With the rapid development of wireless technology, the Internet of Things has quietly made its steps into people’s daily lives and become a major part that makes our lives more convenient by utilizing various smart devices. In the age when virtually everything is becoming more intelligent, it’s fascinating to see how IoT is making the water sector smarter. Since the traditional way of manual water meter reading now is not best appropriate for smart cities and intelligent homes, innovations of IoT smart water meter technologies are adopted to fulfill the need for automatic meter readings. In this article, we’ll describe the implementation of the LoRa smart water meter.
Introduction to LoRa Smart Water Meter
Before diving into the LoRa smart water meter, you should get some knowledge of LoRa technology. LoRa, stands for Long Range Radio, is one of the LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) communication technologies developed by Semtech in the United States. It is a new wireless transmission protocol specifically designed for long-range and low-power communications. LoRa technology addresses the conventional compromise between transmission distance and power consumption and enables an extend of sensing network to support multiple connections of applications.
The LoRa water meter, as the name suggests, is a water meter with an integrated built-in LoRaWAN wireless data transmission module, which is available to measure the water consumption data and transmit the readings wirelessly using the LoRa network. The wireless remote water meter not only measures and stores the users’ water consumption, but also detects the battery status of the water meter, the operating status of the instrument, and other information, and regularly sends the data of water consumption to the LoRa gateway every day. Through the management software, users are accessible to read the accumulated water volume of the water meter, battery voltage, and other data.
Why is there a need for LoRaWAN smart water meter
There are many kinds of technologies that can be realized in the deployment of smart water metering, and currently, the main two categories are wired water meter reading technology and wireless water meter monitoring technology. Compared with the complex and costly wired water meter reading technologies, the wireless smart water meter is more acceptable due to its easy installation, maintenance, and update, especially since there is no need for on-site wiring.
However, among the various wireless technology solutions, there are still some stumbling blocks in the application. For example, GPRS remote water metering is characterized for its fast transmission speed, high data reliability, and instrument real-time detection, but the high power consumption and poor signal limit its widespread application. NB-IoT has a larger user capacity of communication base station than GPRS and has lower power consumption and stronger signal coverage but it’s costly. The advent of LoRa technology solves the problem of transmission distance, network signal and power consumption, and is the most cost-effective, which is exactly what we are looking forward to in the field of water meter reading applications.
How does a LoRa smart water meter solution work
The LoRa wireless remote water meter solution consists of LoRa wireless remote water meter, LoRaWAN gateway, cloud storage, and applications. It adopts advanced wireless transmission technology to convert the information of traditional mechanical water meters into an electronic signal through microelectronic control circuits, reads metering data automatically over a wireless remote network, and controls the closing and opening of valves. When any abnormal data appear, users and administrators will be notified directly via emails or messages.
User data layer: multiple LoRa smart water meters with an embedded LoRa module are installed to collect water consumption data and some other information.
Data collection layer: The main function of the LoRa gateway is to collect the water meter value, water pressure and other data from multiple LoRaWAN water meters and securely transmitted the data to the collection system at routine intervals.
Data management layer: Gateways collect water usage data and send it to the cloud server and store them in the database. By automatically recording water flow values, the data collected not only benefits the payment system, but also helps to analyze water usage and leakage problem to reduce waste.
Integrated application layer: The direct web or application interface displayed to users will illustrate all the necessary information in a well-designed and structured manner such as charts, forms, symbols and words. With an smart water app on their smartphones, household users are accessible to the relevant information of their daily water consumption and detailed analysis of their water consumption behavior. Of course, water bills can be paid just online.
Benefits of LoRa Smart water meter system
LoRa Smart water metering solutions play an important role in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of water metering and management. The following part will show some of the benefits of integrating LoRa technology in water pricing and metering.
Improve meter reading efficiency: Instead of manually checking meters in dense high-rise buildings, Lora smart water meters can read water consumption data automatically and wirelessly, reducing human meter reading error.
Detection of abnormal water consumption: LoRa smart water meter allow users to keep tracks of the volume of water they consume each day. By monitoring the water usage data, it is possible to identify abnormal water consumption such as leakage of customers’ piping and timely measures could be taken to repair leaks.
Better planning and management of water suppliers: smart metering infrastructure enables utilities to access and analyze massive amounts of information, thus actionable insights and intelligent decision can be made to provide better resource management and production planning.
Enhance customer service: Offering a two-way interaction between customers and water suppliers, LoRa smart water meter solution provides a more detailed visualization of customer patterns and usage. If a customer raises a problem or complaint, the utility can access detailed data to pinpoint usage spikes or outages, helping customers identify leaks in their homes.
Ideal platform for promotion of water conservation: With LoRa smart water meter, customers have access to clear visibility of their excessive water consumption, and they’ll be more aware of how much water they have consumed. It’s easier for water utilities and suppliers to develop water conservation programs.
Problems of using Smart Water Meter
Although LoRa smart water meter delivers a variety of benefits to both customers and water utilities, there are some obstacles that cannot be ignored. Here are some of the limitations of remote water meter monitoring.
- Smart displays can stop responding
- The deployment and maintenance are costly
- Weak communications may occur between the meter and the internet
- Dealing with multiple water service providers
- Switching water suppliers become difficult
- It cannot help you save money directly or fight climate change by itself
- Smart meters can be confusing and produce anxiety to vulnerable users
MOKOLoRa solution for smart water metering
In recent years, LoRa smart water meter has been applied in a large number of vertical fields, such as smart cities, smart parks, smart buildings, smart security and so on. Currently, more than 300 application scenarios have been formed in various vertical industries around the world. It is optimistic to see the future of LoRa solutions.
MOKOLoRa, one member of the LoRa Alliance, is dedicated to the development and production of LoRa technology and hardware. LoRaWAN Module MKL62 is a low-power RF module with Semtech’s RF chip SX1262 inserted, which can be applied in various ultra-low-power applications, such as smart meters, location tracking, smart city, and other scenarios. If you want to know more about MKL62, please contact our LoRaWAN IoT expert.