Electricity, water & natural gas supply and heating have become indispensable resources in our everyday lives. However, due to technological limitations, the traditional energy, water, gas and heat meters lack the innovations offered by the modern day state-of-the-art communications as well as sensing and display technologies. For this reason, manual meter reading has long been considered inappropriate for the modern age.
With the introduction of these recent innovations, metering devices can be transformed into smart meters which have abundant functions, and are easy to read and capable of transmitting data remotely.
A smart meter is typically composed of sensors, signal conditioning and collection, MCU, communication, display and smart card reader. The different smart meters require different sensors. Energy meters need voltage and current sensors. Water meters need flow sensors to measure flowing fluid. Heat meters need both flow sensors and temperature sensors. Gas meters need airflow sensors, temperature sensors and pressure sensors. Signal Conditioning and collection blocks are used to adjust and amplify the small signals from sensors and convert into digital signals that MCU can use. The MCU is the core of a smart meter, responsible for the control of all the functions such as display, communication, calculation based on measured data, smartcard reading, and time-division charge. Smart meters usually use LCD for the display of readings and alarm information. Depending on different requirements and management modes, one of the wired communication methods such as CAN and RS485 can be selected for smart meters, and a wireless communication method such as Zigbee can be adopted. Smart card readers on smart meters make it possible to realize prepaid usage for utilities and customers.