What you don't know about the new "smart" power meters

Do you have "smart" meters installed in your house? Are they safe? How much radiation do they emit? Do they have health effects? Are they vulnerable to hackers attack? Are there alternatives? Are there ways to avoid them?

Smart grid - Smart meters - Smart devices - Smart home

New technology "smart" digital electricity meters will gradually replace existing analog type meters in all homes.

In many countries like the USA, Australia and others smart meters have already been installed in a big percentage of buildings.emfsafetynetwork   Copy According to a European Union directive each member country is obliged to install smart meters in 80% of the network connections until 2020.

Smart meters are a main part of the smart grid (which includes smart devices), which provide consumers and electricity providers details of power consumption.

Smart meters allow for the lower cost of energy during hours with low energy consumption which, at least in theory, is supposed to encourage consumers to use less electricity and shift use to off-peak hours. An important advantage of the smart grid is the fast fault detection and recovery from blackout.

The big winners are the power companies, because they can lay off the extra staff previously needed to read the measurements from each buidling's analogue meters. Also they will be able to continuously adapt their pricing policies and immediately disconnect the power supply to consumers who have not paid.

On the other, the smart grid greatly increases the current levels of electromagnetic pollution, as smart meters and smart appliances already on the market emit radiation either wirelessly or via the power cables to communicate with each other.

Moreover, as you will read below, many express concerns about the safety of the smart grid and the ability to be influenced by hackers, the increased bills for consumers, the violation of privacy, the many faults, increased installation costs, etc. 


Increased radiation emissions

For smart meters to communicate with the power companies various types of telecommunication technologies are used [4]:

  • RF carrier (Power Line Carrier - PLC and Distribution Line Carrier - DLC)
  • Internet Protocol (TCP / IP)
  • Wireless technology (GPRS / GSM)
  • Radio frequency (RF mesh)

If you have a smart meter installed in your home, ask for the exact type, because each technology is different in terms of emitted radiation levels.

Smart meters which operate wirelessly have a transmitter, the radiation of which can potentially affect nearby areas depending on the strength and duration of emission. Their radiation is similar to the radiation of a wireless modem-router (Wi-Fi) or cordless phone. Antennas that are widely used indoors usually broadcast 24 hours a day and in recent years have been linked to various health problems.

Smart meters which emit through the power cables increase the radiation emitted by the cables, by deforming the simple sine wave AC (phenomenon of "dirty power" or "dirty electricity"). This can be a problem for sensitive people, especially in homes with elevated electric fields from cables in walls.

"The adverse effects of electrosmog may take decades to be appreciated, although some, like carcinogenicity, are already starting to surface. This gigantic experiment on our children and grandchildren could result in massive damage to mind and body with the potential to produce a disaster of unprecedented proportions, unless proper precautions are immediately implemented." Paul Rosch, professor of medicine at New York Medical School [1]

Health effects

Although radiation emissions vary significantly depending on the technology used, in many cases radiation reported due to smart meters far exceeds that of mobile phones. This is shown by the report of the special nuclear policy lecturer at the University of California, Daniel Hirsch [5]. Since May 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) has added radiation from mobile phones to the list of possible carcinogens.

Since the smart meters have been used for only a few years and the types used vary from country to country it is still difficult to draw conclusions about the impact on human health. stopsmartmetersorg3   Copy However in recent years, research has linked the wireless radiation with insomnia, depression, brain cancer, testis, skin, salivary gland, male infertility, miscarriage, leukemia, etc. 

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine noted that many smart meters will broadcast 24 hours per day next to bedrooms, children's rooms and other sensitive areas and asks to reconsider the installation of smart meters until we explore the effects on human health [6].

According to surveys of the EMF Safety Network in California [7] after installation of smart meters, the main health problems recorded were:

  • Sleep problems (49% of respondents)
  • Increased stress (43%)
  • Headache (40%)
  • Ringing in the ears (38%)
  • Heart problems (26%)

More related news:

Health Risks Associated with Smart Meters, Public Health Division, County of Santa CruzHealth Risks Associated with Smart Meters, Public Health Division, County of Santa Cruz

Letter from Dr. Olle Johansson of Karolinska Institute to the California Public Utilities Commission Warning of the Dangers of Smart Meters

Take back your power (Documentary) - Winner of the Transformational Film Viewers' Choice 2013

Smart meters an uncontrolled experiment on public health in BC 

Smart Meters Australia Health effects reports

Smart Meter Health Complaints

Smart Meters (VIDEO)

The Problems With Smart Grids: Dumb and Dangerous

Smart meters in Sweden: Accommodating people with EHS

"Smart Meters" & EMR: The Health Crisis Of Our Time - Dr.Dietrich Klinghardt (video)

Health hazards linked to utility metersHealth hazards linked to utility meters

Hacking risk

Although smart systems are encrypted, the encryption often fails.

Because of the many security problems, the former director of the CIA, James Woolsey calls the smart grid "stupid" [8] because it is very vulnerable to hacker attacks with the aim of collecting personal information, changing billing, monitoring of tenants etc. Even simple jamming devices can sabotage the operation of smart meters.

According to the FBI, hackers attacks will likely cost energy providers $ 400 million a year [9]!

The network attacks are not an imaginary scenario but a reality. The study conducted in 14 countries by the computer security company McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington showed that things are getting worse [10]: "One of the more startling results of our research is the discovery of the constant probing and assault faced by these crucial utility networks. Some electric companies report thousands of probes every month. Our survey data lend support to anecdotal reporting that militaries in several countries have done reconnaissance and are planning for cyberattacks on other nations’ power grids, mapping the underlying network infrastructure and locating vulnerabilities for future attack."

