Introduction: Smart-Meter Radiation Shield

The new smart meters that our electrical utility company installed on my house sends out powerful "WiFi" signals in bursts.  I am concerned about the long-term health effects of these microwaves and so I decided to make a shield to stop them.  Now, as you may know, the whole reason they installed it (in the short -term, anyway) is to be able to read my monthly use remotely so they could lay off an army of meter-readers.  I have an issue with that too, but I have no shield for their jobs.  Blocking the transmissions of data will force them to come out to read it manually anyway.  Too bad:  Nobody asked ME if they could put a powerful transmitter on my house, so they will have to deal.  
 

Step 1:

Here's how:  Aluminum window screen, available at most hardware stores, TOTALY blocks this type of microwave radiation.  A single layer is enough.  One could simply tape a big piece over the whole thing, but I wanted something more user-friendly and more long-lived.  First, wear some leather gloves.  This material is hazardous and WILL poke your hands but GOOD countless times if you don't ! I used sheet metal shears to cut it, but some good heavy kitchen shears will work.  You may find them more dull afterward though.  It's pretty easy to cut.  I used a hot glue gun with clear sticks to bond the base to the cylinder, and shown in the photos.  I used some small aluminum pop-rivets to attach the sign, and nylon thread (waxed) to attach the "lid".

Step 2:

 I bought about 4' x 3' off of a roll, and cut the piece that the base would be made from.  I designed it to be double-thickness for stability and durability.  Just cut about 14" x 28", fold it in half and then fold about 1" over itself on the edges to thicken it.

Step 3:

Then mark and cut a round hole in the center of that square that is  1" SMALLER than the cylinder you need to enclose the meter.

Step 4:

Then cut 1" tabs from that inner diameter and fold them upright sing a ruler to make sharp controlled bends.  Don't worry about the tabs, they can be about 2" wide.  Mine were smaller and more numerous.  It didn't matter.

Step 5:

Now, cut a single strip of screen as wide as your meter is tall plus one inch.  Use the selvedge of the screen cloth (the factory edge) as one edge of the long strip. The length should equal the circumference of the tab circle plus 2".  Just measure twice and cut once!  

Step 6:

Now using the hot glue gun tack each tab to the bottom edge of the strip building it into a cylinder or drum shape, with the square on the bottom.  Don't use too much glue.  I did and WOW what a pain.  Use a drop.  It will cool fast and you can go back and add more after the first pass for strength.  I use an smooth water bottle (Smartwater works great) to flash-cool hot melt glue.

Step 7:

 Now cut a circle for the top of the drum shape that is 1" larger in diameter than needed.  Fold a half-inch edge all around, nice and neat.  Good luck.  It's very challenging, and aren't you now SO glad you're wearing leather work gloves???

Step 8:

Now for the slow part.  Due to weather exposure, handling stresses and high-ideals, I chose to sew the top on with heavy black waxed nylon thread.  It will last a long time, and it TOOK a long time to do.  You may opt for hot glue but have fun with that.   It's not easy either.  You need a gap-free join here to limit signal leakage.  Sewing worked well, except for the distortion I got from the top being poorly edged.  Your mileage may vary.

Step 9:

To attach the thing to the electrical panel it is most likely mounted on I taped strong small magnets (hardware store again) onto patches of hot-glue pressed flat with a steel plate (a heat-sink!).  I used tape, NOT hot glue because hot glue will KILL the MAGNETS!  Weird I know, but true.  Now it should simply snap into position, and be very easily removed for reading and service.  The electrical equipment box will shield the back side from emitting, so that's handled.

Step 10:

 I included a sign, laminated at the Printing Store, that reads:  "MAGNETICALLY ATTACHED! SIMPLY PULL TO REMOVE.  PLEASE REPLACE AFTER SERVICE.  PROPERTY OF (your name here)"  This will help ensure they don't damage or toss it, and that they KNOW it is easy to remove in a rush.

Step 11:

Now you are fully protected from the microwaves, and haven't damaged "their" property at all.  

