Does the modem for this smart meter produce more radiation than is legal in NZ? Read the test data and decide for yourself

A test of a smart meter modem (Sierra Wireless EWM GRPS 100) carried out in Auckland, New Zealand showed that the level of microwave radiation it produced might exceed the level allowed under NZ’s national standard NS 2772.1:1999.

The test equipment was located 20cm away and the amount of microwave radiation when the modem was operating at its highest power was 4,458.886 microwatts per square metre.  (NS2772.1:1999 is 4,500,000 microwatts per square metre for the 900 MHz frequency band at which the modem was transmitting.)

This suggests that microwave exposure at a distance of less than 20cm might exceed NS 2772.1:1999.  (When the calculations are done which show the microwave radiation exposure at less than 20 cm have been done, I will add the results to this post.)

Website editor’s note:  Since post was published an engineer friend has confirmed to me verbally that the amount of RF at produced by the smart meter would be well in excess of 4.5 million microwatts per square metre at the antenna.  However, he has not yet supplied a graph to illustrate this.

Given that the scientists who compiled the BioInitiative Report ( consider that  1,000 microwatts per square metre is a suitable upper limit for human exposure, the level of radiation produced by the modem is a serious concern.

The limited test data that is available for smart meters in use in NZ has shown that they transmit intermittently rather than constantly. Also, they may not operate at full power in many situations.  However, a home owner has no way of controlling how much radiation is produced other than having the modem removed or the smart meter replaced.

You can see the test report here:

EMC Report for AMS Sierra Wireless EWM100 GPRS Modem Meter (3)


End Note: Unfortunately, even though this modem would be capable of exceeding 4.5 million microwatts output (the approximate legal limit for a cell phone tower transmitting at 900 MHz) I have been informed that the modem is still compliant with the NZ National Standard, the reason being that time-averaging of smart meter pulses over a six minute (360 seconds) period is allowed.  This means that because under normal operating conditions, the type of modem used in the test would produce radiation intermittently rather than constantly, the times at which it is not producing radiation (a zero level) can be counted in the assessment with its compliance with the standard.


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How much radiation does the smart meter at YOUR home produce?

A document prepared by smart meter manufacturer EDMI shows that its GPRS modem EWM100 produces less microwave radiation than the level permitted by the NZ legal standard NS2772.1:1999 but still a very large amount of radiation nonetheless.

As you can see from the attached document, the modem can produce pulses of microwave up to 1,990,000 microwatts per square metre. 

Given that the scientists who compiled the BioInitiative Report ( consider that  1,000 microwatts per square metre is a suitable upper limit for human exposure, the level of radiation produced by the modem is a serious concern.

Due to the high amount of radiation produced by the modem EDMI recommends that signs be used to warn people who may spend any large amount of time next to the modem (such as might occur if the smart meter were on the wall of their bedroom or next to a chair where they work.)  however, I am not aware of any case in NZ where4 any smart meter installer has put up a warning notice regarding the microwave radiation hazard posed by a smart meter.

NZS 2772 – Exposure to Radiofrequency fields – EWM 100 with comment

Smart meters, heat pumps and “demand response functionality”

Smart meters, heat pumps and “demand response functionality”

An earlier post on this website (since corrected) erroneously stated that having a smart meter could mean that householders could have their heat pump turned off remotely by their electricity company.  (In actual fact, some smart meters may be able to turn down heat pumps down to their lowest setting, but they should not be able to turn them off  altogether… please read on for more details and to learn whether you may be affected if you have a heat pump that may be able to be controlled via a smart meter.)

My initial error (in stating that a smart meter with a ZigBee chip* could potentially be used to remotely turn off a heat pump) was kindly pointed out to me by Graeme Purches from Trustpower.  In an email he wrote:

“There are probably less than 20 meters in NZ that are equipped for this [turning off  heat pumps and other devices remotely], and they are installed as part of field trials to test their capabilities.”

He added:

“At the end of the day, the direction the industry is headed is that people will in the future be able to determine at which price point they want their appliances to start and stop. The control will be in the hands of the consumer, unlike controlled hot water, which is a network load issue and can legitimately be controlled in return for lower price because those using the option have hot water storage. You can’t  ‘store’ the heat from a heat pump so the industry would never want to control those.”

I decided to investigate the issue of how smart meters may be used to remotely control heat pumps (without the householder’s consent) in more detail.

