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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.

  • Hi, I am not these days in regular contact with metering smart or otherwise, of the handful I have experienced one in particular seemed to give off a discernible frequency,like an old school dial up internet sound but higher pitched

  • I've almost silenced the annoying discernible noise the meter gives off, in a somewhat curious manner. (See my post 18 days ago: RE: Severe Tinnitus Following the Installation of New Electricity Meters ) Is the noise you experienced anything like the recording I put in my opening post?

    I visited two houses yesterday, both with smart meters. I felt bad in one and the other felt peaceful. When I checked with the sound spectrum analyser on my phone I found in the one making me feel bad there was low level noise showing in the 18kHz to 21kHz range, just like at home. The other, apart from an odd small spike now and again, showed basically nothing in that range. Other houses where I have not felt the effect also show virtually no noise in the 18kHz to 21kHx range. I think I can state that it does appear to be a trait if not necessarily the cause of the ghastly 14kHz tone ringing in my ears.

  • It may be important that the objective 21mHz ambient noise is a fifth above your tinnitus frequency of 14mHz. I hold it quite likely that anything generating a specific tone is likely to generate such an undertone. The church bells across the road from me generate a variety of undertones and overtones of course; I think when the large one is ringing down and the others have stopped there is a dominant below its tonic. I'll check next time I get a chance.

    Maybe important also is that the octave overtone of the 21mHz is the second-octave fifth of your 14mHz tinnitus frequency. 

    Have you tried using noise-cancelling headphones attuned to cancel the ambient frequencies, to see if that reduces your tinnitus? You could maybe find an electronics acoustician who might help you experiment. 

  • Hi Peter, thanks for your reply. Unfortunately I don't possess a pair of noise cancelling headphones. I've been looking at some information and specifications for them and I'm not sure that they are going to handle noise much above 8kHzGift, at least not actively. I think the money would probably be best spent on getting this meter properly investigated as you suggest, but also need the radio emissions checking also. The Ombudsman is not going to send someone to measure the meter's emissions. I hope to be speaking with their appointed investigator after the Easter weekend to find out what I need to do beyond what I've already told and shown them to convince them that the meter is causing harm and needs to be replaced asap. It's replacement doesn't end the story of course, I still really want to know what the meter has done to upset my health so much for what should be the trivial task on monitoring electricity usage.

  • I've had the decision of the Ombudsman. They are unable to ask Octopus Energy to refit an analogue meter as Octopus Energy have a policy of not refitting them, which Ombudsman Services Energy does not have any jurisdiction over. So my health, which is getting worse, is less important than the company policy of my energy company. They did agree there were customer service failings, but this amounts to a letter of apology and a financial gesture of goodwill that doesn't come near the costs I have so far incurred let alone the cost that will be incurred switching company and most likely having to pay for the electricity meter to be swapped.

    I can appeal the Ombudsman decision, which I'm considering, but I need my life back to normal asap. I've being asking various other energy companies about switching and having an analogue meter refitted. Octopus did tell me there were two companies that would refit analogue meters but have not responded to my questions about who are those two companies. All the companies I've tried so far, and I've just about exhausted the list, either say they won't take new customers on, they can't reinstall analogue meters or they have analogue meters but can't install them for new customers with smart meters.

    Yesterday I found this document on research into "Dirty Power" from smart meters and health problems even when the meters are set to work in "dumb mode", produced this month for a pending appeal at a court in Norway being brought by 10 people:


    The research appears to back up the thoughts that my health issues are being caused by an ineffectively filtered switched-mode power supply.

  • Hi Andrew

    Apologies for my delayed response. I have been doing some research. In answer to your question, my electricity provider is rolling out smart meters to all properties. So other houses in my neighbourhood had them connected, before mine.

    I have been in contact with a company that sells a product that is described a suppression unit. I will share some of the information I have received by email, in the last week. 

    ”Tinnitus is one of the most common symptoms of the DE from the Smart Meter's, and it is made up of higher kHz frequency transients  that the switch mode power supplies of the Smart Meter's produce. The safe limits of this harmful energy is below .5 of a volt peak to peak when measured with a battery powered oscilloscope or a frequency analyzer.  These are the only two ways of accurately testing for this harmful energy that effects us all worldwide…In order to clean up power, all the different modes of the power must be monitored as well as cleaned, the line voltage wires, the neutral wire, as well as the ground wire.  Line to Line, Line to Neutral, Line to Ground, and Neutral to Ground.”

    I’m happy to share the name of the product / company I’ve been in contact with if you are interested (don’t want to seem like I’m promoting in this forum). 

