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April 4, 2017 Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D.

Determining the Communications Characteristics of


Wireless Utility Meters
You can learn a lot about the communications characteristics of wireless utility meters from the sources of
information described in sections 1 through 4 below. But understanding those characteristics will require some
technical background. If you lack that background, perhaps a family member or a friend with a technical
background can help you. However, if your goal is to determine if a given utility meter is transmitting
radiofrequency (RF) radiation, and how much, then measuring that radiation with an RF meter is the most
reliable and simplest approach. That approach is described in section 5 beginning on page 3.

1. Understanding the types of wireless utility meters


Document (5), called Ranking Electricity Meters for Risk to Health, Privacy, and Cyber Security, on the following
index will introduce you to many types of electric utility meters:

https://www.scribd.com/document/291507610

The types of electric utility meters described in that document are those that I have encountered so far in my
state of Maryland. Included are electric utility meters called Smart Meters. They employ two-way wireless
communications through Mesh Networks. In Mesh Networks, wireless signals are transferred from one
Wireless Smart Meter to another until those signals reach the antennas of local access points erected by the
electric power companies. Those local access points may be located on electric power utility poles or on other
structures. The local access points relay the signals back to the electric power companies by a variety of means,
including through local cell towers.

There are types of wireless electric utility meters used elsewhere in the USA that are not described in my
document. An important example is a Wireless Smart Meter that communicates directly with a cell tower in
order to return its readings to the electric power company. To my knowledge, this type of Wireless Smart Meter
is not used in Maryland but is apparently used in some other states.

Wireless utility meters for measuring natural gas and water may use types of wireless communications that are
similar to those used by wireless electric utility meters. But they will look much different from the wireless
meters used to measure electricity if only because of the different media they are measuring.

If you want more technical information about the wireless communications capabilities of two particular types of
wireless electric utility meters, either the Wireless Smart Meters that use Mesh Networks, or the Wireless AMR
Bubble-Up ERT Meters, see document (12) on the above list of documents. A full understanding of that
document will require some technical background, but the principal observations are written for general
audiences. Distinguishing between these two types of wireless meters is important, especially in my state of
Maryland. The reason is that Maryland electric power companies have begun using Wireless AMR Bubble-Up ERT
Meters as replacements for Wireless Smart Meters for those customers who pay to Opt Out of the Wireless
Smart Meters. Such replacements largely defeat the purpose of the Opt Out by substituting one wireless meter

1
Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D. (https://www.scribd.com/document/291507610).
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for another wireless meter, instead of providing the Opt Out customers with the safest electric utility meter of
all: the traditional analog mechanical meter with no wireless communications capability.

2. Obtaining information from the website of the Federal Communications


Commission
The wireless communications capabilities of wireless utility meters are provided by transmitters and
transceivers in the meters. A transceiver contains both a transmitter and a receiver. The Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) posts information on its web site describing nearly all of the transmitters
used in wireless utility meters. The key to locating that information is the FCC ID Code. The FCC ID Code can be
found on the face of most wireless utility meters or on the transmitter itself if that meter was originally produced
without a transmitter. If there is no FCC ID Code on a given meter, then that meter is probably not a wireless
meter; but there are exceptions. Once you have the FCC ID Code, you can look it up on the FCC web site to
obtain information about a given transmitter:

https://www.fcc.gov/general/fcc-id-search-page

Here is an example: For the FCC ID Code OWS-NIC514, enter OWS in the "Grantee Code" box. The Grantee Code
identifies the manufacturer of the transmitter. Then enter -NIC514 (inclusive of the hyphen) in the Product
Code Box, and click on "search". The Product Code identifies the model of the transmitter. All characters --
whether alpha, numeric, or other -- in the FCC ID Code must appear in one or the other of these two boxes. The
transmitter with FCC ID Code OWS-NIC514 is widely used in Wireless Smart Meters in my state of Maryland.2

When you click on search, one or more results, each of which may contain several documents, will appear.
The different results may represent different variations of the transmitter assigned a given FCC ID Code, different
frequencies of operation of that transmitter, or other differences. Under Display Exhibits click on Detail to
gain access to the content of any of the documents in a given result, if access is permitted by the FCC. Clicking on
Summary will give you access to the titles of those documents, but not to their contents.