My initial (and as it turned out, incorrect) information about heat pumps having mandatory “demand response functionality”  came from the website of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

In following up on this issue, I first tried to access the current  standard for heat pumps and found that while there was one in existence, I could not access it unless I either went to the central library in Auckland (not very practical) or paid a couple of  hundred dollars (not feasible either).

I therefore sought the advice of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Agency (EECA). 

A helpful staff member wrote an email that explained the following:

1)  That having “demand response functionality” is not currently mandatory in NZ.

2)  That some of the heat pumps on the NZ market do have “demand response functionality”.  This “demand response functionality” cannot be used to turn the heat pump off altogether but it can be used to turn the heat pump down to its lowest setting.

3)  That manufacturers can choose to show that their heat pump has demand response functionality on the label on their heat pump.  You can click on the image to make it larger.  The tick mark which is circled in red indicates that the appliance has “demand response functionality”.

Photo of labelling showing demand response functionality

Presumably heat pumps that have “demand response functionality” will contain a ZigBee and/or some other radiofrequency radiation (RFR) producing device to allow the appliance to communicate with a smart meter.   I have no idea whether appliances which have “demand response functionality” will be producing RFR all the time or intermittently or whether the default setting for the appliance will have the “demand response functionality” switched off.

However, if you do not want extra RFR in your environment and/or you do not want to risk your electricity company being able to control your heat pump via a smart meter in your home,  it would seem prudent to avoid buying items with “demand response functionality” indicated by the label.

Please note that I do not know whether it is mandatory for manufactures that make appliances that have “demand response functionality” to declare this capability on the label.  For this reason it would be prudent to ask the retailer whether any appliance you would like to buy has any “demand response functionality”, regardless of the label.  If you already have a heat pump and it not longer has its label, please see the info at the bottom of this post.


So there you have it.  It does appear that some smart meters in NZ (those than contain ZigBee chips*) may have the capacity to remotely control some heat pumps, although this feature may not yet be active.  It also appears that there are heat pumps on the NZ market which have “demand response functionality” which could allow them to be controlled via a smart meter.


*In NZ,  smart meters that contain ZigBee chips include:

WEL Networks Ltd “smart box” (actually a Landis+Gyr smart meter) and the Landis+Gyr smart meters being installed by Network Tasman Ltd  and Counties Power in South Auckland/Franklin.  These contain a “silver spring” brand “network interface card” which includes a  modem and a ZigBee.  The default mode for the ZigBee on the “silver spring” brand “network interface card” has been stated to be inactive, so these ZigBee chips, may not yet be functional.  (Presumably they could be activated remotely by a power or lines company should the company with an active link to the smart meter modem decide to do this.)

It is possible other smart meters contain ZigBee chips; some EDMI smart meters which are very common in NZ have the potential to include a ZigBee chip. 

If  you are in any doubt about whether the smart meter at your home has a ZigBee chip,  your electricity retailer should be able to tell y0u.


If your heat pump no longer has its label you can find out about its “demand response functionality” through the following procedure:


1)  Go to this link:

 2) Scroll down the link above until you come to this text:

Next steps for households and businesses

3) Click on the word “Compare energy ratings”…as above and you will get to this link:


4) At the link above you will see a list…pick “Air Conditioners” by clicking on this link Air Conditioners – AS/NZS 3823.2 and you will get through to this link:


At the link above you will see a row of black buttons…one is Download CSV. 

Click on this and you will get an Excel file. Open the file.

The field that indicates whether a heat pump has “demand response functionality” is labelled “BE” at the top of the column. The word “TRUE” in the “BE” column indicates the heat pump has “demand response functionality”.  The word “FALSE” in the “BE” column indicates that a heat pump does not have “demand response functionality” .



October 16, Take Back Your Power Marton!

Just a reminder that there will be a second community screening of the award-winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power in Marton on October 16.  Full details are at this link:

Please let family and friends in this area know about this screening.

Also:  If you are on Facebook you may like to visit this new group and let your friends know about it.

Thank you!



Are smart meters causing fires in New Zealand?

Are smart meters causing fires in New Zealand?

A spate of fires involving “smart” electricity meters overseas (and subsequent recalls of some smart meters) has increased interest in the potential of smart meters to cause fires in NZ.

There was a spate of smart meter associated fires in Christchurch in 2010, as you can see from this link:

I asked the NZ Fire Service for information about meter box fires in NZ and below you can see the information kindly supplied to me.  However, it does not differentiate between the type of meter from which a fire originated as the NZ Fire Service does not keep this level of details in its statistics, as you can see from the comment by the officer who supplied the data. The statistics go until 2010, similar to other statistical data on the NZ Fire Service website.

