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Emissions From Smart Meters and Other Residential Radiofrequency Sources

Aerts, Sam1; Verloock, Leen1; Van den Bossche, Matthias1; Martens, Luc1; Vergara, Ximena2; Joseph, Wout1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001032

The advent of the Internet of things comes with a huge increase in wirelessly communicating devices in our environment. For example, smart energy-consumption meters are being widely deployed in residences from which they communicate their state using radiofrequency networks. Accurate characterization of the radiofrequency emissions from emerging residential wireless solutions is important to inform the public about the potential impact on their exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. A new measurement procedure to determine the exposure from residential radiofrequency devices is proposed by assessing the peak emitted fields at various distances and the proportion of time they transmit (duty cycle). Radiofrequency emissions from 55 residential devices were measured in 10 residences (Belgium and France) and compared to environmental levels, emissions from 41 mobile phones, and international standards. Overall, residential levels of radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure are low. In addition to the continuous environmental exposure, wireless access points (due to frequent use) and especially mobile phones and other personal communication devices (due to their use close to the body) continue to represent the bulk of the radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure in the smart home. However, some residential devices can significantly increase the exposure if their duty cycles are high enough (>10%), especially when held or used close to the body. Individual smart meters, on the other hand, will contribute only little in general, despite emissions of up to 20 V m−1 at 50 cm, due to their low duty cycles (maximum 1%) and locations.

1Department of Information Technology, Ghent University/IMEC, Ghent, Belgium;

2EPRI, Palo Alto, CA.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact S. Aerts, Department of Information Technology, Ghent University/IMEC, Technologiepark 15, B-9052 Ghent, Belgium, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 9 October 2018)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society