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Severe Tinnitus Following the Installation of New Electricity Meters

Since new gas and electricity meters were installed in my house on 9 February 2022, I have had a very serious problem with tinnitus. I also have had a feeling of strong pressure on my eardrums. Let me say straight away that this is nothing to do with smart meter communications; the hub responsible for mobile and Wi-Fi signals was removed one week after the meters were installed as a final attempt by the energy company to solve the problem. Various engineers I’ve been in contact with over this matter suspect the problem is most likely to be a switched-mode power supply or capacitors associated with it. I would like to know more about how such a device upset my health to the point that I do not feel it is safe to live in my own home. The energy company have refused to carry out any further work to investigate the issue and state that their meters meet all the current standards and are therefore safe.

I did not have any problems with the traditional analogue meters previously installed. I should add that I’ve been in houses that have smart electricity meters of various types and only in one of those houses do I feel my tinnitus tone is being amplified and none result in any pressure feelings on my eardrums. The first meter, a Landis+Gyr E470 was replaced with a Kaifa MA120 five days after complaining to my energy company. The Landis+Gyr meter was unbearable to live with any longer than that. The Kaifa model has seen me leave home twice for respite despite discovering on how to dampen down the tinnitus and greatly reduce the pressure feeling on my eardrums. The Kaifa makes an awful little noise which if I could hear that while in the living room, I could understand why my ears are being irritated. The Landis+Gyr also made a similar noise but a little quieter. However, should such devices make any audible noise at all? Some people don’t have the ability to hide these away in cupboards. I can hear the Kaifa meter 2 to 3 metres away with the cupboard door open where it is installed. A short recording of the continuous noise it makes can be heard in the following mp3 file:

My tinnitus grew into a significant problem within 24 hours of the Landis+Gyr meter being installed. I’ve had tinnitus in the past and was cautious to blame the new gas and electric meters at first, but I soon noticed this was very different to previous bouts of tinnitus: I found the affect would wane when away from the house and be amplified back to ‘horribly irritating’ upon return. The pressure feeling on my eardrums 'throbbed away' as soon as I got a short distance away from my house, it too would come back very quickly upon returning inside. When the Landis+Gyr meter was shutdown for replacement, it was an hour before the Kaifa meter was switched on. That is the only time I’ve been in the house since the new meters were installed on 9 February that my ears have felt calm, albeit the tinnitus tone only very slowly fades away. Unfortunately that short period of time was to end with a shock when the Kaifa was powered on; I felt a short burst of pain in both ears making me flinch in my seat. I was not watching what the fitter was doing and had to ask him what had just happened. He stated he had just powered up the meter with the distribution board still switched off. I’m horrified that simply turning on the meter could cause me pain, not to mention the fact the tinnitus and pressure feeling came back with this new meter.

With the aid of a friend who is also has a background in electrical and electronic engineering, I made the discovery that the effects of the meter can be reduced by turning off electrical devices plugged into the mains supply and found by turning off the ring main supplying the bedroom overnight, I could achieve better sleep, albeit still not adequate. Suspicion then was that the meter was emitting something being carried around the house via the mains cabling as opposed to just emitting something from itself. I requested help from the local power distribution company who sent out an engineer to check for electromagnetic fields. No unusually strong fields were found, however the engineer said he could perceive a high pitch tone and a bit of pressure on his eardrums. So far the only other person to sense something of what I am experiencing and I at least do not feel alone any more. He asked me to try powering down electrical equipment before turning the distribution board off and we both felt a relief from the pressure as soon as I turned off the television and surround sound system. The surround sound system along with most other audio equipment are now unplugged and the sense of pressure on my eardrums is much less noticeable. The engineer mentioned that tantalum capacitors and switched-mode power supplies can be a source of noise at frequencies in the audible range if they are defective or inadequately filtered.

