IoT technologies for remote reading of water meters

The idea of IoT (Internet of Things) is in the interaction of things with the server and among themselves, where human participation is minimized. For example, electricity meters sending readings to the management company; GPS trackers that track taxi movements; a variety of fitness bracelets are the Internet of Things.

Now such technologies are being actively implemented in dispatching systems for energy consumption. This improves the efficiency of utilities and provides the user with detailed and up-to-date information. Smart meters track consumption in real time to help you fix leaks in a timely manner, ensure accurate billing and improve communication between utilities and their customers.

However, smart meters require specialized technology. There are various network protocols for smart water metering. Before connecting any of them, the user must consider a number of factors: budget and quality of service, number of devices, coverage, security.

Today there are various network protocols for smart accounting. The main standards used in smart devices (including smart water and heat meters) include LoRa, NB-IoT, WMBus.

Интернет вещей, как инструмент для передачи данных с приборов учета


In early 2015, Semtech Corporation and IBM Research unveiled a new open energy efficient network protocol called LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Networks), which offers significant advantages over Wi-Fi and cellular networks through the ability to deploy machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, diluting the lull in the wireless technology market.

LoRa technology was born under the auspices of LoRa Alliance, a non-profit organization founded by companies such as IBM, Semtech, Cisco and others, with the aim of adopting and promoting LoRaWAN protocol as a single standard for wide area networks with low power consumption (LPWAN - from the English. Low Power Wide Area Network). Actually, the abbreviation LoRa combines the LoRa modulation method in wireless LPWAN networks, developed by Semtech, and the open LoRaWAN protocol.

LoRa Alliance developers position LoRa as a technology that has significant advantages over cellular networks and WiFi due to the ability to deploy machine-to-machine (M2M) communications over distances of up to 20 km. and speeds up to 50 Kbps., with minimal power consumption, providing several years of autonomous operation on one AA battery.

Интернет вещей, как инструмент для передачи данных с приборов учета


NB-IoT (Narrow Band Internet of Things) is a cellular standard for telemetry devices with low communication volumes. Developed by the 3GPP consortium (a consortium that develops specifications for mobile telephony) as part of work on standards for next-generation cellular networks. The first working version of the specification was presented in June 2016.

In fact, the NB-IoT standard was the 3GPP consortium's response to the creation of the LoRa Alliance. In fact, the technologies are very similar, the same theoretical transmission distance and equipment lifespan. The main and fundamental difference is the belonging of the network and the frequency range. NB-IoT is an operator's standard operating on GSM and LTE frequencies (licensed frequencies) while LoRa operates on an open, unlicensed frequency band.

An important feature of the equipment operating on the NB-IoT standard is the presence of a sim card or sim chip. This must be remembered when choosing a technology and take into account who will be the owner of sim cards and pay monthly fees for communication. At the moment, the controversy of the supporters of each technology does not stop. But in our opinion on the question: «which is better than LoRa or NB-IoT?» there is no definite answer. And we rely on the characteristics and properties of a particular device and apply both equipment standards in our solutions.

Интернет вещей, как инструмент для передачи данных с приборов учета


Wireless MBus - approved by 1997 regulatory documents. Got spread in Eastern and Western Europe. With its help, readings from water, heat, gas, electricity meters in residential and industrial buildings are organized.

The basic network topology for WM-Bus is point-to-point or star. A typical application of WM-Bus is organizing the collection of readings from resource consumption meters to a stationary (via repeaters) or mobile concentrator (crawler's tablet). The data is subsequently collected for subsequent processing from the concentrator in automatic or manual mode. The radius of reception of the transmission of a concentrator or repeater depends on the configuration of specific premises, but in practice it is usually 50-75m. Battery life is comparable to that of LoRa and NB-IoT equipment. The advantages include the maximum autonomy of the system as well as the relative low cost when using the services of a crawler.

If the requirements of the water utility specify the transfer of data to the dispatcher's console, then it will be necessary to install repeaters with power supply to each, which should be taken into account at the design stage.