Search the documents for information relevant to your questions. For example, you may be able to find a
document that indicates the Peak RF Power Output of the transmitter in the wireless utility meter. And you may
be able to find a document that indicates the gain of the antenna used by that transmitter. Such information is
often included in a document called Test Report. But searching out and understanding these two types of
information will require some technical background. If you can find these two types of information, you will be
able to calculate an estimate for the RF Power Density produced by that wireless utility meter at various
distances. That calculation is described in section 1 of the Appendix of this document, beginning on page 6.

If the list of results contains a column called Display Grant with one or more checked boxes, click on the
checked boxes. The document that emerges may provide the operating frequency and the Peak RF Power
Output of the transmitter in the wireless utility meter.

3. Exploring the website of the manufacturer of the wireless utility meter


The face of virtually every wireless utility meter will indicate the manufacturer of the meter and the meters
model number. The face of the meter may also show codes that describe optional features included in the

2
The transceiver with FCC ID OWS-NIC514 is manufactured by Silver Springs Networks in California.
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meter. The manufacturers of many wireless utility meters provide a number of optional features that a given
electric power utility can elect when ordering the meters for purchase.

Using the manufacturers name and the model number, you can search for information about a specific meter on
the manufacturers web site. For some meters, the manufacturers web site may provide detailed information,
including descriptions of the options that the manufacturer offers for a given meter and the codes that the
manufacturer assigns to those options. Also, do an Internet search for the manufacturers name and model
number. Sometimes web sites other than those of the manufacturer can provide useful information about a
given wireless utility meter.

It is best to learn everything that you can from the above sources of information before calling the manufacturer
for additional information, so that you will be able to ask informed questions.

4. Calling the manufacturer of the wireless utility meter


If you have not been able to obtain the information that you want from the above sources, call the manufacturer
directly. The individual who takes your call may or may not be helpful. Some individuals to whom you speak may
be informed and forthcoming. Other individuals may not know the answers to your questions. And yet other
individuals may be hesitant to respond at all, knowing that wireless utility meters are being resisted by an
increasing number of customers for utility services both nationwide and worldwide.

5. Measuring the RF Power Density produced by the wireless utility meter


As noted above, measuring the radiation from a wireless utility meter with an RF meter is the most reliable and
simplest way to determine if that utility meter is radiating and how much. However, if an RF meter is not in your
future, then you can calculate an estimate of one important communications characteristic of the wireless utility
meter if you can obtain the needed data from items 2, 3, and 4 above. That one important quantity is the
RF Power Density of the meters radiation, and the needed data are these two quantities:

the RF Power Output of the transmitter in the wireless utility meter


the gain of the antenna in the wireless utility meter in the direction of interest from that meter.

The calculation that employs these data is described in section1 of the Appendix to this document.
Unfortunately, there are many factors that affect the radiation generated by a wireless utility meter, and many of
those factors are not reflected in the calculation. But they are reflected in an actual measurement, so
measurement remains the best approach.

Selecting an RF meter

There are many makes and models of RF meters on the market. Some are very expensive, indeed, and are
intended for professional use. They typically cost thousands of dollars. These professional RF meters can
generally be calibrated in testing laboratories to assure their accuracy. Other RF meters are much less expensive
and are intended for consumer use. These consumer RF meters typically cost a few hundred dollars. Calibration
of these consumer RF meters in testing laboratories is not available. The accuracy of consumer meters will likely
be less but can still be sufficient for the purposes intended here. The manufacturers of consumer meters often
provide some indication of the accuracy of their RF meters. What follows are descriptions of two of the many
consumer RF meters of interest. The footnotes point to reviews that highlight both the strengths and limitations
of these meters.

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One candidate RF meter is the Cornet Microsystems Model ED88T. It is relatively inexpensive at $165 to $189.3
It will provide the following information of relevance here:

the Peak and Time-Average RF Power Densities


how frequently the source radiates
the frequency of the radiation (if the signal is strong enough and falls within a fairly wide frequency range
that does cover the frequencies currently used by wireless utility meters)
a sound output that is useful in identifying the nature of the source of the radiation.

The Cornet meter also measures low frequency electric fields and low frequency magnetic fields which are also
important to health.

