The technology used for household water meters has remained unchanged for over 100 years. New solid state meters claim to offer improved measurement to support fair charging, Leakage control and new options for difficult to meter properties.
Water retailers and wholesalers need accurate and reliable meters for fair charging and identifying supply pipe leakage. Suppliers are bringing to market electronic alternatives to traditional mechanical meters, based on electromagnetic and ultrasonic technologies associated with industrial and large pipe metering, even applying clamp-on ultrasonic technology for sub-metering. The new meters are claimed to offer increased sensitivity at low flow-rates and amore stable performance over their lifetime.
Are there technical benefits in changing from tried and tested technology? Does the cost benefit case for new meter technology add up? These meters have metrological approval, but this is carried out under steady state conditions - do they still record accurately under the real life varying flow conditions, given the techniques used to optimise battery life? Can these meters be deployed with confidence that they will deliver the claimed benefits?
Electronic meters are (generally) more expensive than their mechanical counterparts but are claimed to offer business benefits in terms of long term stability with no degradation of performance, greater functionality to integrate with AMR/AMI systems and new models claim to be as sensitive to low flows as traditional meters. This project will put some of these claims to the test.
The results from this project will enable water companies to evaluate the risks and benefits of the new metering technologies with regard to their own metering policies and situations.
New metering technologies can then be procured and deployed in confidence in appropriate situations. This will ensure that customers are billed fairly for all the water they use and that water balances are not compromised by misleading data.
The project will evaluate a sample of the latest meters through a robust test programme aimed to address users' concerns. A whole life cost model will be used to determine whether the meters provide value for money when compared with traditional meters. The clamp-on device will be included to evaluate its potential as a sub-meter for use in multi-occupancy properties. We will test and evaluate:
- Performance under varying flow conditions
- Sensitivity and low flow performance
- Long term performance
- Battery life
- Risk of blockage and impact of particulate
- Effect of ambient conditions
- Net accuracy for different property types.
WRc has an established capability for meter and equipment testing and evaluation. Our testing is independent, robust and tailored to provide the information required by users. The collaborative approach will allow a robust test programme to be pursued that covers all the potential concerns.