Digital meters

What is a digital meter?

A digital meter measures your water use the same way as a traditional water meter. The main difference is that it also has a wireless communication device that can send your meter reading directly to us without the need for a meter reader.


Why are we trialling digital meters now?

We are trialling digital meters because we’ve seen a data revolution where a range of things like mobile phones, fitness trackers and fridges can communicate through a variety of data networks or the 'Internet of Things' (IoT).

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’re trialling digital meters because we believe they 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.

Sydney Water has been trialling digital meters in the Liverpool area for some time. Like other water utilities, we believe this technology could potentially provide you with significant benefits, and improve the way we run our water network. However, we want to ensure we get this technology at the right price and performance so we can pass on the full benefits to you.

Initially, we installed 100 meters across the Liverpool area to test performance.

We chose the Liverpool area because it’s a good example of a typical water network with a mixture of commercial properties, houses, apartment buildings and offices.

You may notice your neighbour has a slightly different style of meter as we're testing different brands as well as the digital technology.
 

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

We're building on the trial by adding 500 meters into the Liverpool and Nepean areas and further testing data networks. As the trial continues, different designs of digital meters are coming into market. As we increase the number of meters in the field, 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 working correctly and delivering adequate benefits. Eventually, we’ll increase the number of digital meters in Liverpool to about 8,500. 

We are 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.

We’ll continue to update this website when we have more information.

We’re trialling digital meters with some larger businesses in the Nepean area as it has a particularly high demand for water. This will help us improve the water supply and the way we manage our water network.
 

What will be different?

We’ll be retrofitting your existing water meter to turn it into a digital meter. Your current meter will remain in place, but it will have a pulse sensor and transmitter added to it. This will enable the meter to send information digitally rather than waiting for a meter reader.

This will not affect how your meter measures water use and your meter will continue to show how much water you’ve used.

In the short term, you won’t see anything other than the usual water use information on your bill. 

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.

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 using a system like mobile phones or your home internet system. 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.

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.

Your residential meter may look like one of the models shown below. Just like traditional meters, there is a display on your digital meter that allows you to read your water use in kilolitres.
 
When we calculate your bill, we only charge you in whole kilolitres.
 

Arad Gladiator meter

Digital meter Arad

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



Honeywell Elster meter

Digital meter Honeywell

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



HZ Numeter

Digital meter HZ

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.




 

 Meter with digital retrofit

digital retrofit

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



 

How can you read your meter?

If you’re interested in your water use, you can read your meter at any time - just as you can with a traditional water meter. 

We’ll continue to read your digital meter manually each quarter and send you a bill as usual. Your meter will also send us digital information more frequently. We'll compare the digital information to the traditional meter reading to confirm that the new technology is accurate.

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

Digital meters will help us monitor our water network in real time.

Need more information?

Information icon landscape

If you have any questions about digital meters or need more details about the trial, please call Stephen Wallace on 9644 0480 from 8 am to 4 pm weekdays or email digitalmeters@sydneywater.com.au