AMRUSB-1 F.A.Q.

[Last updated on 22 May 2012]

Q: How can I purchase a Grid Insight AMRUSB-1 Utility Meter Data Receiver and what does it cost?

A: The AMRUSB-1 is still in beta and is not available to the general public. To get on our mailing list, fill out the feedback form at the bottom of the page here.

Q: I'm using the 'SmartMeter'. Do you know if the Grid Insight AMRUSB-1 receiver is compatible?

A: The AMRUSB-1 is probably not compatible with your new SmartMeter. Most current-generation SmartMeters can be accessed via ZigBee Smart Energy Profile, a quasi-open wireless protocol that operates mostly in the 2400 MHz ISM band. The Grid Insight AMRUSB-1 receiver was designed specifically to read and decode one-way wireless meter reading messages from the most common of the previous-generation wireless utility meters that use proprietary 900 MHz AMR technology from Itron Inc. If in doubt, check the compatibility list in the AMRUSB-1 data sheet: http://www.gridinsight.com/amr/Grid_Insight_AMRUSB-1_Data_Sheet.pdf.

 

Q: Have you tested compatibility with the _____ meter yet?

A: Maybe. We have about 100 beta testers in the field, and none have reported any problems with the meters listed in our data sheet. If your meter is ERT-compatible, and it is in bubble-up mode, it should work. If you don't know the answers to those two questions, please read this: http://www.gridinsight.com/community/documentation/itron-ert-technology/

 

Q: Does the AMRUSB-1 receive data from water and gas meters too?

A: Yes, it works with some Itron water and gas transmitters. See the data sheet for more information.

 

Q: What frequency range does the AMRUSB-1 receive?

A: All ERT-compatible transmitters we have observed in North America and the Caribbean use the 900 MHz North American ISM band.

 

Q: When will your Ethernet version be available and what will it cost?

A: The Ethernet version is under development now and should be priced under $100 when it goes on sale. We expect to be shipping a small handful of alpha units within a month.

 

Q: I've heard that you have receivers for Badger ORION and Neptune R900 water and gas meters. Is that right?

A: Yes, we have a prototype that works with Badger ORION meters. It will be commercialized as demand develops. We are working on a receiver for Neptune R900 as well.

 

Q: Are the AMRUSB-1 Windows drivers native or managed (C#)?

A: We use the Microsoft-provided native usbser.sys USB CDC driver. We provide a device descriptor file that installs like a native driver, but simply activates the driver that Microsoft ships with Windows. (Linux and Mac OS X also include USB CDC drivers.)

 

Q: Can you retrieve logs of usage data (ie, daily / hourly / etc)?

A: Yes, some utility meters transmit an Interval Data Message (IDM) that contains a number of binned consumption intervals. The length of these intervals varies between meter models and between utility districts. Some meters do not transmit this information, but instead periodically report instantaneous cumulative consumption (a Standard Consumption Message or SCM). By timestamping all received messages, you will be able to build a demand (kW) profile over time using SCM data.

 

Q: Can the power company tell whether you've accessed the data?

A: No, the power company cannot tell that you have accessed the data. The AMRUSB-1 just reads and decodes the radio signals that are already in the air.

 

Q: Is it legal to receive this data?

A: We are not lawyers and can provide no authoritative guidance as to the legality of receiving wireless metering data, whether from your own home or from someone else's. We can only say that we are not aware of any law that prohibits it. Common decency, on the other hand, would dictate that you think of looking at someone else's meter data just as you would think of looking into their home through their bathroom windows -- it's rude and socially unacceptable. Legislation relating to ownership of a customer's utility consumption data is beginning to appear in some states, notably Illinois, California, and Texas. Please do your own research and contribute to the ongoing public debate on this topic.