Another candidate RF meter is the Acoustimeter Model AM-10.4 It is easier to learn to use but is twice as
expensive at $340 to $399. It will provide the following information of relevance:

the Peak RF Electric Field and the Time-Average RF Power Density


how frequently the source radiates
a sound output that is useful in identifying the nature of the source of the radiation.

The Acoustimeter does not measure low frequency electric fields or low frequency magnetic fields, unlike the
Cornet meter. But the Acoustimeter is a good choice for demonstrating RF radiation levels to other individuals or
to groups because of the clarity and the visibility of its expanded LED display and because of the strength of its
sound output.

Whichever RF meter you obtain, study the owners manual to learn how to operate it properly. In particular,
make sure you know how to use it to determine peak values, that is, the highest values that the meter detects
during each measurement interval, which is usually a half second, or so, in duration. The peak values are the
values most relevant to the biological significance of the radiation. On the Cornet meter, the peak values are

3
You can find a description of the Cornet Microsystems ED88T Tri-mode meter with frequency display on the web site of its
manufacturer, Cornet Microsystems: http://cornetmicro.com/. The manufacturer will answer questions that you may have by email at
sales@cornetmicro.com. The owners manual for the ED88T is posted here: http://electrosmog.org/resources/ED-
88Ta1UserManualQeng_Safe.pdf. You can purchase this meter from http://www.lessemf.com, which is an authorized dealer in New
York State. The ED88T is described in several video tutorials, which describe both strengths and limitations: (1) Lloyd Burrell, EMF
Meter Review Cornet ED88T (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEpJlr6arxg); Lloyds website is http://www.electricsense.com; (2)
Amir Borenstein, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX1UKq8yFMI; Amirs web sites are http://www.norad4u.com and
http://www.4ehsbyehs.com; (3) Michael Neuert, Michaels Review of the Cornet ED88T EMF Test Meter
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYKLBTDuZqo); Michaels web site is http://michaelneuert.com which will lead you also to
http://emfcenter.com.
4
The web site of the manufacturer of the Acoustimeter AM-10 is http://emfields-solutions.com/detectors/acoustimeter.asp. The
owners manual is found here: http://emfields-solutions.com/detectors/pdfs/acoustimeter-manual-v5w.pdf. The types of sounds
issued by the meter when listening to various RF sources can be heard by clicking on the entries in the blue box Example sound files
here: http://www.emfields-solutions.com/detectors/acoustimeter.asp. You can purchase this meter from http://www.lessEMF.com,
which is an authorized dealer in New York State. You can rent or purchase this meter from the EMF Center, run by Michael Neuert:
http://emfcenter.com/acoustimeter-am-10-radiofrequency-meter. There are many helpful video tutorials and reviews of this meter on
the internet. Consider (1) Michael Neuert, How to Use the Acoustimeter to Measure Radio Frequency Fields
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHlxObcg96o); Michaels web site is http://michaelneuert.com which will lead you also to
http://emfcenter.com; and (2) Neil Cohen of the EMF Safety Zone, https://vimeo.com/channels/emfsafetyzone,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqZ5VjEK4KY, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICA19oKPi5I; Neils web site is
https://www.youtube.com/user/EMFSafetyZone?feature=mhee.

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expressed as RF Power Density values in units of milliwatts per square meter (mW/m2). On the Acoustimeter, the
peak values are expressed as RF Electric Field values in units of volts per meter (V/m).

The biomedical research literature describing the bioeffects of radiofrequency fields will report radiation levels in
any of several possible units of measure. You can convert among these units of measure using a conversion chart
which is provided in section 2 of the Appendix to this document, beginning on page 9. If you would like to
convert the units of measure associated with the LED displays on the Acoustimeter, see section 3 of the Appendix
on page 12.

Setting up to measure the radiation from the wireless utility meter

To set up the RF meter for measurement of the wireless utility meter, consider the following recommendations:

Hold the RF meter in the position advised in the owners manual. (Normally, the antenna of an RF meter
is in a vertical orientation when the meter case is in a vertical orientation.) The purpose is to match the
orientation of the antenna in the wireless utility meter, which is usually vertical. Be sure to grip the RF
meter in the manner advised in the owners manual, so that your hands do not interfere with its antenna.
For example, for the Cornet ED88T, grip the RF meter with your right hand in the meters lower right
corner.

