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RF Radiation From Power Transmitters In Smart Appliances

We recently bought a new American style refrigerator for our kitchen at home.

I make a point of testing with my RF (radio frequency) meter everything electrical I bring into my home. Here is the video of what I found:

You can see that RF (microwave) radiation [1] is being emitted from the refrigerator because I only get a reading when the fridge is plugged in. My old fridge did not give off any such radiation, as you can also see in the video.

Why is that?

This is because this fridge is a smart appliance.

RF Power Transmitters On Electrical Appliances

Smart appliances are electrical appliances which have been fitted with a power transmitter. The power transmitter connects to the wireless smart meter installed in your home via a WiFi like network signal. This then connects to the ‘smart’ grid via the ‘home area network.’ (HAN).

How Does The Smart Meter Network Work?

Smart Meters networks can work in different ways. One way is as shown in this diagram. Inside the home there is a Home  Area  Network  (HAN)  and  then a  cell  phone signal type network, Wide  Area  Network  (WAN)  sends data  back  to  the  utility  company.

radiation from smart appliancesWhere it says “in-home conservation and demand management services” what this actually means is that we are being bathed in more electrosmog (electromagnetic fields) from all the electrical appliances in our homes which are fitted with these wireless power transmitters.

Is Smart Appliance Radiation Dangerous?

Richard Tell an electrical engineer formerly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a 2008 report on Smart Grids for Hydro One Networks, Inc./Toronto  established that antennas on smart appliances may transmit at a density of .18watts, each at about 4.5 seconds per hour.

Cumulative Effects Of RF Power Transmitters On Smart Appliances

This may sound low but it’s the cumulative effects of the EMFs from these RF power transmitters that are the problem. Imagine 3 or 4 or 5 smart appliances (or more possibly) giving out RF radiation in your home in addition to exposures from your neighbors’ smart appliances.

Cumulative Effects of Smart Meters and Smart Appliances

Smart appliances work independently of  smart meters. This means that you get zapped with the radiation from smart appliances whether you have a smart meter or not.

But if your home is fitted with a smart meter, your exposure is higher in 2 ways:

1. Smart meters are continuously sending HAN information both to the in-house display (if you have one) and to the smart appliances using WiFi, Z-Wave, Zigbee or other wireless communication protocols.

2. There is a separate, higher powered signal being sent to and from the utility company. This signal may be sent every few seconds or every few minutes depending on your provider.

Update June 2012: the Energy Star rating is currently under revision to include information about smart meter connectivity, see here [2].

How To Protect Yourself From RF Radiation From Smart Appliances

I found the solution to my problem by sending the fridge back. When I now buy any appliances, fridge, oven, washing machine, dishwasher etc. I make a point of going in the shop first and asking them if I can test with my RF meter before I buy. I’ve found a local electrical retailer sympathetic to my concerns. When I go to see him, he switches everything off in the shop, WiFi router, cordless phones etc. for a few moments so I can do my testing. This can raise a few eyebrows from passersby, but what the heck! RF radiation from smart appliances have no place in my home!

The RF meter I used in the video is the Acoustimeter AM-10.  The Acoustimeter is really an excellent RF meter and if you’re experiencing symptoms around EMFs it’s what I recommend. You can read my review here [3].

If you’re not electrically hyper sensitive a cheaper alternative is the Cornet ED88T which offers multi-functionality, see here [4].

This post was last updated June 2016.