3 min reading
2 November 2021
2 November 2021
How LoRaWAN® Smart Water Meters save municipalities millions?
Nowadays water is one of the most valuable resources as it is in limited supply in several places of the world. People have created smart water meters and management systems with the help of cutting-edge wireless technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) technology to decrease waste and improve supply and energy consumption. LoRaWAN® (Low Power Wide Area Network) is one of these LPWAN technologies. LoRaWAN network can be integrated into smart city projects for big data analytics of the water industry efficiency. Using a single LoRaWAN® technology gateway, you may connect several LoRaWAN® smart meters to monitor water leaks, have automatic meter reading, save drinking water, and for fault detection.
Smart IoT metering devices, often known as “digital meters,” are devices that work with low power consumption, and automatically record and report data collected on water usage at regular intervals for remote reading. This gives information like peak use and other very important data that could be beneficial to both customers and the utility. The LoRaWAN® smart water meter is a self-developed device that communicates over LoRaWAN®. It performs services such as water measurement, valve control, and remote monitoring. They can help homeowners to detect leaks early and make repairs easier. By analyzing usage patterns, smart water meters can help you save on your daily water and cut down on energy costs.
How do Smart Water Meters Work?
It is quite obvious that with the development of wireless connectivity in the water industry, such questions as “What are smart water meters?” will arise more often. Maybe, how smart water meters work is not a question for engineers or other people involved in IoT applications but for the general public it is still quite a new technology from smart cities. While the answer to the first question is easier since the smart water metering IoT system is just a simple system, which includes different water sensors that gather up-to-date information and send accurate data to cloud storage. Smart water metering solutions and sensors differ from traditional ones by the way of their work. For example, when you meter data with a traditional sensor, not connected to the LoRaWAN network server, you have to put the data in a system manually, which is time-consuming and won’t help you save money.
The gathering and analysis of meter data are automated using numerous technologies in the smart water metering (SWM) system. A typical system includes a smart meter with a data logger for capturing data, a communications technology for transmitting the data (a water meter, IoT solution, or sensor), and a server for processing the data (possibly based on LoRaWAN networks). The smart system often allows utilities or third-party firms to continually monitor or read water use data in real time or at predetermined intervals. Customers can also use mobile devices and laptops to obtain their consumption statistics via online customer portal systems to make technical or drinking water consumption more cost-effective and optimized.
In fact, smart water utilities frequently employ a mix of communication technologies to achieve their diverse transmission objectives. Direct wire connection solutions are appealing, dependable, and offer high bandwidth. However, because of the high installation and maintenance expenses of wiring millions of meters, this is costly and sometimes unfeasible.
Wireless networks, on the other hand, are more adaptable and capable of connecting more devices for less money and effort. Cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LoRa, satellite, and other wireless technologies are popular for smart metering. The maximum range, transmission rate, capacity, ability to tolerate inference and other criteria all differ amongst communication networks. As a result, water utilities may choose to mix wired and wireless technologies to increase coverage and quality.
Are Smart Water Meters Accurate?
People, as usual, being afraid of new technology, start doubting the accuracy of IoT sensors. One study by the University of Twente conducted several years ago showed that smart water meters can give false readings. The waveform of electrical consumption used by homes is erratic, making it difficult for a water meter to process the data accurately. The researchers are still determining what causes these inaccurate readings. But even with this in mind, traditional water meters are not as accurate as smart ones. The traditional types of water meters transmit readings every three months or yearly, so you cannot be continuously updated on the condition of water utilities.
The new water meters are also more sensitive to low water flows, making them more reliable and efficient for smart cities. Compared to traditional water-metered systems, they can be easier to install and use. In addition, these smart water utilities allow you to check your water consumption daily, instead of just quarterly or annually, so you will have all the possibilities for early leak detection or water overuse.
In the long run, smart water meters are more accurate than their conventional counterparts as well. Smart water metering systems will reduce the total expenses that a business incurs to maintain a meter. Smart water metering using IoT will also help water utilities better manage their resources. So, if you install a smart meter in your home, you can expect to save money in the future.
