AMR / AMI Water Meter Considerations

Not all water meters are created equal. If you’re thinking of implementing an AMR/AMI solution then you may wish to consider the following factors.

I’ve seen water meters installed on the sides of homes and I’ve also seen water meters installed underground under a steel plate.  The latter is typically used in new developments.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, most water meter vendors manufacture their radios to transmit at 900MHz.  This signal will be attenuated if it needs to go through a steel plate. Hopefully developers have enough foresight to place the water meter either in the front or on the side of buildings away from vehicles. Cars and trucks will no doubt attenuate the signal further. I would suggest replacing these steel plates with a high grade light weight plastic plates. How much attenuation depends on the material the signal needs to pass through as well as the transmit power.

Power output (wattage) or transmit power is something you’ll need to understand and design a deployment around. Consult with your water meter vendor to determine the wattage in which their water meter transmits. Typically the higher the wattage the further the signal will travel.

These meters sometimes transmit water meter usage (or data) as much as 15 times per minute.  That being said, the data is bound to get through to the collectors at least once per minute. You can also set it so that the meters are read every hour, giving you 24 readings daily.

Every deployment is unique so you should not simply copy the network design of a different city. I suggest setting up several pilots in areas of your city which best depict the most challenging environmental hurdles.

With any AMR/AMI project, installing water meters on every residential and commercial building is the end goal; however, it’s equally important to install water meters along main distribution lines. This gives you additional insight on how much water is being used at neighborhood levels and just as importantly, where there are leaks.

It’s been mentioned that cities are losing 10% (or more) of revenue due to leaks in their current water systems. Today, without AMR/AMI it’s nearly impossible to tell when a leak starts or how long has it actually been occurring.  It goes without saying that these days water is a precious natural resource and we need to do everything we can to preserve it.

If these percentages are accurate, this could mean tens if not hundreds of thousands of the dollars per year in savings.  The ROI can perhaps be realized in a few years especially once you consider mitigating the need to read meters manually.

Related news:

Wellington, FL deploys municipal Wi-Fi network for wireless AMR

AMR / AMI network deployment basics

South Carolina city uses muni wireless for energy management, public safety, free WiFi

Ponca City, Oklahoma blends municipal wireless with energy management

Wireless meter reading expected to save $18.7M

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  1. What happen if bolt of lighting hits the meter directly ?

    Could it cause the system to scrabble because the meter its self is made up of iron and brass parts?

    Would it make the water reading meter speed up or slow down and give the wrong reading?

  2. Well, to be honest, there currently water meters available made out of composite materials, so you don’t have to worry about lightnings or magnetic disturbances. As for the slowing down / speeding up part, you can always use volumetric meters, where there is no such things as slowing or speeding.
    Hope I helped!