Smart-Meter Radiation Shield





Introduction: Smart-Meter Radiation Shield

About: 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 Commercials, Supervising visual effects, designing VFX, and shoo...

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.  



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    53 Discussions

    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.

    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.

    1 reply

    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.

    3 replies

    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.

    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????

    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.

    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?

    2 replies

    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?

    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.

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

    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.

    2 replies

    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.

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

    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 :(

    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?

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