(Click on the table to make it bigger.)


Meter box fire table

If you have suffered a fire originating from your meter, please consider letting me know the brand and model meter that you had, and whether your meter was mounted outside in a meter box or inside as part of your meter board. You can contact me through this link:

If the meter was destroyed beyond recognition in the fire and you did not previously know what sort of meter you had, your electricity retailer should be able to supply you with this information.


A good source of information about smart meter-associated fires is this link:


UPDATE: Since this post has been written, has been notified of a fire at a school in Northland as well as a house fire in NZ.  Please see this link for details.


To stay up to date with the smart meter issue in NZ, please sign up to the free email list at

Waikato District Council vote on water meters and smart water meters

Waikato District Council vote on water meters and smart water meters

In mid-August 2014 I found out that the Waikato District Council was planning to vote on adopting water meters in Huntly, Ngaruwahia and Raglan and that the Council also would also vote on whether to  continue to monitor smart water meters in NZ “with a view to implement when the technology when it becomes cost effective and proven in NZ.”

I subsequently wrote to the Council to inform the Mayor and Councillors about the potential health risks from wireless “smart” water meters, and encouraged other people to write as well.

Please see these links for details:


Unfortunately, the Council voted in favour of the resolution, as you can see from the document below.  Two Councillors did not support the motion. (Click on the image to make it bigger.)

NB: If you live in the Waikato District Council area and are concerned about this issue, please contact me through this link:


Waikato District Council decision on water meters

Special community screening of Take Back Your Power in Marton September 13

Just a reminder that a special community screening of the award-winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power will take place in Marton on September 13. Full details are at this link:

If you are not in this area, you can stream or purchase the documentary from

WellFest Expo to feature talk on smart meters and health

The WellFest expos  feature a large variety of health-related exhibitors, plus food court, free seminars and a special Kids Zone with entertainers. The WellFest events are high quality events and very enjoyable.

This year’s Auckland WellFest event takes place on September 20-21.

On Saturday September 20 from 2.15 to 2.45 pm, Katherine Smith, founder of will speak at WellFest’s Seminar Room 5  about smart meters and health and share vital information to help you to protect yourself and your family.




Free community screening of Beings of Frequency September 23

Beings of Frequency, the documentary that covers electromagnetic radiation and health  will screen at St Heliers Community Centre, 100St Heliers Bay Rd in Auckland on September 23 at 7pm.

Bookings are essential due to limited seating so please phone 575 6098 to book your place.

The screening is free and refreshments will be served.  The event has been organised by Paul Waddell from who will be available to answer questions after the movie.

Please let family and friends in Auckland know about this event. Thank you.


You can download a poster to put up to advertise this event from the link below:




Live in the Matamata-Piako Council area? Please tell your Council that “smart” water meters are not acceptable

Matamata-Piako District Council is  currently seeking public input into water issues, including water meters.  The consultation includes a discussion of whether water meters should be adopted.  (See this link for details

If you live in this area and do not want water meters or “smart” water meters, please make your opinions known;  Please make a submission by August 22.  (The link above has details how to do this.)

Please also let friends and family in this area know about the consultation.



The links below provide information on the current status of “smart” water meters in NZ.  (Like “smart” electricity meters, “smart” water meters use radiation frequency radiation in the microwave to send information about water use.)

The lower of the two links also includes information about the potential downsides of water meters in general.  If you would like to make a submission regarding water meters in general and/or smart meters, you may find the information at these links helpful.

Please encourage friends and family in the Matamata-Piako area to also contribute to the consultation.  A short statement outlining your concerns about water meters in general and/or your about the potential health impacts of “smart” water meters is all that is required to contribute to this consultation.

NB:  If you email Councillors about the smart water meter issue, please consider emailing through the Contact form at this link to me know what response you receive. Many thanks.

Some ideas to help you write to the Mayor and Councillors of Waikato District Council

URGENT: The Waikato District Council is having an extraordinary meeting on August 19 during which they will decide (among other things) whether to accept a resolution relating to “smart” water meters.  (See this post for details:


If you oppose the introduction of “smart”  water meters to  the area served by Waikato District Council (and/or oppose the introduction of water meters in general, here are some ideas you may like to use when emailing the Mayor and Councillors to express your opposition.

