Residential Gas Meter and Various Natural Gas Meter Types

 In Measurement and Control of Natural Gas

There are various natural gas meter types used in the natural gas industry, each having its benefits and purpose. These different types of meters are either inferential meters or positive displacement meters. The main four types are diaphragm meters, orifice meters, rotary meters, and turbine meters.

Natural gas meters have been used since the infancy of gas distribution; whether at a high-pressure high-volume natural gas meter station or a residential house, metering gas flow is essential.

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Residential Gas Meter – Positive Displacement Type

Diaphragm gas meters and rotary meters are positive displacement meters and are considered direct measurement meters. They operate on the principle of volumetric flow by sectioning the gas flow into specific segments that fill and empty (displace) as the meter revolves. Each revolution is associated with a particular volume, and the meter reads in cubic feet (or cubic meters). Positive displacement meters have good accuracy and high turndown. They do have moving parts; however, so gas cleanliness must be considered when using them.
In a diaphragm meter, the gas or fluid flows into the meter inlet which has an oscillating diaphragm. The compartment fills and displaces to the outlet; each revolution of the diaphragm determines the flow rate. Diaphragm meters are commonly used for residential gas meters and light commercial applications.
A rotary meter is often used in higher volume or higher pressure applications. In this case, the gas or fluid flow is divided by a rotating impeller or rotor, which has vanes and with each rotation, the flow rate is determined.

Inferential Meters

An inferential meter, such as the turbine or orifice meter, infers volumetric flow rate by measuring a property of the flow stream.
For example, in a turbine meter, the volumetric flow rate is calculated based upon the angular velocity of a rotor inside the meter. A turbine meter has high turndown and good accuracy. It also has moving parts so gas cleanliness must be considered and it requires pressure and temperature compensation. This meter type is limited to measuring low flow rates.
An orifice meter is a differential pressure meter and infers the flow by measuring the pressure drop over an obstruction inserted in the flow. Orifice meters are a commonly accepted method of flow measurement for industrial applications; they have no moving parts and are easy to service. Unfortunately, they have limited turndown and do not handle a wide range of flow rates. They also have reduced low-flow sensitivity and require gas static pressure, differential pressure, viscosity, density, and temperature to accurately measure gas flow.

Other Gas Meters

Other gas meters which measure volume for residential, commercial or industrial applications are:

Ultrasonic Flow meters measure the difference in transit time of pulses that travel from a downstream transducer to the upstream transducer, compared to the time from the upstream sensor back to the downstream transducer. This style of the meter is extremely accurate, has a high turndown ratio and excellent rangeability, but it is costly. Ultrasonic meters are usually used at pipeline meter stations in high-flow and high-pressure applications where the slightest inaccuracy can negatively impact the bottom line.

Coriolis meters provide a direct mass flow measurement based upon the deflection force of the fluid moving through a vibrating tube. These meters are very accurate with high turndown capabilities and are independent of fluid properties. They are also very expensive to purchase and install and are not suitable for larger pipe sizes.

Gas meters measure gas volume; though they do not take into account the quality of the gas which impacts the heat value and is subsequently adjusted in the billing cycle, and known as the therm value. Pressure and temperature compensation are required to convert gas volume to thermal energy. At times electronic correction is also needed.

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Linc Energy Systems is the stocking distributor for Itron Gas Meters and Regulators in Not familiar with Itron? Itron was formerly known as Actaris and Schlumberger. We’re also expanding our Salt Lake City office. Learn more Natural Gas Meters. Linc Energy Systems is also the manufacturers’ representative for Honeywell Mercury Instruments and offers solutions for electronic correction.

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  • Avatar
    Sukhanand Kelkar

    Good morning
    A very nice but very accurate description offlow meters in general and gas measurement in perticular.
    we “Techsol Engineering Services” are from India and at present we are associated in CGD market.
    would like more and indepth inputs like provers used for these meters, you being represented in India, your manufacturing facelity and other
    we will be interested in representing you.
    all the best and Thanks

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