Jim Mimlitz

Jim Mimlitz, SCADAmetrics

In order to track and minimize utility costs, a growing number of sustainable-minded Universities have initiated efforts to monitor utility usage in realtime — including natural gas, water, and electricity.

Consumption monitoring does not only occur at the utility-owned meters, but within the campus itself so that a breakdown of the utility costs may be properly assigned to each building or department. Today’s article focuses on a campus natural gas monitoring system.

A Rotary Gas Meter.

Many campuses include central- or building-based heating systems, whose boilers consume massive amounts of natural gas.  Utilizing its existing Building Management Network System, combined with SCADAmetrics EtherMeters, the modern University can closely measure — and optimize — its natural gas consumption.

In order to achieve the monitoring goals, each natural gas consumption point should be equipped with a gas meter, such as a Rotary Gas Meter with solid-state or mechanical pulse output. An EtherMeter receives the pulses from the gas meter, processes the pulses into accumulated totalization (cubic feet) and realtime rate-of-flow (cubic feet per hour), and transmits the data into the University’s Building Management Network. In a nutshell, the EtherMeters convert the gas meters into network-friendly Modbus devices. Popular gas meter brands include GE® Dresser®/Roots®, Romet®, Elster®/American®, and others.

Each EtherMeter possesses the capability of processing one or two meters; and several campuses and military bases have taken full advantage by utilizing one input channel to monitor the building’s gas meter and the other input channel to monitor the building’s water meter.

A Rotary Gas Meter with Pulse Output Installed in Basement/Boiler Room of a University Apartment Building.
A Rotary Gas Meter with Pulse Output Installed Outside a University Apartment Building.

On a University’s Building Management Network, the EtherMeters essentially make the gas meters appear as Modbus/TCP devices, so integration into the overall system is a snap. Data requests from the Building Management Server are formulated as familar Modbus 40,00x register requests.

An EtherMeter Installed in Proximity to the Aforementioned Rotary Gas Meter. Note the Network Cable and Local LCD Display.
Integration into Campus Building Management System Network, Where Natural Gas Consumption Can Be Visualized and Accounted on a Per-Building or Per-Department Basis.
Dresser Roots B3-Series Meter Pulse Wiring Notes: Proper Plus/Minus Polarity Must be Observed for Solid-State Pulse Output Signals. The EtherMeter’s Integrated Pulse-Indication LEDs (Blink Upon Receipt of Each Pulse) Help the Installer to Visualize Proper Installation and Performance.

Are you interested in learning how the EtherMeter can help your University sub-meter it’s campus natural gas and water usage? Give us a call… We’ll be glad to help!

Jim Mimlitz

About Jim Mimlitz

Licensed Professional Electrical Engineer @ SCADAmetrics. Specialties: Connecting Flow Meters with SCADA, Telemetry, and Building Automation Systems. Electronic Circuit Design, Software Development.

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