As the result of the rapid expansion of smart grid and advanced meter infrastructure, many utilities around the country are replacing existing meters with new solid-state smart meters and two-way communication devices. These new systems offer significant benefits to the consumer and utility. However, there’s a trade-off.
Smart meters are often installed in pre-existing meter sockets. Meter sockets are expected to operate safely for many years.
The problem is, as utilities move to two-way communications for meters and remote meter reading, periodic and repetitive visual inspection of meter sockets will decline radically. The interval between site visits by utility personnel could be as much as 100 times as long as the current monthly opportunity for inspection. While this fact is part of the appeal of smart meters as it reduces labor costs, it is a drawback as well. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) recently recommended that all existing meter sockets be thoroughly inspected when electrical meters are installed.
If any damage is discovered, the meter socket should be replaced with a new one that meets current specifications. Placing smart meters in old or damaged sockets could result in fire.
For more information, visit NEMA’s Smart Meter Facts page on www.nema.org.