Comments

author
SteveK187 made it!(author)2017-05-03

Really love the comments about how the people should just take the utility companies word for it. How many massive lawsuits has PG&E been involved in causing countless deaths and health problems? San Bruno - $565 million, Hinkley - $333 million, Kettleman City - $295 million. We should do nothing preventative because they're care so very much about each and every one of us.

author
UtilityTechnologies made it!(author)2016-11-08

I'm in the metering industry, and this seems overkill and more of an anti-utility move than a RF protection move. First, there are two kinds of AMI (Automated Metering Infrastructure) smart meter systems. One sends back the data via the power line itself (power line carrier) if it is that type, then there is no RF signal at all going out from the meter an it's routed back to the HQ via the power wires. The second is wireless radio.

Wireless radio all has to bed approved by the FCC as safe. if in the 900mHz band, it is the same signal as a cell phone, garage opener, wireless phone, RF TV remote, and a dozen other things in your home. If high powered and a licensed frequency, it still likely only transmits between 1 and 24 times a day for a millisecond each at about 1 watt maximum, but usually less. Most current model AMI RF meters transmit 4 or 6 times a day, and send 4 to 12 hourly readings on each transmit. They are not constantly transmitting like a radio station or wi-fi router. older ones probably transmitted 12 hourly readings twice a day. The most active would transmit no more than once an hour.

Here's the kicker. If the meter doesn't get a handshake saying the reading was successfully received, it may just keep trying to transmit over and over increasing your perceived risk and using power to do so that causes carbon emissions that are probably more harmful than less than a couple seconds a day of 1 watt power transmission on 450-500 mHz. The power output of these transmitters is about the same as a police car communications radio, and aircraft radio, or a CB radio transmitting for less than 5 seconds a day.

author
AwakenTheSheep made it!(author)2016-12-27

This is the lie they want you to believe....

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VincentH33 made it!(author)2016-05-27
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ironsmiter made it!(author)2014-11-15

I am only mildly paranoid about the radiation. What is currently cheesing me off is... every 15 min or so, most of my wifi devices get disconnected from the router(2.4Ghz cable modem/wifi router). The other side effect is, cell phones and tablets are burning through their batteries about 50% faster. This started happening 15 min after they switched the meter on(about 2 weeks ago).

Forget the health risks, this is killing Netflix and online gaming! Not COOL!

As a side effect, smart meters are suppose to save power, you know, by requiring more frequent charging of laptops, phones and tablets as all wifi devices(including the router) go into max-power radio broadcast mode to try and compensate for the interference.

After reading this, I have to look at the meter install, and see if I can get the shielding BETWEEN the house and meter.

author
3of5 made it!(author)2015-09-04

Try getting onto the router setting any playing around with the channels. Channel 10 or 11 is what I use to cut through the interference.

author
Ronne284evr made it!(author)2016-05-01

Can you please explain how to do this? Does this mean there will be fewer interruptions needing to charge devices less frequently? I noticed this happening but thought devices & batteries were just more cheaply made. As for thebaririer between meter & house, I sleep right next to where meter is on outside of wall. I have suddenly developed 6 nodules on my thyroid & my migraines have trippled, not to mention the agitation from a constant low hum that is driving me crazy all night. It's only heard inside house. Edison stated they couldn't find anything, even sent out tech around midnight & he "couldn't hear it". Ironically it calmed down for a few hours around the time he came????

author
ironsmiter made it!(author)2016-05-02

After a couple months, things seem to have settled down, electronically. If you are hearing a hum, something somewhere is wrong. And probably NOT with the meter. Thyroid problems are also NOT likely to be linked. This is radio frequency we are dealing with.

That being said, take a square of metal window screen, and tack it up on the wall, directly behind the meter. If it is in an ugly/visible location, hang a framed picture over it. And DON'T cover it from the outside. That should reflect any direct signal.

The meters put out infrequent pulses after their initial break in period. If it is a constant humm you hear, look for other sources.

author
sun1one made it!(author)2014-05-09

Nobody can say for sure that this type of radiation is safe. As for how long it pulses: It depends on the type of smart meter your town has set up. Some pulse once per day, others pulse every few seconds. I believe that the ones that pulse once per day would be the ones that are in towns that have installed/built a special tower for this. We've all tried to avoid radiation..powerlines, etc. But for some reason we're embracing all the RF/EMF that comes along with cell phones, and smart meters. There's too much of it. The World Health Organization has now said that EMF and RF may cause cancer. They have put it in the same class as radon, asbestos, and deetz. Yet very few people will pay attention because it may mean an inconvenience for them. Remember when people thought that soda was good for babies and that smoking was good because it made you look and feel better??? All those ads made people believe that these things were fine.. when in fact they were not. It is a fact that children's young cells are more affected by this. Why would anyone gamble with their child's health?

