How to read your electric meter

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Here is a topic that seems to be surrounded by much controversy as of late. If your question is, how to read my meter, or how to read a digital meter, or how to read my smart meter then you have come to the right place. So, how do you read your electric meter? Well, the answer to that question is, it depends. It depends on what kind of electric meter that you have. If you have an electromechanical meter like the one pictured below then it is really easier than you may think. Here is how to read your electric meter. After you learn to read your meter follow this guide on calculating your electric bill.

How to read your meter

To read your electric meter, first you want to start with the furthest dial to the right. This dial moves in a clockwise direction. The next dial moves in a counterclockwise direction, the one after that is clockwise. And the last one on the left moves in a counterclockwise direction. Now if you think of each dial as controlling the dial to the immediate left of it then you really only need to learn how to read the first two dials. So, in the first example you will see that the dial on the far right of the register is on the number 5. The dial next to it is 1. Next is 6 and finally 1.

How to read your electric meter

Simplified, once the dial on the far right makes one complete revolution (ie. it goes all the way around), the dial next to it will go up by 1. Once this dial makes one complete revolution, the dial next to it will go up one. Note that at this point when you read the meter the dial on the far right would have made ten revolutions at this point. Once the third dial makes one complete revolution, the last dial on the far left will go up one. At this point, the dial on the far right will have made one hundred revolutions.

Another important note is that since you are reading the meter from right to left instead of how we normally read numbers from left to right, you will need to write the numbers down from right to left as well.

How to get your monthly reading

So, how does the electric company calculate how much electricity you used during the month? They will use simple subtraction. They will take this month’s reading and subtract from it last month’s reading and voila, they have the number of kilowatt hours that you used during the month.

I also want to make sure that I mention that each time the dial on the right goes up one, that represents one kilowatt hour. When the second dial from the right goes up one it represents 10 kilowatt hours. The next two dials are 100 and then 1000 kilowatt hours.

If you have a solid state meter, it is even easier. You just read the numbers as if you were reading a digital clock. Also, if you have a smart meter then you read it the same way. Now, the next time your neighbor asks you if your know how to read your electric meter, you can say yes!

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  1. Wonderful blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get responses from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Cheers!|

    • Hey! Thanks for the comment. I am not sure of any discussion boards that are covering the topics that I currently have up. I just started this site a few weeks ago as a hobby and I am trying to add a new topic every week. Is there a specific topic that interests you that you would like to see? If so, please let me know and I will do my best to get it up here. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. I have been in this field for over 10 years, so I should be able to help you out. I also have some personal contacts with others in this field who I can lean on if I cannot answer your question. Again, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the material.

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  9. HI,
    How to get the meter multiplier of a CT meter if :
    rated voltage : 3*220/380 v
    Rated frequency:50/60 HZ
    Rated secondary current of CT: 5 A
    Basic current : 1.5 A
    Max current : 6 A
    Thermal current: 7.2 A
    Self consumption in voltage circuits rated voltage : <3*1.1 (W)/<3*4.7 (A)
    Self consumption in current circuits at basic current : (at 5 A) <2*0.86 W / <2*1.15 VA
    Torque basic load (*10 Nm): 18.5 (at 5A)
    Rated number of revolutions at basic load (r.p.m) : 38.15 at 110 v,5A
    meter constant (r/kWh) : 600
    starting current at UPF : <0.5%lb
    sinusoidal test voltage: 2000 V rms
    Impulse voltage test: 7kV (1.2/50 us)

    I included all the meter specification. I apologize if there unnecessary information as it is not my area of specialty. I am trying to convert the reading to compare it to the external meter we are being billed for.

    • You will need to find and calculate the CT ratio. If there are PT’s in the service you will need to use those as well in calculating the multiplier.

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