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Characterization of radiofrequency field emissions from smart meters


This study presents measurement data that describe radiofrequency emission levels and patterns from smart meters (rated nominally at 1 W) currently deployed in Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s service territory in northern California. The smart meters in our investigation could not be set to operate continuously and required a Field Service Unit to induce short periods of emitted fields. To obtain peak field data under both laboratory and ambient conditions, a spectrum analyzer scanned across the 83 transmitting channels between 902 and 928 MHz used by the smart meter on a random frequency-hopping basis. To obtain data describing temporal emission patterns, the analyzer operated in scope mode. Duty cycle was estimated using transmit data acquired by the system operator from over 88,000 m. Instantaneous peak fields at 0.3 m in front of the meters were no more than 15% of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) exposure limit for the general public, and 99.9% of the meters operated with a duty cycle of 1.12% or less during the sampling period. In a sample of measurements in six single-detached residences equipped with individual smart meters, no interior measurement of peak field exceeded 1% of the FCC’s general public exposure limit.

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  1. FCC. Evaluating Compliance with FCC Guidelines for Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields, Edition 97-01. Federal Communications Commission Office of Engineering and Technology: Washington, DC. 1997 (Report no. OET Bulletin 65, Edition 97-01).

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This research was supported by the Electric Power Research Institute.

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Correspondence to Richard A Tell.

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Tell, R., Kavet, R. & Mezei, G. Characterization of radiofrequency field emissions from smart meters. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 23, 549–553 (2013).

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  • smart meters
  • radiofrequency fields
  • exposure assessment


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