Smart Metering

Smart Metering | Silicon LabsSmart metering devices offer the utility market the benefits of improved reliability and accuracy, ease of calibration, security and advanced billing features, and they offer energy consumers the opportunity to better manage energy usage and reduce costs. Regardless of what is being measured, gas, water, heat or electricity, Silicon Labs provides a host of low power devices that assist in the communications, sensing, calibration, timing and processing of the meter including low power MCUs, wireless MCUs, ISM band embedded wireless transceiver ICs and ZigBee system-on-chip and network co-processors.
 
 
 
 
 

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

Government agencies and utilities are turning toward advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems as part of larger “Smart Grid” initiatives. AMI extends current advanced meter reading (AMR) technology by providing two way meter communications, allowing commands to be sent toward the home for multiple purposes, including “time-of-use” pricing information, demand-response actions, or remote service disconnects. Wireless technologies are critical elements of the “Neighborhood Area Network” (NAN), aggregating a mesh configuration of up to thousands of meters for back haul to the utility’s IT headquarters.
 
 

Demand Response Applications

AMI networks used for Demand Response systems also include wireless home area networks (HANs) that connect communicating thermostats, load switches, lighting systems and in-home displays to the meters (or separate gateway). During periods of peak demand, utilities use these networks to throttle high-load devices. ZigBee has become the standard wireless control technology for home area networks, and is being used for an increasing number of neighborhood area network applications as well. ZigBee’s simple, scalable, self-configuring, and self-healing mesh networking offers utilities and metering OEMs a mature, proven, multi-vendor standard they can count on.
  • Mature, stable, open multi-vendor standard
  • Self-configuring, self-healing mesh networking
  • Strong security with build-in encryption
  • Standard messaging through emerging AMI Profile
  • Proven, robust coexistence with other wireless technologies
 
 

The Ember ZigBee Platform — Professional Grade

Silicon Labs' Ember product line has proven the ability to enable scalable AMI and AMR network solutions. The EmberZNet PRO stack implements important AMI-oriented enhancements, including advanced “deep sleep” modes that minimize power consumption for gas and water meter applications, where multi-year battery life is critical. In addition to leading silicon and ZigBee stack software, Ember software and tools provide the infrastructure to deliver complete, robust solutions quickly. Reliable over-the-air software updating, complete reference applications for smart metering and home automation devices, and industry-leading development tools speed system development, and manufacturing test library options enable high-volume manufacturing.
 
 

Silicon Labs' Smart Metering Solutions

Customer Requirements Silicon Labs Solution
Control & Calibration
Varies by type of meter, compensate for small variations in the measuring mechanism
     
Time-keeping
Varies by meter type but includes temp sensors, flow sensors, shunt resistor, isolation transformer, current transformer
Communications
Configure parameters in the meter and transfer stored data to a host via wired or wireless connection
Power Management
Low-power and system robustness in the event of a primary source of energy goes down
Isolation
Components must be certified and meet international standards for isolation and surge specifications as well as security and reliability requirements
Display
Interface to low cost and low power LCD and LED displays in seven-segment, alphanumeric or matrix format
Synchronization
Reliable transmission of data to central hub to enable data analysis and accurate billing
Wireless Control
Scalable, self-configuring, self-healing mesh networking with proven, mature ZigBee solution
 
 

Ember AMI / AMR Smart Metering Applications

The top metering companies around the world have chosen Ember products for their ZigBee solutions.

Landis+Gyr (www.landisgyr.com)

“Smart metering is revolutionizing energy management and grid reliability. We are committed to delivering leading edge smart grid solutions and the product components we receive from Ember, such as the EM300 Series SoC play an important role in providing the features and performance required by our customers.”
— Letha McLaren, Global Product Manager, Landis+Gyr

Elster (www.elster.com)

“Elster is pleased to be integrating the EM357 into our market leading EnergyAxis smart metering system. The EM300 Series allows us to provide our customers with a cost effective ZigBee enabled smart metering solution for demand response, load control, pricing and customer communications. In addition, the ultra low power consumption profile of the EM357 is also advantageous for Elster and its customers. While the energy saved on an individual meter basis may be small, when scaled across hundreds of thousands of devices it can mean significant energy savings for our utility customers. This not only saves utilities money, it has a positive impact on the environment as well.”
— Victor Sitton, Vice President of Product Marketing

Itron OpenWay AMI Solutions (www.itron.com)

Itron has integrated Ember’s ZigBee technology into its OpenWay™ by Itron Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) platform. Specifically, Itron’s OpenWay CENTRON smart metering devices are embedded with Ember ZigBee chips and software to provide a two-way communication pathway to the home for energy load control and demand response.
“Coming from the number one vendor of electric meters in the U.S., OpenWay is crucial for enabling the promise of residential demand response. Robust ZigBee connectivity is critical to the OpenWay system. We teamed with Ember because they are reliable, easy to work with and complement our OpenWay platform.”
— Arun Sehgal, product line manager for Itron’s OpenWay AMI system

Nuri Telecom, South Korea (www.nuritelecom.com)

NURI Telecom’s AiMiR meter reading system uses the Ember ZigBee system-on-a-chip and EmberZNet networking software to create a wireless mesh network for remote metering. Göteborg Energi AB in Sweden has chosen NURI for its 270,000 home AMI system, making it the first to cover a whole city with a wireless ZigBee infrastructure for the metering services of tomorrow.
“The ZigBee network can also be easily expanded as new homes are built, or new services need to be added. We partnered with Ember because its ZigBee platform is the most mature and has proven itself repeatedly in previous NURI AMR deployments.”
— Gab Sub Kim, NURI CTO

Holley Metering (www.holleymeter.com)

Ember customer Holley Metering Ltd. (HML) is the top electricity meter manufacturer and AMR system/solution provider in China. Holley Metering plays a vital role in the local economy, occupying approximately 30 percent market share in China. For the quality goods and services offered by the company, HML was awarded “China Top Brand” in 2003.
“As China’s leading electric meter exporter, it was critical that we base our AMR system on a widely adopted industry standard. We partnered with Ember because it had the most mature ZigBee platform, enabling us to reduce our product development time dramatically.”
— Dr. Wu Yue, director of R&D center of Holley Metering, ZigBee AMR system project manager
 
 
 

Success Stories

Automated meter reading technology gets a boost from a new line of Ember-enabled electric meters from NURI Telecom, providing wireless data transfer and streamlined metering processes.