The world has evolved into a smarter place because we expect more out of today’s smart devices, networks, and communication systems. Smart essentially implies more features and more capability. It suggests the power to make faster, more intelligent decisions. This is the reason static meters are displacing conventional mechanical meters for water metering in residences.
Real-time monitoring, as well as, control of water use in homes is becoming the norm due to widespread water shortage. Thus, real-time access to water usage information is desirable and beneficial to the government department as well as the citizens whom they serve. Real-time measurement and status monitoring enable department staff to understand water usage and the impacts of their decisions. Staff can also identify problem conditions early. Hence, it is advantageous to exploit this intelligence in all aspects of water delivery to the modern home. The following list depicts the benefits of static meters over traditional mechanical meters.
- Improved demand-supply balancing
- Better water loss management
- No moving parts
- Accuracy at low flow
- Internal lithium battery with more than 15 years of life
- Pinpoint accuracy
- Leakage alert
- Low cost of ownership
- Data logging and remote reading
- Intelligent outputs
Limitations of Traditional Mechanical Flow Meters. Despite their long history, mechanical flow meters have serious accuracy and reliability issues. Accuracy is problematic, especially at low flow rates. Since a fine measurement capability was unavailable at an affordable cost, mechanical meters had been the only option for government departments all these years. However, these meters typically under measure because they register zero flow at low flow rates.
Reliability is another problematic area. Mechanical meters slow down with use. Friction and normal wear-and-tear degrade the performance of these meters further. The key negative aspect of mechanical meters is the resultant loss of income because they under measure water flow with progressively worsening accuracy over time.
The effect of low-flow accuracy and deteriorating performance over time is adverse. Leak detection becomes difficult or impossible during low flow. Static metering was introduced to overcome these problems.
Static Metering Technology in Today’s Smart Home. A static meter is any metrology device that has no moving parts. It has notable advantages over conventional mechanical meters. Static meters are already being used in the industrial and commercial markets for years. And they boast higher accuracy, particularly at low-flow rates. The lack of moving parts makes static meters more reliable. Also, there is no performance drop over time. Less leakage ensures water wastage is reduced. The potential loss of income for the government department is checked, and homeowners also stand to gain.
Implementing Static Metering in Residences. Static metering technology was not viable for residential water use until now. However, the most recent dynamic changes in service delivery have created opportunities.
The use of static water meters in residences faced one major hurdle: power. All electronic devices need power to function. And static meters were not a practical option because they are not wired for power. However, the advent of AMI (Advanced Meter Infrastructure) and AMR (Advanced Meter Reading) has changed the scenario. AMI and AMR make remote meter reading and/or control with wireless communications technologies possible.
Factors Favouring Static Metering Technology. Ongoing improvements in battery technology are driving the change in meter technology. The life of static meters is increasing because power densities are improving. The battery life of static meters is 12+ years. Improved leak detection and the possibility of acting on that information are driving the adoption of static meters in residences. Thus, smart technology enables the staff of government departments to make more intelligent decisions.
As the demand for smart infrastructures increases, the cost of static meters will decrease with scale.
Water Management Sensors. In the past decade, significant technological developments have taken place in the areas of water quality sensing, water distribution, data collection, leakage monitoring, and real-time data analytics.
A variety of sensors can be installed right through the water treatment process, as well as, the water distribution network. These sensors provide a constant stream of water quality data in real-time that was unthinkable just a few years ago. Water sampling and laboratory analysis was needed to obtain this data. The sensitivity of these water management sensors is so impressive that some potential contaminants are detected in real-time even when they are present in ultra-low concentrations – in the region of parts per million.
Water flow sensors offer an economical, repeatable, and accurate method to measure the flow of water. Additionally, irregular water flow due to an obstruction or excess water flow due to a break in line is pinpointed promptly. When a water flow sensor is attached to a “SMART” controller, the supply can be shut down automatically in case of a line break. And sensors detect high flow or irregular flow as well.