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Thread: Electric Meter

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Default Electric Meter

    My brother noticed a while back that my meter wasn't spinning. I had electrical stuff such as lights, etc on inside the house, so I know I was using electricity. In any case, I thought it was odd and checked it again later, it was spinning, so I forgot about it.

    A few days ago, my brother was over again and looked at the meter and again, it wasn't spinning. I looked later and it was spinning again. Is this common? Shouldn't it spin any time there is power being consumed?

    I know via my $200 electric bill last month, I am using electricity and that the electric company is charging me. My question is, if it should be spinning pretty much all the time, because power is always being used, is it likely faulty? If so, can it be spinning too fast as well as not spinning at all?

    I plan on calling the electric company to have them test it, but want to know what I'm up against. I'd like to be educated prior to calling....

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The spin rate is proportional to your use...so, it could be working normally. A few lights aren't a big load and while turing, it might only be moving slowly - like watching the hour hand on a clock. Throw in the furnace, dryer, stove, etc., and you should see it go faster.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    The spin rate is proportional to your use...so, it could be working normally. A few lights aren't a big load and while turing, it might only be moving slowly - like watching the hour hand on a clock. Throw in the furnace, dryer, stove, etc., and you should see it go faster.
    I know it's proportional, which is why I'm a bit concerned that it isn't working correctly. I am pretty sure I turned on a larger load the first time, it wasn't moving to see if that was the case and it didn't budge. I was going to call it in, but when I went back it was spinning and thus I figured it was a fluke or something. I had checked it several times when I thought about it and it was always spinning....but this 2nd time, starts to concern me.

    I've never seen a meter not spinning at all when something was turned on.

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    Extreme DIY Homeowner Scuba_Dave's Avatar
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    With small loads I used to look at my meter - didn't look like it was moving - like watching a minute hand
    Now I have a digital meter
    DIY Handyman (not 4 hire)
    I have enough to do to my own house

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    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    Hit your brother and tell him to stop winding you up.

    Hit him extra hard if he asks you to go to the store room to get a bag of sparks for the grinder; or,

    to go get a right handed hammer; or,

    to get a long wait; or,

    "Skyhooks" to hang the lights; or,

    dark black paint or checkered paint; or,

    a tin of compressed air.
    Last edited by Ian Gills; 02-10-2009 at 02:33 PM.

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    Code Enforcement codeone's Avatar
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    They can spin very slow if you have a small load, sometimes hard to detect.
    A good way to check is to right down the dial #'s and go back at the same time each day for a month. Then compare it to your power bill. ask for the rate their charging you then compare. Your bill sounds like its working though.
    It doesnt hurt to have the power co check. If its not working properly they usually wont charge you anymore (such as an estimated bill). If they find it first sometimes they do go back and estimate. Not a bad idea to keep an eye on till you are sure

  7. #7

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    I think there is a problem with your brother, not the meter.
    http://www.inspectpa.com/forum/forum.php
    My answers are based mostly on the ICC codes. Advice given is my personal opinion and every person performing work should acquire a permit from his/her jurisdiction and get the work inspected. My opinions are not directions to follow for DIYs or professionals

  8. #8
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    It may be that it is not turning...if so it is not your problem...you do not own the meter...report it if you think it is not turning and let the utility worry about it...
    I had a friend that operated a buisness that used huge amounts of electricity and evey month his bill was exactly $39.00 or something like that...he notified the utility 3 seperate times, in writing, and explained the situation and every time they would come out and check and tell him every thing was correct...it was not but they never corrected the problem...it was like this from the time he bought the buisness until he sold it 13 years later.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default meter

    His electrical system could be like a gas system a restaurant in Chicago had. His gas bill every month was about $12.00 at the time even though he had a huge kitchen. When my dad had to work on it one time the meter did not turn off the ovens. There was a "wildcat" gas line into the basement right off the gas main, (in Chicago the mains are low pressure so he did not need a regulator), and was thus unmetered. This had been going on for decades, probably since Prohibition days. One morning my dad got an emergency call from the restaurant. Apparently one of the wino customers had been doing some cheap repairs and had found the gas line connection. When he was not hired to do the kitchen remodel he blew the whistle to the gas company and they had come in and cut the line and welded it shut. We had to revise the gas system so they could serve food that afternoon. The gas company only fined them a few hundred dollars for the years of stolen gas.

