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Types of metering devices

There are two common approaches to flow measurement, displacement and velocity, each making use of a variety of technologies. Common displacement designs include oscillating piston and nutating disc meters. Velocity-based designs include single- and multi-jet meters and turbine meters.

There are also non-mechanical designs, for example electromagnetic and ultrasonic meters, and meters designed for special uses. Most meters in a typical water distribution system are designed to measure cold potable water only. Specialty hot water meters are designed with materials that can withstand higher temperatures. Meters for reclaimed water have special lavender register covers to signify that the water should not be used for drinking.

Additionally, there are electromechanical meters, like prepaid water meters and automatic meter reading meters. The latter integrates an electronic measurement component and a LCD display with a mechanical water meter. Mechanical water meters normally use a read switch, hall or photoelectric coding register as the signal output. After processing by the microcontroller unit (MCU) in the electronic module, the data are transmitted to the LCD display or output to an information management system.

Water meters are generally owned, read and maintained by a public water provider such as a city, rural water association or private water company. In some cases an owner of a mobile home park, apartment complex or commercial building may be billed by a utility based on the reading of one meter, with the costs shared among the tenants based on some sort of key (size of flat, number of inhabitants or by separately tracking the water consumption of each unit in what is called submetering).