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GSM based automatic energy meter reading

system with instant billing

Conference Paper March 2013

DOI: 10.1109/iMac4s.2013.6526385


23 2,838

2 authors:

K. Ashna Sudhish N George

1 PUBLICATION 23 CITATIONS National Institute of Technology Calicut


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GSM Based Automatic Energy Meter Reading

System with Instant Billing
Ashna.k Sudhish N George
PG Scholar, Electronics & Communication Dept. Assistant Professor, Electronics & Communication Dept.
National Institute of Technology, National Institute of Technology,
Calicut, India,673601 Calicut, India,673601 E-mail: sudhish

Abstract The technology of e-metering (Electronic as a result of the analogue and mechanical nature of the
Metering) has gone through rapid technological advancements components in these meters. Collection of meter readings is
and there is increased demand for a reliable and efficient also inefficient, because a meter reader has to physically be on-
Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) system. This paper presents site to take the readings. This method of collecting of meter
the design of a simple low cost wireless GSM energy meter and its readings becomes more problematic and costly when readings
associated web interface, for automating billing and managing have to be collected from vast, and often scattered rural areas.
the collected data globally. The proposed system replaces Meter readers are reluctant to make the effort to travel to such
traditional meter reading methods and enables remote access of areas and will often submit inaccurate estimations of the
existing energy meter by the energy provider. Also they can amount of electricity consumed. For households at the top of
monitor the meter readings regularly without the person visiting
high buildings and luxury housing plots, traditional meter
each house. A GSM based wireless communication module is
integrated with electronic energy meter of each entity to have
reading is highly inefficient. There exists chance for missing
remote access over the usage of electricity. A PC with a GSM bills, absence of consumer etc. Even though these conventional
receiver at the other end, which contains the database acts as the meters were replaced with more efficient electronic energy
billing point. Live meter reading from the GSM enabled energy meters these problems still persists. So a system which will
meter is sent back to this billing point periodically and these provide the bill in users mobile will be more suitable in the
details are updated in a central database. A new interactive, user current scenario. Here a new method of post paid electronic
friendly graphical user interface is developed using Microsoft energy metering is introduced in this paper which will
visual studio .NET framework and C#. With proper automatically sense the used energy, records these reading
authentication, users can access the developed web page details continuously, then sends it to the billing point through the
from anywhere in the world. The complete monthly usage and existing GSM network. Finally after processing the collected
due bill is messaged back to the customer after processing these data bill is generated using a web based system software and is
data. send back to the customer as SMS (Short Messaging
System).As it is web oriented once the data is updated, the
KeywordsAutomatic Meter Reading System (AMRS); GSM; registered users and authority can monitor and analyse the
PIC; Short Messaging System (SMS); Visual Studio .NET; C#. generated bill of any month by sitting anywhere in the world.


Electrical power has become indispensable to human For this work existing meter reading techniques in India are
survival and progress. Apart from efforts to meet growing analyzed and conducted an extensive study on different energy
demand, automation in the energy distribution is also necessary measuring instruments available now. In existing system either
to enhance peoples life standard. Traditional meter reading by an electronic energy meter or an electro-mechanical meter is
human operator is inefficient to meet the future residential fixed in the premise for measuring the usage. The meters
development needs. So there is increased demand for currently in use are only capable of recording kWh units. The
Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) systems which collects kWh units used then still have to be recorded by meter readers
meter readings electronically, and its application is expanding monthly, on foot. The recorded data need to be processed by a
over industrial, commercial and utility environment. meter reading company. For processing the meter reading,
Electronic utility meters are an important step towards company needs to firstly link each recorded power usage
automating the utility metering process. Automated utility datum to an account holder and then determine the amount
meters have many new features that help to reduce the cost of owed by means of the specific tariff in use.
utilities to customers and the cost of delivering utilities to the Many systems built on various platforms have been
utility provider. The onset of rural electrification provides
proposed by different research groups all over the world for
opportunities for new and more efficient metering technologies Automatic Meter Reading. There are two types of AMR
to be implemented. Traditional electro-mechanical meters, still
systems, wire-based and wireless. Power Line Carrier (PLC)
widely used today, are prone to drift over temperature and time and Telephone Line Network (optical/ cable) are wire-based
This project was supported and financed by National Institute of Technology,
Calicut, INDIA, 673601.

