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How a Solar PV Array Can Preserve Your Privacy

In this, the final of our four-part series on smart meters and solar PV arrays (start here), we’re going to address one of three dangers HelioPower‘s Vice President of Residential Sales, Scott Gordon revealed to us about smart meters: How they are infringing on our privacy.

We’re going to assume that no one reading this is doing anything illegal in their homes that they want to hide. But Americans view privacy as one of our basic rights. While the right to privacy is not expressly outlined in the U.S. Constitution, the fourth amendment does guarantee us “privacy of the person and possessions as against unreasonable searches.”

Of course, our founding fathers never could have envisioned digital meters that can record and share every detail of our electric usage. (Mostly because they didn’t envision electricity!) But this is exactly what smart meters do. Why does the electric company want that information? On the surface, the utilities claim that they’re collecting this data in order to make us smarter consumers and conservationists. Armed with the knowledge of when, where, and how we use electricity, we are better able to reduce our usage and lower our electric bills.

In reality, there is a lot more they can do with the information. As Gordon explains: “Every time you use an electrical device, it draws a specific amount of power, different from other devices. The smart meter sees your life and the way you use electricity in 15-minute increments. It can see how many loads of laundry you do each week, when you’re home, when you leave, if you work from home, if you have a pool, how many refrigerators you have … I can literally build a profile of you and your life.”

Laws prohibit the electric company from sharing this information without your permission. But what if they offered you 20 percent off your bill to permit them to share the information with marketing partners? “Many people, in this economy, would take them up on it,” Gordon notes.

If you thought targeted Facebook ads were scary in a sort of “Big Brother is watching” sense, imagine this type of marketing going on across your home, through mail, email, cell phone — any avenue advertisers choose to reach you.

Protect Your Privacy with Solar
When you’re connected to a home solar PV array, your solar system is the only power signature the smart meter can read. All your other devices draw their power from the solar system. “Everything else is literally hiding behind a smokescreen that is your solar system,” Gordon explains.

For years, Gordon said, the driving factor behind installing a solar array has been to save money. “Saving the environment and being eco-conscious is nice, but for the most part, people are concerned about lowering their electric bills.”

Now, smart meters introduce a whole new reason to go solar. For 10 to 16 hours of the day, depending on the time of year, your solar PV array is supporting your right to privacy. (Read more in HelioPower’s 10 Things About Smart Meters and Solar.)

Post Written by
A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation to pass before installing solar panels on her Long Island home.


  1. Tony says:

    Hi Dawn,

    This is a wonderful article you wrote. Do I need to have a PV system that is sized to meet all of my electricity demands for a smart meter to just read the power produced from PV? I am concerned that if I do not meet all of my electricity demands with a PV system, that it would still read the net energy that I consume from the grid and the PV system.

    • Raina Russo says:

      Thank you Tony, I’m glad you enjoyed this article. The smart meter reads the power that you put in or take out of the grid which is an unavoidable situation as your system is sized based on your annual electricity demands. This of course, naturally fluctuates daily and seasonally.

  2. Mia Nony says:

    Yes it is true your privacy is protected since your activities cannot be diagnosed with solar. However? Please consider this, that to include a smart meter as part of the solar equation is simply not worth it, health wise.
    A smart meter is a frequency enabling device and a remotely alterable frequency delivery device, well suited to any and all frequencies and attracted to any and all wiring.
    If a smart meter is retained as part of the so called “off grid” equation, with the idea that you can then get a rebate for a wholesale portion of the retail energy you just sold back to the energy utility via net metering arrangements, just be aware of the less obvious attendant hazards involved. The frequencies enabled by a smart meter can and will co-opt your solar and house wiring.
    Even then?
    In rural settings and elsewhere, due to the way in which the mesh systems like WIMAX and TWAC operate, it will still remain necessary to shield/replace and upgrade the house wiring, to protect the endurance of your existing house, since smart meters pulse surges generated by multiple frequencies such as SMPS and microwave are frequencies which ordinary house wiring was never designed to withstand. Nor are existing systems fireproof, for this very reason. Smart grid frequencies have a natural affinity for any and all metal, especially highly conductive copper house wiring. Swedish studies have made it clear that these frequencies routinely exceed EMF safety standards and must be prevented from coupling with and co-opting ANY wiring, live or dead, activated or not, solar off grid wiring or not.

    • Raina Russo says:

      Hello Mia,

      We appreciate your comment and concerns. In a prior post we discussed smart meter myths and misconceptions . While clearly you are not alone in your fears we believe that any evidence of the danger of EMF (ElectroMagnetic Frequency) radiation is inclusive. Either way, a smart meter emits no more radiation than a smartphone which we all spend way too much time with unlike our smart meters that are for the most part left ignored on the side of our homes.