Wi-Fi® wireless networks have struggled to gain acceptance in the growing market for smart electric meters around the world, with very few utilities having deployed meters with Wi-Fi in their territories and few smart meter OEMs even offering Wi-Fi as a communications option. But Wi-Fi does have several advantages for smart meter networks.
Wi-Fi can offer direct connectivity to a building owners’ existing network without the need for any additional equipment such as a home energy gateway. Consumers can monitor their energy consumption via their smartphones or home PCs in a much simpler way than if their smart meter used other wireless connectivity technologies such as ZigBee®.
For electric utilities, the addition of Wi-Fi to their smart meter program can simplify meter installation and maintenance by allowing technicians to test and diagnose any meter problems by connecting through a secure Wi-Fi channel rather than using custom equipment to connect with the traditional optical port.
TI has recently published a new TI Design reference design demonstrating how easy it is to add Wi-Fi capability to a smart meter. The new TIDC-3PHMTR-WIFIXR design uses the low-power SimpleLink™ Wi-Fi CC3100 wireless network processor and the ultra-low-power MSP430F6779 microcontroller (MCU) to implement a polyphase smart meter that directly connects to standard Wi-Fi networks and uses a web browser to display all the meter’s energy consumption data.
The SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3100 device is a fully-integrated Wi-Fi connectivity solution expressly designed for simple operation with embedded MCU systems. A common serial interface is all that’s required to connect to the CC3100 chip along with a minimal software driver running on the MCU. The CC3100 device integrates the entire 802.11. b/g/n radio, baseband, and MAC along with WPA2 personal and enterprise security and embedded TCP/IP and TLS/SSL stacks, HTTP server along with other internet protocols.
The MSP430F6779 device is a single-chip MCU for polyphase smart electric meters. It exceeds the IEC or ANSI standards for Class 0.2 accuracy across a wide 2000:1 dynamic range by utilizing its seven integrated 24-bit sigma-delta analog-to-digital converters (ADCs).
The combination of TI’s industry-leading MSP430 MCU for energy measurement plus the low-power SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3100 solution makes adding Wi-Fi connectivity to smart meters easy and cost effective. Consumers will benefit from easier access to their energy consumption data and utilities can benefit from lower cost of ownership.
To learn more about TI technology in smart meters visits: www.ti.com/metering