Inaccurate smart meters exposed by new survey

Smart meters can provide electricity or gas consumption readings that are often seven times higher than actual levels, a new study has found.

The meters are particularly unreliable when it comes to monitoring the outputs of LEDs when they are combined with dimmers.

Tests by scientists at the Dutch University of Twente found that sixty per cent of such devices frequently considerably over-estimated the true results, often by as much as 582 per cent. In contrast, other meters that were tested habitually underestimated the true results by as much as thirty per cent.#

The greatest inaccuracies were revealed when dimmers were combined with LEDs. In these cases the electricity being consumed had an erratic waveform, which the meters failed to adapt to and take into consideration when producing consumption results.

“Ever since 2009 we have known that electronic smart meters can give readings which are too low. But this is the first time we have established they can equally be much too high. We were flabbergasted by our results,” commented project lead researcher Frank Leferink.

People who no longer trust the readings from their smart meter could opt to have their accuracy levels tested, but the researchers warned that even these tests might not always be able to offer true indicators.

The experts did warn that laboratory conditions are not always indicative of home use, where alternative readings may be produced to the ones recorded in the study.

The British Government wants to see 53m smart meters installed in every home and SME in England, Scotland and Wales by 2020. To date, just over 5m have been fitted.

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