The Smart Grid Keystone

Infiniti Research Limited’s report, “Global Smart Energy Meter Market 2010–2014,” forecasts that market will reach $19.5 billion in 2014. Key factors contributing to market growth are initiatives from regulatory authorities and home area networking connectivity technology.

“The market is being driven by facility managers’ thirst for granular information on energy conservation, demand response and energy accountability,” said Don Millstein, president of E-Mon, Langhorne, Pa.

With today’s metering technology, facility managers can identify are as of energy waste and conservation opportunities and control usage and implement solutions.

Sustainability is another market driver. However, sustainability initiatives have to make economic sense to be implemented, according to Ross Ignall, director of product marketing, Dranetz, Edison, N.J.

“As a result, creative sources of funding, including local, state and federal funding, are important to success and can drive the metering market in a particular direction,” he said.

Sustainability and metering are also tied together because you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

“Metering is essential to understanding where and what energy is consumed and to monitoring the implementation of energy conservation initiatives to ensure adoption and optimization,” said Melissa Golden, market segment manager, contractors, Schneider Electric, Palatine, Ill.

Technology is making its way into the residential market.

“Meters can already be found in smart appliances, plugs and other devices, providing homeowners with the data required to help them make better energy choices,” said Jay Cormier, director and general manager of energy measurement and communications for Maxim Integrated Products, Sunnyvale, Calif.

Unfortunately, Millstein said, general economic conditions and the lack of new construction will limit market growth.

“The larger projects continue to be specified, but the dollars to actually implement the projects are tending to take longer to be released,” Millstein said.

And, according to Ignall, reduced budgets tend to scale back items that may be deemed nonessential, such as metering.

Cormier said return on investment is another issue that could hinder the metering market.

Technology advancements
Communications and data visualization through bills, graphs and new Internet-based dashboards have been the biggest advancements in metering technology, Millstein said. Customers want to be able to communicate with their metering equipment through various means.

“In addition, customers want their interfaces to use the leading building automation communication protocols, such as Modbus, BACNet and LonWorks,” Millstein said.

Meters used at a service entrance have features that enable them to perform more than just simple energy recording. These include interval data recording, power quality capture, harmonic distortion recording, cycle-by-cycle waveform disturbance detection, and advanced communications with the ability to share data with multiple platforms.

“Additional advanced communications features employ methodologies favored by IT departments that ‘push’ data via FTP and e-mail packets,” said Paul Golden, national business development manager/LEED Green associate, Energy Solutions, Schneider Electric.

The convergence of energy and power quality assessment capabilities into one meter is another trend, Ignall said.

“In many cases, the compatibility between the power source and load can be negatively affected by energy savings measures, creating problems with reliability or lost revenue,” Ignall said. “By allowing both energy and power quality to be assessed at the same time, in the same device, such risks can be mitigated.”

Things to know
To help promote metering, electrical contractors need to know the technology is safe, accurate and simple to install.

“Contractors need to treat metering not just as a product sale but as a solution,” Millstein said, adding that the solution should include the meter and communications and visualization capabilities through software or Internet-based dashboards. “Once the energy-usage information is accrued, it opens a world of opportunity for the contractor to sell additional energy conservation products and services.”

“Contractors can become advocates for energy monitoring as a best practice and as a fundamental strategy for energy management initiatives,” Melissa Golden said.

Contractors need to prepare now for how pervasive meters are going to become in the near future. Cormier predicted that increasing numbers of smart meters will be deployed that will spur changes to consumption.

“Measurement provides a potential revenue stream for contractors to help building owners use the information more effectively in making consumption and conservation decisions,” Cormier said.

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 and

About the Author

Darlene Bremer

Freelance Writer
Darlene Bremer, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributed frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR until the end of 2015.

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