• 01 FEB 13
    • 0

    Is radiofrequency interference the ghost in the smart machine?

    In the following posting on the CHE List Blake Levitt raises what may be an emerging huge and unforeseen problem with industry plans on making the modern home a Wi-Fi hot spot with most home appliances Wi-Fi enabled. That is Radiofrequency Interference (RFI)

    From Blake Levitt to the CHE List:

    A microwave oven mystery

    The recent Consumer Reports (March 2013) has a feature on microwave ovens turning themselves on, sometimes with dire consequences. Scroll down on right side to access “Microwave Mystery at: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/03/appliance-fires-is-your-home-safe/index.htm
    For the mysterious causation, one UL spokesman is quoted below, saying in effect that because appliances are so complex now, it could be a cell phone signal or noise on the lines. This translates to RFI problems between smart meters and appliances equipped with antennas. What an irony it would be if GE smart meters are self-starting GE microwave ovens. The entire piece is a good read.

    From Consumer Reports:
    “…Underwriters Laboratories, which tests and certifies appliances and many other products, says it is aware of microwave self-starting incidents and is investigating possible causes. “It could be something as simple as a cell phone turning on a microwave,” says UL safety director John Drengenberg. “It could also be a manufacturing error in the control panel, noise coming in on the electrical line, or debris on a component that”s creating a bridge for an unwanted signal.” Based on the findings, UL will consider new safety requirements.
    Whirlpool has taken some steps, too, while not linking it to the problem. Its engineers have developed door-monitoring software that prevents a microwave from turning on if the door has not been opened in the past 5 minutes.
    GE spokeswoman Kim Freeman says the company has a rigorous safety program and meets UL standards for microwaves. She also says, “GE has investigated unverified reports of “self-start” and found them to constitute product quality, not product safety, concerns. Many have been determined not to be “self-starts” at all.”

    Blake Levitt

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