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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.

  • I had an interesting hour or so when I got home with my old radio cassette player tuned into MW and LW. It picks up a few radio channels, not so many as in the past on MW, but there was something I didn't expect when I put the radio close to the meter: That audible noise I'd quelled was back loud and clear at quite a few frequencies across both AM bands. Reception was so good at certain frequencies that the radio's tuning light lit up as if it had been tuned in to a proper radio station. Volume tailed off moving the radio away from the meter as you'd expect but it was still quite audible several feet away. (I have videos of what happened but I just can't get this message to load when I include one of them. If interested try this link for the LW band: but I cannot guarantee it will work indefinitely.)

    Using the strongest frequency of that noise from the meter on LW, I put the radio near other sockets. All gave an increase in general buzzing noise, but the socket for the television was particularly noisy with a slight undertone of the meter noise.


  • interesting. So as I suspected there is a not insignificant RF signal radiated from the meter itself intermodulated with the audio one, and also some of that signal is transmitted by a mix of conduction and radiation via the house wiring in a rather hard to predict way.

    The other problem is that  RF is not always easy to isolate, and has a tendency to radiate off and on the wiring in a way that means it can, to some extent jump, small gaps like switches. You may find the levels near the sockets drop when you turn off the power at the fuseboard, but I'd not be too surprised if there was quite a bit remaining sneaking out by other paths.

    Now another tricky question to answer do you feel better/worse in places where the radio reveals less/more of that RF signal, or is that a red herring in your case?


  • Definitely a link. RF noise is bad close to the bedroom socket that is close to my head when in bed. Turning the ring main off before going to bed has been an essential part of my bedroom routine for weeks as a way of improving my sleep from abysmal to where it is now. The living room where the RF was even worse close to the television is a particularly bad place. The bathroom and kitchen (since removal of a wireless doorbell repeater) are best places to be, not that they are particularly good places to be. The more sockets and equipment, particularly audio video, the worse I feel.


  • It is possible to filter out most of the RF going down the wiring, but it requires the wiring on the clean and dirty sides of the filter to be kept apart.

    There are various radio amateur designs, really intended to keep mains born *&^%**! interference out of sensitive receivers, but of course the principles work in any case. (a good example for a filtered mains lead  here ) or one for a whole shack (16A radial)  here .

    As far as I know no-one has yet scaled the design to make a 32A model for a ring. However, it is surprising what can be done with 16A radials with some thought.

    Note that unlike the standard commercial filters these designs also treat the CPC to the a common series RF impedance as the L and N - if you do not do this, then some of  the RF will couple from the affected circuit to the cpc, round the filter on the CPC and then back onto L and N again. In many cases this does not matter, but it does if you want to push signals as low as possible.

    But, and it is a big but, I am not sure in your case if removing the RF from the wiring is either necessary or sufficient, as you are not  a calibrated receiver we cannot really say how much you are responding to currents in the wiring or to radiated E fields, and how much  attenuation is needed and if indeed such a thing maybe futile.

    There is also the problem that there is no well understood explanation for the effect you suffer, although you are certainly not the first, I think it has to go on the 'unexplained' pile.

    In your shoes  I might try a small scale experiment and see if a filtered or unfiltered mains lead was more or less of an issue.


  • So exactly where in the house are the meters?

  • Hi, the meters are housed in the understairs cupboard, not much above ground level.

  • My energy supplier has commented on my complaint with the Energy Ombudsman and I quote: "...following the removal of the communication hub, the meter functions as a traditional meter and can not be the cause of ill health as it is no longer has smart functionality." Also: "As a result of this, the meter in the property functions as a traditional meter which means it does not emit radio waves to transmit data and can not be the cause of ill health." Following on from a reply a few days ago to Mike/mapj1(RE: Severe Tinnitus Following the Installation of New Electricity Meters) I've now reshot the videos proving that radio waves are being emitted from the meter to cut down their file sizes to be compliant with the forum's maximum attachment size, so hopefully here's the meter's whistling noise, as can be listened to in my initial post, being broadcast at various points along the LW and MW bands:

    I suppose we can certainly say these radio waves are not transmitting data. A friend with a background in electronics wonders if these LW and MW radio emissions are legal. Is the whistling noise a direct result of an unfiltered or poorly filtered switched-mode power supply or is something else responsible inside the meter? Why would it seem to have so many carrier frequencies?

    Obviously, linking such emissions to my tinnitus is very difficult and whatever is doing the harm may well be outside of the RF being picked up in the MW and LW bands. It seems likely to me that the meter's emissions are so prevalent along the LW and MW bands that there will be other frequencies being emitted. Perhaps these include RF as low as 10kHz to 50kHz which according to claims I’ve found that refer to IEEE research, these can be harmful to the human nervous system. There might be more going on than just tinnitus and disturbed sleep going on if I believe everything I’m finding, but I was told by a specialist a number of years ago that tinnitus can be a warning sign of stresses being put on the nervous system. Can anyone shed any light on the research of low frequency RF?

    There also remains the question about ultrasonic noise as a factor. Is it likely that the audble meter noise is also being emitted from the meter at higher inaudible frequencies? I do get nasty tones in my ears after triggering a type of ultrasonic pest repeller, albeit those fortunately are only very temporary exposure.

  • If you can record any form of stimulus for the tinnitus, it is by definition, not tinnitus.

  • I thought I'd answer this while not being able to sleep due to my tinnitus. The NHS defines tinnitus as: "The name for hearing noises that are not caused by sounds coming from the outside world."

    One thing is for sure; the meter is not producing the sound I am hearing. I've matched the perceived sound to a 14kHz tone (not always constant, there's a little bit of wavering at times, but mainly constant). None of the sound analyser apps I've used have ever picked up a tone at or near that frequency even in close proximity to the meter. If the meter was making a noise that could be heard, all over the house, it would be so much simpler for people to understand and declare it unfit for use. The perceived sound stays with me 24x7 whether I'm in the house or miles away. Sometimes the volume varies, but always fades when away from the house and boosted upon return. The pressure effect on my ears is nearly like an on/off switch when entering/leaving the house. That effect shouldn't be forgotten about, a lot of my audio equipment remains unplugged to minimise it. I will agree with you on that not being tinnitus, but its precise stimulus remains unknown.

    However you want to define tinnitus, having a 14kHz noise buzzing around your head is horrible and life affecting. I had no more than three hours sleep last night and already looking like the same or worse tonight. Strange headaches on the sides of my head are becoming common too. When away from home, the tone is getting slower to fade as this goes on. It could now take weeks if not months for it to go away, I daren't think about it being even longer than that.

    It is my quest to find out exactly what the stimulus is that began with the installation of the first digital/smart meter in my house on 9 February, which now feels like an awful long time ago. Further help towards that goal will be greatly appreciated.

  • I'd not be so sweeping Chris, Tinnitus is not a simple condition, and the severity can certainly be modulated by external stimuli, but unfortunately there is not a one size fits all solution. I have already mentioned a colleague who finds background noise helps him , but that trick does not work for everyone,  also for some others, things that raise blood pressure - stress, lack of exercise, wrong diet can make it worse. Unfortunately knowing that works for someone else is not always that useful.

    The other side of things is sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. At high levels we all have that -  RF tends to cook us  at the kilowatt per square metre level,  (or at very high frequencies just the surface )and very strong magnetic fields to the head at the wrong frequency can be used to induce enough current that it will provoke uncontrolled muscle twitches.

    Lower fields just affect the alpha rythems and so on ( The situation is less clear for lower field levels still

    There is more than nothing there, but quite what is unclear.