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Development Of A Single Phase Digital Energy Meter With Tampering Detection Technique Including Data Sending Feature

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An energy meter is a device that measures the amount of electric energy consumed by a residence, a business or an electrically powered device. Electric utilities use energy meter installed at customer’s premises to calculate electric energy delivered to them. It is a matter of great regret that some consumers employ various illegal methods like bypassing currents, neutral current reversing, phase current reversing, phase and neutral current reversing, partial load earthed and neutral current reversing, partial load earthed and phase current reversing etc. to eliminate the cost of energy usage. In our country, most of the digital energy meters do not have the feature of detecting the occurrence of tampering as they only measure energy based on the voltage and current flowing between the inlet and outlet terminals.

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So we are proposing the Development of a Digital Energy Meter with Tampering Detection Technique as our capstone project. Our designed digital meter will be able to detect the tampering techniques and be able to send data to the utilities companies. The main idea of developing anti-tampering detection is by using a microcontroller. A micro-controller will be attached with the meter. Since our digital meter will send data to the utility companies on the basis of tampering occurrence, we will use GSM to transfer data from the meter to the server of the utility companies for that purpose. Therefore, whenever tampering will occur, the microcontroller will detect the type of tampering and make it easier for utility companies to cut off power to bad customer as the reporting of tampering is now available in real time.

Keywords- data sending. energy meter, GSM networks, tampering


Bangladesh is a developing country with a huge population in a small geographical land. The demand of the electricity is also huge for this population. To cope up with increasing demand of electricity, the main attention of the utilities is to reduce losses. One of the most common reasons of these losses is electricity theft. Besides, government is losing huge amount of revenue. Power theft is a concern even in some developed countries like USA and Malaysia Meter tampering is one of the common ways of electricity theft in Bangladesh. The commonly adopted tampering techniques in Bangladesh are bypassing currents, neutral current reversing, phase current reversing, phase and neutral current reversing, partial load earthed and neutral current reversing, partial load earthed and phase current reversing etc. Therefore, introduction of tampering detection features in energy meters is one of the ways to bring down the incidence of theft of energy. The proposed meter will prevent the electricity theft by detecting tampering if occurs and send information to the utility companies with location of tampering.


In the past analog energy meter is used in our residence, industry different institutions. But meter tampering became a common problem in analog energy meter then. So, digital energy meter is introduced by the engineers for doing the billing calculations very smoothly and easily and to reduce tampering. After that various attempts have been taken to address this problem. But none of them are 100% successful. One approach amongst all that has been proven best in this regard is prepaid metering. Two types of prepaid metering system has been developed over the years in our country. One is keypad type which has the technology for both currency transfer system and unit transfer system and another one is smart card type which has the technology only for the currency transfer system. This prepaid metering system is a two way communication based on smart card technology that allows the consumers to pay their bill through DESCO’s station. BUET designed prepaid energy meter for end use electricity consumers. Then DESCO extended financial support to BUET for the commercialization of prepaid meter in 2011. DESCO has established a “Pre-paid meters Production Unit” with the technical support from IICT, BUET at Mirpur.

In the first phase 5000 single phase energy meter were supplied by BUET. Then 5000 single phase meters and 1000 three phase energy meter were produced by DESCO. Up to august 2011, about 10261 prepaid meters have been installed in the Uttara residential area. Where there is an implementation, there is a limitation. Existing prepaid meters in our country have some limitations too. Major limitations are given below: (i)Prepaid metering system is more expensive which means one may not able to get the cheapest rate or offers. (ii)If prepaid meter is run out of credit and supply is off, then for restoring supply one has to access the meter directly which may be out of each reach. (iii)After buying units, one has to be patient as it can sometimes take few minutes to hours for the message to be sent to users which might be inconvenient. Since prepaid metering system is costly and keeping in mind the above mentioned problems of the current meters, we will try to design our meter in such a way that it would be cost effective and will be able to detect the tampering and report to the utility companies about tampering occurrence.


