wattaman
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Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 8:47 am

Most of you will probably say no, since it is such a small device and probably doesn't consume much power. However, here's the story: I've recently installed smart (electricity) meters. I'm guessing they are a little more sensitive to power fluctuations or maybe wifi/radio waves. They also come with a small (mobile network?!) device that enables me to top-up online and communicates with the meter to display the power left, consumed etc. It's just a digital clock powered by a regulat usb charger.

Since then, I keep getting the electricity meter tripping off, mostly during the night when there are not so many consumers. All I have is the fridge, the boiler (that runs on gas, although it needs electricity to spark) and the raspberry pi 4 server + the router. This is (should be) always online, it is hosting my Wordpress website. Yesterday night I've switched off all the power sockets in the house, except the above, to make sure there is no leak somewhere.

So I'm thinking that maybe the rpi server in interfering somehow with the wifi from the smart meters, or maybe it is causing power spikes that trigger the smart meters switching off (probably less likely). If so, is there a way to check this, maybe from the logs?

PS tonight I'll switch it off, to make 100% sure this is not the cause, but until then I'd like to start preparing for the worst.

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neilgl
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 8:59 am

Call the electricity company that installed the smart meters for you and get them to check the meters.

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DougieLawson
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 9:27 am

It's more likely to be the fridge as that's an inductive load that is switched on and off hundreds of times per day.

The fault is likely to be mis-installation of the smart meter by someone who has failed to torque down the terminals correctly.

It will need someone to pull the DNO fuse to correct it.
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davidcoton
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 10:01 am

You don't say which country you are in, my experience as a qualified electrician relates to the UK and its Regulations and may or may not apply to other countries -- USA in particular is different in some respects which may or may not be significant.

Was the fusebox changed when the smart meter was installed? In particular, do you have "Residual Current Devices" (RCDs) that were not fitted before? (They may also be described as RCBOs.)

What is tripping? The meter itself (not likely in the UK), or a breaker in the Consumer Unit (fusebox)? One circuit, or the whole house? What do you need to do to reset the meter?

In any case corrective advice is not appropriate via the www, you need a qualified electrician to determine the problem. But it is unlikely to be caused by a Pi.FWIW, I would suspect one of two things, both mentioned by Dougie: either faulty installation or a latent fault in some other equipment that the new meter (or more likely the RCD) has revealed.

If you want anything more here, please post photos of the main electrical installation. It is off-topic, but I'm curious. And we'd all like to know whether the Pi was implicated.

Tripping indicates a safety issue, I recommend calling the installer back as a matter of urgency (see neilgl's post).
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 3:41 pm

If it’s just the main RCD tripping it can be pain to find which device is causing the problem. This is the reason why I have 10 RCBOs, one on each circuit. Makes it easy to isolate a problem and also put offline any section.

ejolson
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 4:21 pm

wattaman wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 8:47 am
PS tonight I'll switch it off, to make 100% sure this is not the cause, but until then I'd like to start preparing for the worst.
Here is a discussion of reactive, apparent and actual power.

https://www.electronics-tutorials.ws/ac ... power.html

While normal computer power supplies are compensated, the official wall wart and many others are not. That means a higher ratio of the electrical currents generated by a Raspberry Pi are reactive.

If during the night the Pi is the only device left on, is it possible the smart meters will see the uncompensated load, complain and shut off the circuit?

drtechno
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 5:44 pm

If the power company is altering the AC power's duty cycle, it can cause things like that to happen.

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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 5:58 pm

I've spent many hours tracing residual current leaks, the rough order of likelihood in my experience ...

1. Washing machine motors
2. Washing machine heater elements
3. Washing machine suppressor devices - but they usually blow themselves apart and so it stops happening.
3. Clothes Irons (usually heating element, sometimes damp fluff)
4. Boiler ignitions - which also cause other problems, like TV's switching off its caused by the spark gap being too big.
5. Mains sockets in metal boxes mounted on exterior walls.
6. Microwave combination oven heating elements.
7. Fridges.

Note that the apparatus doesn't have to be operational to be causing the problem, nor might they cause the fault in isolation, a lot of items with a small leak within specifications in combination with one with a slightly high leakage and pop goes the trip.

In many cases as you can see its been the washing machine motor even though the washing machine wasn't switched on.

drgeoff
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 6:13 pm

drtechno wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 5:44 pm
If the power company is altering the AC power's duty cycle...
@drtechno. Do some research into how the AC power is generated and you'll realise what nonsense you've written.
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drgeoff
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 6:16 pm

davidcoton wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 10:01 am
Was the fusebox changed when the smart meter was installed? In particular, do you have "Residual Current Devices" (RCDs) that were not fitted before? (They may also be described as RCBOs.)
In the USA they are known as GFCIs. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resid ... ent_device
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drgeoff
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Fri May 14, 2021 6:25 pm

ejolson wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 4:21 pm
wattaman wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 8:47 am
PS tonight I'll switch it off, to make 100% sure this is not the cause, but until then I'd like to start preparing for the worst.
Here is a discussion of reactive, apparent and actual power.

https://www.electronics-tutorials.ws/ac ... power.html

While normal computer power supplies are compensated, the official wall wart and many others are not. That means a higher ratio of the electrical currents generated by a Raspberry Pi are reactive.

