Stop Smart Meters

Smart meter fires & explosion - safety, chipboard, unsafe switchboard

A whistleblower who works for Jemena has gone public with safety concerns. The employee, who used the pseudonym "John", contacted 3AW on 22 Feb 2012, said he knew that smart meters were fire risks. He said Jemena lied to customers about the safety of smart meters. He said 6 smart meters in the Pasco Vale / Broadmeadows area have caught fire in the last few months.

Many Victorian homes have a switchboard backed with chipboard where the electricity meter is mounted.

It has been revealed that Victorian's smart meters are more prone to catching fire than the old rotary disc meters. As the new meters are simply fitted to where the old meter was installed, the chipboard will also catch fire.

So far (as of Feb 2012), a handfull of smart meters have burst into flames. Fortunately, no houses have burnt down as a result. However it is only a matter of time before one does - the millions of smart meters installed throughout Victoria are ticking time bombs.

As described on the Say No to Smart Meters article, smart meters are fully electronic, relying on a microprocessor to calculate the power usage. These microprocessors generate small amounts of heat all the time, unlike mechanical rotary disc meters that consume no power (and don't spin) when the home is not consuming electricity.

Smart meters are substantially made from plastic, unlike older meters that use bakelite or similar material. Any electrical fault, such as arcing (due to loose or rushed intallation of wiring) can easily ignite and spread through the smart meter's material and onwards to the switchboard.

The rush to push the meters out has spawned a new industry of cheap labour, with some contractors spending no more than 15 minutes at each property installing a smart meter. Safety checks would not be thourough given the tight timeframes. Essentially, profits have been placed ahead of safety. Several cases are known where the polarity was reversed and earth wires were not fitted.

Power surges can make smart meters unsafe

Dean Mile, from the state electricity workers union, told 3AW's Mitchell that a power surge (e.g. from a lightning strike) can cause internal damage to the smart meter. These smart meters may not show visual signs of damage after a 'high voltage incident'. However, if left unchecked, the smart meter could explode in flames as soon as the main fuse is replaced.

A high voltage incident is also known as a high voltage injection, which is when a higher voltage is applied to the low voltage network. This can be caused by a lighting strike, or high voltage lines coming into contact with low voltage lines. The high voltage causes damage to the smart meter, causing a short circuit and thus blows the main fuse.

As such, every smart meter will need to be properly tested after a high voltage incident. Due to its design, it involves physically removing the smart meter for further testing. With the older rotary disc meters, it would be easy to tell that it was damaged simply by looking through the front inspection window.

More susceptible to failure?

Why they are more prone to failure than mechanical meters? Smart meters use an electronic switching device known as a "Solid State Relay (SSR)". The relay provides the remote power switching functionality for the energy distributor/retailer. These electronic relays are not tolerant to over voltage conditions or power surges (high voltage injections). Once damaged, they become a fire hazard. Some damaged meters have had liquid leaking from the failed SSR. If a mechanical relay were to be used, such problems could be avoided.

A leaked Jemena memo states that after an area suffers a high voltage injection incident, all smart meters must be replaced. However, such action is not being taken, which potentially leaves unsafe smart meters installed on customer premises.

Update 1 Mar 2012 - Police has been called into the smart meter debacle.

Jemena have asked the police to investigate the liquid leaking from faulty smart meters.
It is speculated that the liquid could have been 'planted' by opponents of the smart meter program in an effort to cause further embroilment, as part of industrial sabotage.

However it is quite likely the liquid has come from a failed capacitor. Electrolytic capacitors have electrolytes, which can leak when they are subjected to abnormal electrical conditions.

2 Mar 2012 - Jemena's Managing Director, Paul Adams, had the strange liquid tested by a laboratory and it was found it could not have come from the smart meter. The liquid caused the meter to fail.

He said "forensic scientists revealed the issue to us". The liquid used was Hydrochloric acid, and in some later instances, was found to be caustic acid or an alkaline mixture of other chemicals.

Five of the failed meters have had the liquid applied to them.

Paul Adams says the material is similar to acid found in batteries and causes the metrer to arc over, carbonise and eventually short out.

Jemena will be leaving the issue with the police for further forsenic investigation.

Anyone seeing suspiscous activity is requested to call crime stoppers.


Comments

Kenneth, Fri, 24 Feb 2012 05:35 pm: Reply
Check your insurance policy!

Before you approve any installation of the smart meter, ask the installer to see his qualifications and photograph their accreditation photo ID. The minimum required by law, is a Certificate lll level (or equivalent) qualification as a meter technician or electrician.

Why am I saying this?
If your home burns to the ground as a result of a faulty smart meter and the work is done by a less qualified lineworker, then sorry, you are out of luck and your insurance company will not pay out.