Experts from the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory emphasize that hostile governments or terrorists might influence or even attempt to interrupt the power supply to a smart grid [11].

Personal data breach

As observed by the European Commissioner for Data Protection (EDPS) smart meters will allow the mass collection of personal data and recording what household members in their private space are doing [12].

CIA Director David Petraeus admits that “Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing”. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance [13].

More related news:

Total surveillance: SMART grid, SMART homes, SMART healthcare and a camera on every corner

Faults - fires

Experience in the use of intelligent systems in many countries shows that they are vulnerable to operating errors such as the inadvertent activation of electrical appliances and a large number of fires that have been associated with smart meters.

In case of failure and damage there is a chance that smart meters-devices will not be not covered by the terms of your insurance contract [14].

More related news:

Smart Meter Fires and Explosions

Smart meters turn incendiary

Increases in billing

Although a basic promise of smart meters is reduced bills for consumers, the reality is that they often have the opposite effect, either due to mistakes or because of higher consumption at the "wrong" hours.

More related news:

Are you experiencing abnormally high electricity bills?

Cost Increase Complaints

Hydro Cost Increase after Meter Installed

Electric bill skyrockets after smart meter;opt-out option coming, but will cost

BBC News: Warns of energy smart meter 'fiasco'


 "An informed person should demand that they be allowed to keep their analog meter." Dr. David Carpenter, School of Public Health, Albany, New York University [15]

Global reactions

There have been worldwide reactions to the installation of smart meters with continuing resolutions, lawsuits etc.

Many cities seek the possibility of optional installation.

Testing programs, such as one in Australia, have failed after the abandonment of the program by more than half of the users [16].

According to surveys of EMF Safety Network in California [17], 40% of people in homes which had a smart meter installed have complained to the power company and 94% would like to reinstall their old analog meters.

California also filed a class action lawsuit brought forward by the consulting firm Wilner & Associates, against Pacific Gas & Electric (PG & E) on the legal basis of high radiation emissions, encroachment of property and health damage. The lawsuit asks for more than $ 2 million in penalties, with a $ 10,000 fine per customer and the obligation of PG & E to provide an analog meter at no cost to any customer who requests it. [18]

More related news:

'Smart Meters' Generating Static as More Counties Seek to Opt Out''

Texans demand freedom from smart meters

Federal Lawsuit Filed Against City of Naperville, IllinoisFederal Lawsuit Filed Against City of Naperville, Illinois

Smart meters for energy to be voluntary

Is there an alternative?

The most promising alternative is the use of optical fiber, providing high speeds, data security and almost zero radiation.

However, this solution may not be feasible since it has higher costs compared with wireless solutions.

How to limit the radiation from smart meters

If a smart meter is installed in your home we recommend that you measure the radiation with a high-frequency meter.

If you find that the radiation levels in your areas are too high you can shield your walls by painting them with electromagnetic shielding paint that reflects wireless radiation by up to 99% due to the special conductive composition.

If the smart meter does not emit wireless radiation but sends signals only through cables, then you can limit your exposure to electric fields from cables in walls by painting all the walls with the aforementioned electromagnetic shielding paint which is grounded by an electrical outlet. For buildings under construction there are other solutions (steel pipes etc.) 


[1] Camilla Rees- Magda Havas, Public Health SOS - The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution

[4] Technical description of the project "Pilot telemetry system and benefit demand management of electricity energy household and small commercial customers and implementing smart grids"

[5] Daniel Hirsch, Comments on the Draft Report by the California Council on Science and Technology "Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters", 31 January 2011

[6] The American Academy of Environmental Medicine Calls for Immediate Caution regarding Smart Meter Installation, http://aaemonline.org/pressadvisoryemf.pdf

[7] Wireless Utility Impact Survey, http://emfsafetynetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Wireless-Utility-Meter-Safety-Impacts-Survey-Results-Final.pdf

[Eight] CIA Director Calls Smart Grid "Stupid" Due to Security Problems http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAid1bS8t9U

[9] FBI Warns Smart Meter Hacking May Cost Utility Companies $ 400 Million A Year, http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/fbi-warns-smart-meter-hacking-may-cost-utilities-400-million-year

[10] In the Dark, Crucial Industries Confront Cyberattacks (McAfee, Center for Strategy and International Studies)

[11] The Problems With Smart Grids: Dumb and Dangerous, B. Blake Levitt and Chellis Glendinning

[12] Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the Commission Recommendation on preparations for the roll-out of smart metering systems, https://secure.edps.europa.eu/EDPSWEB/webdav/site/mySite/shared/Documents/Consultation/Opinions/2012/12-06-08_Smart_metering_EN.pdf

[13] CIA Head: We Will Spy on you through your dishwasher, http://www.wired.com/2012/03/petraeus-tv-remote/

[14] Smart meters can invalidate your homeowners insurance http://beforeitsnews.com/energy/2012/03/smart-meters-can-invalidate-your-homeowners-insurance-1839410.html

[15] http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/harvard-medical-doctor-warns-against-smart-meters/

[16] http://www.itnews.com.au/News/370919 ,half-of-users-abandon-smart-meter-trial.aspx?utm_source=feed&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=editors_picks

[17] Wireless Utility Impact Survey, http://emfsafetynetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Wireless-Utility-Meter-Safety-Impacts-Survey-Results-Final.pdf

[18] Class Action Suit Seeks to Limit Smart Meter Use

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