Highly integrated SoCs are helping designers to design energy meters with ease and less engineering efforts. What are the various design considerations and challenges for energy metering? And how can you select a SoC for designing energy meters?
Andy Wang, Senior Business Manager, Energy Solutions Business Group, Maxim Integrated talks to Pankaj Vashisht from EFY.
Q. To start with, what is one thing about smart meter hardware that everyone should know about?
A. Traditionally speaking, all electronic meters are just simple solid-state meters. It is now that communications are being integrated, which has led to their evolution into smart energy meters. In India, I think solid-state meters predominantly drive the market. There are simple solid-state meters available for single/poly phase lines, with the communication functionality being incorporated as the latest trend. It is this communication functionality that makes the meter ‘smart’.
Q. What are the key driving elements of the smart meter design in India?
A. A major driver of smart meter functionality is improving the local anti tampering capabilities. This is especially important in developing markets like India, where electricity theft accounts for a large percentage of overall power usage. The ability of solid-state electricity meters to detect and prevent tampering can significantly improve control and cost recovery for utility companies.
Also, the promise of improving service to customers represents an important goal of smart metering, especially over the long term. By enabling customers to better manage their own energy usage through incentive-based programs—such as direct load control, interruptibility rate agreements, and demand bidding or buyback, smart metering can help utilities manage overall energy consumption patterns and cope with peak-demand challenges.
Q. What are the biggest considerations and challenges in designing these smart meters?
A. The deployment of smart meters is far from a “one-size-fits-all” undertaking. Manufacturers must account for the varying regulatory requirements of each region, as well as the different functionalities and services required for different markets.
For meter manufacturers servicing global utility markets, the combination of different driving forces or elements present significant opportunities and challenges. Utility companies have to consider the implications of future smart metering applications when making today’s deployment decisions. Therefore, meter manufacturers need to be flexible, offering both low-cost metering solutions and high-end smart meter alternatives.
Also, the biggest challenge in designing any energy meter is to make sure the metrology is stable and repeatable in terms of accuracy. When it comes to designing energy meters, the accuracy of the integrated smart devices, is also very important, because it decides the reliability of the system.