Position the RF meter in front of the face of the wireless utility meter at the distance of interest to you but
at least two-thirds of a meter (about two feet) from that face of the utility meter. At distances closer to
the wireless utility meter, the measured values will not be accurate, as explained in section 1 of the
Appendix on page 8 where the Limitations of Equation 1 are discussed.

Rotate the RF meter so that its back faces the wireless utility meter. Stand on the far side of the RF meter
from the wireless utility meter to assure that your body does not interfere with the measurements. With
the RF meter so positioned, power it on.

Observe the readings of the RF meter for a few minutes and note the typical peak values, the maximum
peak value, and the time-average value. If you are using the Cornet meter or the Acoustimeter, it will
report all of these quantities to you. Later, you can compare these values with those in the biomedical
research literature.

During this process, you will be exposed to the wireless radiation from the wireless utility meter, so do
not remain in front of the utility meter for long.

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Appendix

1. Calculating the RF Power Density produced by the wireless utility meter


If acquiring an RF meter is not in your future, you can estimate the RF Power Density produced by a wireless
utility meter with a calculation if your exploration of the sources of information in items 2, 3, and 4 above has
provided you with two key numbers:

the RF Power Output of the transmitter in the wireless utility meter


the gain of the antenna in the wireless utility meter in the direction of interest from that meter.

With those numbers, the RF Power Density, at the distance of interest and in the direction of interest, can be
found from the following equation:

= Equation 1
4 2
where
PD is the RF Power Density, or power per unit area orthogonal to the direction of travel of the radiation.
P is the RF Power Output of the transmitter in the utility meter.
g is the gain of the antenna in the utility meter, expressed as a dimensionless number in the direction of
interest.
r is the distance from the utility meter at which the RF Power Density, PD, is to be determined.

If P is the Peak RF Power Output of the transmitter, then PD will be the Peak RF Power Density. If P is the Time-
Average RF Power Output of the transmitter, then PD will be the Time-Average RF Power Density.

The gain, g, of an antenna indicates the degree to which the antenna concentrates the RF power radiated by that
antenna in the direction for which the gain is specified, compared to the RF Power Density that would result if
the antenna could spread that radiation out uniformly in all directions in three-dimensional space. The direction
associated with the gain of the antenna in a wireless utility meter can be taken to be the direction perpendicular
to the face of the meter. The gain of the antenna in other directions is less certain. But the best approximation
that you can make to that gain is to use that same gain for any direction that falls in a horizontal plane through
the center of the meter, that is, in any horizontal direction.

The gain is usually expressed in a logarithmic form called decibels isotropic, or dBi, measured relative to an
isotropic distribution of power, that is, to a uniform distribution of power in all directions in three-dimensional
space. It is not necessary to understand the gain, g, as expressed in dBi, to make use of it. But it is necessary to
convert that gain, expressed in dBi, to a normal dimensionless ratio for use in Equation 1. Table 1, below, will
make the conversion for you.

Table 1: Conversion of gain in dBi to gain as a normal dimensionless ratio

Gain in dBi Gain as normal dimensionless ratio


0 1
1 1.3
2 1.6
3 2
4 2.5
5 3.2
6 4.0

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Equation 1 can be understood this way. If the RF Power Output, P, produced by the wireless utility meter, were
spread uniformly over the surface of a sphere of radius, r, centered on the meter, then the RF Power Density
would be P/4r2. That is, the RF Power Density is the RF power per unit of surface area of that sphere, which has
a surface area of 4r2. But if the antenna in the wireless utility meter tends to concentrate that power in a
specific direction, as described by the gain, g, then the RF Power Density in that direction will be gP/4r2, as
shown in Equation 1.

Note that the RF Power Density falls off with distance, r, as the inverse square of that distance. So if you double
the distance from the wireless utility meter, the RF Power Density will decrease by a factor of four, assuming no
other changes.

Table 2 shows the units of measure for the calculated RF Power Density, PD, which will result from use of
Equation 1 depending on the units of measure used for the distance, r, from the wireless utility meter, and for
the RF Power Output, P, of that meter.

