Dr. A's Casebook #1: ISKRA electric meter
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
ZiggyTec's roving installer shares insights on making old meters IoT-ready
ZiggyTec's core business is installing IoT-enabled readers onto utility meters, enabling our clients to take accurate readings remotely. That job gets easier every year, as utility companies upgrade their meters to modern digital versions. But it sometimes happens that a client will ask us to attach a ZiggyTec reader to a meter that predates the Cloud. In this series, I'll share practical insights into some of the real-world workarounds that we use.
Casebook #1: The ISKRA analog electricity meter
The ISKRA company was launched in the old Yugoslavia in 1946. Its meters were were particularly popular in Germany. This is a late example of an electromechanical type which was popular for decades all over Europe -- if you look at the top right of the panel in the first photo, you can see the date '2001'.
The meter shows total power consumption via a digit counter, like the milometer in your car's dashboard. Below the milometer readout is a wheel that spins to show power consumption -- the faster it turns, the more power you're using.
Whenever we're asked to make an ISKRA or similar meter remote-readable, I simply attach an infra-red reader to the front of the meter with double-sided tape. The reader bounces a beam of light off the rate-of-consumption wheel, and it increments each time the revolution marker goes past. The reader transmits that count to the ZiggyTec gateway.
The second photo shows how an ISKRA looks with the reader in place. The ZiggyTec reader is a neat, self-contained device that can run for years on one set of batteries, so our installations pretty much take care of themselves. And I'm always careful to make sure that our reader doesn't get in the way of the milometer readout. You can still take a reading the old-fashioned way if you really want!