What’s a Smart Meter, Anyway?

All About Vancouver Smart Meters

In 2013, BC Hydro began changing over most homes in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, Langley, and Surrey from conventional meters to smart meters. These smart meters have proved controversial to some Lower Mainland residents. What are smart meters, and what does this change mean to homes and businesses?

What’s a Smart Meter, Anyway?

When the original electrical grid was installed in the early twentieth century, they were unidirectional. Electricity was dispensed and billed according to either a fixed tariff, or a dual tariff, with lower prices for nighttime usage. As the grid modernizes and the demand for electricity keeps increasing, electricity providers developed the smart grid. The smart grid is dual-directional. Information is gathered on electricity usage in a home or business, stored in a confidential way, and transmitted back to the utility company. The utility company then uses this information to make decisions and policy, to increase operational efficiency, to respond to power outages, and to fine-tune billing.

How Will Smart Meters Change Energy Usage?

BC Hydro expects that smart meters will change energy usage in BC in a number of important ways:

Outage Detection

Your smart meter will inform BC Hydro when you experience an outage, whereas previously that was information you had to report yourself.

Theft Detection

Smart meters are more effective at preventing electricity theft, which increases electricity prices for everyone. They’re alarmed against tampering.

Supports Complex Rate Structures

Rather than single or dual tariffs, smart meters are capable of supporting complex rate structures that steer customers towards more efficient energy usage.

Provides Conservation Information

Consumers will be able to gain a much more detailed picture of their energy usage, and use it to develop an energy conservation strategy.

How Will Smart Meters Change in the Future?

This isn’t the end of the advances in the smart grid. BC Hydro expects to see further advances ahead. Eventually, smart meters will be self-healing, will be integrated with more renewable energy, and will support an even wider array of consumer choices. Consumers will be able to sell excess energy back to BC Hydro, including their own solar or wind power, or the charge in the battery of their electric car. Another promising idea that smart meters make possible: microgrids, where a group of users isolate themselves from the grid and operate autonomously.

What are Some Concerns About Smart Meters?

Some consumer groups have questioned the safety of smart meters, claiming they are more likely to catch fire, or that the radio signals used to transmit information back to the utility company are unsafe. BC Hydro has provided the option for consumers to opt out of the new smart meters by paying a fee for a version that does not use radio signals as a mode of transmission.

Hire a Licensed Electrician in Vancouver BC

Is your electrical system out of date and costing you money? The licensed electricians at Pro Ace are experts you can turn to for your home, business, or construction project. Pro Ace electricians serve Vancouver, North Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, Surrey, and Langley.

Call Pro Ace at 604-293-3770 for your electrical inspection today!