Unfortunately the tinnitus tone has been gaining strength recently worsening my sleep down to just 2 hours a night. Hence I have had to leave my house again for respite, immediately achieving nearly 7 hours sleep on my first night away despite the tone having hardly subsided. I have used a tone generator to match the tinnitus at 14kHz. Sound analyser applications on my smart phone don’t show anything unusual at this frequency, but there is some low frequency noise below 100Hz and high frequency noise around 20kHz. Both are at low volumes, albeit I hardly think the microphone on a smart phone can be trusted at these low and high frequencies. However, what is interesting is that noise in the 17kHz to 21kHz range is hardly present when I am in other houses with smart meters where my tinnitus is not amplified and it is present in the only other house I know where my tinnitus is amplified. It could be a red herring, but there must be strange harmonics involved one way or another.

I’ve spent a great deal of time researching the Internet trying to find out about the problems with tinnitus and smart meters. I find people reporting life affecting tinnitus within two days of having smart meters fitted and then the forum responses where they posted concentrate on the arguments about Wi-Fi and mobile phone signals, neither of which apply here and then they soon degenerate into conspiracy theories about smart meters. (I’d have been very disturbed by tinnitus for the last 20 years if I had any sensitivity to radiation from mobile phones and Wi-Fi routers.) I’ve been in touch with the British Tinnitus Association and they have confirmed my case is “not without precedent”. I’ve had an email discussion with a specialist audiologist who states that the link between electrical apparatus and tinnitus is not scientifically proven but it is known some people can be hyper-sensitive. I’ve not knowingly been sensitive to any electrical devices in the past. I've had a hearing test which proves my hearing in the normal range is very good for my age, just some mild loss in the 7kHz to 8kHz range. The tone generators I used to match my tinnitus show I can hear tones up to around 15kHz, subject to the quality of these tone generator apps, websites and speakers within my smart phone and attached to my computer.

Maybe the arguments over smart meters and health problems have been clouded by the debate on Wi-Fi and mobile phone signals rather than the quality of the electronics in these meters. The electronics engineers who have pointed out the problem is likely to be the switched-mode power supply or capacitors within the electricity meter have done so independently, based in three different countries, which proves to me there is some concern about these components which obviously are in lots more devices than just meters. There is a difference though: I have two devices which have power supplies, almost certainly switched-mode, that make audible noises, but these can be turned off and would be replaced if I suspected they were causing any health concerns. The electricity meter is not something that can be turned off and replaced by the householder, it has to be changed by the energy company and any interference with it is illegal. I’m currently left in a position where I am reporting health effects coincident with the meters being fitted, locational to my house, affected by household electrical equipment and I'm so afflicted I am renting accommodation at some expense away from home, but being told by the company they are not going to do anything about it. They asked me switch company if I wanted the meter changing again and issued me with a deadlock letter so that I could take my case to the Energy Ombudsman as the only alternative. Either takes more weeks than I would like to contemplate, I've suffered more than enough already.

As switching energy companies at the current time is very difficult and very expensive without having to make the unusual request to remove a virtually new meter, I have started a complaint with the Ombudsman and I need to supply them with as much evidence as possible to prove the electricity meter is causing my health problem. There does not appear to be anyway of enabling the meter to be replaced as a matter of urgency given all my personal evidence as described above. If anyone can provide any advice or evidence that the quality of these meters can result in problems like I am experiencing I would be very grateful indeed. If anyone is researching in this area I would be very happy to help them with my experience, I do not fancy a future where such tinnitus inducing devices are common to every home.

  • This piques my interest. I assume other folk in the same place do not notice anything  ?

    How did you record that embedded sound - is that acoustic detection (microphone) or radio reception ? Do you have a feel for the intensity in dB SPL or dBA if it is acoustic or the field strengths in V/m or mA/m if it is electromagnetic ?

    Certainly many things with switch mode supplies in can be  very noisy in the ultrasonic, due to ferrite core vibrations and can easily be detected with something similar to the traditional Bat Detector  (such things are also used to detect certain types of electronic inverter firing up in a way not dissimilar to the old whistling camera flash guns as well as to detect deliberate covert use of ultrasonic harassment equipment ) However the frequencies are higher than you mention, but unless others can hear it too I wonder about you responding to reciprocal mixing effects with something that is really supersonic.

