy customers with any concerns about newly installed "smart" electric meters can call 1-855-741-9011 to schedule and appointment to inspect the meter and surrounding equipment.
They should be doing this on each and every installation.

Agreed.
The old meters were often installed when the meter base was new. I wonder why they expect that ripping out the meter decades later and sticking in a new one in 2 minutes would result in equally strong contact.


SparkChaser
Premium
join:2000-06-06
Downingtown, PA
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to Jack_in_VA

said by Jack_in_VA:

Of course Sensus will claim their equipment meets requirements but a lot of companies make similar claims that turn out to be completely false.

Sorry, my post was just to point out that they break both poles. I realize ( first hand) what you can expect from some off shore houses.


SparkChaser
Premium
join:2000-06-06
Downingtown, PA
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

The old meters were often installed when the meter base was new. I wonder why they expect that ripping out the meter decades later and sticking in a new one in 2 minutes would result in equally strong contact.

+1

That be my question.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to Jack_in_VA

said by Jack_in_VA:

The meter and meter base is company owned in a lot of areas which makes them responsible for it.

Not here. The cooperative owns the meter, but you own the the meter pan and the rest up to where their conductors connect to your masthead.

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·callwithus

1 recommendation

reply to owlyn

I think that the issue here is the utillity blindly plugging the meters into pans that may not be in good enough condition to accept them. The crew doing the meter swaps (at least around here) just went house to house, yanking the old meters and slapping in the new ones. It almost seemed like the more they got done in a day, the more they were paid.

It sounds like a competent inspection of the integrity of the meter pan could prevent many of the problems being reported (assuming, of course, that the speculation is correct). But around here the "inspection" likely amounted to a quick glance to see that no dead squirrels were in that box.



leibold
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-09
Sunnyvale, CA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

1 recommendation

reply to owlyn

Typical residential electric meters for single phase 120V/240V service use meter base socket type 2S (for service of up to 200A).

This meter socket has 4 jaws: in and out for the two hot legs.
The neutral wire passes through the meter base but is not interrupted and doesn't even connect to the meter at all.

In areas where residential power is 120V/208V there will be a 5th jaw and neutral is actually connected to the meter but unlike the two hot legs is not interrupted when the meter is pulled.

This means the dangerous condition of an open neutral will not be caused by the electric meter (no matter how smart or dumb it is). That doesn't mean that slamming a new meter into the meter base couldn't possibly disconnect an already poor neutral connection in the main panel below or the weatherhead (through mechanical shock/vibration).

The connection between meter and meter base is through fixed blades on the meter that extend into the meter base. It is the jaws in the meter base that are responsible for making a good contact to the meter (some designs are spring loaded).
The utility company does have a point if it blames the meter base as the failing part but that is not the whole story. In my opinion the utility company (or the hired subcontractor actually replacing the meter) has a responsibility to verify that the meter base into which they are installing the new smart meter is in good working order to provide safe service.
Clearly this safety inspection is not happening (no surprise either).
--
Got some spare cpu cycles ? Join Team Helix or Team Starfire!



Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to garys_2k

said by garys_2k:

I think that the issue here is the utillity blindly plugging the meters into pans that may not be in good enough condition to accept them. The crew doing the meter swaps (at least around here) just went house to house, yanking the old meters and slapping in the new ones. It almost seemed like the more they got done in a day, the more they were paid.

It sounds like a competent inspection of the integrity of the meter pan could prevent many of the problems being reported (assuming, of course, that the speculation is correct). But around here the "inspection" likely amounted to a quick glance to see that no dead squirrels were in that box.

A couple of years ago the POCO changed out our old analog meters with new digital meters that they could read by driving around in a vehicle. Evidently it was a sub-contractor because they were not in a POCO vehicle. When he got to mine which is 300 amp service he just scratched his head and said he didn't have a meter to fit my service and he would have to come back. The one they put in looks just like the old analog meter with the dials and not the digital readout. Bottom line is this guy didn't have clue. He just pulled the old meters and stuck a new one in. Nothing else.


sivran
Opera ex-pat
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1
reply to jack b

The meter and socket's clearly company-owned here. There's an anti-tamper tag on it that I'd have to break to even look at it.
--
Think Outside the Fox.



fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to Jack_in_VA

said by Jack_in_VA:

A couple of years ago the POCO changed out our old analog meters with new digital meters that they could read by driving around in a vehicle. Evidently it was a sub-contractor because they were not in a POCO vehicle. When he got to mine which is 300 amp service he just scratched his head and said he didn't have a meter to fit my service and he would have to come back. The one they put in looks just like the old analog meter with the dials and not the digital readout. Bottom line is this guy didn't have clue. He just pulled the old meters and stuck a new one in. Nothing else.

