Before you start looking for what smart meters are, you need to hear something very important: Smart meters, like any other device that emits radio frequency radiation, do not pose a risk to your health.
Right now there is a lot of buzz on the internet about the dangers of smart meters. People argue that because smart meters use radio frequencies, they can cause cancer, anxiety, insomnia and other complications. This is not just harmless internet conspiracies. There are actual protests against the state introduction of smart meters, and the protesters cite their health as their main concern. But what are smart meters, how do they work, and why is radio frequency radiation harmless?
Smart meters are walkie-talkies that measure energy consumption
Smart meters are digital devices that are used to measure the energy consumption of your home. They accurately measure your kilowatt-hour consumption of electricity and use wireless radio frequency (RF) technology to communicate your energy consumption to the real-time utility company. That's the part people think is dangerous ̵1; the radio frequencies. But we get to it in a second.
Electric meters, both smart and stupid, measure the amount of electricity you use in kilowatt hours. They are usually installed outside your home, but as you can probably guess, they are connected to your building circuit.
Old mechanical meters measure your energy consumption with two metal conductors and an aluminum plate. The two conductors use the current that circulates through your home to form an electromagnetic field (a form of radiation), which causes the aluminum plate to spin. The plate spins faster when you use more electricity, and slower because you use less electricity. When the plate spins, the gears are rotated on a five-panel display called an indicator, which tells you your energy consumption in kilowatt hours.
Smart meters use AC sensors to measure voltage and current in your home circuit. They are precise digital sensors without moving parts and they do not run the risk of failure due to mechanical defects or wear. Unlike mechanical gauges, smart meters communicate the energy consumption with the implement company via radio frequency, which cuts down the need for measurement control means and allows the implement company to see your energy use in real time.
Don't confuse smart meters with energy monitoring products like Sense or Smappee. These are devices that connect to your electrical panel and allow you to monitor your energy consumption on your phone or tablet and tell you how to save money on your electricity bill.
What is the big deal?
Many people spread the myth that RF radiation from smart meters causes cancer, insomnia, anxiety, and a host of other health problems. But smart meters have been installed in US homes since 2006 and, according to the US Energy Directorate, almost half of all US homes have a smart meter. Where does this erroneous information come from and why is it so sudden?
Well, some Americans were worried about smart meters when they were first introduced in 2006, but as time began, these problems began to fade. But the United Kingdom recently began a nation-wide transition from mechanical meters to smart meters (packaged with energy monitors, happy British), and it has caused a bit of a controversy.
Originally, only a fraction of Britain was concerned about how smart meters affect their health. But after British utility companies ended up in the news to inflate people's electricity bills and ignore manufacturing flaws in thousands of smart meters, the "health issue" for smart meters became a common complaint and hot topic for second-hand internet sites that wanted to make a quick money. People wanted an opportunity to hate smart meters, so half baked internet sites started claiming that smart meters caused cancer. And since the internet is global, these nonsense problems have found themselves over the Atlantic.
But these worries are complete nonsense. RF radiation is harmless.
Low-frequency radiation is harmless
We have already explained why Wi-Fi and other RF applications are not dangerous, but we take a while to explain things again. It's a little complicated, but if you know that ionizing radiation is dangerous, and that non-ionizing radiation is harmless, then you will be okay.
The dangerous radiation you hear in Chernobyl documentaries and Godzilla films is ionizing radiation. These forms of high frequency radiation occupy the far end of the beam spectrum, and they are powerful enough to remove atoms and molecules from their electrons. The most powerful forms of ionizing radiation are gamma rays and x-rays, and they are caused by internal nuclear and intra-nuclear disintegration.
Will your smart meter cause any kind of nuclear waste? Obviously not. Your home would cloud.
Smart meters operate between 902 MHz and 2.4 GHz bands, so they are classified as radio frequencies that occupy the lowest portion of the radiation spectrum. Radio frequencies are non-ionizing and completely harmless. They are less powerful than the infrared light contained in your TV remote control, or the UV frequencies that you soak up on the beach to get a gnarly tan.
Don't believe me? The most powerful Wi-Fi routers work on a 5.8 GHz band, which is much higher than any smart meter. Stick your hand next to a Wi-Fi router and let me know if it gets hot.
This science is not undoubtedly; it is fact. Every American who has lived for the past 100 years has spent every day in his life bombarded with RF radiation, but the longevity continues to climb. More tests have been done on the safety of radio frequencies than on the chemicals in your carpet or toothpaste.
How to make money with an online conspiracy
According to a study by the United States of Energy Information Administration 2011, health issues are one of the leading causes of smart meter interruption or deployment delay. This is a harmless symptom of a very serious problem. The Internet is saturated with erroneous data, and it affects the real world.
In the writing industry, we have something called a "niche". A niche is what makes a website or a writer stand out from the audience, that is what gives a voting authority within an online environment, and that is what gives money. Unfortunately, even if a website produces quality content within a niche, it is difficult to drive traffic.
But if you build your business around conspiracies, then it is very easy to create a niche and make a profit. The written word has a certain amount of authority, and if you make a fuss about something that the average person does not know much about (such as low-frequency radiation), then there is a good chance that people will believe what you say, especially if you tells them their health is in danger.
Want to make money from a conspiracy online? Here's a quick guide:
- Find something that is common, but mysterious, and pretend it's deadly. It doesn't matter if science is against you, because people don't believe in science.
- Build a sense of community. People will enter each other to make their faith more authentic.
- Readable testimonies are worth more than a million scientific articles. But if you can find a semi-baked scientific article or an obsolete study, you should use it.
- Try to get the news. They want to make money too.
- Handing out a call to weapons. When people publicly protest against something, they are less likely to listen to opposing views.
- Convince people that they are in a society of "truth" and that they are fighting against a powerful conspiracy.
- Blame the government. People hate the government.
- Disregard logical equivalence. When it comes to smart meters, you should suggest that people use mechanical gauges, even if mechanical gauges produce EM radiation.
- Go into hands with other conspiracy communities. Your followers can overlap.
Every website or testimonial blog post claiming your health makes it a profit. They do not because they care about you and they do not because they want to save the children. They do this because every click on their website gives some form of advertising revenue.
The radio frequencies from a smart meter will not kill you, but believe that everything you read online can make you stupid with your health. Always watch where a website gets its information and try to weigh things in the form of evidence, not speculation.