While smart meters are more accurate than traditional ones, the traditional ones tend to lose accuracy over time. This makes it necessary to replace them more often, and it can cause huge expenses for smart cities. As a result, inaccurate readings can cause customer complaints and billing errors due to the wrong data. With a connected water meter, you can also get information about the amount of water you’re using online. So, smart water meters can help homeowners conserve and monitor their water usage. As you can see, using smart data-gathering technology and solution is a win-win situation in any case.
Smart Water Meters Pros and Cons
It is quite expected that smart water meters have a range of advantages and concerns. Like any new technology, being not fully understood by the general public, water-metering IoT applications are a topic of constant discussion. The benefits of smart water meters are extensive because they include such crucial points as long battery life, quick data gathering, high reliability, practical solutions, recommendations, etc. But at the same time, there are some challenges connected to the implementation of metering systems in smart cities.
Are smart water meters safe? This is a question on everyone’s mind, and we are going to answer it here. First of all, smart water meters use radiofrequency waves to transmit data to base stations. These waves are very small, and they are not harmful to us. Furthermore, frequencies are very low, so they pose no danger to us as well. In addition, they are placed outside the house, so we don’t have to worry about them being in the vicinity of our bodies. There have been some concerns about these devices’ radio frequency emissions. However, these emitting devices are not more hazardous than the radiofrequency energy from cell phones and other electronic appliances used in everyday life. In fact, fifteen minutes of cell phone use is equal to 375 years of smart water meters exposure.
Actually, we may say that the technology behind smart water meters is very safe. They use LoRaWAN networks (low-watt radio frequency) to transmit data on whole-house water and electric usage. This means that they don’t collect your personal information, only meter data related to water usage. In addition, they use multiple layers of encryption for your data, which means your data won’t be exposed. This technology is safe to use and has passed several third-party tests. The most recent research published on this topic shows that there are no significant risks to installing the device in your home (Garis, 2013).
Some people worry that smart water meters can increase the risk of fire and explosion. However, this is not the case. As long as they are installed by certified professionals and are not hacked, these water meters are safe. In this regard, they are very safe.
Benefits IoT Solutions Can Bring
The biggest benefit of a smart meter is the elimination of meter reading tasks. The only task a household will have to perform is to enter a reference number. Smart meters can also reduce the cost of water bills. In addition, a connected meter can cut down on the need for individual meter readers. In addition to cost savings, they are also environmentally friendly. Aside from saving water, these water meters are also more energy-efficient than traditional ones.
With the need to save scarce water resources increasing, smart metering can benefit utilities in a number of the following ways:
- to simplify their water distribution operations by making data-driven choices
- allows utilities to collect usage data automatically
- eliminate human meter reading
- increase efficiency
- save costs
- more efficient, timely detection of leaks.
IoT sensors and bidirectional communication networks are used in a typical LoRaWAN® Smart water meter system to remotely read, store, and send data for analysis and feedback. The consumption data is uploaded to the processing server through the transmitter linked to the water meter for analysis, invoicing, and other procedures.
The frequency of automated meter reading and transmission is usually customizable, and it may be daily, hourly, real-time, and so on. More utility companies are implementing Automated Meter Reading (AMR) and Advanced Metering Infrastructure to automate the reading and billing procedures as they move away from traditional human meter reading techniques and solutions.
The present and rising interest in AMR water meter solutions are mostly linked to new Internet of Things (IoT) communication protocols and technologies, such as low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) with long-range and effective penetration. With today’s AMR systems and LPWAN® technology, comprehensive meter reading data may be sent for more than 10 years using a single long-life battery. For example, the LoRaWAN® smart water meter is a self-developed intelligent water meter that communicates over LoRaWAN®. It offers water measuring, valve control, and remote monitoring capabilities. It uses Lora modulation technology, uses the LoRaWAN® wireless transmission protocol, and communicates with the LoRaWAN® gateway to provide remote monitoring and intelligent management.
