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Solar PV and smart meters: are they compatible?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 22 February 2016 at 11:55 am

Q: I had PV solar fitted in September 2014, my electric and gas supplier has offered to install smart meters. I'm confused if this will be compatible between my normal electric usage & PV? Also the rule is that I get a unit price for every unit produced by PV through feed-in-tariff and I get 50% of export tariff as export can't be measured. So if I fit a smart meter is there a possibility that the export unit may be reduced if it's proved that there is a differential of the 50% rule.

A: This is an interesting question. With all the great things we have heard about smart meters, the years in the planning and the rise in photovoltaic installations since 2010, you could be forgiven for thinking that the two would work seamlessly together. Clearly that is not the case.

On speaking to my own electricity supplier I was told that smart meters aren’t currently compatible with microgeneration systems - they can’t work with PV. I asked I could have the smart meter installed and still leave the PV with the separate generation meter and the 50% deeming and was informed that actually they won’t install a smart meter in a home with PV.

I couldn’t get any information on when this situation is likely to change. Basically smart meters measure current, rather than direction of current and therefore they can’t tell if you are using or generating. So the easy answer is you can’t have a smart meter fitted if you already have PV, so make sure you tell your energy company and they will either leave you with the current meter or install a new digital non-smart one.


Photo: David Dodge


Also see:

Early energy supplier 'smart' meters incompatible with solar PV?

More information about Solar Electricity on YouGen.

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7 comments - read them below or add one

NEF Gabby

NEF GabbyComment left on: 27 March 2017 at 9:29 am


Yes I agree, total shambles.

However, on the bright side (depending how you look at it) they shouldn't owe you anything. Although the smart meter can't measure your PV output it should still have worked in the normal way. In fact I can't think why they would bother taking it out.  The only reason for that would be if they thought the meter was measuring your PV and therefore you were getting twice the benefit for it.  See my blog on 3rd February, Solar PV made my electricity meter run backwards.


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paul fisher

paul fisherComment left on: 25 March 2017 at 8:02 pm

Had a smart meter fitted by British Gas when my solar panels were installed, they were very insistant. 

Phoned them today and was told that they are not compatable with solar panels and are coming round to take it out and replace with a like for like meter?

Told them it was a shambles, the lady and gent I spoke to didnt disagree.

When its installed the next question will be from me, how much do they owe me?

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GaryComment left on: 11 February 2017 at 8:05 pm

Having just been prompted by my supplier to register for a smart meter, can we probe this issue a bit more please?

My understanding is that they measure current, not current direction.  If this is the case, how can they possibly be accurate where you have PV. 

For example, if I generate 100 and use 50 of that I will be exporting 50.  The smart meter would see this as 50 worth of current and log it as chargeable leccy.  Also I import 75 in the same charging period.  Again,the meter will log current equivalent to 75 units and log it as chargeable. I would then get a bill for 125 units in error when I should get a bill for 75.

If the above is not correct, how does the meter differentiate between import and export to ensure accurate charging and if it can do that, why can it not be smart in terms of what it displays for the householder?

I have googled this a lot and found only contradictory articles.  It would be really good if we could learn exactly how smart meters and PV (or other micro-generation) interact (or fail to so do).

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NEF Gabby

NEF GabbyComment left on: 8 February 2017 at 5:02 pm

Don't panic. I think I have the answer.

I said above that smart meters weren't compatible with PV.  What I meant was won't work with PV in the way in which we would expect them to do if they were truly 'smart'. Eg they would be able to work out how much electricity we were using over and above our PV generation.

The fact is that they are compatible with PV: you can have a smart meter if you have a PV system.  BUT the meter isn't smart enough to work out which way the current is going.  You still need your seperate generation (and in some cases export) meter.

I haven't come across a case of someone having a smart meter where it acurately measures their PV generation and export, but if an energy company is fitting these I woudl like to know?

Also many of the energy companies are still fitting the older SMETS1 meters (because they bought them in bulk and need to shift their supply) so for some people a really smart meter is still quite a way off.


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natashaComment left on: 6 February 2017 at 7:36 pm

spoke to british gas twice. one person said i can keep smart meter that i had befor the solar panels and another said i cant keep it. Help!!!

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geoff07Comment left on: 1 October 2016 at 7:43 am

I have a smart meter for gas and electricity. The gas meter reports by radio to the electricity meter which reports by mobile phone to base.  I also have PV.  If the PV meter could also report by radio (it would have to be replaced  ) then with a modest online software upgrade to the smart meter it would be able to allow online reading. The back office would also have to be there. This might produce some useful data for the grid. I give it five years.

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GaryComment left on: 22 February 2016 at 6:39 pm

This certainly is an interesting issue. 

On the one hand we hear what is written in the posting above. On the othe hand some people with PV have been fitted with smart meters and they seem to work.  But some say they work only for import, while others say they can and do measure export too.  Of those which measure export, some still get the deemed 50% export payments, while others have been forced onto actual export.

And the real answer is??????


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