Tampering And Security In Electric Meters

An electric meter is a device used for measuring the amount of electrical energy supplied to a residential or commercial building. Due to the increasing cost of electricity, tampering and security in electric meters has become a major concern for government agencies across the globe. Especially in populous countries like India and China tampering in electric meter and energy theft have become quite common. 

Electric meters can be manipulated, thus causing them to stop, under-register or even bypassing the meter. Consumers, who are tamper with electric meter, effectively use power without paying for it. This theft or fraud can be dangerous as well as dishonest. Electric meter security is looked upon as major issue in many countries today.

Today, many power companies are installing remote-reporting meters which are capable of detect any tampering in electric meters, and discover energy theft. These smart power meters are particularly helpful in preventing energy theft and encouraging security in electric meters.

A large portion of a country’s revenue is lost due to the high density of tampering and security in electric meters. Hence it becomes very important to detect tampering in electric meters to ensue proper billing. Electric meter readers are trained to spot signs of tampering. The consumers who tamper with electric meter may be charged each billing period with the maximum rate until the tamper is removed, or in some cases the service may also be disconnected.

A common method of tampering with electric meters is by attaching magnets to the outside of the meter. These magnets prevent the alternating current from forming eddy currents in the rotor, by saturating the coils or current transformers.

Rectified DC loads causes mechanical but not electronic meters to under-register. As the DC currents do not cause the coils to make eddy currents in the disk, thus causing reduced rotation and a lower bill. Other ways of tampering in electric meters and playing with the electric meter security is to use some combinations of capacitive and inductive load, which also result in reduced or reverse motion.

Today, many modern meters can easily detect all of these effects. The owner of the meter normally secures the meter against tampering. Newer computerized meters usually have counter-measures against tampering. In order to find and fix power distribution problems, power companies today normally investigate discrepancies between the total billed and the total generated These investigations are an effective method of discovering tampering and security in electric meters.