    The official levels for ultrasound exposure (and infra-sound as well)  are in this handy report by the UK Independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation. However they allow levels that are quite high  - equivalent to 100dBA above 25 KHz. 

    How sensitive is this effect for you ?  can you detect if there is a smart meter or not walking past a closed meter box on a property where you have not yet been told if there is one or not ?


  • Hi Mike,

    Thank you for your interest and your reply. In answer to your questions:

    My wife has suffered from tinnitus for some time, prior to the meter installation. She has been reporting recently an increased level of tinnitus but hasn't been able to relate it as I can to being in the house and easing when not in the house. We've had few visitors to the house since 9 February, but it was interesting that in the short amount of time the engineer from the power distribution company was in the house, he could perceive a high pitched tone and pressure on his ears and felt some relief when I powered down the television and surround sound sytem from standby. He couldn't describe the effect as strong as it was to me however.

    The sound I included is an audio recording taken close to the meter. I am away from home at the moment and I wouldn't trust my smart phone apps to give a sensible reading for dBA. What I can say is that hear it between 2 and 3 metres away from the cupboard with the door open if there is little ambient noise around at the time. No one who's tried to listen to have said they can't but distances away from when they start hearing the noise vary but most need to be closer than me. It is low volume and I can't blame it for the tinnitus I am suffering as I cannot hear it when much further away with the door closed. I do suspect there is a connection between that noise though and the behaviour of the electronic component(s) resulting in the tinnitus. If you want to know what the tinnitus sounds like, then try listening to a 14kHz tone using or similar. So far about 50% of people I've asked if they can hear it have confirmed that they can. It's far from a pleasant sound and I recommend that the volume is turned to zero before clicking the play button, then slowly ramping it up afterwards until you, or someone in the room, can hear it. Do not listen to it for very long, particularly if you have any history of tinnitus. I do wonder whether there is some ultrasonic sound going on resulting in a 14kHz harmonic, but that is tinnitus, a perceived sound rather than an actual sound. (Tinnitus sounds worse with ear plugs rather than quietening the tone.) My smart phone apps are displaying sound around 17kHz to 21kHz but that's their limit. I would need some specialised kit to check whether the meter is producing higher frequencies.

    Sensitivity is difficult to judge. The tinnitus tone doesn't go away quickly. It's still badly affecting me some 28 hours since I left home and I keep wondering if my temporary abode is affected. However the electricity meter is in another building and turning everything off at the small distribution board makes no difference. I suspect that I have simply over exposed myself to the problem back home and a break has absolutely been the best thing to do. I spent enough time in three houses with smart meters to know that my tinnitus was not being induced there. I suspected my mother-in-law's meter could be affecting me but only came to light once I had the problem at my home. Any feeling of tones in her living room were blamed towards her old CRT television. The pressure feeling I was getting in my house was a pretty rapid change when coming and going, but that ended after turning off the surround sound system and a couple of other audio devices that didn't need to be left on in standby mode. Before that, due to the pressure changes, I could almost instantly tell when the Landis+Gyr was turned off while I was upstairs in the house. I obviously reacted immediately to the Kaifa meter being powered up. I haven't as yet been in a house not knowing there was a digital electricity meter and deducing that there was one installed, but I haven't been in too many different homes since my problems began. I will be trying though.


  • I just need to clarify that my reaction to the Kaifa meter being powered up could not have been as a result of the audio equipment in the room coming back on as the main switch on the distribution board was still off at that point. So whatever caused the painful flinch was specific to the meter alone.


  • Thank you for the clarification that it is a direct  acoustic measurement.   It is interesting and in some ways reassuring for you that many other people can hear the meter whining at least to some degree.  It is also a pretty poor feature on a product that cannot be turned off  that may well be installed in or beside a bedroom.

    The fact that the sensitivity varies between subjects is not terribly surprising, especially if there is a spread of ages. Generally  folk lose the higher frequency response as they age, and those who have worked with noisy machines or been exposed to gunfire and so on are likely to become insensitive at a younger age. (and the stereotype of the deaf drummer in the band is loosely based on fact.).

