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How Smart Grid Technology Antennas Drive Smart Grid Coverage

Part I: Wireless System Characteristics

Smart grid technology holds great promise of cleaner air, more efficient power, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. In a smart grid system, the system itself will automatic self-correct and enhance the ability to detect power outages ahead of time and correct any problems that persist. The system also provides real-time electricity cost and allows consumers to alter their consumption pattern to avoid peak hour usage.

Wireless connectivity is a cost effective solution to modernize the electrical grid turning it into a smart grid system. Deploying a wireless communication systems is easier for consumers than installing wired communication meters.

Wireless allows two-way digital communications by adding computer intelligence and data communications to the electricity distribution networks from non-renewable (coal and nuclear) and renewable energy (solar and wind) to smart appliances to plug-in cars.

Key components that enable smart grid to provide two-way wireless controls and communications are smart meters, backhaul site, utility pole radios, central utility communication center, and remote sub-stations.

Antennas made by Mobile Mark Inc. are already in use on commercial and residential smart metering, distribution utility poles, and utility company. Mobile Mark’s experience in this area has given the company an appreciation for some of the wireless challenges these new networks are facing in their efforts to provide effective communications.

Some of these challenges can be addressed by choosing antenna types that matched the situation; other challenges require an examination of the antenna performance characteristics that come in to play. Different antenna styles are required at different points in the network: from cost effective fixed location antennas for smart metering, to robust high performance point-to-point, point-to-multipoint base station antennas for substation, remote monitor, and control utility infrastructure. Antenna styles under consideration include embedded antennas, surface mount antennas, omni-directional site antennas, as well as directional panel and yagi antennas.

A typical wireless system consists of many parameters and it is beyond the scope of this article to cover them all. Thus, we will focus on the wireless system’s ability to digitally communicate over a wide distant in dynamic environments. We will examine, in the most optimistic view and under ideal conditions, the key wireless system characteristics that influence overall range performance as they are characterized and quantified using Friss transmission formula:

• Transmission RF power (1 Watt / 30dBm)
• Antenna gain on transmitter and receiver
• Frequency band (700 MHz to 5.85 GHz)
• Receiver Power sensitivity (-85dBm)
• Path Loss

Each of these five areas will be examined in detail in Parts II – VI of this series.

To learn more about our initiatives to remain at the forefront of smart grid technology, contact Mobile Mark at, 1-800-648-2400 or 847-671-6690.

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