I am wondering if it would be possible to build a photovoltaic cell that kept track of the electricity it generated (perhaps with a built-in meter), such that you could not trick the meter without destroying it.

The idea would be to make cheating the meter (by pumping electricity from a different source through it) pretty much impossible.

Does anything similar in a different context (maybe electric meters on the sides of houses) already exist?

EDIT: Sorry for posting an XY question — that wasn’t intentional. But I did not see the value of stating the underlying motive, which is something along the lines of what was pointed out in the comments. I have the idea that in certain contexts where owners of PV cells get paid for the electricity they generate, they could get electricity cheaper somewhere else and fool the wattmeter. My question was meant to be simple and general. Since I know very little about EE I thought something like this might already exist or be known to be impossible.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you want this? \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Dec 9, 2020 at 17:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You propose the use of a wattmeter -- what keeps me from taking a drill and carefully drilling through the PV cell to attach my own wires directly to the wiring intrinsic to the cells? Is there a reason why this cannot be addressed simply by inspection/regulatory processes? \$\endgroup\$
    – nanofarad
    Dec 9, 2020 at 17:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "I am wondering if it would be possible to build ....." - probably yes (depending on how much effort you're willing to put into the anti-trickery mechanism). But this really reads as a stereotypical XY question. What is the real problem you're trying to solve? \$\endgroup\$
    – brhans
    Dec 9, 2020 at 17:40
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ To jump to the defense of someone posting an XY problem (which I rarely do): In many countries, there's subsidies for electricity produced by renewable sources on private infrastructure, sometimes these even exceed the spot price of electricity delivered to your neighbor, opening some doors to fraud. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 9, 2020 at 17:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Basically you want a tamper-evident thingy. There's lots of applications with the same problem, e.g. measuring miles traveled on a truck. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2020 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


No, there's no "colour" to electricity which you could use. You could put a tamper-evident light meter next to the panels to determine if the value on the meter is plausible or not, though.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.