Question about remote read electric meters.

1) Maybe slightly OT for this 'Home Repair' group? But in view of that recent thread of postings about not being allowed to have ones electricity meter in a 'covered place', can anybody describe approximately how these 'remotely read' electric meters work? For example the original poster in California who was told he could not have his meter covered bay an outside porch! And mine about how an acquaintance has one newly installed by local power company that the meter reader 'reads' without getting out of their vehicle from a distance of about 50 feet. That meter was deliberately installed by the powerco. because it is inside an attached, sometimes closed and locked garage and they had encountered difficulty getting access to read the previous conventional meter! Another poster mentioned electric meters that are read from a helicopter flying over? I'm wondering if a) These meters 'transmit' data all the time? or b) they respond somehow and only to a specific 'enquiry' signal from the meter readers apparatus? 2) My secondary interest is the possibility of these things being yet another source of RFI (Radio Frequency Interference)? 3) Thirdly has anyone on < alt.home.repair >encountered any plans or trials by their local electrical utility/supplier to 'read' their meter remotely over the electricity supply lines themselves? Just curious! Any comments or replies would be a most appreciated assistance to my 'Learning Curve'! Terry. PS. Apologise for X.Posting. Tried to 'Blind copy' this to 'radio + phono', for info, but couldn't make it work!
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Terry wrote:

They are polled by the meter reading device.

I haven't heard any from mine.
Mine is on the back of the house, facing the family room. And "patrolled" by a 125 pound dog that thinks it's a lap dog. Edison company decided to put a remote read unit in.
Jeff
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Jeffrey D Angus wrote:

Ditto. But there are also load control devices that do some routine two-way communications. You'd know if you had one installed.

Ditto again. I had some odd interference a while back and was suspect of the meter. I found they make them for various frequencies, plain jane 49 Mhz not being uncommon. I haven't seen any evidence of interference from mine. If there was, it would only be a burst of data less than a second when the reader 'keys' it.
They changed out all the old meters here in this community. They had been reading/billing every two months and the 'upgrade' allowed them to go to monthly billing. So as far as I know, everyone here has them.
-Bill M
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Terry wrote:

There are several systems - depending on the company making them. Most are spread spectrum - just like a cell phone - and work much the same way - they find a "hole" and put out a burst - which has several bytes of ID; a few bytes of data (the reading, problem code, etc.) then a CRC to ensure accuracy.

Most do (transmit every so often at random times) as they don't have a receiver to "hear" a poll command.

No more than any other communication device of similar operating frequency.

Our Rural Utility Billing software interfaces with one of the more popular remote read systems - Neptune's EZRoute system. One system using our software has 600+ meters so installed (out of 1400 system wide) and they haven't had any complaints about RFI.
best regards...
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We just got a new electric and gas one installed and I haven't noticed any problems from them, I was worried when I saw them going in but so far so good.

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There are a number of different systems, and more under development. Many are radio and microwave interrogated. 2.4 GHz is popular as one band. Some communicate over the wires.
Our rural Coop installed a remote reading system early last year, when their Chief Engineer was a friend of mine. Unfortunately, he moved on to a better job shortly afterwards, and the only information I got from him was that this system "modulates" the zero crossings of the 60 Hz to transmit and receive data. Funny thing, when this system went on line, several of my old line connected digital clocks started gaining time. In examining their circuits, I found that the capacitor specified by the chip manufacturer on the input line was left out of these designs. Adding the specified .001 eliminated the time gaining problem, but it confirmed, at least to me, that indeed, there are now more zero crossings for the clock to count than there used to be.
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....................
Various posters have commented to this thread. Many thanks indeed for the information to all of you. Terry.
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