Smart meter fires and electrical problems

California-based investigative writer, Nina Beety, recently released a 50-page overview on electrical hazards associated with digital utility meters.  Her extensively referenced document points out the many ways that smart meters can malfunction – sometimes with catastrophic consequences.  Meters have exploded and have caused fires and they have likely contributed to the severity of other fires.  Some of the fires have resulted in the deaths of people and their pets.

The inanity of placing a device which is packed with circuit boards outdoors, and exposed to the elements, is highlighted.  The electronics can overheat.  The meters are light and don’t dissipate heat as well as electromechanical meters.  Moisture can be the trigger which causes smart meter fires.

Small electronic parts can’t handle high intensity voltage surges.  Remotely turning on and turning off power can cause meters to combust.  The switch-mode power supply creates high frequency transients.

High frequency wireless radiation from mesh-networked smart meters causes molecules to change polarity 1.8 billion times per second.  The polarity change may be even higher for 3G smart meters.  This causes vibration at a molecular level to building materials, metal and in the body.  Near-field exposure can also cause metal fatigue and rapid non-oxidative corrosion due to electron-stripping.

To top this off, the location of the meter itself presents challenges because fires often start outside the house, at the meter box, and can’t be detected by smoke alarms.  Nevada fire chief Tom Garrison is reported as saying of a smart meter blaze “It can burn a long time and enter the attic or the walls.  The occupants inside may not even be aware the house is on fire.”  And even if fire crews have arrived on the scene, another obstacle presents itself: authorised personnel may be needed to disconnect the electricity at the pole if the meter fire makes it impossible to access the fuse box switch.

Studies have also shown that trees near radiofrequency-emitters can show significant stress.  Trees produce terpenes when they are stressed or injured.  These volatile oils create a more flammable environment.  The infrastructure required for smart meters (towers and, in the case of mesh networks, access points), along with the meters themselves, may be helping to create a perfect storm in our hot, dry summers.

Water and gas smart meters also aren’t safe from the threat of fires and explosions. The lithium batteries which power them are very flammable to water, as well as overheating, which can cause them to explode.

As Nina Beety concludes, “The most preventable fire hazard in every community may be smart/digital utility meters”.

Access “Overview: Fire and Electrical Hazards from ‘Smart’, Wireless, PLC, and Digital Utility Meters” here.


Previous posts that SSMA has done on smart meter fire issues include:

Where there’s smoke …there’s a ‘smart’ meter

Kansas City smart meter fires

Can smart meters cause house fires?

More smart meter fires

Energy supplier denies blame for house fire – The Age

Boy saves family from house fire – Neoskosmos

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2 Responses to Smart meter fires and electrical problems

  1. Let's get real about RF says:

    The tree terpene issue doesn’t bode well for the rollout of 5G. And what about all the NBN fixed wireless towers that have been foisted on to the community in rural areas? As though we don’t already have enough problems with fires!

  2. Rik says:

    The Fire Brigade in Victoria are told not to say anything about smart meter fires. They remove the smart meter as if that is the cause then its covered up and lied about. They call it another cause. “maybe it was the poor old wiring in the house?, maybe it was the device plugged into the old wiring” anything to take the blame away from the smart meter.
    In the first year of installing smart meters there were thousands of house fires all caused by smart meters. They of course covered it up saying stupid things like something else caused the fire. The real problem is most houses had wiring that cant handle the pulse the smart meter gives out so the wiring gets hot and as its a wooden frame house the wires start fires on those wooden house frames.
    The old analogue meters are fine, They have been installed for many MANY years and have many years still in their lifetime so the wiring is made for those old meters and the house so no problems until a stupid smart meter is installed which ruins the harmony and starts a fire.
    There is that, the house not being compatible with the smart meter then there is the unqualified installers who just do faulty jobs. They are not fully qualified electricians, they are mainly just smart meter installers. Easy enough to install one with a 10 min explanation which is what those installers got. They dont care about the house as they dont live there, they just install the meter and move on, a quick installation. Mostly done without the households knowledge as most people didn’t want one installed in the first place so the installers had to do them quickly and sneakily to get as many done as quick as possible. Their poor work also caused house fires.

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