What are the Main Benefits Metering Technology can Bring to Smart Cities?
A smart system provides benefits to users such as transparent consumption and invoicing, the elimination of manual meter reading, improved leak detection, and decreased water company maintenance expenses. However, in order to reap the full benefits of digital systems, utility firms must overcome a number of financial and technological difficulties. IoT solutions for metering data on water flow based on LoRaWAN networks can bring a range of benefits listed below.
Dynamic Water Billing
As previously stated, these IoT smart water meters allow for two-way communication between water providers and end-users. This implies that the water company can track the consumption of individual homes linked to its system in real time. As a result, there is no need to send someone out every month to obtain onsite meter readings for charging end users.
The IoT system may automatically compute the monthly bill and deliver it to the consumers each month based on how much water a residence consumes daily. This dynamic billing system aids utilities in reducing operational complexity and lowering expenses associated with manual billing technology. With smart water meters, you can be sure that you will have accurate billing. Besides, with access to real-time data on a customer portal, a monthly bill will not be an unpleasant surprise for you.
Rationing Water Consumption
Modern TEKTELIC IoT water flow meters that use LoRaWAN® technology are now equipped with a remote-controllable valve. This valve allows users (often industries and plants) to control the flow of water and manage their water use to improve operations while lowering expenses. Water is usually rationed based on such factors as consumption threshold, customer identifying consumption inefficiencies, visibility in the conservation effort, and reduction in non-revenue water.
To prevent overflows, water limitation is employed in conjunction with water usage monitoring. It’s critical to keep an eye on the water level when filling tanks or cisterns to avoid overfilling and water waste. Consumption thresholds (depending on tank capacity) can be measured and programmed to cut the water supply through valves at a specific time interval to automate these activities.
This rationing is an extremely useful life-changing feature during times of scarcity, such as when water is scarce. By limiting each person’s daily water usage to 50 liters, Cape Town, South Africa, improved the number of days with flowing tap water by three to four months in 2018 (Zero Mass Water, nd). This may appear to be an unfair practice, yet it really helps to conserve water. Consequently, the remote valve control technology of the smart water meter may be used to preserve and manage water during severe weather.
Customer Identifying Consumption Inefficiencies
Smart metering sensors may also be used to identify consumption data trends and inefficiencies. These smart water meters, which come with an IoT platform suite, allow users to keep track of the amount and time of water they use daily. Users can identify inefficiencies in water usage and integrate activities that result in excessive water consumption by monitoring this data. Timely detection of any disruptions in the water system can help adjust water use and following challenges related to water conservation absence.
People may utilize IoT water meters solutions to detect leaks and water waste. The reading in the water meters, for example, must drop to zero at some point over a 24-hour period. The IoT platform may be set up to send a notification to the user if the meter does not stop in this time frame, suggesting leakage or water waste. As a result, the user may fix leaks and implement smart water-saving methods.
Visibility in Conservation Efforts
In general, water utilities and suppliers lack openness in their water-saving efforts. Water distributors may receive clear visibility into their end clients’ usage habits and the outcomes of their conservation initiatives thanks to IoT smart water meters’ two-way interaction. For example, the water supply may view the aftereffects of their odd-even outdoor watering scheme in a graphical style.
Consumers may use these IoT smart meters to save money on their bills in addition to utilities. They may track their water use habits on a regular basis using the IoT platform suite and receive warnings when they surpass water tier limitations and enter a higher-priced bracket.
Reduction in Non-Revenue Water
Water that has been distributed but not paid for is known as non-revenue water. In other words, due to inefficiency, water does not reach or is not reported by end customers’ meters.
Non-revenue water is mostly contributed by the following sources:
- Metering inefficiencies
- There’s a leak in the water main
Water utilities may monitor their water distribution network using IoT water flow meters and ensure that: “Quantity of water used = quantity of water delivered.” Traditional water meters are substantially less efficient than smart wireless meters. Smart metering devices’ efficiency does not decline with time, unlike that of traditional old gauges.