In addition, before starting any work and testing of the smart meter installation, ask the installer for a certificate of electrical safety. You will need this as proof that the smart meter was installed, connected and tested as working and without faults.

Why am I mentioning this?
According to a well known insurance company, that I am insured with, if the insurance company can prove that the installation or smart meter was faulty, you are out of luck again. In the event of a fire caused by a faulty smart meter, my insurance company advised me this is a exclusion rule and no payout.
Linda Reid, Sat, 28 Jul 2012 12:31 pm:
Hi Kenneth,
I live in Broadford and are campainging against the smart meters. I would like to use your Post in our local paper to alert more people of the myriad of potential risks they may face. If this is alright with you can you email me back. I can send you a copy of the article I wish to submit, hopefully they will print it in the community voice section of The North Central Review. I also have an article in their last week.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Linda Reid
Broadford

Angie Wallace, Tue, 27 Mar 2012 06:02 pm: Reply
I want to stop smart meters just as much as i want to kick out all the aborigines down here.
Enlightened, Sun, 25 Aug 2013 08:01 am:
What sort of attitude is that?! Kick someone out of their own country? Why don't you leave?

Honkster, Wed, 04 Apr 2012 10:48 pm: Reply
Under the 1988 Privacy Act,Priciple 1,subsection 2:
"Personal information shall not be collected by unlawful or unfair means"..
Monitoring someone's house with a wireless surveillance device(Smart Meter)would seem to breach this law,you can't sue the commissioner but you can sue the Electrical Company on these grounds!,who has the balls to do it,after all a women who received a single shock got $30,000,how much money can the power companies afford to lose?
We should sue them from every angle!!
I've been sent a letter warning me they will take my old meter away and disconect me....good!!,
then my solar array will come into its own,with its own regulator connected to my house wiring when the power company has taken it(the old analog meter) convieniantly away!!!...take it I dare you!!!

Nick, Thu, 03 May 2012 01:06 am: Reply
“DO NOT REPLACE METER. We refuse the smart meter due to hleath and privacy issues.” Also inside are several sheets explaining what makes smart meters so dangerous, and numbers and websites that will help people either avoid getting a smart meter, or what to do if they already have one. We handed out around 40, and probably already have that many more people around here refusing a meter (I think and hope I’m seriously underestimating that number, since we’ve had a letter to the editor and an article based on a previous visit to another local city).Keep up the good work, everyone. We are, slowly but surely, going to save as many people as possible from the smart meter debacle. They’re so bad that I think, eventually, every single one of them is going to have to be removed. And we’re going to speed up that process considerably!Posted onbyAccording to the incident report from the Santa Rosa Fire Department on April 7, firefighters found the electrical room at the Santa Rosa Mall “charged with smoke” and “upon investigation found 3 PG&E meters that had blown off the electrical panel causing damage to the interior wiring of the electrical panel. A fire was still smoldering..”The cause of the fire is listed as equipment failure and arcing coming from the switchgear area, and transformer vault.According to a, Santa Rosa Battalion Chief Jack Piccinini described the scene as a “meltdown”.EMF Safety Network has been informed that the electrical room was filled with Smart Meters, which have been reported to explode and catch fire in other areas, including Bakersfield, El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oregon, Virginia, Texas, Canada and New Zealand. Inspectors in Maine and Australia found thousands of homes were at risk for electrical hazards from Smart Meter installations.PG&E has admitted Smart Meters have interfered with GFCI and AFCI’s, which are electrical devices designed to protect against fires and shocks.“Smart Meters are dangerous and PG&E and the CPUC should act now to stop the installation” states Sandi Maurer, EMF Safety Network.More info:

Aaron from werribee, Fri, 25 May 2012 07:34 pm: Reply
Our meter exploded today it flung the door open the chip board that held the meter was just dangling out of the box there was a can of non flammable lubricant also in the power box I later found it in my garden 10 meters from the meter box unbelievable imagen if me or one of my kids had of been walkin past it what should or can I doo......

Fed up, Mon, 04 Jun 2012 10:08 am: Reply
Is this not the time now, that this was taken to court? Are we to stand for invasion in to our homes in the form of health issues, privacy and high fire risks? "Does the " Charter of rights and Freedoms "still mean anything? We must protect, that which is rightfully ours, the protection of our own homes!!

Fed up, Mon, 04 Jun 2012 10:08 am: Reply
Is this not the time now, that this was taken to court? Are we to stand for invasion in to our homes in the form of health issues, privacy and high fire risks? "Does the " Charter of rights and Freedoms "still mean anything? We must protect, that which is rightfully ours, the protection of our own homes!!

