Automated meter reading – AMR

Automated Meter Reading, also known as AMR, is a definition for the technology of collecting consumption data in real-time or at least at periodically occasions like once an hour, once a day or once a month. It could for example be used for water, electricity or gas. Compared to manually read meters where utility providers have to read the meter on site, the automated meter reading transfers data to a central database when it’s needed. The consumption can be saved and transferred on demand or as a year, month, day or as an hour value, all depending on what meter and communication that is being used.

The data can be transferred with several different techniques. PLCC (Power Line Carrier Communication), RF (Radio Frequency), mobile- and network technologies are the most common techniques. More about communication later.

The advantage of automated meter reading is also that it gives both customer and the utility provider a possibility to analyze the usage and the bills can be based on the real use instead of predicted consumption which is confusing for a lot of end customers.

By combining automated meter readings with a company Internet site where all facts and figures are presented for the customer, it will not only decrease the need of people at customer service, it also gives the customer the tools they need to make the bill more understandable. With smart table views and diagrams they can analyze and compare the electricity used last month with the same month last year or whatever they like.

AMI – Automated Meter Infrastructure

Automated Meter Infrastructure (or Advanced Meter Infrastructure that some people use) is a further development of the AMR technology that “only” collected meter readings and matched them with the database delivery site account. New metering systems can provide so much more information in two-way communication, which helps creating a smart grid system. For an example it can detect and alarm for several reasons like unsecure reading value, leak detection, low batteries etc. It can store information about power loss so that we don’t have to wait for the customer call to be able to locate it. It’s also possible to connect or disconnect the power by a switch built in the meter by remote control. This function might not be allowed in all countries for customer safety reasons.
The meters used in an AMI system is often called Smart meters because they can be programmed with a lot of functions.

Smart Grid

What is a smart grid and why should it be built?

Electricity is produced at the same time as it is consumed. There are no ways energy can be stored in large volumes yet. This means that if for example there is a blackout somewhere in the network the power plants will produce too much electricity. With too much electricity produced the demand will decrease which will affect the electricity prices in the grid. Of course the opposite behaviour will be used if the demand is increasing because of a cold winter’s day or clouds blocking the sun for the solar cells for example.
A Smart Grid could react much faster than the traditional grid and lower the production faster or route the power in another way automatically which makes it possible to minimize the blackout area faster. A Smart Grid could be constructed and programmed to become kind of self healing. The Smart Grid could save money and also the environment.

The metering devices in a Smart Grid should send information in real time to be able to react as soon as possible. The communication latency is a problem for building the Smart Grid. Some AMR systems communicate its data with a relay time of about 24 hours. They are most common for meters installed on the countryside where there are large distances between each delivery site. There are other metering systems that could send information in real time.

The Swedish parliament have decided that all network companies in Sweden should read all electricity meters at least once a month for delivery sites with a fuse size lower than or equal to 63A (Ampere). Delivery sites above the fuse size of 63A should be read once an hour. How and when the data is sent depends on what system that is being used but most meter readings are sent once a day (for hour values) and once a month (for monthly readings). For those network companies that installed a metering system designed for the minimal requirements it could be costly to upgrade the grid to a smart one. This might be something that should be in mind for those utility companies planning for a new AMI project.

Read about Smart Grids at

This page is under construction and will be updated soon.