Please share this link and encourage everyone you know to do likewise. Thank you.


The email adresses for the Mayor and Councillors are at this link:


A suggested format for the letter will be detailed below.



If you oppose the introduction of water meters in general, you may want to express one or more of the following reasons for your opposition:

* Cost to Council:  You may think that the money spent buying and installing water meters could be better spent by the Council in other areas (please give examples, if you know of a local Council service which has not been funded or is under-funded where the money could be better spent.)

*  Cost to Rate Payers:  You may wish to express concern that spending money on water meters will be reflected in your rates bill, in terms of increased charges for water and/or a general increase in rates to cover the capital expenditure involved in installing water meters.  If any rates increase may adversely affect your personal budget and/or viability of your business (if it is one that uses a lot of water, for example, a cafe or other business that provides toilet facilities for the public) you may wish to discuss this.

*  Public health reasons:  You may wish to express opposition to water meters as this increases the cost of living for everyone and low income families may be adversely affected by having to cut back on water use, and consequently being more at risk of developing impetigo, scabies and other communicable skin conditions as a consequence of being  unable to afford to pay for sufficient water to bathe and to wash clothes, towels, bedding etc. as often as necessary.  (If you work in an early childhood centre or school or other provider of education and care to children which may be adversely affected by changes in families’ water use patterns, you may wish to add this.)

*  Impact on home gardening: Installing water meters and making water expensive may reduce people’s ability to enjoy planting flowers to beautify their neighbourhood and also restricts people’s ability to  grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables, potentially reducing their nutrition and impacting adversely on their general health.

*  Impact on education and community facilities:  If you work in an early childhood centre, school or tertiary education provider that is already on a tight budget how will having to pay extra for water impact on the services that you offer? Will it mean cut-backs in terms of what you can offer chidlren and/or students?  or increased fees?  Or both?

* Other reasons:  You may have other reasons for opposing the introduction of water meters, for example that once water meters are instlled it may be easier for future Councils to privatise the water supply:  Please express these in any email you may write.



* Health reasons:

1) “Smart” water meters use radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range to send information about water use and this radiation is considered a “possible carcinogen” by the International Agency on Cancer. (See:

2)  People who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation may suffer from increased symptoms if “smart” water  meters are introduced given that these meters produce RFR.  For more information about how people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and the challenges they face, please see these links:

NB:  There is no information on how many people are affected in NZ because NZ does not keep statistics.  However, in Sweden where good statistics are kept, three percent of the adult population is known to be affected by sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation, also variously known as EHS, ES or EMS.  As you will see from the links above, life is very difficult for people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and they certainly do not deserve to be further burdened with extra EMR from “smart” water meters when analogue meters are available, if the Council wants to introduce water meters.


* Potential adverse impacts on wildlife: 

The US Department of the Interior has cited substantial research that shows RFR has an adverse effect on wildlife and that current US standards (which, like the comparable National Standard in NZ are designed to protect ONLY against thermal injuries and shocks) provide in inadequate protection for wildlife. (Please see this link for details:

If the Waikato District Council plans to link up “smart” water meters with WEL Network Ltd’s “smart boxes” there will likely be an increase in the use of 900 MHz frequencies that have been cited by the US Dept of the Interior as harming birds.



1)  Start with your name and address

(If you are not in the Waikato District Council but are writing, for example,  because you are concerned about friends or family in the area, or because you are a health professional with an interest in public health issues or you or your environmental group are concerned about adverse effects on wildlife, etc. please specify, this when you introduce yourself at the beginning of the email.)


Suggested format for rest of email:



Dear Sirs/Madams, [if you are writing the same email to everyone]

I am a resident of [your town] OR I am writing on behalf of [your business/community organisation]

I am writing to ask you to vote against any proposal to introduce water meters and/or smart water meters because

[List your reasons]

[Add any other comments you may want to make;  bearing in mind that short emails are more likely to be read than long emails.]

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.


Yours sincerely/ Naku noa, na,


[Your name]

[Your organisation, if writing on behalf of an organisation]


URGENT: Smart water meter alert for Waikato District Council area

September 25, 2014: An update on this issue is at this link:


URGENT: The Waikato District Council is having an extraordinary meeting on August 19 during which they will decide (among other things) whether to accept a resolution relating to “smart” water meters.