Mel Bartlett Bolwarra Vic, Fri, 03 Aug 2012 11:54 am: Reply
Well here is a beauty for you! We recently installed a 1.5 kW PV Solar System, the unit could not be activated for some months awaiting the installation of a compatible SMART METER that could handle bi-directional input and output to the grid. At the time the Powercor contractor removed our existing digital meter and the cement sheet backing which was protecting the chip board panel within the steel meter box cabinet fitted to the wall of our brick veneer home. The SMART METER was installed without replacing the cement sheet backing.
Soon after the SMART METER was installed we encountered a severe power surge from the grid caused by a nearby lightning strike, this power surge must have caused some damage to the internal mechanism within the SMART METER resulting in a noticeable over-heating of the SMART METER (distorted plastic housing). Powercor contractors came and replaced the SMART METER again without replacing the cement sheet backing. We then asked if they would come back and replace the cement sheet backing to protect the chip board from fire.
They came back and fitted the cement sheet at the back of the meter box, not behind the SMART METER. When the Electrical Inspector came to check the work, I asked hime why the cement sheet was not fitted behind the SMART METER to protect the chipboard from possible fire, His answer was; Had the cement sheet been installed behind the SMART METER as requested he would have issued a defect notice. How's that for a load of BS!

Dawid, Sun, 12 Aug 2012 02:04 pm: Reply
It sounds like you have lost one side of your 220volt panel. None of your major alippances (stove, dryer) will work and half the other circuits and outlets are dead as well.You'll probably get away with less than $200, depending on what electricians charge by the hour. You may have just blown a large cartridge fuse which is a cheap repair.

Linda, Fri, 16 Nov 2012 05:06 pm: Reply
I have been told I have to have a Smartmeter... have got away with it till now but I have faulty elec.... my gas oven went off 5 x when doing a roast, will Skilltech check my electricity connections before installing the Smartmeter?

peter hill, Mon, 29 Jul 2013 06:02 pm: Reply
SISTER IN LAW HAD NEW SMART METER FITTED TO HER UNIT WHICH WAS ONE OF 4 UNITS FITTED WITH THEM.ONE WEEK LATER HUGE FIRE IN METER BOX WHICH SERVICES ALL 4 UNITS.NO POWER FOR A WEEK WITH 4 KIDS TO LOOK AFTER..ALL FOOD IN FRIDGE AND FREEZER GONE OFF..ALL 4 UNITS NO POWER FOR A WEEK..WHO IS PAYING FOR ALL THE FOOD THAT WENT OF PLUS THE INCONVENIENCE.PLUS HAD TO SPEND A COUPLE OF NIGHTS IN MOTEL SO THEY COULD ALL HAVE A SHOWER,PLUS NO WAY OF COOKING,SO HAD TO LIVE ON EXPENSIVE TAKE AWAY FOOD.NEARLY SENT HER ROUND THE BEND.THEY LIVED THROUGH THE BLACK SATURDAY BUSHFIRES AND SEEING THE FUSE BOX EXPLODE AND BURST INTO FLAMES WITH THE FIRE BRIGADE TURNING UP HAS BOUGHT BACK ALL THE HORRORS OF THE BUSHFIRES,HER DAUGHTER IS NOW SUFFERING FROM PANIC ATTACKS WHICH SHE WAS JUST GETTING OVER FROM THE BUSHFIRES,AFTER MUCH COUNSELLING..THANKS PETER HILL O4O922O5O5.

baden, Sun, 01 Sep 2013 12:50 pm: Reply
a new smart meter was fitted 2 months ago ,on friday we wer gettin surges of power use tools in the shed 950pm my shed bust in to flames in seconds lost evey thing

Margaret, Tue, 10 Dec 2013 10:22 am: Reply
I am very worried for my 91 year old aunt. She lives on her own in a very old weatherboard house with old wiring. I believe that this is a fire risk. She leaves in Melbourne's Bayside area and has received the letter for smart meter installation.

philip, Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:58 pm: Reply
smart meter in house over road in LENNE ST MOOROOPNA just exploded... get rid of them..

Noel from Newport, Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:50 am: Reply
On the 19-11-13 we had a dummeter fitted to our house. About 2 months later She told me the hot water was burning her hands through the rubber gloves while she washed the dishes. When we replaced the electric water heater 15 years ago I set the water temp at 65deg at the nearest water tap. I checked the water temp and it was 75deg and reset the thermostat down (To use less power) to a lower temp. We bought a new efficient fridge a year ago and left E.V. Thermometers in the freezer and fridge compartments to monitor the correct settings according to those thermometers. The Freezer compartment thermo was reading -25deg when it was set at -15. I reset the fridge thermostat up (To use less power)to raise the temp. I rechecked the temp of the hot water, it was 68deg and reset the thermostat to lower the temp again. The next day the water temp was 58deg and a further reset did not raise the temp. The thermostat had failed as revealed by browning and shrinking of the white plastic section of the water heaters thermostat. We now have a Vac Tube Solar HWS from Solargain. We did not need the expense of replacing the old HWS. The fridge seems to be holding the higher temp.

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