author
MikkoM1 made it!(author)2015-12-08

Principle is same as in mobile phones. Have rates of gliomas gone up in the last 20 years? Nope. Do you have any science to back up your claims?

author
JackL61 made it!(author)2016-02-21

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F0NEaPTu9oI&time_continue=608

Dozens of studies implicating hazards of EMF , WHO already states it's possibly carcinogenic. Watch Ted Talk, former Silicon Valley tech, engineer who has done some amazing research.

author
darrenah made it!(author)2016-02-11

Good for you! Great idea! I'm going do this too! Thanks!!

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MikkoM1 made it!(author)2015-12-08

The data bursts are similar in a phone, and in no way harmful. The only studies showing some effect are done by a handful of crank "scientists" (Havas etc) and can't be reproduced by anybody else.

author
brian32768 made it!(author)2015-09-16

If you are actually successful blocking transmissions from the meter, you will necessitate a house call from the utility company when they can no longer read your meter to bill you. Your contract with them says you have to let them have access to your meter for billing purposes. You will be violating your contract.

PG&E offers an "opt out" program. Might be better to check on that with your local utility company before causing needless aggravation to them.

author
MikeD38 made it!(author)2015-09-29

They clearly have access.

author
brian32768 made it!(author)2015-09-29

Apparently I was not clear myself. By "access" I mean that if the utility has converted your meter for wireless access and you succeed in blocking its transmissions then you have blocked their access. If the meter cannot transmit then effectively the house has been removed from the grid. The utility won't know the meter has been disabled until a computer puts the meter onto a list saying it needs service and they send out the repair crew. That's when you (possibly) get the lawyer letter telling you you are in breach of contract. Maybe the bird cage attenuates signal without completely blocking it, so, maybe it's a reasonable compromise? Digital signalling is pretty robust, it will work even at low signal levels, that's why we use it for phones.

author
Me04 made it!(author)2015-08-16

I think that they are Alpha waves.

author
mr+fat made it!(author)2015-08-13

best if you and your family never leave the safety of a faraday cage, never ever leave it!

author
eblair3 made it!(author)2015-07-31

While this solution is well intentioned, it does zilch to block any RF that may be actually traveling back into the house. You need something BETWEEN THE HOUSE AND THE METER. My Mom died of cancer 6 months ago. She slept with her head a foot away from our smart meter. I can't help but wonder if the two aren't connected :(

author
sun1one made it!(author)2015-06-14

My smart meter is in the house and hangs off a pipe about four inches away from the wall. Any suggestions on how to make one for my situation?

author
Customer+Service made it!(author)2015-05-18

We feel your article provides vital information regarding the reduction of dangers from smart meters.

We would like to introduce you to a new low-cost product that helps protect consumers from Smart Meter radiation. The RF Meter Shield. More information about our new product can be found on our website: http://www.rfmetershield.com/.

If you feel this innovative product will benefit your readers and affiliates, we would appreciate passing this information along by placing a link to our website on your site.

Thank you,

RF Meter Shield
Email: customerservice@rfmetershield.com

author
SSJTroly made it!(author)2015-05-16

How do people who use this use a cell phone?
Probably all wrapped up in foil.

author
ericheredia made it!(author)2012-07-28

I am one of the people that lost their jobs because of these stupid things.
Now I'm unemployed with a family to take care of.

author
squishyalt made it!(author)2013-02-09

So start a business making and selling smart meter shields.

author
32ggd made it!(author)2015-04-04

Glib.