The wording of the relevant portion of the item on the agenda is “that the Council continue to monitor the progression of smart water metering technology with a view to implement the technol0gy when it becomes cost effective and proven in NZ.”*


Given that there has already been a trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga (see this link:

and a trial is ongoing in Tairua (see this link:    ) it may not be long before the Council may consider that the technology is proven for NZ – and the Council may consider it cost effective, given that “smart” water meters can potentially be integrated with the so-called “smart boxes” (actually  Landis+Gyr smart meters) being installed by Waikato  lines company WEL Networks Ltd.

(Please see this link for how “smart” water meters may be integrated with “smart boxes”.

The Council will also be discussing whether to pass a resolution regarding the installation of water meters in Ngaruwahia, Huntly and Raglan.

Water meters of any type are controversial because they usually result in an increase in the amount of money home and businesses end up paying to their Council each year.

Charging for water potentially has public health impacts, especially for low income families who may have to cut back on water use and consequently be more vulnerable health problems associated with poorer hygiene such as impetigo, scabies and other communicable conditions that can be spread via towels, clothing and bedding that are not washed sufficiently regularly.


If you would like to do something to help:


* Please email the mayor and Councillors stating your opposition to “smart” water meters

You can find their emails here and I will be posting template letters to make this easy to do later; please check back at this site later.


*  Please alert all your friends and family in the Waikato region to this issue by sharing this post.


Please tell all friends and family in the Waikato region that it is NOT compulsory to have a WEL smart box installed and to refuse its installation.  Without WEL smart box installations to collect the data from “smart” water meters, it may not be economically feasible to install “smart” water meters.  (Please see this link for information on  WEL smart boxes and how they are NOT compulsory:

Also please see this link on potential health impacts of the WEL Networks Ltd “smart box”:

(If this link is not working when you click on it, please copy and paste it into your browser. Thank you.)


*You can read the full text of the agenda of the meeting at the link below.


An update on this issue is at this link:

2014 Election Questionnaire: General Discussion

The purpose of this post is to discuss some of the issues raised in the responses to the 2014 Election Questionnaire.

It is intended to give an overview of the issues with “smart meters” for readers who are new to this subject and/or this website.  (Please note that if you would like updates on the “smart meter” issue you are welcome to sign up for the free email newsletter at

The list of questions in the Election Questionnaire were designed to help educate politicians about the “smart meter” issue, including the fact that the meters produce radiofrequency radiation in the microwave range which is considered a possible carcinogen (class 2B)  to transmit information about electricity use (see: )   and also have adverse effects on people’s privacy, for example: .

Another important issue is that electricity companies have reportedly been bullying customers to try to make people who do not want “smart meters” to accept them (see:     .  Moreover some companies are  trying to use Terms and Conditions to try to intimidate customers into accepting “smart meters” – with the stated or implied threat that their power could be cut off if they do not agree to a “smart meter” installation. ( )

It is also of concern that it can be a very difficult and time consuming process for customers to get rid of “smart meters” once they have been installed, even if they are causing health problems. (Personal communications.) A lot of meters in NZ are on bedroom walls and this site has potential to cause substantial exposure to EMR from a “smart meter”.

There are a lot of myths being promulgated about “smart meters” by the electricity industry. These include  claims that “smart meters” help people save money. While this may be true in some cases, many people have higher bills after a “smart meter” installations (see: ) and if time-of-use pricing is widely introduced higher bills are likely to become a fact of life for everyone – see: and )

Another myth been pushed by the electricity industry is that “smart meters” are a safe technology even though they produce  non-ionising radiation which has been classed as a possible carcinogen.  The electricity industry frequently refers customers who express concern about the safety of “smart meters” to a document produced by the Electrical Power Engineering Centre (EPEC) at the University of Canterbury.  You can read a critique of this document at this link:

Some political parties also support the introduction of “smart” water meters which i a concern given that the “smart” water meters which are being trialled in NZ produce a radiofrequency radiation pulse every eight seconds.  See

The answers (or public statements) made by the representatives of some political parties suggest that some politicians have bought the corporate line that “smart meters” will help people save money and are somehow a safe technology – even though they produce possibly carcinogenic radiation, and all over the world where wireless “smart meters” have been installed, people have been reporting a variety of adverse health effects. (For some examples of common “smart meter”-associated symptoms please see: )


Please bear these thoughts in mind when you read the responses from the different political parties to the Election Questionnaire. Thank you.

The text of the 2014 Election Questionnaire and links to all political parties’ replies may be found at this link: