Antenna Enables Utilities To Reuse Metal Lids When Communicating With RF Meters

Antenna Enables Utilities To Reuse Metal Lids When Communicating With RF Meters

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The through-the-lid antenna from Aclara enables utilities to reuse existing metal lids rather than replace them with RF-permeable lids when communicating with battery-powered STAR network modules in meter pits and vaults.

Engineered to operate through 1/4- to 2-inch-thick lids in temperatures from -40 degrees to 158 degrees F, the antenna is IP67 ingress protection rated, complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and delivers road- and traffic-rated performance.

“The way the system works is the current MTU (meter transmission unit) has an internal antenna. This just brings that antenna out,” says David Rubin, product manager, Aclara. “It adds to your installation options. As a utility, you can put it against a wall, under a plastic lid or under a metal lid. It gives you different ways to get the signal out and read the meter.”

The antenna has a 5 1/2-inch mushroom cap that mounts to the top of the lid and a 3-inch stem that installs through an industry-standard-sized hole (1 7/8 inches) drilled in the pit lid. Secured in place by a threaded nut or optional brackets, the antenna connects to the transmission unit and meter through a 6-foot cable.

“It’s not intended to go in the middle of a well-traveled road,” Rubin says. “If a semi goes over it now and again, it’s fine. But if semis are going over it all the time, that might be a problem.”

Other applications include commercial meter vaults with double steel doors.

“Obviously you can’t replace those with plastic,” he says. “People have gotten around this by drilling out the side and mounting the MTU in a special box or cutting a square hole in the top of the lid. With the antenna, it’s much simpler to keep the vault intact. Being able to drill a hole and install the antenna saves a lot of time and money.”

With no moving parts, the antenna has a 20-year life span and operates with single- or dual-port, standard- and extended-range meter transmission units.

“We’re confident of the technology in the network and the technology of reading meters,” Rubin says. “This just fills in the gap of how we get one talking to the other in specific places that might have been troublesome in the past. As far as the network is concerned, whether it’s an MTU with an internal antenna or an MTU with the external remote antenna, they operate the same.” 800/297-2728;


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