Digital meters

Wireless technology gets more out of meter reading

A digital water meter represents new technology that can provide us with more detailed information about how Greater Sydney uses water. As a customer, you'll see that it measures water use just like a traditional water meter. The main difference is that it has a wireless communication device that can send your meter reading directly to us. There's no need for a meter reader.


Why are we trialling digital meters?

We're trying digital meters due to advances in their cost and performance. Now is the right time to test how digital metering performs in the real world and how it will deliver benefits for our customers.

This change is revolutionising industries by:

  • providing better visibility of our physical environment
     
  • enabling better, faster decisions
     
  • automating processes
     
  • helping to predict future events.  

As a lot of the digital water technology is new, we need to trial the meters and network in real situations to see how well they regularly transmit detailed information before we roll them out more broadly.


What are the potential benefits of digital meters?

We believe digital meters will offer significant improvements in the future, including the ability to:

  • provide more frequent water use data to help you optimise your water use
     
  • notify you sooner if we believe you have a leak, potentially saving both water and money
     
  • better understand water use patterns which will help us better manage our water networks.

Additionally, we can put intelligent sensors in our pipes to alert us in real time about any problems in the system. This new technology will give us much more information about the entire water network.

Our trial will help us determine if the new technology is reliable enough over time to accurately provide the detailed information we need at the right cost.

In the short term, customers participating in the trial won’t see anything other than the regular water usage information on their quarterly bills. However, over time we hope to be able to provide much better information about water use.


What area are we trialling in?

A number of different styles of digital meters and data networks are being trialled in a number of locations throughout Sydney. The majority of our trials are happening in the Liverpool area including the suburbs Liverpool, Lurnea and Warwick Farm. To best evaluate the technology, we plan to install as many digital meters as possible throughout these suburbs by the end of 2021.

If your property is included in our trials, we will write to you prior to installation to provide you with more detail. Once our technicians complete the installation at your property, they will leave a card in your mailbox confirming your meter has been changed to a digital meter. The meter exchange process is the same process as our normal meter exchange program.

Trial results

We’ve assessed the reliability of a small number of digital meters used in the first trial, and the performance of the data networks carrying the information from the meters. While generally the results were positive, we've made some adjustments to improve performance for the next phase.

Next steps

All Phase 1 meters are now in place, with 500 of our 20 mm meters installed in the Liverpool area. We'll continue to assess the performance of these meters before we progress to Phase 2 which will eventually include another 2,000 meters. This will include a combination of residential and business properties. As the trial continues, different designs of digital meters are coming into market. We’ll trial new designs and continue to assess and improve data network performance.

Having more trial meters greatly improves our confidence in the technology and benefits of digital meters. Eventually, we’ll increase the number of digital meters in Liverpool to about 8,500. 

We're fully funding the trial, so there’ll be no charge for customers who get a digital meter. If your property is selected, you’ll see an exchange card in your mailbox confirming your meter has been changed to a digital meter. This is the same process as our normal meter exchange program.

The rate of progress is dependent on the availability of meters from our suppliers - and many have been affected by Covid-19. We’ll continue to update this page when we have more information.


How are they different to remotely read meters?

Digital meters are different to remotely read meters, but have some similarities.

 

Remotely read meters

Remotely read meters measure your water use the same way as traditional meters, but they have a wireless communication device attached to them. This means we can read the meter remotely each quarter without entering the property.

When our meter reader is near a property with a remotely read meter, the meter sends the reading through a transmitter. The meter reader then captures the reading using a handheld device. These meters work well:

  • in locations that are difficult to access
     
  • if you prefer for us not to be on your property.

We charge a one-off fee to install remotely read meters based on the size of your meter.

 

Digital meters

Digital meters also measure your water use the same way as traditional meters and remotely read meters.
 
Like remotely read meters, they have a wireless communication device so they don't need someone to enter your property. The benefit of digital meters is that they can send the meter reading directly to us without the need for a meter reader to be nearby. Digital meters can also send information much more frequently than our usual meter reading cycle.

During our trial, we won't just rely on wireless communication. We'll also be manually reading the digital meters so we can compare the information with the electronic information to ensure the new technology is reliable.


How safe and secure are digital meters?

Digital meters meet Australian industry radio standards and the low frequency of the transmission is considered safe. Further information is provided by the Australian Government. Meters are also generally located at the very edge of your property.

We take safety, privacy and security very seriously. Your water usage data is digitised and the data is encrypted (coded) before it's transmitted to us. We’ll continue to review the technology to ensure our meters remain safe and your data is secure. You can read more about how we protect your privacy.


How much do digital meters cost?

If you're included in the trial, there's no additional cost to you. We’re paying for the cost of buying and installing digital meters as part of our trial.

Your new meter will measure your water use just as your old meter did. This means there’ll be no change to your bill unless you change your water use.

We're currently only offering digital meters to customers in the trial.


How can I read my digital meter?

Your residential meter may look like one of the models shown below. Just like traditional meters, there's a display on your digital meter that allows you to read your water use in kilolitres. Some digital meters can also display other information such as flow rates.

When we calculate your bill, we only charge you in whole kilolitres.

 

Arad Gladiator meter

Arad meters have black and red numbers. The black numbers show kilolitres and the red number shows litres.

Honeywell Elster meter

Honeywell meters have two rows of numbers. The top row shows kilolitres and the bottom row shows litres.

HZ meter

HZ meters have different displays. Press the three dots at the bottom of the meter to change the display to numbers. These show your use in kilolitres.

Captis Metrum meter

The Captis Metrum digital meter is attached to a standard Elster meter. To read the meter, simply read the numbers off the dial as usual. The white numbers are kL and the red numbers are litres.

Meter with digital retrofit

Your business and strata meter will look like the retrofit in this image.

For information on how to read your meter and to see other models of water meters, please visit meter readings.


Who is responsible for my digital meter?

Just like a traditional water meter, we're responsible for your digital meter. You can read more about this in our water meter policy (138 KB). You're responsible for all the other pipes and fittings that connect to our water network. You can learn more about how to maintain your meter in our meter maintenance guide (496 KB).


When will we replace your digital meter?

If your digital meter performs well during the trial compared to manual meter readings, we may leave it in place.


Need more information?

If you have any questions about digital meters or would like more information about the trial, please call our team on 9644 0480 from 8 am to 4 pm weekdays or email digitalmeters@sydneywater.com.au


A kilolitre (kL) equals 1,000 litres or one cubic metre (m3).