The 100W ERT communication module from Itron features an optional through-the-lid (TTL) antenna for data transmission in harsh and restrictive RF (radio frequency) environments.
“The antenna was added primarily for two use cases,” says Ed Nunes, senior product manager for Itron. “Many of these radio devices, especially in the southern and western portions of the United States, are in outdoor meter pit boxes and are subject to flooding.” By connecting the communication module to the antenna it is able to transmit from the pit box. “The other application is for utilities that use RF unfriendly lids, like cast iron. A lot of utilities, especially in big cities, have cast iron pit lids that can reduce the reading distance of endpoints under the lid.”
The antenna also is omnidirectional and ADA compliant for walkway deployment. The radio module is available in a choice of remote antenna models with optional acoustic leak sensor. “One of the main features of the 100W is its data logging capabilities,” Nunes says. “We store 40 days of hourly information.”
Powered by a lithium battery, the module is designed for 20 years of life and can operate in mobile AMR (automatic meter reading), handheld and fixed network AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) collection modes. The flexibility to go from one mode to the other is a cost-saving factor for utilities, Nunes says. “We also have different power modes. If you’re in a hard-to-read area, we can boost the power to get the reading out.”
Information is transmitted wirelessly in the 900 MHz ISM (industrial, scientific and medical) band. Nunes says data transmission varies depending on topography, including trees and building obstructions, but modules can be read from a mile or two away in some areas.
The module works with any meter manufacturer and automatically senses the appropriate protocol and begins communicating without having to be programmed. “This functionality saves the utility in inventory control because now they can have one unit that works with all their meters,” Nunes says. Itron offers two different models of modules, one for encoded meters and one for pulse meters. “Those are the two basic technologies in metering today,” Nunes says. “About 85 percent of the market has gone to encoded registers, but there still is a large population out there that uses the pulse technology.” 509/924-9900; www.itron.com.