    Given what else you say I wonder if the effect is totally acoustic or a mix of acoustic and some EM effect. The problem there is that these things are almost always unrepeatable, which makes sensible testing from a sample of one very difficult.

    Meanwhile does the superposition of low levels of white or pink (bass -heavy) noise over the trigger signals relieve your symptoms at all ? - I have a colleague at work who has reported that (from a pocket music layer )to be helpful though of course your case could be totally different.


  • I would be complaining if I didn't have tinnitus but could hear the acoustic noise the meter is making in any part of the house except for the under-stairs cupboard where it is housed. I don't like it even in there, it is irritating whenever I need to go into the cupboard for something else in there. The gas meter is not silent when gas is flowing, it makes a rather clunky churning noise, bit louder if anything than the electricity meter noise but not as irritating. I have to say I was rather disappointed with the smart gas meter; it was the same as the 20 year old meter taken out but with a digital display and communications module stuck on the front. I have no reason at the moment to believe that the gas meter has anything to do with my tinnitus. 

    The two fitters who came to the house both said electricity meters all make a noise, but I know that's not the case with other brands of meter and why should any digital electricity meter make acoustic noise? (Maybe a small transformer hum, but the noise I've recorded and put in my opening noise? That surely shouldn't be acceptable.) My discussions with the energy company were abruptly shut down when I started querying the electronics inside the meter. I emailed the UK support email address for Kaifa on 14 March asking for help and so far that has been met with silence.

    The engineer from the power distribution company could only measure an EM field strength of 0.5microT very close to the meter itself and less anywhere else in the house.

    Noise and music do help distract from tinnitus, it's the opposite to earplugs and ear defenders which remove the noise and leave you listening with nothing but the tinnitus. My tinnitus is so high pitched and loud that it takes a lot of sound of different frequencies to smoother it and I fear doing that for long periods of time would lead to damaging my hearing. The best way to deal with tinnitus is to remove the source and that is proving so difficult. I almost feel it would be easier to sell the house and move to one with an analogue meter to be sure I won't be blighted again. Should it be me who leaves my house or the electricity meter?

    Removing either the meter or myself from my house doesn't solve the problem of such meters being rolled out to millions of homes that can potentially cause such harm even if it is only to a small minority. I've found two cases of tinnitus afflicted people blaming meters installed for close neighbours. How hard would that be to solve if it is so bad dealing with my own meter? Surely the meters could and should be designed and constructed better. If the current meter and the prior Landis+Gyr meter meet all the necessary standards for the UK, then given my experience, those standards need revisiting.


  • Back home and back on with the awful tinnitus again. RIght side cleared up after a couple of days while left side remained stayed pretty bad, after 4 days, but maybe I hadn't escaped far enough away from a smart meter. In response to Mike's initial reply, being back home has given me chance to run a sound spectrum analyser on my smart phone and here are the resulting screenshots. The first image was taken whlie holding the phone quite close to the meter:

    The second is the spectrum in my living room:

    Where I have been staying also had some sound in the 19kHz to 21kHz region. Still quite low level but I am noticing a correlation between the strength of my tinnitus and amount of noise in that 19kHz to 21kHz region. I would really like to be able to see the electrical noise the meter is producing. I'm wondering also about very low frequencies in relation to the response to the audio equipment in the house causing the terrible pressure feeling on my eardrums until almost all was unplugged.

    The more I am searching online about tinnitus, smart meters and switched-mode power supplies, the more people I am find that report tinnitus shortly after the fitting of smart meters. Some of these are going back 10 years, so I am simply not buying the idea that this is a new phenomenon only affecting myself as my energy company is trying to suggest. Obviously a lot of others reporting tinnitus after smart meter fitting blame the Wi-Fi and mobile phone communications smart meter use which I can't blame as the Communications Hub has been removed, but there's still a lot finger pointing from people about the noise from the switched-mode power supplies employed. A couple of people I found stated the noise and then the  tinnitus can be virtually eliminated by the use of a whole house filter. Is that a possibility to the answer to my troubles? I really wish I understood more about the science going on here, because it really is a very big problem I am suffering. Being told like some people I've found reporting tinnitus within 2 days of having a smart meter fitted that "you just have to live with it" and/or "go to an ENT specialist" is not acceptable.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience. I live in Perth Australia and I developed bilateral tinnitus on 12/3/22, 2 days before my Gyr Landis E350 smartmeter was installed. In my case, I suspect the meters are involved, but wondered if noise from other installations, might be travelling on the line.

