Have you heard that smart meters emit radiation? Wondering if there’s any truth to it?
Smart meters have done away with analog systems and complicated meter readings, but it seems that they’ve brought on a new set of challenges.
Smart meters transmit signals wirelessly to your utility company, but they produce harmful radiation in the process.
Given that many of them are also connected to your Wi-Fi, there are also concerns regarding privacy and hackability.
And with many utility companies forcing their customers into these new systems, they’ve become a real issue.
Whether you have already made the switch to smart meters or are currently being pressured into it, you should be aware of the many concerns as well as how to protect yourself.
The following guide explains where the concern comes from and what you can do about it.
And if you’re not sure if you have one, here’s how you can identify it.
How Do Smart Meters Work (and What’s the Problem)?
Unlike traditional meters, smart meters automatically send information to your utility company.
Your gas usage, your electricity consumption, and the day-to-day changes are all reported. Many smart meters come with an indoor monitoring station so that you can see this information as well.
They can detect when appliances are switched on and off, and they store this data in their memory until it’s time to send it over to the provider.
The rate at which these meters transmit is somewhat unclear.
The original idea was to send information once a month, but utility companies aren’t very open about the actual frequency.
The problem is that every time the smart meter transmits data, it’s also emitting radiation.
The radio frequencies produce an electromagnetic field (EMF), and this signal goes in all directions. So not only does the signal go to the utility company, but it also goes backwards into the home.
There have been many studies on radio frequency (RF) radiation, some of which show clear biological effects.
With smart meters sending signals potentially thousands of times a day and with many homeowners not being able to opt out of the upgrade, there is a real concern about whether or not these are safe to have around the home.
Smart Meter Dangers & Health Complaints
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is a part of the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled RF radiation as a possible carcinogen.
In other words, there is reason to believe it could be a cause of cancer.
However, outside of that, there are several different health concerns.
RF radiation is known to have heating properties, which is how microwaves work. That’s why you’ve probably been told not to stand in front of your microwave while it’s cooking.
But it’s not just food. RF radiation has been shown to rapidly heat up bodily tissue as well.
Another potential danger is the EMF that these smart meters create. EMF exposure is also suspected to have several different health concerns.
This is because electrical currents already exist in the human body because the human body is made up of charged particles.
The worry is that these electromagnetic currents can influence electrical charges in the body and trigger biological effects, such as unwanted nerve or muscle stimulation.
There are also studies to suggest that the radiation effects calcium in the body, and other studies suggest that the radiation breaks down DNA.
Both results can produce several different reactions throughout the body.
Smart Meter Radiation Symptoms
As one’s exposure to EMF and RF radiation increases, so does the risk. In extreme cases, people can develop cancer.
However, this is the extreme, and symptoms that align more closely with smart meters and other household devices include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Depression-like symptoms
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Changes in memory
Check out our complete guide to the symptoms associated with smart meters.
How Far Away from a Smart Meter Is Safe? Distance Is Key
While there is still some debate about whether or not the EMFs from smart meters are as harmful as they say, one thing is for sure, and it’s that the strength of this radiation decreases dramatically with distance.
Most of the time smart meters get installed right up against the house, but if it is possible, you might request to have them installed farther away.
At the very least, request that it be installed next to a room where you spend the least amount of time.
The farther away you are from the smart meter, the less of a concern the radiation will be.
We have a complete guide on keeping a safe distance from your smart meter you can read here.
Ways to Protect Yourself from Smart Meter Radiation
Granted, the radiation has to penetrate the walls of your home first, but this isn’t nearly enough to stop the radiation entirely.
If you are unable to distance yourself from the meter but still want to protect yourself from the radiation, there are a few things you can do.
The obvious way to prevent exposure to RF radiation is to opt out of the smart meter entirely. That is, if you’re able to.
While there is no federal law requiring you to upgrade your meter, utility companies might make it seem like you don’t have an option.
If you have yet to switch, you can say no, and if you’ve already switched, you can ask them to re-install the analog meter.
Some utility companies may even sell old, refurbished analog meters to their customers, but in either case, they may force you to pay a fee to keep the analog system in place.
That’s where many consumers wind up sticking with the smart meter.
If you decide to keep the smart meter, the biggest concern is radiation entering your home.
One of the ways you can lessen the impact is to install a metal plate behind your meter, and it is even better if this plate has been grounded.
By doing this, you’ll reroute the electric signal into the ground so that it doesn’t go straight into the home.
It’s possible that when installing the smart meter, your utility company will already be doing this, but if not, you can arrange that beforehand.
The #1 Solution: Use a Smart Meter Cover
Perhaps the best thing you can do to protect yourself from smart meter radiation is to purchase a smart meter cover.
It is simply a cover that slides over your smart meter and the associated electrical box. These covers are made of metal and are designed to contain the electricity emitted from your smart meter.
They are effective enough to block 98% of the radiation, while the rest of the signal goes straight to your utility company.
You can buy these items online, from Amazon or the manufacturers themselves, and there is no assembly required. You should be able to just slip them over your smart meter and enjoy some peace of mind.
Check out our full review of the most popular smart meter covers here.
Alternatively, you can make your own smart meter cage for a little cheaper, and it’s pretty easy. Check out our tutorial here.
How to Measure Smart Meter Radiation
If you do buy a smart cover or a similar device to block the radiation from your smart meter, you should measure the radiation levels before and after putting on the cover.
Generally, when you measure, you will measure from the outside, but you should also measure from inside of your home right behind the smart meter.
This will tell you how much radiation is getting through the wall, and if you measure before and after, you’ll be able to see the change.
As far as measuring the radiation, you could hire somebody to come out and test it, which is often the most expensive way to do it.
You could also purchase an EMF meter for yourself.
You might check to see if any friends or family members have a meter that you could simply borrow.
Privacy Issues & Hackability
Any “smart” device that is connected to the Internet typically comes with concerns regarding privacy and hackability, and the smart meters are no different.
There are privacy concerns with the smart meters. After all, they track your activity, and they’ll even know which devices you use on a daily basis.
With smart meters, energy suppliers have a more detailed record of household energy use than ever before, and while they are primarily using this to make your energy bills more accurate, there are also concerns about the utility companies using this information for marketing or other purposes.
They claim to only do this with the homeowner’s explicit permission, but who knows.
Hacking, on the other hand, poses a concern for both the consumer and the utility company.
Smart meters are definitely hackable, and some people have already figured it out. Hackers can get into your smart meter and access all of the information that it records, including how you use your electricity, when you use the electricity, and what you use the electricity on.
Learn more about what your smart meter tracks and how that data is secured here.
I hope this guide to smart meter radiation answers any questions you may have! As more research surfaces about smart meters, I’ll add to this page.
Switch to an analog meter if possible. Here’s a list of areas that have good opt-out policies.
Distance yourself from it and implement shielding strategies.
More on smart meters below…