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    Illinois Licensed Plumber SewerRatz's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=hj;184171 (in Chicago the mains are low pressure so he did not need a regulator)[/QUOTE]

    That is correct, They have block regulators, that supply the whole block with low pressure gas. I recall a a while back a block regulators failed and many people had hissing noises from their stoves due to the spike in the gas pressure which blew out the pilot lites. Others reported 6 to 8 inch flames from their pilots. here's a article on one of the incidents. http://www.chicagoreporter.com/index..._as_River_West

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by codeone View Post
    They can spin very slow if you have a small load, sometimes hard to detect.
    A good way to check is to right down the dial #'s and go back at the same time each day for a month. Then compare it to your power bill. ask for the rate their charging you then compare. Your bill sounds like its working though.
    It doesnt hurt to have the power co check. If its not working properly they usually wont charge you anymore (such as an estimated bill). If they find it first sometimes they do go back and estimate. Not a bad idea to keep an eye on till you are sure
    Well, I did check the numbers the 1st time and over an hour later nothing had changed and electricity had been used. It seems I had even turned on the A/C or dryer, that is why it doesn't make sense.

    When I went back later and it was turning, I kind of thought, they'd say what you guys are saying, that I just didn't use enough electricity and from there on out, it seemed to always be turning. With it stopping again, something has to be up. This last time, lights in several bedrooms were on, as well as the kitchen, living and dining room, a 32" LCD TV, DVR, Fan for Furnace set to ON, garage light, two outdoor lights, largish fridge, a small fridge and a large upright freezer. Probably many other small power drain items as well. Is all of that really a small enough drain that the meter shouldn't/wouldn't be turning?

    I know some say not to report it, but not only do I prefer to be honest, I also tend to think if it's possible for it to spin to slowly, it has to be possible for it to spin to quickly.

    I'm not arguing that the electric company isn't charging me correctly based on the meter readings, I'm saying I question if it is possible for the meter to not be functioning correctly. i.e. spinning too slow, which is good for my $$, or to quickly, which is good for electric company's $$. I don't really see how reading the numbers does anything except confirm they are charging me correctly based on the meter readings. That's not really the debate.

    I want to know is it possible for the meter to spin to quickly, thus giving a false high?

  12. #12
    Computer Programmer Bill Arden's Avatar
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    It is possible for the magnetic bearings to go bad or the gears to stick and the disk will then only turn when there is lots of load.

    Quote Originally Posted by Master Brian View Post
    I want to know is it possible for the meter to spin to quickly, thus giving a false high?
    It is also possible for lighting strikes to demagnetize the break magnets and make it spin faster. however that would cause a higher bill.

    It would be really hard for it to spin "too fast" since most AMR(Automatic Meter Reader) devices are designed for a wide range of speeds.
    Important note Ė I donít know man made laws, just laws of physics
    Disclaimer: I'm a big fan of Darwin awards.

  13. #13
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    My old spinning-disk meter was replaced by the utility with a fancy new digital meter from Itron. In their literature, Itron says that "with its low starting watts and low watts lost, the CENTRON meter captures more energy consumption than was measured in the past by electromechanical meters." Neither Itron nor the utility have been able or willing to quantify that.

    But obviously mechanical meters have some problms, and yours seems to have more than most. If you're having trouble sleeping nights fearing you aren't paying enough, by all means call your utility and ask them to check the meter. Maybe they'd even swap it for one of these new ones, which will properly measure the energy consumed by the LED on your cellphone charger...

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    But obviously mechanical meters have some problms, and yours seems to have more than most. If you're having trouble sleeping nights fearing you aren't paying enough, by all means call your utility and ask them to check the meter. Maybe they'd even swap it for one of these new ones, which will properly measure the energy consumed by the LED on your cellphone charger...
    I'm definately not having trouble sleeping because I fear not paying them enough. I do not however want to pay them too much either!

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Arden View Post
    It is possible for the magnetic bearings to go bad or the gears to stick and the disk will then only turn when there is lots of load.



    It is also possible for lighting strikes to demagnetize the break magnets and make it spin faster. however that would cause a higher bill.

    It would be really hard for it to spin "too fast" since most AMR(Automatic Meter Reader) devices are designed for a wide range of speeds.
    That is what I was curious to know, thanks!

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