Cheaper gas meter

Cambridge Consultants has developed a cheaper smartcard gas meter to support the UK’s 23 million gas prepay customers who use Siemens Energy Services’ Quantum scheme.



The company claims to have simplified the design, thus cutting construction costs, and rationalised back-office procedures, both of which lead to cost reductions which could be passed on as lower tariffs for customers.



Cambridge Consultants has been designing meters since the 1980s. The latest design, known as Q-Smart, is currently in production and is set to come online as current meters are replaced.



Q-Smart construction costs are around a third less than regular meters and use significantly less circuitry. There is only one integrated circuit, a standard 16-bit microcontroller, and a single printed circuit board, where other meters use two.



Further savings are brought about by power economy measures. The control software is designed so that the circuitry can sleep when not in use. A single cell, instead of the two currently used can power it. Battery life can now exceed the life of the meter itself, lasting in excess of 10 years.



The simpler design has also made the meter more tamper resistant, which reduces the need for service visits.