Skip to main content

YouGen Blog

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

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 23 February 2016 at 10:15 am

We recently had a question about smart meter compatibility with PV installs and whether this may affect the 50% export deeming.

Smart meters not compatible with self-generation seemed a little bit crazy to me, so I wanted to investigate a little bit more.

At the end of 2015 overall PV capacity in the UK stood at some 8,667 MWs. That’s almost 850,000 installs. Clearly not all of these are small scale domestic, but by far the majority are. That’s three quarters of a million homes with PV, all generating their own electrical power. How many would currently benefit from energy company supplied smart meters?  I won’t get into it here, but some also have heat generation systems, which also aren’t compatible with smart meters. 

There are smart meters for measuring both electricity and gas consumption. Government targets to install smart meters should mean that ‘most homes should have one by 2020’. If the benefits, described by DECC, are realised then after install you:-

• won’t ever need to take a manual meter reading

• won’t ever get estimated bills

• will find it easier to switch energy suppliers

You’ll also get a digital display in your home, which should help you to keep track of how much energy you’re using and how much it’s costing and potentially, hopefully, you will then find it easier to make savings.

The smart meter rollout is likely to cost some £12.1billion with estimated savings to consumers of £6.7billion in excess of this.

With so much riding on it, why isn’t more being done to ensure that it is applicable to all homes? It appears that many of the smart meters which are being installed now, not only can’t cope with microgeneration, but actually aren’t that ‘smart’ at all and will require replacing before 2020.

Statistics show that 336,100 smart meters (197,900 electricity meters and 138,200 gas meters) were installed in domestic properties in quarter three of 2015.  An estimated total of 1,663,400 domestic smart meters (997,200 electricity and 666,200 gas) had been installed by 30 September 2015 by the larger energy suppliers. The lack of compatability with self-generation, in the case of my own energy supplier, means that they must be concentrating on the low-hanging fruit (ie. those people who actually need a new meter for some other reason).

A smart meter is one which is considered to be compliant with the Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specification (SMETS) and has functionality such as being able to transmit meter readings to energy suppliers and receive data remotely. However, some suppliers have chosen to make an early start by rolling out ‘smart-type’ meters without the full functionalities included in SMETS. It’s these ones which will need replacing as they don’t count towards the energy company smart meter installation obligations.

This seems a little bit crazy (did I use that word already?) to me because the cost of the installations isn’t invoiced to the individual bill payer, but added collectively to all consumers energy bills. So, it rather begs the question, why are energy companies charging us to install new meters which they know will be obsolete within five years? Surely, the money would be better spent in developing meters which are SMETS compliant and can cope with the growing number of households who have microgeneration systems. While they are at it perhaps they would like to make sure that the new meters can accommodate readings every 15 minutes, rather than the current 30 minute intervals, as this may soon be a requirement from the EU.

Have you had a smart meter installed by an energy supplier that works seemlessly with your solar PV? If so, please tell us more in the comments below for the benefit of other readers.


Photo: David Dodge


Related Blogs

How smart are smart meters?

Concerns with the smart meters roll-out

Home energy management systems: the future or a passing fad?


More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen.

Find an installer

Need help with any Jargon?


If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

Like this blog? Keep up to date with our free monthly newsletter


6 comments - read them below or add one


James@JojuComment left on: 28 February 2016 at 5:12 pm

The 'compatibilty' issue is not that the smart meters cannot distinguish import from export (they can and do, otherwise all our bills would be wrong) - it is that some energy used in the use comes from the solar and the meter doesn't know about it, so cannot display energy used (as opposed to bought/imported.) As the main stated purpose of the smart meters is to provide feedback to users as to what they are using I suppose they would get complaints if they didn't do this.

If you wanted a free Smart meter to claim the export hopefully they would supply them (I would be interested to hear which suppliers are, other than Ovo?) But DECC are also talking about introducing time-of day export tarrifs in future so don't expect to get 4.5p export for ever.




report abuse


RobertPalgraveComment left on: 27 February 2016 at 9:53 am

Like Bill, I am with Good Energy - for both supply and FiT. I had my meter replaced in January to convert from Economy 7 to a flat tariff. NO SMART METER WAS OFFERED Good Energy told me that they are not doing them yet.

Also what you don't mention in the article is that many (all?) of the smart meters being fitted now only work 'smart' with the supplier in place at the time. If you switch to a different supplier your meter reverts to being 'dumb'.

There's been a lot of negative comment about the UK smart metering programme, comapring it unfavourably with Italy in particular. Alex Henney's evidence to a parliamentary committee in Oct 2014 makes sobering reading:

" t of smart meters completed in 10 years[7]gning

report abuse


allenspComment left on: 26 February 2016 at 6:22 pm

I had Landis & Gyre Smart meters installed by British Gas about 2 and a half years ago. I also had Solar panels fitted 13 months ago. My meters are not currently configured for generation / export readings but according to the Landis web site they should be configurable to differentiate between import / export. The in house display does not differentiate between the two but I am only being billed for the imported power!

Hope this helps. 

report abuse


mdjComment left on: 26 February 2016 at 6:11 pm

I'm confused.

Will they or won't they measure my PV export?

I'm with Co-Operative Energy at the moment and I export most of the electricity produced, so would like to meter it rather than work on deemeed 50%.

report abuse


Lizgra56Comment left on: 23 February 2016 at 10:33 pm

We have recently had a smart meter installed. The read out meter we have in tne house registers clearly when we are exporting electricity. It gives a minus number on the readout. So I assume the smart meter is also picking it up.

report abuse


Bill15Comment left on: 23 February 2016 at 9:34 pm


In your article you say that "The lack of compatability with self-generation, in the case of my own energy supplier, means that they must be concentrating on the low-hanging fruit (ie. those people who actually need a new meter for some other reason)".

Well, that wasn't the case for us. Our old electricity meter stopped recording and as a result was replaced earlier this month (Feb '15). However, despite having a solar PV installation, our energy supplier (Good Energy) instructed the meter company (Scottish Hydro) to fit an ordinary meter rather than a smart one.


report abuse

Leave a comment

You must log in to make a comment. If you haven't already registered, please sign up as a company or an individual, then come back and have your say.