978-1-4673-5090-7/13/$31.00 2013 IEEE


AMR system and several related works are available. Many e- are primarily designed for low power consumption. As they
metering systems have now been proposed, based on GPRS, were operating within a short range (power class- dependent: 1
Bluetooth, GSM as explained in [1], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7] and meter, 10 meters, 100 meters) this technique was not effective
[8].Design of an Electric Energy Meter for long-distance data and implemented only in areas with high population density.
information transfers which based upon GPRS is proposed in
[1]. These systems cant be implemented so easily because the So a new approach of using an energy measurement
regular use of GPRS is still a dream to the common people .A technique that encompasses the GSM network as a mean of
GSM Energy meter with instant billing facility is introduced in transmitting energy data is more relevant. The GSM/GPRS
[2] and [3],but still the problem of missing SMS will degrade network offers most coverage in most developed and
the accuracy and performance. A more reliable and user- developing countries. This method is also effective in rural
friendly system with web portal for multiple access using the areas, which are not densely populated, and in which, most
advanced Visual studio .net frame work is created in this people do not have access to a fixed telephone network. So in a
project which will manage the data efficiently even if there is country like India we need to focus more on this method as it
loss of SMS. It makes the design different from the previous can be implemented very easily and effectively.
proposals. The GSM/GPRS channel is a very useful means of According to the latest report by researcher Gartner India's
communication as sending data as SMS turns out to be a very mobile subscriber base should grow to 993 million by 2014,
handy tool, due to its good area coverage capability and cost which expects the world's fastest-growing mobile market to
effectiveness. Different state electricity boards in INDIA close 2010 with more than 660 million subscribers. India is the
started using GSM facility for fault management and so there is second-largest wireless market in the world after China with its
increased demand for this method. 618 million mobile subscribers at end-May, according to data
from the country's telecoms regulator. Mobile connections
For this design, energy meter specifications and tariff
were at 525 million at end of 2009.
structure followed by the Kerala State Electricity Board
(KSEB) are adopted. In this project the front end is User
friendly and any employee with minimum knowledge of
computers can work on this software. Employees can read the
meter by sitting in their office.
A. A lookback at GSM Technology and GSM meter in India.
Several transmission protocols in wired/wireless manner
were introduced so far to read digital meters remotely at
different areas of India. The Digital watt-hour meters are
microprocessor based meters which replaced traditional
electromechanical meters.

Fig. 2 India-GSM mobile subscribers.

Latest data by the Cellular Operators Association of India

(COAI) showed GSM operators had added 6.68 million in
November 2012 and the GSM subscriber base was at 632.08
million. GSM operators added 7.55 million new subscribers in
December, taking the total GSM user base to 639.64 million in
the country, according to the COAIs data released.
Fig.1 Traditional Electromechanical meter Vs Electronic meter. In this scenario the utilization of existing GSM network for
Tele watt meters were implemented to transmit data on metering in India will be a cost effective method for all class of
monthly basis to a remote central office through a dedicated people.
telephone line and a pair of modems. A microprocessor/DSP-
based meter is used in this to measure the electricity III. GSM METER - ARCHITECTURE
consumption of multiple users in a residential area. A master When developing a technology that might replace one
PC at the control centre was used to send commands to a which has been in use for more than thirty years, not only the
remote meter, which in turn transmitted data back, using the key issue needs to be addressed, but added functionality and
Power Line Communication (PLC) technique. These solutions to other obstacles presented by the previous
techniques were mainly implemented in areas that had a fixed technology need to be addressed. Even existing meter readers
telephone network. Bluetooth energy meters were designed and and other employers have to accept the quality and
implemented in some areas where several meters in close effectiveness of the proposed system.
proximity, communicated wirelessly with a Master PC. These

The engineering challenge is to develop a product that can IV. DETAILED DESIGN
serve as wireless system replacement for the metering and This GSM energy meter is constructed using the microchip
billing system currently in use. This emphasis that the meter single phase dedicated energy metering IC MCP3905A, a
under development has to work under the old circumstances display, 8-bit PIC Microcontroller PIC16F877A and GSM
and perform all the previous functions, but also be able to relay modem. A 10A class I single phase meter is designed with
the information in a new way and perform additional functions, embedded GSM modem which utilizes the existing GSM
without the need of replacing all meters on the electrical grid network to send its power usage value as SMS to the energy
simultaneously. provider wirelessly. While sending the message each time, the
The developed AMR system consists of three main parts: a same data is also stored in the associated non-volatile memory
digital GSM power meter installed in every individual (EEPROM). RTC module is also integrated in the meter to
consumer unit, transmission facility (SMS gateway), and have time stamped recording of usage details. The detailed
billing server at the energy provider side. Overview and design blocks are shown in Fig. 4 and Configuration of
functional block details are shown in Fig. 3. different PIC ports for performing this functionality is
demonstrated in Fig.6

Fig. 3 Overview of Proposed System.