    The tone I hear sounds lower than the one you posted. It doesn’t go away if I am out for the day, but does seem to improve. It also seems to get worse if I spend any length of time behind the meter box (several times, I have felt pulses in the ears/head, standing behind it). Unfortunately the meter box is on the other side of my master bedroom wall. 

    I don’t have much else to share at this point, as have only just started researching  and trying to find an answer. I am considering engaging an EMF / expert to do some testing, haven’t yet spoken with the network operator and am yet to see an audiologist. 

    I wish you luck with your Ombudsman complaint and hope that you find a solution that resolves the issue to your satisfaction.


  • Not had that specific issue but I have experienced something similar. It could be resonance in the structure of the building. Are the meters attached directly to the house structure (via metal screws/bolts and washers) or are they mounted with rubber dampening washers? I suggest you ask the provider to reinstall them with adequate resonance dampening - a rubber backplate and rubber washers for the holding screws should do. It is important that the meter housing and attachment doesn't touch building structure directly without dampening. 

  • Thanks for your reply Peter.

    The meter is attached to a wooden board which is mounted to the inside of the outer house wall by 4 large screws with some sort of non-metallic sleeving that results in a gap between the wall and the board of just under 2cm. I do therefore have a little bit of control on the mounting of the meter. As my luck would have it, one of the four screws is covered by the meter and I've just tried to turn the three other screws without success - they probably haven't moved since the house was built in 1957. I can tell you though that applying a bit of pressure carefully to the corners of the meter with my hands does quite significantly dampen down the audible noise it is making, so getting the meter mounted on a rubber backplate with rubber washers may certainly help cut down the nuisance noise.

    Could adding such dampening to the meter reduce the tinnitus significantly? Can you share your experience of something similar? It may not be a meter, but the electronics inside the meter which are arousing suspicion are common to lots of other devices.


  • Thanks for your reply Dan and sorry to hear you have developed tinnitus by whatever means.

    If your tone fades when you are away from home and comes back quickly when you return then that's not too different to myself, but obviously I can state my tinnitus started with my own smart meter installation. Can you run a sound analyser app to see if you get readings similarly to mine particularly in the 19kHz to 21kHz region?

    I've read reports of other people claiming that their tinnitus was caused by smart meters that had been installed for their neighbours. Some that were in apartment buildings had multiple meters fixed to the outside of their apartment, which seems rather unfair whatever the meters do or not do beyond registering power usage. Are the meters being installed on an area by area basis in WA? Have you checked with your neighbours?

    Here in the UK, rollout of smart meters by location is rather random due to the way the energy market was privatised. Former regional energy companies and new companies compete for business in most parts of England, Scotland and Wales. (Northern Ireland is different.) Householders are asked by their energy company if they would like smart meters and they can decline or accept, they are not currently mandated although some companies now have tariffs that require them. How I now wish I hadn't accepted the meters, I had no idea of the trouble ahead. I had heard of people being worried about the health affects of the Wi-Fi and mobile phone signals these meters employ but these are hardly any different to what has been in common use for the many years and I have never experienced any problems with these in the past. Removing the communications hub reverting the meters to dumb wasn't likely to make much difference unless their was a rogue component in the hub, but this wasn't the case. As such I've now lost for no gain the very benefit of the smart meters I wanted, which was to monitor the electricity usage of electrical appliances so I could assess the cost effectiveness of replacing them with new more efficient appliances.

    For the record, my nearest neighbour has had smart meters for a few years, my other neighbour refuses to accept them.