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Most municipal water companies in the United States have converted all analog types of water meters to fully automated smart meters. This is true for both urban areas as well as rural areas.
By automating the monthly or alternate monthly meter reading process, municipalities were able to save cost in labor, fuel, and vehicles. Additionally, with accurate readings each month rather than estimates on alternate months and the risk of human error in the reading process, they recovered the cost of the installation of smart meters.
Today, property owners and property managers can take advantage of the same technology. Smart meters installed as submeters on individual units in residential or commercial properties allow for automated meter reading by utility billing companies. As part of the service, these companies prepare and email bills to tenants and even manage payments, eliminating the need for the property owner or manager to handle this on a monthly basis.
The Installation Process
For apartments, townhomes, condos, manufactured home communities and other types of residential or commercial applications, a smart meter located on the main water line into the unit is required for automated meter reading services. This meter can be installed indoors or outdoors. It is small and compact and can be installed in existing plumbing systems or at the time of new construction.
The Meter Reading Process
Through the smart meter, the automated meter reading is completed through the transmission of data over a secure network, which is separate from any home WiFi or internet service. The transmission of data is controlled by ANSI standards and uses specific communication protocols developed by the IEC or International Electrotechnical Commission.
The utility billing company receives the transmission from the smart meter on a schedule. The meter only records and transmits the amount of water used by the unit; it cannot monitor use by individual appliances or fixtures.