Successful Smart Water Metering Solution In Varazdin, Croatia
Among TEKTELIC projects that have been successfully launched is the smart water metering solution in Varazdin, Croatia. LoRaWAN® Smart water meter technique entails attaching a new electronic device or module to an existing mechanical water meter, performing automatic water flow monitoring, recording water consumption data, and wirelessly transmitting it.
It employs LoRa modulation technology, follows the LoRaWAN® wireless transmission protocol, and collaborates with TEKTELIC LoRaWAN® gateways to enable remote monitoring and smart management. To provide a best-in-class smart metering solution there were deployed 1000 water meters devices, which are built into manholes and apartment buildings, and performed a new monitoring generation system Chameleon IoT Platform.
Smart IoT Water Platform could be used to:
- monitor water flow throughout the system and across distribution channels
- helps detect leaks or problems to reduce water loss
- save energy by knowing how much water flow is needed for a particular distribution line.
To provide a Smart Metering solution in Varaždin the TEKTELIC KONA Macro IoT gateways were deployed. That is an ideal solution for operators and enterprises that require a very scalable low-cost LoRaWAN® gateway that minimizes network TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) while improving coverage and capacity. To facilitate rapid deployment, the gateway is designed to be extremely compact and lightweight
LoRaWAN® is the ideal technology to provide cost-effective, scalable, long-range, low-power, and secure bi-directional communication between devices and gateways. These gateways are ideal for transmitting real-time sensor data securely over long distances.
Which Devices Can TEKTELIC Offer for Better Water Flow Management?
TEKTELIC has a wide range of different solutions for water metering. Our data-driven solutions can optimize flows and pressures for various types of systems, improving efficiency and reducing costs. TEKTELIC’s solutions are adaptable to a variety of conditions, making them ideal for municipalities, industries, and other organizations seeking to improve their water flow management.
One of our devices, which is perfect for water metering solutions and data gathering is TEKTELIC KONA Micro IoT Gateway. This gateway collects data from devices and sends it to the cloud for processing and analysis. With KONA Micro IoT Gateway, you can quickly get real-time insights into your water system and make better decisions about how to optimize flows and pressures. This device can become a part of an end-to-end solution because it is fully compatible with all the sensors and applications in the LoRaWAN ecosystem.
Recently, a team of TEKTELIC engineers has developed a new KONA Strand Macro Gateway, which opens new opportunities for water metering in industrial environments. This gateway is already a solution, considering its ability to transfer huge amounts of data (up to 12 million received messages per day), and its capacity to withstand extreme temperature conditions (-40°C to +60°C). With KONA Strand Macro Gateway you will be able to monitor data on water supply and use in difficult RF environments.
TEKTELIC is constantly expanding its devices portfolio for metering, designed to capture and process data quickly and reliably. Our solutions are tailored to meet the needs of your business, ensuring that you have the data you need to make informed decisions. With TEKTELIC, you can trust that your data is in good hands.
To Sum up
Smart IoT meters are transforming the utility industry, whether it is in the electricity or water sectors. The new meter systems allow for the timely detection of water leaks, water conservation, and addressing the following challenges such as rate increases, bad water use habits, and energy outages. Water utilities can control their water distribution operations and deliver clean water to their consumers by using smart metering devices in conjunction with well-designed IoT applications. These water meters also enable users to recognize the usefulness of connected water meters in lowering costs associated with their water usage.
TEKTELIC, in turn, has years of experience in the water industry and is dedicated to helping our customers optimize their water flow management based on data collected by sensors. That is why, don’t hesitate to contact us today, learn more about our products, and find the perfect one for your business.
- Garis, L. (2013). Revisiting the Safety of Smart Meter Installations in British Columbia. The University Of The Fraser Valley. Retrieved from https://www.ufv.ca/media/assets/criminal-justice-research/SmartMeters-Final.pdf
- Zero Mass Water. (nd). Cape Town tightens water limits to 50 liters per person – Woke on Water. Retrieved 4 April 2022, from https://wokeonwater.org/cape-town-tightens-water-limits-to-50-liters-per-person/