    I am now looking for someone to test power quality. 

    Hope this info is useful. 

  • Interesting document, thanks for sharing. I feel that this information would support a decision to appeal the decision. The Ombudsman should have the means to commission independent tests and obtain information from the electricity provider (assuming the UK Ombudsman, has similar powers to Aus).

    I am of the view that utilities have a duty of care, so if smart meters must be rolled out, then the cost of filters to clean the power (including from the grid), should be covered, for consumers.

  • Hi Dan,

    I've just forwarded the research document to the UK's Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) whom I contacted a couple of days ago with the details of the problems I am experiencing. Our Energy Ombudsman has no means to investigate the meter, they can only adjudicate on how an energy company deals with its customers. It is my hope that the OPSS will carry out an actual investigation.

    It sadly seems that energy company policy can come before duty of care towards their customers. My energy company has shown no interest in investigating how their meter is behaving and are simply dismissive of my claims it is affecting my health. They stated in their response to my complaint with the Ombudsman that the meter is safe as it is no longer smart. Reverse that statement if you wish - but we aren't dealing with WAN, HAN or any mobile signals with regard to my problems here. The meter manufacturer has not responded to the email I sent them several weeks ago.

    I've so far shied away from Mike's/mapj1's suggestion of adding filters to the circuits in the house for several reasons including that the meter hurt me on initially being powered up with the distribution board off. Filtering may help lessen the effects but the meter has to go in my view to have any chance of successfully restoring my health fully. I was rather hoping that would be possible given the Ombudsman result either way but the energy company whom I had as back up from a previous conversation with them have today let me down. It does look therefore that I need to reconsider adding filters given the fact every energy company I've contacted today refused to reinstall an analogue meter including one that actually has them (they will replace a faulty analogue meter with one but not a smart meter). None could assure me that their smart meters would include adequate filtering. All but one company refused to tell me the brand and model of smart meter they would install, I would be given whatever the fitters had in their van at the time. "SMET2" was the common answer to my question which is understandable I guess. Only one company gave me a brand and model and even that came with the caveat "most likely". I can't tell from the manufacturer's website whether that model includes a decent filter on its power supply or not. I may email them if I don't get anywhere with any other means of getting a new meter installed, but the company is based in the USA which makes things that bit more difficult.

    Out of interest, have you tried using an AM radio to test tuning into the noise of the SMPS in the LW and MW bands as per my post 14 days ago? (RE: Severe Tinnitus Following the Installation of New Electricity Meters ) If your meter is fully smart you will may also pick up noise when it transmits data which may be more frequent than you expect, be wary of confusing that with the noise of the SMPS.


  • Some more thoughts. First, this is worth a technical paper.

    The story. You have what you claim is a physiological reaction to suspected emissions from electrical/electronic devices, namely certain smart meters, which you do not have to analogue meters. You have classified the reaction (tinnitus at ~14mHz). You have performed some frequency/amplitude measurements on the suspect device(s) (not just yours, but others in places in which you have had a similar reaction). There appears to be a connection between certain emissions bands and your physiological reaction, and there are most certainly numerical correlations between expected over/undertones and your 14mHz reaction, as I pointed out.  

    The issue. Do these new devices cause such reactions in some people? You are a qualified electrical/electronic professional and you have the wherewithal to undertake some investigation, and you have. None of the business-side stakeholders appear to be that interested. This is not unknown. If you read Nancy Leveson's account of the Therac-25 debacle, in which many patients were over-irradiated by a radiation therapy machine, you'll see that one characteristic is that there was no purposeful supplier-side gathering and collation of incident data. Hospitals with incidents didn't know of each other, for example. Had there been, the dots would have been joined a lot earlier and the later injuries and deaths would not have happened. If you write this up, then other people will read it and you might well find you are not the only person with such reaction. 

    Indeed, it might be that the companies already know there is a problem, and are attempting to mitigate it through the kind of resistance you are experiencing. 

    What to do? You are not getting much joy from the supply-side organisations. The catch here is that, even though it's your house, they own the kit and neither you nor anyone else is to touch it unless they say so. I suggest you write up the situation briefly and send it to Anna Tims at The Guardian. She is The Guardian's consumer advocate and writes regular columns on company brush-offs and their resolution after The Guardian gets in touch. Usually the issues get resolved. And if you are not the only person with this issue, everyone else will say "me too" and the companies involved will have to resolve it permanently.

    And if you are the only one, cheapest fix is for them to find an old analogue meter from somewhere and put it in your house. 