In earlier sections we have mentioned the types of some common tampering detection techniques that are common in Bangladesh. Our proposed meter will detect these tampering techniques and data will be sent to the power utility companies based on the tampering occurrence. In this section we are going to discuss about the approach to develop the energy meter and how different types of tampering techniques will be detected. First of all we will build an energy meter by using an energy measuring IC and a microcontroller. The output of the energy measuring IC will be sent to the microcontroller to calculate the power consumed by the load. After building the meter, then we will modify the meter in such a way that it can detect the tampering techniques discussed below: Bypassing Detection: There are many ways of bypassing a meter. The most common way is to add a jumper in the meter terminals in such a way that the connection is bypassed and the energy consumption is not recorded. In our energy meter a microcontroller will be connected and for bypassing tampering technique we will use current sensor at the input and output of the energy meter. It will read the current values in the input and output terminals. Then those values will be compared with each other by the microcontroller. If the compared values are not equal to each other, then microcontroller will send a logical signal to the GSM module. Then GSM module will send a message to the utility company mentioning the particular meter number. Phase and Neutral Interchanging Detection: If anyone interchanges the phase and neutral connection of the meter, then there will be a reverse current flowing through the meter and the meter read reverse energy which takes off the kWh reading from total reading. So to detect this tampering we will connect a reverse current indicator to the meter. The indicator will be interconnected to the microcontroller. So any reverse current flow will be detected by the microcontroller and it will send a logical signal to the GSM module to send message to the utility company mentioning the particular meter number.

For the immediate protection of this tampering, microcontroller will be programmed in such a way that meter will always use the absolute value for the energy calculation, thus reverse current will have no impact on energy calculation and billing. Partial Load Earthed Connection Detection: Partial load earthed tampering is done by connecting one of the loads to earth and other returning to neutral of the meter. By doing so, phase current will not be equal to the neutral current. For this reason the measuring values by the meter will be less than the accurate power consumption. To detect this problem we will connect CT (current transformer) to the phase line and neutral line measure both the currents. Then these two currents will be compared. If they are not equal to each other, microcontroller will send a logical signal to the utility company mentioning the particular meter number. For the protection of this tampering, we will program the microcontroller in such a way that meter will uses the larger currents after comparing phase and neutral current to determine energy. Full Load Earthed Connection Detection: This process is almost similar as like as partial load earth connection. But here all load’s neutral connection will be connected to the ground instead of neutral connection. Missing Potential: There is another type tampering which is often done in our country called missing potential. It is deployed by removing one of the phase wires to make the voltage component zero. As a result, meter records less energy consumption as consumption from one of the phases becomes zero. For the immediate protection for this tampering, microcontroller logic will easily detect it since the voltage is absent and the current is present in the meter. Cover Open Tampering Detection: In this tampering technique, consumers open the meter case to change the setting or remove the backup battery so that the meter resets when the power goes off. To detect this tampering we will use switch on the casing of the meter to trigger a signal to record it as a tamper with time and send the data immediately to the utility company.


Our project work will be the combination of culminating activities of our group members where we will showcase our knowledge, skills and attitudes learned in 4 years of electrical and electronic engineering program. Therefore, how the different activities that are going to be completed in the project will map to 12 PO’s of B. sc in EEE program are discussed below:

PO1: Engineering Knowledge

In–depth engineering knowledge is the cornerstone of our project. Our project work involves finding specification to build an energy meter with a microcontroller to detect tampering and then combining it with a GSM module to send data on the basis of tampering occurrence to the utility companies. These are not possible without the knowledge of electronic circuit, power, microprocessor &interfacing and communication.

PO2: Problem Analysis

It is very important to have a clear idea about the problem that we are dealing with for the successful completion of the project. Most of the energy meters in our country do not have the feature of tamper detection and some meters that have the protection scheme cannot report to the utility company immediately about tampering. So if we can develop a meter that is capable of sending message to the utility company on the tampering occurrence, they can take strict action against the consumers who try to attempt tampering the meter.

PO3: Development of Solutions

There are many possible solutions of a problem but all the problem solutions do not guarantee public health and safety as well as cultural, social and environmental concerns. So, every steps and components that are going to be used starting from an energy meter, microcontroller to GSM module to implement the project ensures the safety of public as well as the environment

PO4: Investigation

There are many companies manufacturing digital energy meters in our country. We will visit them to know the problem they are facing while manufacture the product. Let them, know about our project to get and feedback collect the data to analyze the project problem better for valid conclusions. Besides we have also done literature review to collect important data for our project such as present tampering protection scheme in energy meter, reporting to responsible companies about tampering etc.

PO5: Modern Tool Usage

The functioning of our project that is detecting different types of tampering and sending data accordingly will be conducted by the microcontroller. So we need to write C program accordingly for the proper functioning of the energy meter. So we will need to use different IT tools like code vision, Extreme burner or AVR programming and MATLAB for data Analysis, Proteus for software simulation.

PO6: The Engineer and Society

Energy losses are considered as huge loss for a developing country like us. And huge amount energy is lost by adopting tampering technique. So we hope that our designed energy meter will be able to meet the expectations to save energy by detecting tampering and giving protection to them.