Table 2: Units of measure for RF Power Density, PD

If P is expressed in and if r is expressed then PD will be expressed in


in
2
watts (W) meters (m) watts per square meter (W/m )
2
milliwatts (mW) meters (m) milliwatts per square meter (mW/m )
2
microwatts (W) meters (m) microwatts per square meter (W/m )
2
watts (W) centimeters (cm) watts per square centimeter (W/cm )
2
milliwatts (mW) centimeters (cm) milliwatts per square centimeter (mW/cm )
2
microwatts (W) centimeters (cm) microwatts per square centimeter (W/cm )

Example of the use of Equation 1

Suppose that a given wireless utility meter has an RF Power Output, P, of 1 watt and an antenna gain of 4 dBi.5
Table 1 indicates that the gain of 4 dBi converts to a gain, g, of 2.5 as a normal dimensionless ratio. Suppose
further that the RF Power Density, PD, at a distance, r, of 1 meter from the face of the meter is desired. Then
applying Equation 1 to determine the RF Power Density, PD, produces the following result:


=
4 2

(2.5) (1)
=
4(1)2

= 0.2 watts per square meter (W/m2)

If the RF Power Output, P, is a peak value, then the RF Power Density PD will also be a peak value. If the RF Power
Output, P, is a time-averaged value, then the RF Power Density, PD, will also be a time-average value. However,
in almost all documentation that I have seen for the transmitters in wireless utility meters, the manufacturers of
the transmitters specify the maximum, or Peak, RF Power Output of the transmitter. Determination of the

5
These are values believed to be appropriate for transceivers with FCC ID Code OWS-NIC514 used as an example in section 2 on page 2.
A discussion of the characteristics of this transceiver, with associated documentation, can be found here: Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D.,
Comparison of the Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation Exposure: Wireless Smart Meter to Wireless ERT Meter, Table 2, Data
Describing the Wireless ERT Meter and the Wireless Smart Meters, page 4, July 2016 (https://www.scribd.com/document/317616451).
Page 7 of 13
Time-Average RF Power Output is more complicated and often depends on the wireless network in which the
wireless utility meter is used. Generally, this time-average value cannot be determined from data found through
the FCC ID Code or on the manufacturers website.

Limitations of Equation 1

Equation 1 does not account for many complex factors that can affect the real value of the RF Power Density,
such as reflections of the RF radiation from the ground, and losses of RF power between the transmitter and the
antenna. Rather, Equation 1 represents a simplification of the real world environment. So measuring the RF
Power Density, or the RF Electric Field, with an RF meter is a more reliable approach than calculation.

Equation 1 is valid only when the RF meter is far enough from the source of the radiation to be in the far field
of the radiation pattern.6 That distance is two wavelengths, or greater, from the source and decreases with the
increasing frequency of the radiation.7 Specifically, for Wireless Smart Meters employing the Mesh Network used
in my state of Maryland:

Two wavelengths is a distance of 0.67 meters (or about 2 feet) at 900 hertz (Hz), a very common
frequency used for the Local Area Network (LAN) in Wireless Smart Meters. The LAN is the long-distance
transmitter used for the Mesh Network.

Two wavelengths is a distance of 0.25 meters (or about 10 inches) at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz (GHz), a
very common frequency used for the Home Area Network (HAN) in Wireless Smart Meters. The HAN is
the short-distance network that the Wireless Smart Meter uses to communicate with wireless devices in
the home or business of the ratepayer who has the Wireless Smart Meter. Information gathered by the
HAN can then be forwarded back to the electric power company by the LAN.

At closer distances, the radiation pattern becomes much more complicated in ways not accounted for in
Equation 1. For example, Equation 1 suggests that the RF Power Density, PD, goes to infinity as the distance, r,
goes to zero; and that will not happen in reality.

Graph of Equation 1

Figure 1 on page 9 shows how the Peak RF Power Density, calculated with Equation 1, varies with distance.8 The
highest values shown occur at the shortest distances from the Wireless Smart Meter for which Equation 1 is valid:
450 mW/m2 at 0.67 meter for the LAN signal at 900 MHz, and 160 mW/m2 at 0.25 meter for the HAN signal at 2.4
GHz.

