Measuring Smart Meter RF Emissions

Mick West

Staff member

I have a smart meter - which is an electricity meter that wirelessly transmits its readings back to the power company. I also have an RF meter. I measured the RF at about a foot away. There was mostly just background noise, but about once per minute it went up to about 0.5 mw/m2. The peak levels were above 20, but not long enough to show up on the main display.

So I was quite surprised to see this video:


With a rather dramatic claim.
Metabunk 2020-04-29 16-31-12.jpg

They are using a HF 35C meter.
Metabunk 2020-04-29 16-29-55.jpg

So what's going on here. Well, the meter actually reads in µW, not mW, so what they put on screen is probably 1000x than the actual level. The meter has two ranges: fine (199.9µW/m2) and coarse (1999 µW/m2), and that seems to just have the decimal point on or off.
Metabunk 2020-04-29 16-40-32.jpg


Because this is a super low range (1/1000 my meter) it's not very practical unless you are scanning for listening devices. There's also an additional RF damper you can buy which does an additional 100x reduction in the signal, meaning, as they say on the screen, you have to add two zeros.

However, that just makes the reading 50,000 µW/m2, or 50 mW/m2. Lower than WHO limits of 9,000 mW/m2, but still higher than what I'm seeing. It also seems to be constant, whereas mine just broadcast for 1 second every minute.

Interesting stuff. I'm seeing a pattern of misunderstood readings that reminds me of the old days of "chemtrails" when people would mix up their units, or use "limits" which were actually lower detection limits, not exposure limits. But the EMF version seems way more well developed, and with a lot more money involved.

The company that made the above video is selling the "Smart Meter Guards", and other products.
1) The smart-meter

I'd say first try to get documentation of that smart-meter or the tx-module that is inside
and see what protocol and power it uses to transmit its data.
That will give you already much more info to estimate if its dangerous or not.
My guess is that it transmits at similar power as your wifi-modem.

It will use one of the newer digital rf-protocols that need only very little power (lora/sigfox/fdma/iot)
It either transmits directly to a dedicated network (similar to cellular networks structure)
or trough a "mesh" type of network where all meters participate (re-transmit) to get your data out.

Lets suppose those smartmeters all have the same fixed output ... lets assume max 10 milliwatts.
for most situations that power will be sufficient to get your data to wherever it is received.

Depending on the distance to the point were it is received ...this (assumed) 10 mW might be unneccesary high.
and for others it will be just enough ... so screening the tx-signal will result for some in reduction of levels at home,
while for others it will simply block to-much so the data does not make it to the electricity-company ...who will then
come to your house and resolve it ... maybe they could even fine you for interfering with their system.

2) The Shielding:

Yes it does alter the levels in your house ... or reflect it to your neighbour or the room behind the wall ;) .
Instead of using the shown prefabricated shield
you could just as well use a piece of aluminum-foil ... best to also ground it.
but you wont notice anything cause the levels are way below what is considered dangerous anyway.

3) The Gigaherz HF35 rf power-meter.

The readings are relative ... not calibrated.
why not calibrated ? ... because it clearly can not keep up with the pulse-duration of the signal
you see it tries to cope with it ... but it cant ... it obviously takes to much time to do the processing
and then display that on a digital display ... so you get some kind of averaged reading.
In reality the reading could be maybe even 3 times higher ... if the meter could keep up with it.

So this method is not good enough for exact calibrated measurements on fast or short duration digital (pulsed) signals.
even the shape of the pulse (envelop) needs to be taken into account.
so it only serves to get an average relative reading... wich is only good enough to find sources of radiation.
or to compare sources that use the same protocol/modulation ... not for exact (weighted/calibrated) measurements.

In addition to determine possible healtheffects need to take into account the DOSE
(Dose = ExposureTime x Level) ... which this measurement does not do.
as a matter of fact almost all similar meters that show rf-levels dont show the dose !

ie: For the purpose of estimating possible health-effects,
a continious rf-signal ... will have way more effect (dose) then a signal that only pulses every once in a while.
So you cant compare levels from just a sneek-peek on your (averaged) smart-meter pulsed radiation
with that of for example your local continious (digital) DAB-broadcast station or Cellular basestation.
Both might give the same level-reading but its comparing apples with oranges.

The real danger with smartmeters are the possible privacy-issues
ie: electricity-companies might be able to discover certain patterns in your life
and use that for other purposes or even sell that data... or disconnect you on the spot if you did not pay
your last months bill.
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