Selecting the right meter system

Wilson Chung
September 11, 2018
By Wilson Chung
September 11, 2018 - Energy management is changing. Once-simple meters have been replaced by highly technical and connected systems that enable ‘smart’ buildings and give you greater control—but the sheer number of options can often feel overwhelming.

In a sector that is constantly evolving, knowing what you are looking for in a metering system—from materials to long-term performance—will help you find the right service provider for your energy management needs. It is crucial, for example, to find one who will see your building through the full cycle, from sourcing and design to installation and testing, so as to ensure the metering system will perform to the highest standards and not cost you more than necessary.

At the end of the day, you need an energy management solution that is right for your building and flexible to meet your changing needs. Indeed, for it to be truly long-lasting, it will need to be ‘nimble’ enough to adapt as other new technologies emerge in the future.

Sourcing
The importance of sourcing the proper meter materials is often overlooked. When you are searching for an energy management company, look for one that focuses on the strong reputation of its manufacturer or supplier, the dependability of the materials and the accuracy and robustness of the meter system.

Further, to guarantee the meter materials are the best quality, service providers should also engage with third-party engineering consultants to review the products’ properties.

System design
No two buildings will have the same energy management needs. Meters should be designed with this in mind.

It is important to work with a provider who will (a) consider how best to design and install the communication infrastructure that will allow for automated data acquisition and (b) work in tandem with and support your mechanical or electrical consultants’ review of the design plans. Engineering and installation teams should be involved from the start of the planning process.

Then, once the meters have been installed, it is imperative your service provider will be able to access, service and maintain them, ensuring they can operate throughout their expected lifespan, regardless of the project’s size or scope.

Quality assurance
As your energy management equipment is examined throughout its lifespan, it is important for the service provider to implement a stringent quality assurance program. Measurement Canada, a government agency, plays a key role in this respect, as its regulations dictate the requirements for a company to be recognized as an authorized service provider. To achieve such recognition, a company is subject to annual audits of its quality assurance program by Measurement Canada, to ensure it addresses its customers’ needs and meets statutory requirements related to metering services.

Ensuring performance
It is not enough for the final product to perform well; it is also critically important to get things right from the start. From manufacturing the meters with the best materials to testing them before they are deployed in a customer-facing application, your provider should work hard to ensure these products perform strongly at every stage.

Wilson Chung, a professional engineer and certified measurement and verification professional, is manager of field support and product integration for Enercare Connections, a Canadian non-utility sub-metering provider with electricity, water and thermal contracts for residential and commercial properties. For more information, visit www.enercare.ca.

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