'So start a business making and selling smart meter shields.'

author
LinaBB made it!(author)2014-08-28

but how about inside of your house? because the meter transmits inside too..?

author
dalmond1 made it!(author)2012-07-26

The problem I see with this faraday Cage is that it is only making it safer for your neighbours, being that the back of your smart meter, the part facing into your house is still unshielded... a faraday cage to be effective needs to Fully surround the entire device, or at least in the sense of a dome type have coverage of the gound and the deivce, with no gaps this may well be "grounded" but the direction left uncovered is still exposing the inside of your home to radiation (levels of which I make no claim to be or not dangeous)

to complete the project you have started you will need to employ a electricain to come and add another section of your screen contiuning from what you have already done and to cover the back of the meter... otherwise there is no protection into your home .. you have only made it safer for people standing around the outside of your home.

author
MaskMarvl made it!(author)2014-08-15

The metal box the smart meter is mounted on does in-fact protect from RF radiation from the back. The only part of the meter that emits RF radiation is the front plastic\glass enclosure. So, in theory, this instructable should work even if it's not properly grounded. Although, for best reslults, it's easy enough to make sure the screen makes contact with the metal box.

author
ryazwinski made it!(author)2014-04-27

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmS5pVEZHzg FWIW

author
jdavenport9 made it!(author)2014-04-15

Realistically there is such a small amonnt of data to transmit each day because the meter reading is only a few digits long. because of this the meters transmit for only a few seconds each day.

author
Baughb made it!(author)2014-04-01

This is a poor instructable, in my opinion. The premise that users need to be protected from these transmitters is faulty, the design of the device supposedly providing the protection is faulty, and there's no suggestion by the author that any testing was performed to determine if it actually has an effect. I really don't think this clears the bar that should be set for this site.

author
squishyjoss made it!(author)2013-10-27

Thats tremendous

author
KatherineSchreiber made it!(author)2013-09-06

interesting one

author
ryanfleming made it!(author)2013-08-07

Do you have any testing proof?? And what about the back side of the device?

author
lisalike made it!(author)2013-07-18

Thank for useful article, I needed just exterior protection, interior I order already for all my relatives, smart meter shielding solution from this guys - http//smartmeterprotection.us , and it's works great! Now I don't worry about health effects, my house is protected! Smartmeterprotection company is the best, they are very helpful!

author
thejet95 made it!(author)2013-06-01

I have been a cynical towards people who worry about smart meters for a couple years, even was an early adopter nearly 5 years ago. The last year I have been experiencing a chronic soar throat that my doctors can't explain, my kids are developing learning disabilities, among other strange health issues. The more I read, the more I'm concerned about the microwave radiation the give off. Look at this article that cites studies on them from around the globe. It's not looking too good. I'm planning to get mine removed, and until then, a faraday shield isn't the worst idea of heard of.

http://www.wnd.com/2012/12/health-hazards-linked-to-utility-meters/

author
sir_puppy made it!(author)2013-02-18

For anyone curious: There are Access Points that are mounted on every few power poles along your street/block, usually 1 per block, 2 if it's densely populated, which use a high frequency bandwidth. Most iCredit-500 meters (for single phase wiring) don't generate any interference of any kind from my experience with any devices. I am not sure about the SPRINT 3 phase ones, but that shouldn't be needed for a lot of homes I assume. All smart meters can ALSO communicate using the ZigBee frequency for In Home Displays, and other personal devices (same as your WiFi/wireless phone, but proprietary and lower frequency spectrum I believe), but some meters have this disabled. Contact your distributor or power company for more info on that.

author
rocketman221 made it!(author)2012-07-28

I'm glad that I don't have this type of meter. Do they create radio interference with other devices in the house?
I would be more worried about interference than it actually causing harm to anybody near it.

author
grunff made it!(author)2012-07-28

A typical home has dozens of radio emitters, operating anywhere between a few MHz to ~5GHz. They very rarely interfere with each other. This is by design. This is why you can have a WiFi router, a Nitendo Wii, a notebook, an iPhone, an iPad, and a wireless keyboard all in the same room, all working just fine.

author
rocketman221 made it!(author)2012-07-28

Those are all digital devices that can correct their errors or resend the corrupted data. Analog devices will get noise and interference that it very noticeable.
When I make or receive a cellphone call it emits a powerful burst of rf that causes static on a lot of different things around my house and makes be want to throw the phone out the window.

author
grunff made it!(author)2012-07-28

Analog devices - are you suggesting these meters are analog? They are not.

The reason your cell phone results in noise from your speaker or headphone is because it is transmitting at an output of 1-3W. That's quite a lot of power, some of which is picked up by analog audio circuits and amplified, resulting in noise.