6
For more information about the far field see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_and_far_field.
7
The wavelength, , is found by dividing the speed of light, c, by the frequency, f, as in = c/f. If the speed of light is expressed in
8
meters per second (3 x10 meters per second), and the frequency is expressed in hertz, then the wavelength will be expressed in
meters.
8
The assumed values for the Peak RF Power Output and the gain are those believed appropriate for transceivers with FCC-ID Code
OWS-NIC514 as described in footnote 5 on page 7.
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Figure 1: Calculated Peak RF Power Density of a Wireless Smart Meter

10000

1000

100
Peak RF Power Density (mW/m2)

10
LAN transmitter 900 MHz
1 Peak RF Power Output = 1 W
gain = 2.5 (4.0 dBi)
0.1

0.01

0.001
HAN transmitter 2.4 GHz
0.0001 Peak RF Power Output = 0.125 W
gain = 1 (0 dBi)
0.00001
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200
Distance (m)

2. Converting among units of measure


Table 3 on page 11 shows how to convert among common units of measure for radiofrequency electromagnetic
fields. Table 3 was created by identifying a range of values of interest for RF Power Density in watts per square
meter (W/m2) and then calculating, from those values, all of the values for the other sets of units for RF Power
Density and for RF Electric Field. The equation used to produce the RF Electric Field values is the following:

1
= ( )2 Equation 2

where
E is the RF Electric Field in volts per meter (V/m).
PD is the RF Power Density in watts per square meter (W/m2).
Z is the impedance of free space, 377, in ohms, which is a constant.

Like Equation 1 above, Equation 2 is valid when the RF meter is far enough from the source of the radiation to be
in the far field as described above. So the same minimum distances of concern, discussed above, apply here,
too.

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When using Table 3, these relationships apply:

If a Peak Electric Field value is converted to any of the Power Density values, then a Peak Power Density
value will result.
If a Peak Power Density value is converted to an Electric Field value, then a Peak Electric Field value will
result.
If a Time-Average Power Density value is converted to an Electric Field value, then a special version of the
Time-Average Electric Field value will result.9
If a special version of a Time-Average Electric Field value is converted to a Power Density value, then a
Time-Average Power Density value will result.9

Table 3 also shows some important RF exposure limits:

The highest RF exposure limit shown in Table 3 is the Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) Limit of the
Federal Communications Commission. This limit is frequency dependent, so the values shown are those
applicable to the two frequencies used in the Wireless Smart Meters in my state of Maryland:
2.4 gigahertz (GHz) and 900 megahertz (MHz). The FCC MPE Limits are time-average values. These limits
are based on the thermal heating produced by the radiation. For more information on the FCC MPE
limits, see the documents in the footnote and their many references.10

The next to the lowest RF exposure limit shown in Table 3 is the Precautionary Action Level recommended
in the BioInitiative Report of 2012. This level is described as applicable to chronic exposure to pulsed
radiofrequency radiation.11 It is based on the biological effects that occur at radiation levels much lower
than those that cause significant thermal heating. These lower levels are often referred to as non-
thermal levels.

The lowest RF exposure limit shown in Table 3 is the Precautionary Guidance Level recommended by
EUROPAEM for Wi-Fi radiation at 2.4 GHz and 5.6 GHz for sensitive individuals, that is, for individuals
already known to be sensitive to such radiation. This is a peak level.12

