From mechanical meter reading to automatic to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), the technology that provides two-way communication between the consumer meter and the power utility. AMI-based meters, or smart meters, come loaded with benefits for all the stakeholders of the power industry. They are a way advanced than the AMR-based meters which replaced the mechanical meters a few years back.
Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) is a technology that collects data from electricity meter and sends it to the power utility. It’s a one- way communication of data, from home to utility. AMR devices create a direct communication channel between the consumer and the supplier, thereby, ensuring accurate billing and giving customers the option to monitor and analyse their energy usage.
A step ahead of AMR is the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) that enables two-way communication over a fixed network between the utility system and metering endpoints. Electricity meters with AMI are called smart meters. These meters are not only capable of sending data from home to the utility, but can also record the time and consumption of energy at any particular time of the day or week.
- A step ahead of AMR is the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) that enables two-way communication over a fixed network between the utility system and metering endpoints.
- Mechanical meters were prone to tampering and caused huge losses to the utilities. Electricity theft, done by manipulating the meter reading through a magnet, was a common practice.
- With the help of AMI-based electricity meters, utilities can also implement various energy-saving and load-reduction programmes to reduce the cost of the electricity supplied to the consumers.
AMI meters are a smarter and digitally superior version of the AMR meters. Power utilities can digitally send updates regarding the pricing and energy consumption to an AMI meter. These are way ahead of the AMR meters, which were considered the most advanced technology in the energy sector when they replaced the previously-used mechanical meters.
The mechanical meters were prone to tampering and caused huge losses to the utilities. Electricity theft, done by manipulating the meter reading through a magnet, was a common practice in many parts of the country. Besides, utility staff was sent to take the meter reading manually and this often led to human errors. AS a result, the Electricity Department faced huge losses due to this faulty meter reading.
Now, with the advancements in technology, Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI), AMI-based electricity meters have been developed which are technologically ahead of not only the mechanical meters but also the AMR-based electricity meters. No doubt AMR is less expensive, but it also provides fewer features and benefits as opposed to the AMI, which is costlier.
With the help of AMI-based electricity meters, utilities can also implement various energy-saving and load-reduction programmes to reduce the cost of the electricity supplied to the consumers. In any case, AMI smart meters provide consumers with accurate reading of the energy consumption and do not give estimates, as was the case with old mechanical meters.
The In-home display on the AMI meters shows every reading in detail and any sudden spike in the reading can be associated with faulty appliances. This can help the consumer to buy more energy-efficient appliances, which will not only save his/her money but also be beneficial for the power grid because of lesser load-utilisation.
But one problem with AMI-based electricity meters is that they require an efficient mobile network in order to transmit data from a consumer’s home to the utility and vice-versa. A patchy mobile network in some remote areas can result in power utilities getting no reading from these smart meters. The Government, however, is working along with telecom companies to sort this problem and ensure a seamless service to the consumers.