PO7: Environment and Sustainability

The design steps of our project do not include any component that is harmful for the environment. We will try our level best to ensure the sustainability of our designed energy meter by applying the knowledge of engineering and by analyzing the data got from investigation on the project problem.

PO8: Ethics

We have already done a training module on “ETHICAL LEADERSHIP” as part of our skill development in capstone project part-1. We will apply the knowledge we got from the training module and commit to professional ethics, responsibilities and norms of the engineering practice while designing the energy meter. We will design the energy meter for the sake of preventing wasting energy which loudly emphasizes on engineering ethics.

PO9: Individual Work and Team Work

Already we have completed the training module of Individual and teamwork development. From the training module we have learned how we can implement our project effectively by working individually and in a team. That is why we selected a group leader who will distribute project work between the group members. As a result group members will be able to work individually and combines his work with others work to complete the project by collective efforts of the group.

P10: Communication

Communication is very important to show the necessity of our project to the engineering community and society. We have completed another training module on communication so that we can showcase our projects through effective reports, presentation etc.

P11: Project management and Finance Building a Energy Meter

Project management is an essential part to complete the project successfully. For that purpose, we selected one of the group members as a recorder in our group who will record weekly work and report it to the mentor of our project. Besides all the documents related with our project will be safely preserved.

P12: Life-long learning

Each of our group member will try to take life-long learning while working on the project by engaging ourselves in different activities like project management, time management, working in team effectively communication etc.


On 25th September 2015, united Nation took 17 sustainable development goals to end poverty, save the planet and ensures prosperity for all. Our projects map 2 SDGs from 17 SDGs. They are: Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy The goal is to provide affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Tampering causes energy losses. As a result, energy consumption becomes costly. Our project will help the Government to save energy by detecting tampering and provide energy in affordable cost to all. Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureThe goal is to build resilient infrastructure, sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. But industrialization is not possible without innovation and technology and development is not possible without industrialization. In our country some existing meters have tamper detection technique and some do not have that feature. Our project includes a new feature of sending message to the utility company when tampering occurs. So this is a new technology that maps goal 9.


For overall planning we have divided our main project in three major Task. Project Tampering detecting Adding a GSM ModuleTask-1: In task 1 we will construct a digital energy meter. Task-2: Interlinking the microcontroller with the meter for detecting various type of tempering. Task-3: After detecting the data when tempering, we have to send this data to utility companies by using GSM module. Week & trimester wise planning: We have two trimesters in our hand. so there are 24 weeks. Let, by combining every 4 weeks we make one portion. So there are can be actually 6 portions to complete the whole project work.

  1. Week 1 – Week 4: In these week our first task will be visiting some digital energy meter manufacturing companies to collect data that are helpful and important to succesfully complete our project. We have to make a digital energy meter first. So we need necessary equipment for this project like energy meter IC, microcontroller, opto-coupler, regulator, n-p-n transistors, LED, Bridge rectifier module, zener-diode,Tactile switch, Crystal oscillator, various values of resistors, capacitors etc. We have to fixed their value. Make design diagram of digital energy meter.
  2. Week 5 – Week 8: In our next portion,we will try to make a block diagram of our full project. And start the hardware implementation. We hope that, we will successfully complete our Task-1(making a digital meter) within first 8 week.
  3. Week 9 – Week 12: In these weeks,we will try to add a microcontroller with our digital energy meter for detect tempering. For this purpose, we have to write a program for microcontroller accordingly.
  4. 4 Week 13 – 16: In these weeks,we will add a GSM module in our project to send tampering detection data to the utility companies so that they can take action to the bad consumers.
  5. Week 17 – 20: Now,in this portion,we will re-check our project. And if there are any mismatch with our desired output,we will solve it & try to make our project as efficient as possible.
  6. Week 21 – 24: We hope that,within the second portion of our Fall trimester, we will be able to complete our project & we will be preparing ourselves ready for our final defence.


We have already given the most possible concept in the above to prepare and complete our project. But some changes might be needed or added when designing the hardware implementation. Our expectation on our project is that our developed meter will detect tampering and send data to the utility companies on the basis of tampering occurrence. But every project has some limitations and so do ours. Since we are using GSM module for data sending purpose, if the utility company is far away from the place where data will be sent, data signal has the possibility to become weak. So we can work in future to overcome the limitation of our project and to make the energy meter as efficient as possible. Despite having the limitation, if we can implement our project, government can save sufficient energy than government is doing right now.

29 April 2020

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