The proposed system for energy billing is automatic, do not

require human effort to read the meter, consumer can directly
know the amount he has to pay at the time of bill preparation
itself and can even pay the amount online.

Fig.4 Detailed Design Blocks

Fig. 5 Detailed Circuit of energy meter


a very small coin cell (3V CMOS battery) which runs

continuously even in power failure.

Fig. 6 Configuration of PIC Ports

In the office, the GSM unit will receive these data and
software will calculate the total consumption of each user. The
design can be discussed as two broad categories, Hardware
detailed design and software web portal design.


In this system the two wire power supply is connected to
the energy metering IC through the analog front end of the
MCP3905 energy meter evaluation board which provides
average active power information via a pulse output which may
be then used to be processed by a Micro Controller Unit
(MCU). The GSM unit is interfaced to the micro controller via
a MAX 232 convertor as in Fig.7 (b). User GSM modem
transmits usage details to office modem. Every house/premise
has a unique number (consumer number), which is given by the
corresponding authority.
Fig.7 (a) Power supply (b) MAX 232 interfacing.
The detailed circuit of the meter constructed using off the
D. Implementation Details
shelf components such as evaluation board (MCP3905A),
Microcontroller (PIC16F877) and LCD (20x4) and GSM Output pulses from the metering IC are counted using the
Modem (Fargo Maestro -20) is shown in Fig.5. default timer of PIC MCU. The signal from meter through
Octocoupler is normally high (5V) and the high to low
At the input prototype area of the evaluation board a 250 transition of this voltage wave indicates the occurrence of a
, 10A meter shunt is connected as current-sensing element. pulse. The counting of low pulse is an inefficient method as
improper grounding issues may even be counted as a pulse by
A. Power Supply the device. So the produced pulse is reversed before applying
The microcontroller and other devices get power supply to the counter. A TTL compatible inverter circuit is used for
from AC to DC adapter or from direct ac lines through voltage this purpose.
regulator. The adapter output voltage will be 12V DC non- The microcontroller is programmed to read data from the
regulated. The 7805 voltage regulators are used to convert 12 metering IC every second. When microcontroller reads the
V to 5V DC. Circuit details are shown in Fig.7 (a).The low cost power consumption, it is stored and current reading is
DC power supply circuit included in the MCP3905 evaluation incremented in its software. In this design meter is calibrated
board which is created from a half wave zener diode-limited such that for 1 unit of energy (kWh) consumption, it generates
AC signal feeding a 7805 +5V regulator can also be used. 3200 pulses in LED. (It can be calibrated for a meter constant
of 1000 imp/kWh or 100 imp/kWh or 32000 imp/kWh etc as
B. External EEPROM memory per the requirement).
Selected EEPROM is Atmel 24C256.This memory device
Energy per count, Epc = (I max X V rms)/3200. (1)
is used to store the data for off line process. i.e. it stores the
amount of unit the user consumed while transferring each Where Imax is the maximum load current and Vrms is the RMS
SMS. voltage.
Energy per LED pulse, Epp =1000 X 3600/ Mpr. (2)
C. Real Time Clock (RTC)
This is used to maintain the real time and date in off line where Mpr is the pulse rate of the meter in impulse/ kWh.
processing. RTC counts seconds, minutes, hours, date of the Practical set up created for transmitter prototype developed
month, month, day of the week, and year with leap-year using the meter circuit of Fig .5 is shown below in Fig.8.A
compensation valid up to 2100.The RTC selected here is variable load set up is connected and usage is measured.
DS1307 .It is low cost, easy to solder, and can run for years on

Fig.10 GSM Meter after casing and sample results on display.

