Basic Types of Energy Meters

Basic Categories of Energy Meters

There are many basic types of Energy Meters that it is not an easy task to categorize them. Still I will try my best to sort out different types of energy meters in some simple manner. First, look at this hierarchy chart, it will give a brief idea about the basic types of Energy Meters. It’s just a glimpse of different kinds of Energy Meters.

Types of Energy Meters
Figure 1: Types of Energy Meters

Let’s start with the explanation of this hierarchy and after that other special categories will be discussed.

Types of Energy Meters with respect to Technology

Electro-Mechanical Energy Meters

These energy meters are obsolete now but some countries are still using it due to its cheapness and robustness. They are also called as Disk meter because a disk is present inside the Energy Meter which rotates when current flows through it. This rotation is captured by the dial and enhance its readings as per the amount of current flown. The dial of the Disk Meter shows only kWh usage since the time of Energy Meter installation.

They came in both 3 phase and single phase types. Current rating for 3 Phase Disk Type Energy Meter is normally up to 100 Amps. A simple 3 phase disk type energy meter is present in the diagram below:

3 Phase Electro-Mechanical Energy Meter
Figure 1: 3 Phase Electro-Mechanical Energy Meter

Study a complete article on Electro-Mechanical Energy Meters here.

Digital Energy Meters

Digital Energy Meters are the 2nd generation of Energy Meters. These meters digitally measure the energy and other factors like voltage, current, instantaneous Power and show them on a LCD. They can store energy consumption data up to 2 years’ in EEPROM.

Digital Energy Meters came in single phase and 3 phase both types. Single phase type digital energy meters normally just display and store MDI and Energy units and that’s all.

Study all about MDI and Energy Units here.

3 Phase Digital Energy Meter
Figure 3: 3 Phase Digital Energy meter

On the other hand, digital 3 phase energy meters give tariff based energy units storing as well. As the rate of the unit is more at Peak Load times than at off peak load times. So, Energy meters must store energy units in two slots i.e. peak slot (T1) and off peak slot (T2) to differentiate the timing of electricity usage. This is the reason that they are also called as TOD (Time of Day) Energy meters.

Side Note: Peak load and off peak load timings depends on the time of a day. In summers, peak load hours are normally from 12 pm– 4 pm.

Study a complete article on How to read Digital Energy Meters here.

Smart Energy Meters

These Energy Meters are the latest meters and they are not in their final shape. Rapid advancements are coming in it day by day. They can not only measure energy units but also send those units to the utility company through some communication medium like GSM/GPRS, RF, PLC (Power Line Communication) etc. Through these mediums company can control the load of consumer as well. While doing these basic responsibilities, these meters can also b used for load management and load forecasting purposes.

Study an article on objectives of Energy Meters

Difference between AMR and AMI Smart Energy Meters

Two terms that commonly relate to smart energy meters are AMR and AMI. These terms  change the objectives of Energy Meters.

AMR Smart Energy meters

First, we will discuss AMR Meters. AMR stands for Automatic meter reading. AMR Energy Meters are those Smart Energy Meters which measures the energy units and send it to the server and that’s all. No other advantages like load management or load forecasting can be taken from these meters. In short, we can say that, only one sided communication taken place in these kind of energy meters i.e. from energy meter to the server.

AMI Enabled Smart Energy meters

AMI stands for Advanced Metering Infrastructure. They are the latest energy meters which are giving complete package to ensure reliable and efficient energy management. They enable the utility company to communicate in both directions i.e. from server to the energy meter and vice versa. The advantage of two-way communication is that company can control the consumer load from their office and can also restrict the consumers to some specific load level.

AMR vs AMI enabled Energy meters
Figure 4: AMR vs AMI enabled Energy Meters

The block at the right side is consumer block, in which a smart energy meter and a consumer’s house is present. The block at the left side is Utility block, in which an office and a MDC present.

A complete article on how to design a smart energy meter can be studied here.

Side Note: A MDC is a software or a website/server to manage the data collected from consumers. In present complex and advanced scenario, even small utility companies are managing more than a lac consumers normally. To manage data of this much consumers is a very demanding job. Every companies have their own Meter Data management (MDC) servers to manage data and to control the load of individual consumers.

In the middle of the image communication mediums are shown. Any medium can be used for the data sending and receiving. Every medium has their own advantages and disadvantages.

This is all about basic types of Energy Meters. In the next article, I will discuss special categories of Energy Meters. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page. Also share your views on this article by commenting below.



Electrical engineering is my profession, my hobby and my passion. I completed bachelors of electrical engineering in 2015. Currently I am working with an Electric Utility Company. Power Electronics, Embedded Systems and Energy Metering are my fields of specialization. In free time I listen music and watch movies.

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