Grid Modernization Technologies

Understanding Radio Frequency

What is Radio Frequency?

Radio frequency (RF) is electromagnetic energy that includes frequencies used for everyday communication, such as radio/television broadcasting and cell-phone transmissions, and common household appliances such as microwaves and baby monitors.

The California Council on Science and Technology has also released a study on radio frequency exposure from advanced meters that notes¹:

  • Wireless advanced meters, when installed and properly maintained, result in much smaller levels of RF exposure than many existing common household electronic devices, particularly cell phones and microwave ovens.
  • The current FCC standard provides an adequate factor of safety against known thermally induced health impacts of existing common household electronic devices and advanced meters.
  • To date, scientific studies have not identified or confirmed negative health effects from potential non-thermal impacts.

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

¹California Council on Science Technology. Health Impacts of Radio Frequency Exposure from Smart Meters. April 2011 - Final Report.

Download Smart Grid RF One Sheet (PDF) for more information.

What You Need to Know About Radiofrequency Energy and 5G Cellular Networks

What is Radiofrequency Energy?

RF energy is a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation used in telecommunications such as radio, cell phones, television, satellite communications, microwaves, radar, and medical devices such as pacemakers.

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 SG 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.

RF Comparison Chart for Radio Frequency Levels of Common Sources

RF Comparison Chart
  1. These figures represent the radio waves from various common sources. The FCC maximum permissible exposure limit for advanced meters is 600 microWatts/cm2.
  2. Sources of the measurement data:
    1. Electric Power Research Institute, Radio-Frequency Exposure Levels from Smart Meters: A Case Study of One Model (February 2011)
    2. Bailey, William H. and Shkolinkov, Yokov P., Electromagnetic Interference and Exposure from Household Wireless Networks (June 2011).
  3. The RF exposure for cell phones shown in this graph is for comparison purposes only. Compliance for cell phones is provided by manufacturers and expressed in terms of Standard Absorption Rate.

Download Comparing Radio Frequency Levels (PDF)