ABI Research estimates that the total installed base of smart electricity meters that are capable of two-way communications will rise from roughly 76 million smart meters in 2009, to approximately 212 million smart meters by 2015.
That’s quite a number, especially for the smart meter market. You might be thinking ‘What is a smart meter and what makes it so smart?’
According to Digital Home, a smart meter looks similar to a traditional electricity meter, except for its ability to communicate. Smart meters record how much electricity is used by the day, hour and minute, and the information is communicated automatically through a variety of different communications technologies that optimize cost and ease of connectivity. Depending on how it’s equipped, the meter can also be the connection vehicle to control devices within a home or business, even switching on and off power to energy-consuming appliances. Water heaters, air conditioners and pool filters are typical large energy-consuming appliances that are targeted.
Networking these smart meters brings out their true business value. As the US rolls out deployment of a ‘smart grid’, the remote access component of smart meters validates their importance. Electric utilities are now measuring real-time usage of electric demand and this accurate real time data from the meters is used to measure their capacity to deliver energy. Equipped with control capabilities, utilities can offer price breaks to consumers who volunteer their energy hungry appliances to be shut off remotely during peak energy times of the day or evening. The utility can more efficiently match demand with capacity when equipped with smart meters and the network that interconnects them.
Sure, smart meters are being deployed worldwide; however, it is the network that brings out their true value.