Top 8 Ways to Troubleshoot Meter Communication Issues

The most common failure of metering systems is a loss of communications between the meter and the logging software running on a central server or computer. Even with new installations, configuration issues often prevent the meter communications connection.

Tip 1. Check the Meter Locally

Power outages or scheduled maintenance can cause previously connected meters to lose their connection. If you are experiencing connection issues following such events, check to ensure your meter still has control power. Meter control power for many Power Quality meters requires a backup power supply (UPS) control power or battery bus DC control power connection to ensure the PQ meter can fully capture waveforms and high-speed logs during a power outage.

If your installation used a small “point of use” UPS inside the switchgear to carry the meter load during the outage, check it as the most likely failure point. Trusting an expensive PQ meter to be carried by a cheap “point of use” UPS during an outage is the number one way to cause a communication failure. Find these small UPS units and get rid of them.

Tip 2. Ensure the IP Address Programmed into the Meter is Complete

The second most common problem if for new meter installations – do you have the complete IP address programmed? 

A complete address is:

IP Address – 192.168.1.70 

Subnet Mask -255.255.255.0

Gateway – 192.168.1.1.

Many facility networks subdivide the network into smaller sections called subnets. In these cases, the Subnet Mask and Gateway addresses are critical to connecting with the meter across the network.

Tip 3. Ping Meters from the Command Prompt 

The Command Prompt (aka Windows command-line interface) enables you to ping the meter’s IP address from the server, or the server from the meter.
As shown in the image below, right-click on the Windows Start icon on the bottom left of your home screen and select Run.

Windows Icon run meter check

As shown below, type in cmd and choose OK

cmd command option troubleshoot meter process

This opens the Windows Command Prompt window, as shown below.

Now type in the command ‘Ping’ with a space – followed by the meter’s IP Address (in this case 192.168.1.5).

Command prompt ping

Below is an example of the outcome of a successful ping.

Successful ping example troubleshoot meter communication issues

Often though, the ‘Ping’ command will not be successful – below is an example of an unsuccessful ping of the meter’s address (192.168.1.5) – but a successful ping of the Gateway address (192.168.1.254).

If the Ping command is unsuccessful, you will need to work with your IT department to check the network settings on the network equipment (switches or routers) between the meter and the power monitoring server.

Tip 5. Connect Locally to the Meter

Verify the meter is powered up by going to the physical location. Additionally, check the IP address settings using the local display, and connect using an Ethernet patch cable from a laptop.

NOTE – You must configure your laptop IP address to be on the same network as the meter itself.

Below is an example of how to reset your laptop’s “Internet Protocol Version (TCP/IPv4)” address from the default of “Obtain an IP address automatically” to a specific IP address by checking the “Use the following IP address” selection.

Internet Protocol Version laptop reset

Tip 6. Check the meter IP address from a Web Browser

Occasionally after a power outage, another device (like a printer) may use Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to steal the meter’s assigned IP address. There are advantages and disadvantages to using DHCP for devices in the field.

The expected result for opening a meter IP address from a web browser is shown below:

Web Page Example:

Meter webpage example troubleshoot meter communication issues process

This example is NOT the expected result from a meter assigned IP address:Printer Webpage Example:

Printer webpage example

Tip 7. Check another connected meter on the system to ensure your Web Browser is appropriately configured.

Corporate networks often have  Proxy servers enabled. This may block device communication. There are various methods to check for this setting – depending on what browser you are using. For more information on methods for specific browsers, feel free to contact us.

Tip 8. If the meter itself has been without control power it may lose the Ethernet settings due to inadequate internal batteries.

When communicating settings are lost, it is an irritant to reprogram it locally. While you are there, please be sure to test the configuration memory by disconnecting control power for about a minute. If the meter loses the communication settings again, the meter’s onboard BIOS battery will need replacing.

Who We Are

At Applied Power Technologies, Inc. (APT) we pride ourselves on our customer service. These are the most common failure modes for meters and the number one cause of service calls for APT from our customers.

Are you still experiencing issues? For more information regarding communication, issues feel free to reach out to us by phone, email, or web at the link below.

Michael Carson, Senior Meter Technician at APT