Nanotechnology provides innovative printed images

17 August 2012

Posted by Samuel Couratin

A brand of smart meters in the US has raised concerns about fire safety standards after the devices were found to carry a risk of starting a blaze.

The gadgets, which are installed in homes and businesses to monitor energy use and provide information to consumers, can overheat if they are connected to wiring that does not meet modern standards.

According to PECO Energy, 15 of the gadgets overheated following installation by technicians, with one leading to a house fire.

The firm has suspended installations of its smart meters over the fire safety standards alert, having placed 186,000 devices in properties since March this year.

It is now carrying out an investigation into the incidents to ascertain the causes, but has suggested the problem could be linked to pre-existing issues with wiring rather than the smart meters, with new software planned to help address the problem.

"We want to make sure we understand exactly what is happening, since safety is our top concern," PECO Energy Spokeswoman Cathy Engel Menendez told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The UK Government has set a target for smart meters to be installed in all residences by 2019 and many utility firms have already started to rollout the technology to homes and businesses.

Smart meters are also being placed in properties in Estonia, with an eight-year contract signed between Elektrilevi and Ericsson that will see the latter supply, deploy and act as systems integrator of the former's smart metering network.

The eight-year agreement covers the deployment of 630,000 devices, in addition to operation support systems for their management and data collection.

Electrilevi is an Estonian electricity distribution company with almost 500,000 subscribers and it is rolling out the technology as part of attempts to ensure the EU meets its goal to improve energy efficiency by 20 per cent by 2020.

The contract comes after a pilot project was carried out this year involving 5,700 meters, with a further 630,000 due to be installed between 2013 and 2016.

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