Are you a landlord? Find out how a smart meter could impact on your investment

Important information for landlords


“Smart” meters (also called “advanced” meters) are NOT compulsory in NZ even though some electricity company staff have made claims to this effect.


As a landlord, unless you pay the electricity bill for the property, you are unlikely to get prior notice that a smart meter is due to be installed at your rental property – even though a smart meter installation has the potential to impact adversely on your investment.


Many New Zealanders are refusing to have smart meters installed because of the problems with health issues, fires and higher bills that have been reported after smart meter installations.


A brief summary of some of the potential problems with smart meters are detailed below:



Reported health issues:

If your tenants became ill…how would this impact on their ability to pay their rent?

Smart meters produce microwave radiation (also called radiofrequency or RF radiation) which has been classified as a “possible carcinogen” (type 2B) by the World health Organisation’s International agency for Research on Cancer. (Please see this link for more information about smart meters and health.)

Many people have reported unpleasant symptoms after moving into a home with a smart meter, or after a smart meter has been installed at their home.

NB: Two examples of how NZers have been adversely affected by smart meters may be read at this link and this link.

The website has received reports of symptoms after smart meters installations which have been sufficiently severe as to require medical attention and medical investigations, including heart function irregularities. The symptoms that have been most commonly reported in NZ to date are sleeping difficulties and headaches.

Potential for higher bills

If your tenants’ electricity bill doubled or even tripled (with no change in their electricity use) how would this impact on their ability to pay the rent?

While a smart meter installation does not always lead to an increase in electricity bills, many people have reported higher electricity bills after a smart meter has been installed.

(If you go to and type “bills” into the search box you will find a few articles about this aspect of smart meters.) Some people have reported doubling or tripling of electricity bills.

NB: There are a few different ways by which smart meters may increase electricity bills.

These include the fact that electronic meters measure electricity differently from the traditional electromechanical (Ferraris) “analogue” meters. (You can read about this here.)

Smart meters can also allow for Time of Use pricing which electricity companies may use to charge more for power at times of the day when it is most needed (like winter afternoons and evenings.) This can result in an increase in bills with no change in electricity use. (Please see this link for details: )

Smart meters can also measure a contaminant on the electricity lines known as “reactive power” or “reactive energy” and although it cannot be used by lights or appliances, a request for information made to the Electricity Authority under the Official Information Act shows that companies are legally allowed to charge for this useless electricity. If useless reactive power is added to bills, bills can increase significantly.



Possible risk of fire and reported electrical problems

If your rental property burned down as a result of a faulty or poorly installed smart meter, do you know if your insurance coverage would be adequate?

There have been problems with fires and reported electrical problems after some smart meter installations in NZ. For more information about this, please see the following links:


A smart meter may make your investment in a heat pump virtually worthless when it is most needed

If you have just spent up to three thousand dollars or so on a heat pump (or plan to purchase one) please read this first….

A smart meter at a property that you own has the potential to make the investment that you have made in a heat pump pretty well worthless to tenants when the heat pump is most needed.

How?  Some smart meters on the NZ market contain what is a called a “ZigBee” chip which is another microwave radiation emitting device in the smart meter. This ZigBee can be used communicate with some appliances in a home.  Some heat pumps have what is called “demand response” functionality which means that they are designed to be able to controlled by other electronic devices such as a smart meter.

In cold weather, a smart meter that contains a ZigBee could be used to take command of a heat pump that has “demand response” functionality and turn it down to its lowest setting. This could be done remotely by the electricity retailer or lines company (or whatever company could interface with the smart meter.)

If your tenants’ heat pump were remotely turned down (by their electricity retailer or lines company) to its lowest setting at a time when the weather were at its coldest, it’s likely that your tenants will simply assume that their heat pump has developed a fault and call you (or the agency that manages their tenancy) to complain.

You can read more about this issue below, including which type of smart meters have ZigBees and how to tell whether a heat pump has “demand response” functionality.

However, there is a very simple way that should ensure that your investment in a heat pump is not wasted  – and that is to refuse for smart meters to be installed at properties that you own.


Many New Zealanders are still unaware of the potential risks of smart meters

Your tenants may be unaware of the potentials risks to their health, finances and safety.  They may therefore agree for a smart meter to be installed, or a smart meter may be installed at the property that they are renting by their electricity retailer or lines company (or other company) without prior notification.