  • Thanks Peter for your reply and I entirely agree that this needs looking into seriously. I never in my wildest imagination would have believed that I could be affected anything like I have been by such a device. My medical problems are now beyond tinnitus, insomnia and headaches. I will be seeking another GP appointment tomorrow, but the GPs I have already spoken to are rather flummoxed by my situation. Whatever is written up about this episode needs to be shared with the medical profession also.

    Getting the meter replaced with an analogue meter cannot be the end of the saga. I will continue with my endeavour to find out why this has happened to me. I hope that there's someone in the IET and/or OPSS who can help me prove the meter I have in my house either fails to meet the applicable standards or results in the improvement of those standards to stop anyone else suffering similarly in the future. It is quite possible that some people may not even realise the cause of their symptoms, which may or may not include tinnitus, is possibly due to their digital electricity meter. The fact I got tinnitus and pressure on my eardrums so soon after the smart meters were installed and I could detect variations in strength of both symptoms by leaving and returning to the house was lucky, as strange as that may seem. Some people may take much longer to suffer symptoms and therefore not be able to relate it to their meter installation.

    It seems I have a duty of care about this situation greater than that of the energy company who can leave me suffering simply by telling the Ombudsman it's against their policy to refit an analogue meter. I spoke with the investigator from the Ombudsman on Friday and asked him why he had marked my complaint "upheld" when he had agreed with Octopus that they didn't have to refit an analogue meter. He said he had upheld the complaint because he actually agreed from the evidence I submitted that the meter is causing harm, it's just he doesn't have the power to make energy companies take action that goes against their own company policies. So I won the case but lost the battle. My MP is aware of what is happening and I will pressing for several changes.

    I've continued to pursue getting an analogue meter refitted by switching energy company and I now have an offer albeit it remains subject to written confirmation that the replacement meter will be analogue and not another digital meter with the smart functionality turned off. This offer will incur a net loss of approximately £2000 due to the extra expense of the new 12 month fixed rate tariff plus the meter fitting fee. The gesture of goodwill awarded by the Ombudsman is £120. I've already spent nearly close to £1000 on alternative accommodation and I will have 7 to 8 weeks to wait for the alternative company to switch me and fit the new meter once the details are confirmed. So I will need several more breaks for respite before I am freed from this nightmare. Trying to save a little money has cost me dearly and not just financially. Due to the increasing health issues, it is quite feasible the GP I speak with next will order me to leave home until the new meter is fitted. I might just have to make that decision myself the way things are going. It will be very difficult, very inconvenient as well as very costly plus there's a far from negligible affect on my wife's health to also consider.

    To answer the suggestion about replacing the meter with a recovered recertified meter: The fitters who replaced the first meter and then removed the communications hub both said that this could be done. Octopus have chosen not to directly answer that question whenever I put it too them. They just repeat the statement that they don't stock analogue meters and therefore cannot re-install one.

    Returning to my own investigations: Yesterday I went back to visit a friend whose house has a twin gas and electric smart meter installation that doesn't appear to induce any effects on me. Acoustically it is virtually silent and my smart phone sound app does not show the characteristic trace of ultrasound I've talked about previously. I took my old AM radio with me, held it close to the meter and tried tuning it in throughout the LW and MW bands. At no point did anything unusual occur like shown in the videos I included in my post on 7 April. (RE: Severe Tinnitus Following the Installation of New Electricity Meters ). All it detected was some fairly weak white noise that faded away about half a metre away from the meter. This only reinforces my suspicions that the meter installed at my house is behaving errantly and that I am not sensitive to all digital meters. It depends on the quality of the electronics inside, the switched-mode power supply and its filtering in particular. Just unfortunate for me that I am sensitive to both models of meters currently used my current supplier and potentially a third type installed at the mother-in-law's, but maybe the effects are best discovered now rather than later.

    As I said in my opening post on this discussion, I am happy to volunteer to participate in research by any scientific organisation investigating such electro-sensitivity issues. As for writing a paper myself, I need to feel a lot better than I do at present and I do need measurements of the various types of output from the meter using properly calibrated equipment before it is removed. Any advice, recommendations or help appreciated.

    Obtaining the services of an investigative journalist could prove worthwhile particularly in getting things moving to end my nightmare. It is not an easy choice though for people like my wife and I who much prefer a quiet life. However, following the Ombudsman's decision, the lack of interest from the industry to engage, the severity of the health effects and last but not least, that duty of care, we decided that the situation now merits such attention and I have already started pursuing options. Thank you Peter for your suggestion, that might well be the next option taken.