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Smart Metering 101

Learn more on the basics of smart meters and how they can help with energy measurement and verification, tenant sub-metering and can potential equipment performance issues.

Take a quick look around you and do a quick count of everything you see that uses electricity. Is there anything powered on that doesn’t need to be? Is there anything not powered on that should be? How much electricity do you suppose each of those things uses?

There has long been a conversation about energy management where its up to the individual to adopt best practices of bumping the thermostat up a few degrees and turning off lights when leaving a room. Those things you see that are unnecessarily powered on are the antithesis of that concept. A modern version of that concept might revolve around deeper insight into the amount of electricity each fixture/appliance/outlet uses to discover ways to use objects more efficiently. 

It’s not always about energy savings though. Things such as comfort, safety and operability are all important in a variety of places. Major spikes and sags in usage could be indicative of a potential performance-related issue that needs to be investigated further. 

Before we move on, let's cover on some electricity basics:

The amount of kW your building requires is a sum of the needs of each device in and around it that draw from the same primary power source. In the example above with the house, imagine the HVAC unit, appliances and electronics in and around the home and visualize its usage as a pie chart. In order to actually gain that level of reporting, you would implement smart metering across your buildings.

Smart meters are devices that measure electricity usage of a building or appliance. Some meters will simply measure kW/kWh while others will provide you considerably more data around consumption patterns and resource allocation. The “smart” part is that the collected data is wirelessly transmitted to an internet-connected control panel. 

Quick aside: We are not suggesting you should meter your entire facility all the way down to each individual lighting fixture, but we are saying you could.

Utility companies have been installing “smart meters” for years. This makes meter reading a more automated task. In the past few years, several private companies have begun making metering technology more accessible and digestible to the end consumer. This technology has shown to be increasingly popular in commercial spaces such as office buildings, hotels and apartments as a means of sub-metering a building’s usage to individual tenants.

This same concept can be applied in a variety of settings in which the “tenant” might be a specific piece of equipment where the use case is less likely to be about energy management and more likely to be about operational assurance. In a manufacturing plant, where seconds matter, a smart meter can assist in alerting you to a potential performance issue. Any reported deviations from typical usage patterns are the types of things you could be notified of as a result of smart metering capabilities. 

In a system like Chariot by FSG Smart Buildings, you can view all current and historical usage data to determine what average usage looks like.

Custom notifications and alerts can be configured around the upper and lower bounds of that defined usage pattern. 

This can measure something as simple as “on/off”, be used to provide info on peak usage times, and be indicative of a mechanical issue if lower-than average consumption is detected. Chariot also brings all your metered usage into a single, comprehensive, energy dashboard for more in-depth data analysis.

The whole point of smart metering is putting the power back in the hands of the consumer. You don’t have to be left in the dark when it comes to your electricity usage. Smart meters help shine a light on where your energy dollars are really going. Combine that with the ability to trigger alerts to usage deviations and it is clear why metering is a smart solution for businesses of all types. 

If you have any questions about how to get started with smart metering, contact us today to get the conversation going!

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