Smart meters are an integral part of the smart-grid rollouts that are increasing globally. In the very near future, they will be complemented by smart water meters. The first ZigBee-certified wireless water meter has been developed by Elster and Freestyle Technology. It uses ZigBee technology from Ember to help utilities and consumers better manage their water cost and usage.

Specifically, the Elster V200 digital water meter combines Elster's measurement and smart-meter technology, Ember's ZigBee system-on-a-chip (SoC) and ZigBee PRO networking software, and a metering application developed with Freestyle's Microengine technology. The digital meters enable households to monitor their water consumption. At the same time, they give utilities a tool for more efficient billing and better service to customers.

According to Elster and Freestyle Technology, the meters integrate seamlessly into wireless home-area networks (HANs). They work with other smart-energy devices in the home to help households conserve water, electricity, and other resources. A wireless ZigBee-to-IP hub communicates usage data back to the utility for billing and service applications.

The meters are battery operated for easy maintenance and installation. They operate in "sleep" mode most of the time, waking intermittently to communicate with the HAN and hub. Consequently, they can operate reliably and securely for years using inexpensive batteries.

The V200 meters utilize the ZigBee Smart Energy (SE) version 1.1 profile to provide easy development, installation, and operation, as well as interoperability with industry-standard advanced-metering-infrastructure (AMI) systems and other ZigBee SE devices. Elster can continuously enhance and update the meters using the SE profile's over-the-air update feature.