In essence, what you need to know about dirty electricity, solar panels and smart meters is that they all, to a greater or lesser degree, create waves of electromagnetic radiation. Whether or not this is an issue for you will depend on whether you think that it matters, whether you believe that the huge increase in the levels of electromagnetic radiation in which we now live is bad for both us or our environment – or whether you personally suffer health effects from living in what is known as electrosmog.
This post is most definitely not proposing to address this question but merely to explain how these three devices create radiation and how you can shield yourself from it if you wish to.
What is it?
Electricity flows through the wiring in your house in clean, smooth 50-60 Herz sign waves – or that is what it should do. And what it used to do when the devices that you plugged into your sockets just got turned on and off. However, nowadays very many of these devices – thermostats on your central heating or your fridge, low energy and flourescent light bulbs, hands free phones and all of your communication devices – pulse. In other words they are continually turning themselves on and off, connecting and disconnecting, often thousands of times per second, and often changing the voltage between AC and DC.
Each time they do this they create a small electromagnetic field around them. Sometimes this radiation can spread back through the electrical circuits causing erratic voltage and frequencies, thus creating further pulsing and more electromagnetic fields. This can also interfere with the efficient functioning of your devices.
How do you know if your electricty is dirty?
You can measure it. There are a number of meters on the market. Kim’s company sells one but search ‘dirty electricity meters’ and you will get lots.
Ideally you want the reading on your meter to be below 50 kilohertz but few houses manage to achieve that – and anything under 100 is good. You could be shocked to discover, were you to get a meter and plug it in, that your readings were in the thousands.
What devices cause dirty electricity?
Virtually anything that switches on and off – or is continually checking into a base station. The worst offenders are:
- Low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes
- Cordless phones
- Light dimmer switches
- Smart meters
- Wifi routers and modems
- Desktop and laptop computers
- Televisions, home entertainments systems and game systems
What can you do about it?
The obvious answer is not to use any of those devices but that is not an acceptable answer for the vast majority of us living in the 21st century. However, there are ways of mitigating the situation.
- Use alternatives where they are available. The ideal alternative bulb is a halogen incandescent bulb which is both low energy and low EMF (electromagnetic frequency), but LEDs (lower but not EMF free) or incandescent bulbs (EMF free but high energy use) would both be better than low energy or fluorescent. You can get cordless phones which only ‘search’ when plugged in.
- Turn all the devices (including wifi routers and TVs) off, not just on standby, when you are not using them. Especially at night and especially in your bedroom so as to lower the electromagnetic load while you are sleeping.
- Use filters. There are now a number of companies who make filters which you plug into your electrical circuit and which will ‘clean out’ the radiation. Kim’s company, Greenwave, makes one but again, searching ‘dirty electricity filters’ will bring up a number.
You can buy individual filters to plug into a socket or a power strip, ideally as close to the source of the dirty electricity as possible.
You can also get your whole house filtered although this is not a cheap option. However, it should also get rid of any random dirty electricity which can spill over from neighbours or from the grid.
The suggestion is that 16-20 individual filters (cost £25-40 each so even that is not cheap) should be enough to keep a standard house ‘clean’.
Although there are some issues with solar panels, they are relatively minor and with modern technology arise less frequently. Meanwhile, since the electromagnetic field created drops off exponentially with distance, even if one was sleeping under a roof with solar panels one would only be affected if super sensitive. However, there is no point in creating dirty electricty if it can be avoided.
- Inverters. A solar panel needs to convert DC electricty to AC electricity in order to transfer it to the grid. This used to be done by something called ‘string inverters’ which were not always accurate and created dirty electricity while doing the conversion. However, most modern panels use micro inverters in which the electromagnetic fields cancel themselves out.
- Transmitting to the grid. Communication with the grid to monitor output can either be by wifi or through an ethernet connection. Since you are unable to turn the wifi off try to ensure that the connection is done via ethernet.
There are a number of reasons why you might not want a smart meter in your house but let us deal first with the electromagnetic reasons.
The main electromagnetic reason why you might not want a smart meter is because it massively increases the dirty electricity created in your system.
A smart meter wirelessly connects to every electrical device in your house and monitors it constantly – thus pulsing almost continuously. It then relays this information, wirelessly, back to the supplier’s hub. By definition, therefore, it is constantly and continuously creating great swathes of unwanted dirty electricity.
Other reasons not to want a smart meter
- Privacy. By monitoring your use of every electrical device in your home it is possible to build up an extremely detailed picture of yours and your family’s lifestyle, likes, dislikes, habits etc. Although theoretically this information is not shared, who believes that? And even if it is not shared now, who believes that it will stay that way?
- Hackability. By connecting continuously with all of your devices, a smart meter is also opening up an easily accessible channel to potential hackers.
- Cost. There have been questions over billing and costs; smart meters have been known to increase bills by 10-30%.
- Fire risk. In the US in particular there have been a number of instances of smart meters catching fire or exploding – in some cases leading to fatal house fires. Analogue meters were made of glass and steel; smart meters are silicone and plastic – far more flammable.
What can you do about them?
- You can refuse to have a smart meter installed. Or, if it has already been installed, you can insist that it is removed and replaced with an analogue meter – although this may be a long process and require a good deal of determination on your part.
- You can filter against it. Because of the amount of dirty electricity that the meter will create, it is better to use a whole house filter although a number of plug in filters near the meter will certainly help.
With thanks to the EMF Hazards Summit for three very useful and informative talks.