If during the night the Pi is the only device left on, is it possible the smart meters will see the uncompensated load, complain and shut off the circuit?
No. Smart meters (really the people who design them) are not that stupid. And even if a company managed to design one that behaved like that, it would never get certified as suitable for use.
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wattaman
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 5:16 pm

Sorry, not enough details. So I'm in UK, Scotland, and the provider is Scottish Power. I am just trying to eliminate this from the list of possible causes, especially since the S.P. electrician who visited today couldn't come with a better idea that 'protecting' the meter from other frequencies by this plastic sheet (see photo). Meanwhile, I've ordered an UPS 'cause all these might burn the server, I'm afraid. The meter is still tripping off, about one time per day.
IMG20210518162037.jpg
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drgeoff
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 5:24 pm

wattaman wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 5:16 pm
.. the S.P. electrician who visited today couldn't come with a better idea that 'protecting' the meter from other frequencies by this plastic sheet
That "electrician" hasn't a clue if he thinks a plastic sheet will do that.

Did he do any measurements or inspections?
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davidcoton
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 5:36 pm

Well, the plastic sheet offering RF protection is ... words I shouldn't use on the forum. Harmless but completely ineffective. That engineer is a liability to the industry. Contact his/her manager and ask for a senior engineer to review his recommendation.

Could you review my earlier post, particularly
What is tripping? The meter itself (not likely in the UK), or a breaker in the Consumer Unit (fusebox)? One circuit, or the whole house? What do you need to do to reset the meter?
I assume from the photo that the Proteus Consumer Unit is not also new (but that might be due o photo file compression). However, I am concerned that there is only one (incoming) connection to the Earth terminal on the left. I can't see enough of the installation to be certain, but this may be a serious problem. It could, possibly, account for the daily tripping.

I would recommend getting an inspection and report from an experienced electrical contractor (show him my posts -- I was an Approved Contractor until recent retirement). If that fingers the meter installation, reclaim the costs from S.P.
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pidd
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 5:40 pm

I hope he commented on the standard of the install, that is not the quality that utility companies are supposed to provide. There was no need to have the boxes mounted higgledy-piggledy.

Consumers are under no obligation to ensure the load factor is correct, even if it was, as there is no immediate safety or emergency factor they could not cut you off without going through the formal process of notifying you first.

If it is their smart meter cutting you off, the engineer should have looked at the logs to find out why the meter thought it should power off, if it was indeterminate he should have replaced the meter.

If it is their smart meter doing this then Scottish Power are under a legal obligation to resolve the issue, NEVER give them possible reasons, that just gives them an excuse to walk away hoping that you won't follow it up.

We've had three electricity meters fitted in the last year until the utility company managed to resolve THEIR issues. We've had seven gas meters in the last 10 years. The quality is rubbish these days.

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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 5:43 pm

drgeoff wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 5:24 pm
wattaman wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 5:16 pm
.. the S.P. electrician who visited today couldn't come with a better idea that 'protecting' the meter from other frequencies by this plastic sheet
That "electrician" hasn't a clue if he thinks a plastic sheet will do that.

Did he do any measurements or inspections?
Supply company electricians will not test the consumer side installation to the level that would detect earth leakage that will trip an RCD, even when they suspect a fault. They should advise the customer to seek advice from a registered electrician.

However, while working it was alarmingly not unknown to find that I knew more about the supplier's electrician's job than he knew about mine. And I commonly had to supply parts for supplier's electricians to complete repairs -- or face long delays while they went to get something they should have had in the van. There are some very good engineers working for suppliers, too.
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wattaman
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 6:23 pm

davidcoton wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 5:36 pm
Well, the plastic sheet offering RF protection is ... words I shouldn't use on the forum. Harmless but completely ineffective. That engineer is a liability to the industry. Contact his/her manager and ask for a senior engineer to review his recommendation.

Could you review my earlier post, particularly
What is tripping? The meter itself (not likely in the UK), or a breaker in the Consumer Unit (fusebox)? One circuit, or the whole house? What do you need to do to reset the meter?
I assume from the photo that the Proteus Consumer Unit is not also new (but that might be due o photo file compression). However, I am concerned that there is only one (incoming) connection to the Earth terminal on the left. I can't see enough of the installation to be certain, but this may be a serious problem. It could, possibly, account for the daily tripping.

I would recommend getting an inspection and report from an experienced electrical contractor (show him my posts -- I was an Approved Contractor until recent retirement). If that fingers the meter installation, reclaim the costs from S.P.
Well, my issue is starting to move away from the RPi, so I hope the mods will let me continue the discussion.

