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Apartment and Multi-Family Home Water Sub-metering

Posted by Heather Jones on 25th Feb 2021

Are you a landlord or property owner with an apartment complex or multi-family home?
Maybe you are in the process of a new build for apartments or are converting a commercial building into multiple residential units???
Or perhaps you are adding an apartment to a single house or dividing a single home into a duplex...

Whatever the case, you should be considering installing water sub-meters. 

Some questions that arise when considering this:

  1. Do I really need to do this?
    Yes, If you want to make it easy to accurately bill each tenant/unit for the actual amount of water used by that unit. If you decide not to do so, be prepared to handle disputes from tenants and/or lose money due to the tenants lack of concern for the water bill.
  2. What are the benefits of adding water sub-meters?
    It allows you to accurately track the amount of water used by each rental unit and provide proof if there is a dispute.
  3. What does it cost? and is it worth the cost?
    Absolutely! The cost varies depending on the solution that you choose and the number of sub-meters that are needed. Most landlords agree that the cost of adding water meters and either remote digital displays or a wireless water meter reading system is well worth the initial costs. Not only for the convenience and confidence it provides when dealing with water usage billing, but also it adds to the value of the apartment building or home where they are installed. Any member of our sales team would be happy to provide you with pricing and costs for all of the solutions listed below. Give us a call or use the Live Chat.

As you can see, adding water sub-meters solves many issues and reduces property owners’ cost and saves time and aggravation when it comes to apartment water billing. 

So... what are the different sub-meter options available?

There is a range of solutions from simple water sub-meters to cloud based wireless sub-metering systems and Flows.com provides them all!

Simply Adding Water Sub-meters

The simplest and lowest cost solution is to just add some water meters. The placement of these meters needs to be such that the meter will measure ALL of any single unit's water usage, and NONE from other units. This depends on the plumbing system and how the piping branches out after the main water meter. Someone will still need to go to each meter and take a reading periodically - typically once a month. In addition to that, since these meters are non-re-settable totalizers, the previous readings will be need for each meter in order to calculate the usage since that previous meter reading.

Flows.com offers a variety of mechanical water sub-meters to choose from.

Adding Remote Digital Displays to the Sub-meters

The next step you can take to make sub-metering even easier is to ad a digital display either locally (at the meter) or remotely up to 200 feet away. Adding a digital display to a water sub-meter is quite simple and a modest investment when you consider the benefits it provides. The displays range from $55 to $145 and require a meter that includes a  contact closure pulse output as well as a $20 to $30 pulse output switch and wire

Here is a brief summary of the benefits:

  • They are much easier to read than most mechanical meter registers.
  • They can be located outside of a tenants private residence
  • They can be reset, so the previous reading is not needed (and no math needs to be done!)
  • They can be placed in an easier to access location than the actual meters, which are often in inconvenient, hard to reach, and otherwise unpleasant areas.

See Related Article: Make Water Meter Reading Easy with Local and Remote Digital Displays

Flows.com offers a variety of Digital Displays for Water Meters to choose from. They can all be purchased as an accessory right from the meter's product page. Remember to select your pulse output in the meter options.

Connecting the Sub-meters to a Wireless Reading System

The most advanced solution to apartment water sub-metering is a cloud based meter reading system. With this, you can read any connected meter from anywhere at any time. The water usage data of each rental unit will be available using a mobile app or web browser. These systems can service just a few, or up to 2,000 meters! There are no recurring monthly fees. Automatic reports can also be set up. 

Alerts can be set up for:

  • Low Battery (in the transceivers)
  • Tamper detection (if the user opens the transceiver)
  • Leak detection
  • Freeze detection

Landlords agree that these systems are well worth the initial cost because it simplifies the task of meter reading tremendously. Just look at your phone, tablet, or PC and you can see all of the meters current readings. Think of all of the time you will save not having to visit each unit or building. 

These systems work by connecting the meters to a gateway using either wires or wireless transceivers. The gateway is connected to the internet via WiFi or a cellular tower. That's all there is to it. For complete details on these wireless systems visit the Wireless & Remote Water Sub-metering Systems page. Be sure to watch the video on that page for complete details on how the systems work.