9
That special version of the time-average of the electric field is the square root of the time-average of the square of the electric field
over the time interval used for time averaging. This is often abbreviated and the RMS electric field, or the root-mean-square electric
field.
10
MPE is the Maximum Permissible Exposure guideline of the Federal Communications Commission, based on thermal heating, Federal
Communications Commission, Office of Engineering & Technology, Evaluating Compliance with FCC Guidelines for Human Exposure to
Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields, OET Bulletin 65, Edition 97-01, page 64 (August 1997)
(http://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Engineering_Technology/Documents/bulletins/oet65/oet65.pdf). To read more about the FCC
Maximum Permissible Exposure limits, see documents (9) and (13) on the following list:
https://www.scribd.com/document/291507610.
11
The Precautionary Action Level, recommended by the BioInitiative Report of 2012, is the non-thermal level of chronic exposure to
pulsed radiofrequency radiation above which action should be taken to reduce that level to protect against biological effects,
BioInitiative Working Group, Cindy Sage, M.A. and David O. Carpenter, M.D., Editors, BioInitiative Report: A Rationale for Biologically-
based Public Exposure Standards for Electromagnetic Radiation, December 31, 2012 (http://www.bioinitiative.org/conclusions).
12
Igor Belyaev, Amy Dean, Horst Eger, Gerhard Hubmann, Reinhold Jandrisovits, Markus Kern, Michael Kundi, Hanns Moshammer, Piero
Lercher, Kurt Mller, Gerd Oberfeld, Peter Ohnsorge, Peter Pelzmann, Claus Scheingraber, and Roby Thill, EUROPAEM EMF Guidelines
2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses, Reviews on Environmental Health,
Volume 31, Issue 3, pages 363-397 (September 1, 2016). See page 391, Table 3: Precautionary guidance values for radio-frequency
radiation (https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/reveh.2016.31.issue-3/reveh-2016-0011/reveh-2016-0011.xml). EUROPAEM is
the European Academy for Environmental Medicine.
Page 10 of 13
Table 3: Unit Conversions for RF Electric Field and RF Power Density

RF Electric RF Power RF Power RF Power RF Power RF Power RF Exposure


Field Density Density Density Density Density Limits
volts per milliwatts per milliwatts per microwatts per microwatts per watts per
meter square meter square centimeter square meter square centimeter square meter and Sources
V/m mW/m2 mW/cm2 W/m2 W/cm2 W/m2
61 10000 1.0 10,000,000 1,000 10 FCC MPE 2.4 GHz
55 8000 0.80 8,000,000 800 8.0
48 6000 0.60 6,000,000 600 6.0 FCC MPE 900MHz
39 4000 0.40 4,000,000 400 4.0
27 2000 0.20 2,000,000 200 2.0
19 1000 0.10 1,000,000 100 1.0
17 800 0.080 800,000 80 0.80
15 600 0.060 600,000 60 0.60
12 400 0.040 400,000 40 0.40
8.7 200 0.020 200,000 20 0.20
6.1 100 0.010 100,000 10 0.10
5.5 80 0.0080 80,000 8.0 0.080
4.8 60 0.0060 60,000 6.0 0.060
3.9 40 0.0040 40,000 4.0 0.040
2.7 20 0.0020 20,000 2.0 0.020
1.9 10 0.0010 10,000 1.0 0.010
1.7 8.0 0.00080 8,000 0.80 0.0080
1.5 6.0 0.00060 6,000 0.60 0.0060
1.2 4.0 0.00040 4,000 0.40 0.0040
0.87 2.0 0.00020 2,000 0.20 0.0020
0.61 1.0 0.00010 1,000 0.10 0.0010
0.55 0.80 0.000080 800 0.080 0.0008
0.48 0.60 0.000060 600 0.060 0.0006
0.39 0.40 0.000040 400 0.040 0.0004
0.27 0.20 0.000020 200 0.020 0.0002
0.19 0.10 0.000010 100 0.010 0.0001
0.17 0.080 0.0000080 80 0.0080 0.000080
0.15 0.060 0.0000060 60 0.0060 0.000060
0.12 0.040 0.0000040 40 0.0040 0.000040
0.087 0.020 0.0000020 20 0.0020 0.000020
0.061 0.010 0.0000010 10 0.0010 0.000010
0.055 0.0080 0.00000080 8.0 0.00080 0.0000080 BioInitiative
0.048 0.0060 0.00000060 6.0 0.00060 0.0000060 Report 2012
0.039 0.0040 0.00000040 4.0 0.00040 0.0000040 Precautionary
Action Level:
0.027 0.0020 0.00000020 2.0 0.00020 0.0000020 2
3-6 W/m
0.019 0.0010 0.00000010 1.0 0.00010 0.0000010
0.017 0.00080 0.000000080 0.80 0.000080 0.00000080 EUROPAEM
0.015 0.00060 0.000000060 0.60 0.000060 0.00000060 Precautionary
0.012 0.00040 0.000000040 0.40 0.000040 0.00000040 Guidance for Wi-Fi
2.4/5.6 GHz for
0.0087 0.00020 0.000000020 0.20 0.000020 0.00000020
sensitive populations:
0.0061 0.00010 0.000000010 0.10 0.000010 0.00000010 0.1 W/m2

Page 11 of 13
Observations on Table 3

Table 3 covers 8 orders of magnitude, that is, 8 factors of 10 from its highest values to its lowest values. For
example, consider the central column in the table: RF Power Density in microwatts per square meter (W/m2).
The numbers in that column range from a high of 10,000,000 W/m2 to a low of 0.1 W/m2. If the highest value
is divided by the lowest value, the result is 100,000,000, or 1 x 10 8, where the 8 indicates 8 factors of ten, or a
range of 8 orders of magnitude.

