Is the controversy surrounding the Linky meter fires justified?

The deployment of the new Linky smart meters, aimed at transforming the electricity distribution network, has raised concerns amongst the public. The debate has been raging since 2015, particularly with regards to fire risk. Frédéric Ducoin, a specialist loss adjuster, sheds some light on the matter.

 

“It was definitely a Linky meter that caused the deadly fire on Wednesday”, 7 March 2018 in Laxou, said an unscrupulous lobbyist with no knowledge of the scene, five days after the incident (http://refus.linky.gazpar.free.fr/linky-premier-mort.htm). Others will no doubt jump on the bandwagon without first checking their facts.

This is the atmosphere surrounding the anti-Linky campaign.

However, on 13 March 2018, the first technical elements of the enquiry revealed that the origin of the fire was in fact an armchair or sofa, thus putting Linky in the clear.

 

Linky: a reliable technical device

LINKY is manufactured in France by 6 different companies.

The device comprises an electronic card incorporating an internal circuit breaker controlled by a microprocessor, an LCD display, a measurement controller, a power supply, a PLC controller and a power terminal block. There are no microphones or cameras, despite allegations made by conspiracy theorists!

Designed to last 20 years, it is a reliable industrial device, unlike the majority of household appliances that we use on a day-to-day basis. The sensitive points are the power cable terminal block and the internal electromechanical breaking relay to break high-voltage inductive load currents (90 A max).

However, ENEDIS’ approval criteria are particularly strict. The meters undergo 2 500 tests in ENEDIS’ Linky Lab laboratory, in collaboration with other laboratories (LAN, TUV, etc.).

 

Human responsibility called into question

In practice, the main risk comes from the installation and tightening of the power cable connections. A tightening fault can cause significant overheating which could result in a fire. This is nothing out of the ordinary and applies to a significant number of electrical devices. The meters are installed by fifteen or so different companies. Their technicians are trained by bodies such as APAVE and FORMAPELEC. The proper tightening torque of the connections can be guaranteed using torque screwdrivers. In conclusion, the fire risk associated with LINKY meters remains minimal.

 

Frédéric DUCOIN, Energies Loss Adjuster

Find more about his area of expertise