As the result of the rapid
expansion of Smart Grid and advanced meter infrastructure, many utilities
around the country are replacing existing electricity meters with new
solid-state smart meters and two-way communication devices. These new systems
offer significant new benefits to the consumer and utility (electricity service
provider). For the first time, these new meters will allow the consumers to
adjust their electricity use in response to the price of electricity that
varies throughout the day.
New smart meters are often
installed in pre-existing meter sockets. Meter sockets are expected to operate
safely for many years. However, the safe operating life of the meter socket may
be reduced by many factors including (but not limited to) excessive moisture,
environmental contaminants, frequent changing of meters, excessive electrical
load (overload or short circuit), vandalism, ground settling, and storm damage.
As utilities move to two-way
communications for meters and remote meter reading, the opportunity for
periodic and repetitive visual inspection of meter sockets is expected to
decline radically. The interval between site visits by utility personnel could
be as much as 100 times as long as the current monthly opportunity for
inspection. Only the utility has the opportunity to inspect the socket due to
the utility seal. For this reason, the National Electrical Manufacturers
Association (NEMA) strongly recommends that all existing meter sockets be
thoroughly inspected when electrical meters are installed. Inspection criteria
should include (but not be limited to) indications of excessive heating,
corrosion, loose connections or components, deformed socket jaws or damaged
clips, broken components, failed insulation, damage due to ground settling or
vandalism, or any exposed live parts. Although rare, fire is one possible
consequence of these meter socket conditions.
If any damage is discovered,
the meter socket should be replaced with a new meter socket that meets current
specifications by a qualified electrician prior to the installation of the new
For more information, visit NEMA’s “Smart Meter
Facts” page on its website.
NEMA is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, founded in 1926 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Its member companies manufacture a diverse set of products including power transmission and distribution equipment, lighting systems, factory automation and control systems, and medical diagnostic imaging systems. Worldwide annual sales of NEMA-scope products exceed $120 billion.
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