Versatile, flexible, and modular: the future-proof answer to dynamic electrical grids

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As we discussed previously, advanced metering should provide reliable and relevant power quality monitoring as well as information that is meaningful and actionable, especially considering the accelerating transformations of our electrical grids. But what about the other impacts our increasingly complex energy landscape is having? Advanced meters should also be able to adapt to the increasing pace of change to our electrical grid — to which evolving standards and regulations, distributed energy resources, and the digitization of energy all contribute.

electrical grid

Conventional, static metering

Traditional metering devices usually arrive from the factory with their applications pre-loaded. These static applications are often based on national or international standards and regulations. While these are important, every business also has requirements related to its business goals, segment, electrical infrastructure, or geographic location.

But the problem, then, is that goals are continually being transformed, and standards constantly change. This is particularly true today, where businesses face updated regulations as well as net-zero, energy efficiency, and sustainability challenges.

We believe advanced metering devices should provide the flexibility to run custom applications easily deployed by the end user or system integrator. This flexibility allows the devices to be optimized for use in specific applications, but also gives the users the peace of mind that the device can evolve in case of a change in market needs.

For example, a new company-wide initiative may require a different set of data from the device. Or an evolution in electrical distribution standards could require a different set of data, a different data aggregation method, or a different process of visualizing data.

If the meters do not allow for such flexibility, users would be forced to either wait for a new firmware version from manufacturers or — and this is not unusual — replace their entire installed base with a newer generation of products. Expensive, time-consuming, and not ideal at all.

Future-proof platforms rely on a couple of principles

The first value is that the metering platform must provide application flexibility: robust, “modular” programming where users can customize their meters to suit their requirements and adapt them as needed. These applications should also be scalable, easily tested, and then quickly deployed across the entire metering fleet. They can be tailored to local power quality or energy metering standards without needing factory-loaded firmware or new capital expenditures to purchase new energy meters.

This kind of flexibility means there is no longer a concern about an orphaned installed base that can no longer be upgraded. Nor is there any need to return meters to the factory — users can ensure their facility remains compliant and continues to operate smoothly.

The second principle is hardware modularity. Different metering form factors (i.e., indoor/outdoor) allow these devices to be installed in different geographies and applications. Modular advanced meters also provide a variety of field-upgradable display options (integrated or remote, easily localized by region and display conventions for power, power factor, and energy according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards), input/output (I/O) module changes, or adding new communication ports. This modular approach means the advanced meter can serve a global market with various options that fit diverse applications and geographies. Again, these hardware expansion capabilities allow users to adapt their advanced metering fleet as their systems grow larger and more complex without replacing their installed base.

Reliable, tangible results and wide versatility

Electrical grids are changing rapidly, and advanced meters need to be able to adapt to this accelerating pace of change. Standards and regulations, distributed energy resources, the digitization of energy ­— all these forces bring to bear how quickly things are changing. Advanced metering devices should be truly reliable and provide tangible results while being versatile, flexible, and modular enough to easily adapt to changing standards, with the ability to evolve with changing business missions. Versatility provides resilience and can future-proof your electrical network against change that you don’t see coming.

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