If you would like to raise the topic of smart meters with your tenants to protect their health and safety and your investment, this link sums up many of the common reasons that people are refusing to have smart meters installed.


Please note that recent “Settlement Agreements” between the Electricity Authority and companies in the electricity industry shows that that the Electricity Authority supports companies offering an alternative type of electricity meter to people who refuse smart meters. (This link has more information about these settlement agreements.)

Some electricity meters in NZ do need to be replaced for regulatory reasons.

However, there are a variety of alternatives to smart meters on the NZ market including electromechanical meters (Ferraris) meters (the type where you can see a  horizontal metal disc rotating as power is being used) and electronic meters that have analogue displays.  There is also a new a company (Legacy Metering Group) that specialises in installing alternatives to smart meters for electricity retailers whose customers do not want smart meters.


NB: If you would like to keep up to date with the smart meter issue in NZ, please sign up to the free email list at Thank you


NB: If you would like to keep up to date with the smart meter issue in NZ, please sign up to the free email list at Thank you


Smart meter fire at NZ school

A local newspaper in the Kaipara District of Northland has reported that a smart meter caught fire at a school in Tinopai.

It appears from the report that the fire fortunately did not cause damage beyond the meter board. The school was up and running the next day. The full story and a a good photo of the volunteer fire fighters who attended the fire as well as the melted smart meter at the link below:

Stop Smart Meters NZ has also recently received a report of a house fire in NZ caused by a smart meter. In this case, the house was rendered uninhabitable.

If you have had a home or business affected by a smart meter fire or unexplained electrical fire, you can report this to Stop Smart Meters NZ through the Contact Form. (Information is kept in confidence and not published on the website unless permission is given to do this.)

More information about smart meters and fires in NZ may be found at this link:

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

Hundreds of smart meters explode in California

It started when a truck driver lost control of his vehicle and plowed into a power pole, causing the top wire (carrying a high voltage) to smack into the lower wire (carrying a lower voltage).

The resulting power surge as the electricity from the high voltage line was transferred into a lower voltage line resulted in hundreds of smart meters in the vicinity exploding, and thousands of people losing power.

I was curious to know what would happen to a traditional, analogue electromechanical (Ferraris) electricity meter under similar circumstances.  Would it also explode?

I asked an electrician friend who said, no, a power surge of this type would not cause an analogue meter to explode.

As a friend wrote to me earlier today when she sent me a link to this story, the risk that a smart meter could explode is another compelling reason to say no to a smart meter and to keep your existing Ferraris meter, if you still have one. It is also a compelling reason to get an existing smart meter removed.

You can read all about the incident (and see videos of the remains of smart meters and damaged power points inside people’s homes at the links below:

Josh del Sol’s (the producer of Take Back Your Power) perspective on the exploding smart meters (together with links to smart meter related fires, ) is at this link:

NB:  Smart meter-related fires in NZ are discussed at this link:


Man killed in house fire; family blame “smart” meter:

The website is reporting how the family of a 74 year old South Dallas man blame the smart meter which had been recently installed at his home for the fire that led to his death.  Mr James Humphrey, who had arthritis, was unable to escape from his home when it caught fire and the smoke and flames beat back neighbours who tried to rescue him.

You can read the full story (as well as some very interesting comments) at this link:

The statistics kept by the NZ Fire Service do not allow smart meter related fires to be differentiated from fires that are caused by other types of meters or meter board faults.  See this link for details:

If you are aware of a smart meter related fire in NZ, please report it to Stop Smart Meters NZ through this link: 

Any reports will be treated in confidence.  Thank you.

NB: To stay up-to-date with the smart meter situation in NZ, please join the free email list at

Saskatchewan Power CEO resigns after report on smart meter safety

A report commissioned by Saskatchewan’s Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) after eight incidences of Sensus smart meters catching fire were reported earlier this year.

The report, released on Monday, found that customer safety was not given enough priority.

Directly following the report’s release, SaskPower CEO Robert Watson resigned. Canadian Economy Minister Bill Boyd said that Watson “won’t be receiving severance pay.”

NB:  To the best of my knowledge Sensus brand smart meters are not being used in NZ. For information on smart meter fires in NZ please see this link:

If you would like to get updates on the smart meter issue in New Zealand please join the free email list at There is also a search option at to allow you to find articles about other topics of interest on this website.

For more information visit:


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