I have a "smart meter" like that. It's an old sangamo with retrofitted AMR. The cooperative can get hourly data from it and it communicates via powerline.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to sivran

said by sivran:

The meter and socket's clearly company-owned here. There's an anti-tamper tag on it that I'd have to break to even look at it.

The meter pan doesn't have to be utility owned for there to be a seal on it. Putting a seal is standard practice for most utilities anyway, whether you own the pan or not. They (rightfully) don't want you in there unless you're a utility worker or a licensed electrician (in some jurisdictions).


49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3

1 edit
reply to Jack_in_VA

said by Jack_in_VA:

The 200 amp switch in the smart meters is of concern to me. Cheap Chinese junk purchased by utilities to pretend they are advancing conservation is trumping the safety of their customers.

FWIW the meters by GE and ITRON are made in the good ole USA.

Utilities have deep pockets and are not prone to buy into cheap products that can leave them holding the liability bag more so when you consider the fact that many times they pass the cost of the equipment to the ratepayers anyhow.

Wayne
--
Madness takes its toll, please have exact change ready…


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to sivran

said by sivran:

The meter and socket's clearly company-owned here. There's an anti-tamper tag on it that I'd have to break to even look at it.

Don't be mistaken. My meter has an anti-tamper tag to prevent opening the METER, but nothing stops me from pulling out the pan's panel with the meter.

iknow
Premium
join:2012-03-25
reply to SparkChaser

said by SparkChaser:

Remote Disconnect
• iCon A type iSA3 - Forms 1S-RD, 2S-RD, 12S-RD
• 2-Pole, single-throw
• Magnetic latching
• Rating: 200 A, 230 Vac, 60Hz, PF 0.7/0.8 lagging
• Endurance: 6000 cycles, 200 A, 240 Vac, 60 Hz,
PF 0.7/0.8 lagging
• Overload: 50 OPS, 300 A, 230 Vac, 60 Hz, PF 1.0
• Current Withstand: Per IEC 1036, ANSI C12.
1: 7,000 A Peak (5,000 Amps rms) 230 Vac, 60 Hz,
for 6 cycles at 0.7/0.8 PF with normal operation after
exposure; 12,000 Amps rms for 4 cycles with fail safe
conditions after exposure.

»www.sensus.com/documents/10157/3···heet.pdf

they don't mention what happens if you have a leading PF, or a surge over 240 volts though!. maybe that's why they go on fire


49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3

1 recommendation

said by iknow:

they don't mention what happens if you have a leading PF, or a surge over 240 volts though!. maybe that's why they go on fire

Quite willing to bet the root cause of the fires is a loose connection in the meter pan either where the stabs connect to the socket or loose connections resulting from distrubing old hanging by a thread connections.

Wayne

--
Madness takes its toll, please have exact change ready…

telco_mtl

join:2012-01-06
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

said by sivran:

The meter and socket's clearly company-owned here. There's an anti-tamper tag on it that I'd have to break to even look at it.

Don't be mistaken. My meter has an anti-tamper tag to prevent opening the METER, but nothing stops me from pulling out the pan's panel with the meter.

nothing physically, but hydro frowns on that especially because some people have been known to jump one leg of a meter to get some free power , nowdays any house with switchgear before the meter (common on indoor meter installations in older neighborhoods) meter readers are putting seals on the main switch boxes (where your main fuses are) because the power in those is un metered and there have been major issues with theft of power.

pullting the meter pan cover at the same time as the meter is a dangerous practice because you could inadvertanly have the cover touch one of the lugs in the meter pan, and when that happens i doubt your next of kin will have a good story to tell hydro!


49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3
reply to Jack_in_VA

Click for full size
downloadgrunner.pdf 364,087 bytes
Click for full size
downloadKG-K240.pdf 189,081 bytes
said by Jack_in_VA:

Of course Sensus will claim their equipment meets requirements but a lot of companies make similar claims that turn out to be completely false. Especially the cheap Chinese manufactured equipment.

Here's the data sheets of two most popular 200 amp meterbase latching relays not quite Chinese junk eh?

Wayne
--
Madness takes its toll, please have exact change ready…


Lone Wolf
Almost Retired
Premium
join:2001-12-30
USA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon Online DSL
reply to telco_mtl

said by telco_mtl:

pullting the meter pan cover at the same time as the meter is a dangerous practice because you could inadvertanly have the cover touch one of the lugs in the meter pan, and when that happens i doubt your next of kin will have a good story to tell hydro!

Looks like the PECO workers are protected against fires.

From the link on Philly.com

quote:
Wearing fireproof clothing, a Peco field technician installs a smart meter. Peco is investigating malfunctions related to the units.