Radio Frequency facts

  • Electric SmartMeters utilize the same digital metering technology that utilities have widely used since the 1980s.
  • The innovation to the prior technology is a small 1-watt radio that allows two-way wireless communication between our customers and PG&E, which enables customers to review their hourly energy usage.
  • Radio Frequency (RF) is used in many products that most people use as part of modern daily life.
  • Cellphones, baby monitors, microwave ovens, wireless laptops, radios, televisions, pagers, cordless telephones, garage-door openers and walkie-talkies all use RF.
  • The RF from an electric SmartMeter is roughly one one-thousandth that of a typical cellphone.
  • You’d have to have one of our meters on your home or business for more than 1,000 years to get as much exposure to radio waves as a typical cell phone user gets in just one month.
  • The signal from a SmartMeter typically lasts between 2 and 20 milliseconds. These intermittent signals total, on average, 45 seconds per day. For the other 23 hours and 59 minutes of the day, the meter is not transmitting any RF.
  • The U.S. federal government regulates RF, and informs us that SmartMeters are safe.
    • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with input from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other federal government agencies, has set standards for RF, limiting RF exposure to 601 microwatts per square centimeter. SmartMeters are a fraction of that: just 8.8 (less than 1.5 percent of the federal standard).
    • The World Health Organization (WHO) and many other health agencies confirm that there is no persuasive evidence that low level RF exposure (such as from SmartMeters ) causes any adverse health effects.


The following table compares RF from a SmartMeter to RF from common everyday sources in many households.

Examples of RF in the Everyday Environment Compared to SmartMeter

Power Density in Microwatts per square centimeter

Adjacent to a gas SmartMeter™ (1 foot)


Adjacent to an electric SmartMeter™ (10 feet)


Adjacent to an electric SmartMeter™ (1 foot)


Microwave oven nearby (1 meter)


Wi-Fi wireless routers, laptop computers, cyber cafes, etc., maximum (~1 meter for laptops, 2 - 5 meters for access points)

10 - 20

Cell phones (at head)

30 - 10,000

Walkie-Talkies (at head)

500 - 42,000

Source: Richard Tell Associates, Inc.