NEMA encourages expansion of meter socket lifespan and inspections

Rosslyn, Va.—NEMA, the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, encourages industry action to expand meter socket lifespan and inspections.

As the result of the rapid expansion of Smart Grid and advanced metering infrastructure, many utilities around the country are replacing existing electricity meters with new solid-state smart meters and two-way communication devices. These new systems offer significant new benefits to both the consumer and the utility (electricity service provider).

For the first time, meters will allow consumers to adjust electricity use in response to the price of electricity that varies throughout the day.

Smart meters are often installed in pre-existing meter sockets. Meter sockets are expected to operate safely for many years. However, the safe operating life of the meter socket may be reduced by many factors including (but not limited to) excessive moisture, environmental contaminants, frequent changing of meters, excessive electrical load (overload or short circuit), vandalism, ground settling, storm damage, and other conditions.

As utilities move toward two-way communications for meters and remote meter reading, the opportunity for inspection of meter sockets is expected to decline. The interval between site visits by utility personnel could be more than 100 times longer than current monthly schedules.

Only the utility can inspect the socket because of the utility seal. For this reason, NEMA strongly recommends that all existing meter sockets be thoroughly inspected when new electrical meters are installed. Inspection criteria should include (but not be limited to) indications of excessive heating, corrosion, loose connections or components, deformed socket jaws, broken components, failed insulation, damage due to ground settling or vandalism, or any exposed live parts.

If any damage is discovered, the meter socket should be replaced by a qualified electrician immediately.

NEMA is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, founded in 1926 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Its member companies manufacture a diverse set of products including power transmission and distribution equipment, lighting systems, factory automation and control systems, and medical diagnostic imaging systems.

For more information about NEMA or other meters, click here to go to Utility Products' Buyers Guide.

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