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Grid Modernization Technologies

Understanding Radio Frequency

Radio frequency (RF) is part of a large electromagnetic energy spectrum. It is made up of waves of electric and magnetic energy that move together. RF helps us stay connected through everyday devices, including radio and television broadcasting, cell phone transmissions, advanced meters, Wi-Fi, and common household appliances like microwaves and baby monitors.

Advanced meters are modern electric meters that use RF and a secure wireless network to enable two-way data sharing between your home or business and Hawaiian Electric. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) mandates that all RF services and wireless devices meet an established safety exposure standard developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the National Council on Radiation Protection.

For more information about the safety of advanced meters, please view our Radio Frequency: What to Know (PDF) booklet.

Radio Frequency: What to Know

Comparing Radio Frequency Levels

A person's exposure to RF signals depends upon three factors.

  1. How far the person is from the device: An advanced meter's signal strength diminishes significantly with distance from the meter.
  2. How often and how long the RF signals are transmitted: Advanced meters transmit data several times a day for a few seconds at a time, totaling no more than a few minutes a day.
  3. The power level of the device: Typical advanced meters operate at power levels similar to or lower than most common household devices, such as cordless phones, baby monitors or Wi-Fi routers.
Chart comparing the amount of RF between common household devices like cell phones and microwave ovens and advanced meters

Hawaii State Department of Health on RF Safety

Is Radiofrequency Energy Dangerous to my Health?

A large number of studies performed over the past two decades have not shown a direct health risk from short or long-term exposure to typical amounts of RF energy.

What can I do if I remain worried about exposure to RF energy and 5G networks?

Research into these issues is ongoing and more information will become available in the future. There are things you can do to reduce your exposure to RF energy including reducing the amount of time spent on your cell phone and using a hands-free device such as a headset or speaker-mode.

Download the DOH Fact Sheet (PDF) for more information and additional resources.