Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wireless Routers Are Only Evil If They're Attached to Electric Meters

I love the Bay Area and consider it my home, so it truly pains me when significant numbers of people do their best to perpetuate negative stereotypes.

Most recently it was the upshoot in whooping cough cases because people aren't vaccinating their kids. Now people in Marin County, San Francisco and elsewhere are fighting the wireless meters that Pacific Gas and Electric is trying to install - on health grounds, of course.

Hasn't this fight been fought? Is there any evidence at all for these concerns? Are these people also going to do away with radio stations and wireless routers at home? Why not?


Michael Caton said...

(Posted by blogger on behalf of TGP because blogger.com deleted the comments)

The health scare business over wireless is silly, but the technical concerns later in the article have merit.

My thoughts:

1. More complex units have more points of failure and consequently require more maintenance.

2. Wireless is always a slightly larger security risk. Is it worth it to hack your meter wirelessly? It just might be in the siummer in southern CA. If you can long on to view your energy usage, on the local device, it's a short hop to gaining admin access to that device.

3. Constantly broadcasting a wireless signal for a reading that needs to be taken once or twice a month? What a waste of spectrum and electricity. I'd guess it's about the equivalent of leaving a small radio on 24/7. Plus, if they're on a frequency shared by other devices, they're going to add noise. i.e. slow down your broadband.

4. Why not just wire them directly to the internet or a WAN? At least that way you can monitor in real-time if you suspect fraud.

Michael Caton said...

I don't know anything about the technical features pro or con but presumably PG&E has answers to those things - but needless to say it's the "WiFi meters will make our heads explode" headline that got carried. For all I know the majority of the people pushing back have some very good technical reasons, even if a few of them have goofy reasons.

Most of the population in CA lives at the coast, and because near ocean = colder on this side of the country, the drain during the summer isn't as much as you would think. Living in the Bay Area, I never had AC, and over the course of ten years probably only five separate times did I think "I wish I had AC today." It's per capita the lowest energy-user in the country, but that has more to do with a climate always between 55 and 80 at the coast than anything we're doing, I think.