However, note that it never interferes with your local wifi, or with the operation of your PC, or any other device. That's because those devices are very good at rejecting signals not intended for them.

Smart meters come in a number of different types. The most common use wifi. Wifi power output is limited to 100mW.

author
rocketman221 made it!(author)2012-07-28

I'm not suggesting they are analog. I am worried that they will interfere with analog devices.

author
grunff made it!(author)2012-07-28

Are you equally concerned that wifi routers, cell phones, tablets, notebooks, wireless peripherals, game consoles etc will also interfere with these analog devices?

author
rocketman221 made it!(author)2012-07-28

I didn't realize they were just using wifi. I thought it was some sort of long range high powered connection or something because the author was worried about shielding himself from it..
I don't have one of these on my bench to rip apart and poke around inside. Where I live everyone has the standard mechanical meters.
I don't have any problems with wifi interfering with things, just cellphones.

author
zabolyx made it!(author)2012-07-28

You can limit the audio noise from a cellphone by placing a piece of anti-static bag (the ones used for packaging electronics and computer cards) inside the battery cover of your cell phone. Just cut it as large as you can fit in the area, place, and put the cover back on.

Saw it on Lifehacker, I believe. Works great. Used a setup like this when I had computer speakers on my work computer.

Partially damper your cell signal as well, but I live in town and have no issues with the lower signal strength.

author
dduley made it!(author)2012-07-28

Nope pure rubbish. Again without a solid connection to ground it won't attenuate anything. Your hand holding the phone will attenuate the signal more than any bit of antistatic bag. You are, after all, a big grounded bag of conductive salt water (I mean that in the nicest possible way). If in this millennium of technological enlightenment we still fall for this stuff then there is little hope.

author
grunff made it!(author)2012-07-28

There are smart meters that use the cell network, sending the data over the network off-peak. They are less common than wifi ones, but they exist.

Even if this is such a meter, the emission will be very short, much shorter than a cell phone call.

author
nthom6 made it!(author)2012-07-28

Here's my experience for what it's worth.

My utility installed one of these (without asking) about 2 weeks ago. My camper (where I sleep at night) is parked about 10 feet from the meter.

Immediately after installation I noticed static interference in my radio inside the camper, especially in the early hours of the morning. Plus I experienced a much more restless sleep. About a week later it dawned on me that the new meter might be the source of these problems.

So I looked up how the meter is constructed and how it works. The small (3/4" or so) window within the meter is the source of the signals that it puts out. So I found a small piece of lead flashing (about 3" x 3") that mason's use around chimneys and taped it so as to cover the window. (I wasn't aware of grounding or cages, etc.).

Since doing this there has been no radio interference and I have been sleeping like a baby.

All I can claim for this is empirical evidence of a change. I know nothing of the physics of it all.

I should add, my old meter could be read remotely (so the meter readers were sent to pasture quite a while ago). These smart meters are sending out additional information, presumably about usage and presumably to enable the utility to operate more efficiently in regard to peak and non peak loads.

author
EcoMotive made it!(author)2012-07-28

I think this is still a great instructable whether or not these meters actually do or don't give off harmful amounts of radiation. It addresses a problem and offers a clever and effective do-it-yourself solution. Truly, this is what Instructables is all about.
A couple people mentioned that the cage should go all the way around the meter, covering the back and all sides. However, I think that the metal enclosure itself is at least partly effective at blocking RF. Many instruction manuals I've read for radio and WiFi equipment mention that metal structures block signals and hinder the performance of the device.
What we need is an independent third party study done on these meters, by a reputable scientific community with the results published and made for all to see. Only then can we close this debate.
Keep up the good work.

author
mri1972 made it!(author)2012-07-27

Great Project, if they ever implement these around me I will be sure to do this. Not for fear of radiation but to stop interference.

And all these people saying it is only on a second a day I have a few questions. If its only transmitting a second a day does that mean the meter reading vehicle has to be driving by at that exact time, if not what receives the signal? Wifi does not have the greatest distance through buildings and the number of access points needed to cover a town would be cost prohibitive I would think.

In my own opinion not enough data data has been released to the public on these things.

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Bio: I have a degree in Product Design from ACCD, Pasadena, and have worked in Special Effects, and then Visual Effects for 32 years now, Directing ... More »
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