Similarly, the RF exposure limits shown in Table 3 represent a great difference. The highest (most permissive)
exposure limit is the FCC MPE for 2.4 GHz at 10,000,000 W/m2 (or equivalently, 10 W/m2). The lowest exposure
limit is the EUROPAEM limit for Wi-Fi at 2.4/5.6 GHz at 0.1 W/m2 (or equivalently, 0.00000010 W/m2). These
two limits appear to differ by 8 orders of magnitude again. However, the actual difference between these two
limits is usually greater than 8 orders of magnitude. That is true because the FCC limit is a time-average value
and the EUROPAEM limit is a peak value. The FCC limit permits peak values much higher (and without limit) than
the stated time-average value, so long as the time-average value is met. For any signal, the peak value will be
greater than, or equal to, the time-average value. So, when comparing a peak value of a signal, whose time-
average value is compliant with the FCC MPE limit, to a peak value compliant with the EUROPAEM limit, the
difference between the two signals can be far greater than 8 orders of magnitude.

The considerable differences among the RF exposure limits reflect the current debate about what exposure limits
are necessary to protect the public health. This debate is beyond the scope of this document. But the exposure
limits are further discussed in the documents in the footnote and in the many references within those
documents.13

3. Converting units of measure on the LED display of the Acoustimeter AM-10

The LEDs on the display of the Acoustimeter AM-10 cover five orders of magnitude from the highest values of RF
Power Density reported to the lowest values of RF Power Density reported.

The left two columns of Table 4 address the left column of LEDs on the Acoustimeter AM-10 display, headed
PEAK V/m. Those columns show how to convert the Peak RF Electric Field values on the left LED display to Peak
RF Power Density values.

The right two columns of Table 4 address the right column of LEDs on the Acoustimeter AM-10 display, headed
AVERAGE W/m2. Those columns show how to convert the Time-Average RF Power Density on the right LED
display to a special version of the Time-Average Electric Field.14

13
Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D., The Health Argument against Cell Phones and Cell Towers, November 18, 2016
(https://www.scribd.com/document/320935636). Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D., FCC Maximum Permissible Exposure Limits for
Electromagnetic Radiation, as Applicable to Smart Meters, December 10, 2015 (https://www.scribd.com/document/290090941).
14
That special version of the time-average of the electric field is the square root of the time-average of the square of the electric field
over the time interval used for time averaging. This is often abbreviated and the RMS electric field, or the root-mean-square electric
field.
Page 12 of 13
Table 4: Unit Conversions for LED display of the Acoustimeter AM-10

AM-10 AM-10
LED LED
Display Converted Display Converted
Time- Time-
Peak RF Peak RF
Average Average
Electric Power
RF Power Electric
Field Density
Density Field
volts per microwatts microwatts volts per
meter per square per square meter
V/m meter2
W/m meter2
W/m V/m
6.00 95,000 100,000 6.1
4.50 54,000 50,000 4.3
3.00 24,000 25,000 3.1
2.00 11,000 10,000 1.9
1.50 6,000 5,000 1.4
1.00 2,700 2,500 0.97
0.70 1,300 1,000 0.61
0.50 660 500 0.43
0.30 240 250 0.31
0.20 110 100 0.19
0.107 27 50 0.14
0.07 13 25 0.097
0.05 6.6 10 0.061
0.03
0.03 2.4 5 0.043
0.02 1.1 1 0.019

All values in the two columns headed AM-10 LED Display are shown in Table 4 exactly as shown on the AM-10.
All values in the two columns headed Converted have been rounded to two significant figures. Equation 2 on
page 9 was used for all conversions between RF Power Density and RF Electric Field, for both peak and
time-average values.

Page 13 of 13