I think there is no incoming connection to the Earth terminal at all (as far as I understand electricity), and the electrician also mentioned this as a possible problem. There are 2 ground cable, one leads outside straight in the ground, while the other one seems to connect to the boiler's pipes. Should they or one of them go into the Earth box?
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What is tripping off is the RCD on the left.
f.jpg
f.jpg (63.04 KiB) Viewed 287 times

cleverca22
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 6:27 pm

wattaman wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 6:23 pm
What is tripping off is the RCD on the left.
there are 5 breakers on that RCD

would you be able to turn 4 of them off, and leave it like that for a few days?
that would let you know which circuit the problem is likely on
then just change which one you leave on, until you find the one that is switching the problem device

drgeoff
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 7:25 pm

wattaman wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 6:23 pm
What is tripping off is the RCD on the left.
In the opening post you wrote that the electricity meter was tripping off. That would remove all electricity. Now you write that it is one RCD in your consumer unit that is tripping.

I doubt that you need the shower and cooker overnight so those two breakers are an easy first test to switch off and see if the problem still occurs.
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 8:25 pm

drgeoff wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 7:25 pm
I doubt that you need the shower and cooker overnight so those two breakers are an easy first test to switch off and see if the problem still occurs.
Assuming that those are actually connected to the cooker and shower. 16A seems a bit low for an electric cooker (my cooker circuit has a 32A breaker), and 32A is pushing it with most showers being over 8KW.
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 8:34 pm

wattaman wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 6:23 pm
I think there is no incoming connection to the Earth terminal at all (as far as I understand electricity), and the electrician also mentioned this as a possible problem. There are 2 ground cable, one leads outside straight in the ground, while the other one seems to connect to the boiler's pipes. Should they or one of them go into the Earth box?
Looks like you have a TT system where the supply earth is left disconnected and everything goes to a consumer earth. Its a legitimate system but unusual in that it is normally only used when there is no other choice. It is not very compatible with RCD's as there is no explicit connection between consumer earth and neutral. An electrician can convert it into a TN-C-S system very easily if it is appropriate, do not do this yourself, it can be highly dangerous if it is not tested properly.

Disclaimer:- This is not advice, just comment as I see it.

wattaman
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 8:38 pm

drgeoff wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 7:25 pm
wattaman wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 6:23 pm
What is tripping off is the RCD on the left.
In the opening post you wrote that the electricity meter was tripping off. That would remove all electricity. Now you write that it is one RCD in your consumer unit that is tripping.

I doubt that you need the shower and cooker overnight so those two breakers are an easy first test to switch off and see if the problem still occurs.
Sorry, that's what I meant by 'tripping off'. Maybe my electricity knowledge is too poor, but I was referring to the rcd as in my mind they are a whole :)
I'll try the elimination process as well.

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davidcoton
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Re: Can Raspberry PI triggering power meters tripping off?

Tue May 18, 2021 9:46 pm

pidd wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 8:34 pm
wattaman wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 6:23 pm
I think there is no incoming connection to the Earth terminal at all (as far as I understand electricity), and the electrician also mentioned this as a possible problem. There are 2 ground cable, one leads outside straight in the ground, while the other one seems to connect to the boiler's pipes. Should they or one of them go into the Earth box?
Looks like you have a TT system where the supply earth is left disconnected and everything goes to a consumer earth. Its a legitimate system but unusual in that it is normally only used when there is no other choice. It is not very compatible with RCD's as there is no explicit connection between consumer earth and neutral. An electrician can convert it into a TN-C-S system very easily if it is appropriate, do not do this yourself, it can be highly dangerous if it is not tested properly.

Disclaimer:- This is not advice, just comment as I see it.
I think @pidd is right about having TT. TT is not in itself a problem, and can only be used with RCD protection -- there is no inherent incompatibility with RCDs, which must be sensitive enough for the reduced effectiveness of an earth rod compared with mains earth. According to the labelling, yours are adequate. Specific checks (eg earth bonding to incoming water, gas or oil pipes) must be conducted when converting to TNC-S. I cannot make any recommendation, you would need advice from someone with access to inspect and test the system (look for someone with NICEIC, ELECSA or NAPIT accreditation, there are registers online if you search for those acronyms). I'm also uncertain that the earth terminal is properly connected to the cable head (that would be S.P.'s responsibility).

You will also need an electrician to check the circuit ratings as @rpdom comments.

You can determine which circuit is causing the fault by turning off selectively overnight -- however this is not a guaranteed method since the individual circuits have switched line only, and the fault could be on the neutral side. Again, I'm afraid you need an electrician. I used to dread finding intermittent earth leakage faults on multiple circuits. Even with professional equipment each circuit need s to be disconnected on the neutral side to get a useful test reading, and results can be extremely confusing.

I don't think we should continue this online, there is too much that we don't know about the installation, as well as being off-topic. Sorry I don't live anywhere near you!
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