B. Billing Software
A web oriented GUI designed especially for e-billing,
manages all received SMS readings, updates the database
regularly, computes the monthly bill amount, and notify the
consumer his bill details through SMS. It also publishes the bill
in the designed web portal and consumer can log for getting the
usage details any time. Printed postal mails can also be
provided for respective consumer. Authority can log for bill
preparation and analysis of any collected data. Information
Fig.8. Transmitter prototype.
portal helps to assist the smart meter to log consumption data to
the database. Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 IDE is used to
PCB layout for the meter routed with the aid of Cadence develop the web portal. Data base used is Microsoft SQL
Orcad 9.2 suite and corresponding printed board are shown in Server2005 (Fig. 11).
Fig.9.Mechanical design and assembly of the developed meter
is shown in Fig.10.The device has a plastic enclosure. It has
less weight and easy to handle. For status indication, a green
LED is placed in front side. 20x4 LCD display is there on the
top of the meter to display the reading and RTC time date
information. Push button switches are provided to read
EEPROM content.

Fig.11 Database details.

Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2008 provide an integrated

Fig.9. Orcad layout and printed PCB.
development environment (IDE) for maximizing developer
productivity with the .NET framework. It is used to develop
VI. SOFTWARE DETAILED DESIGN console and graphical user interface applications along with
Windows Forms applications, web sites, web applications, and
A. Microcontroller software design web services in both native code together with managed code
All software used for the PIC16F877 in the control circuitry for all platforms supported by Microsoft Windows, Windows
was developed in Mikroelektronikas MikroC PRO 4.15 IDE. Mobile, Windows CE, .NET framework, .NET Compact
The meter PIC MCU is programmed via the In-System framework and Microsoft Silverlight. In this application source
Programming (ISP) interface. PICkit 2 v 2.61 is used for code is written in C#. The .NET version of C# is an
programming the target PIC. GSM modem is controlled by improved version with more features and additions. The
using AT command for all kinds of operations.The algorithm developed site can be checked by running locally on any PC
for meter were developed by considering all the required using development server local host. Designed home
outputs. The brain of the meter is this developed firmware. It page of the web portal is shown in Fig.12. It can be hosted to
can be modified and updated any time, even in the field. The
firmware is written in embedded C.

the server for practical use, once hosted the user can access it VII. RESULTS
from anywhere through internet. Designed meter is able to send the usage value at a
predefined time and the status is displayed in LCD for the next
5 minutes after sending, as shown above in Fig. 10.

Fig.12 Home page Fig.14 Generated Bill.

Users are categorized as administrator, staff and consumer. Example of the prepared bill by a staff member is shown in
Any user can log using the user login option available in the Fig.14.Consumer can login to view this bill. By selecting a
web site as shown below in Fig.13. Administrator can perform particular month he can view his usage history any time.
category registration, section addition, tariff updates, staff
registration and message setting. After the initial login the
administrator can connect the GSM modem to the web portal
through serial port / USB. Initially required hardware
configurations have to done for the modem setup. Then by
selecting the corresponding port administrator can connect it to
the system for accepting SMS from meter.

Fig.15 Consumer registration example and SMS reception in that

Fig.13 User login, Category registration, Port setting, Tariff table updating. consumers phone.

Once it is connected it will remain as connected for the The consolidated bill prepared sent to the users mobile, for
whole system and continues receiving SMS till the a particular month of usage, for a particular consumer is
administrator disconnects it using the disconnect option. depicted in Fig.15. Prepared Bill is successfully sent back to
Different staff members under the administrator are registered the registered consumer at the time of bill generation itself.
using the member registration option provided to the Backend database details and HTML source code details can
administrator. These operations are demonstrated in Fig. 13. be accessed anytime by the administrator.
The registered staffs are assigned to a particular section and
they are registering the consumers under them. Registered staff VIII. CONCLUSION
member can login and add any number of consumers under his Various electronic meters have been developed and are still
section. Also he is responsible for preparing the bills of being developed. However the use of GSM in this particular
consumers under him. By simple selection of consumer name system provides numerous advantages over methods that have
and month, automatic bill generation occurs by auto processing been previously used. Data transmission is charged at standard
of the background data. SMS rates, thus the charges are not based on the duration of
data transmission. The cost efficient transmission of readings

ensures that power consumption values can be transmitted is willing to add online payment options in the hosted web
more frequently to a remote station. The implications of being page, instant payment by the consumer from anywhere in the
able to transmit readings more often are that energy utilities world is also possible.
will be able to generate timely bills, better understand energy
demand patterns, manage meter failures more efficiently and
manage fraud better. REFERENCES
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