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How easy is it to get a new electricity meter installed?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 7 October 2016 at 4:40 pm

That was another saga. Firstly the letter they sent to say that my meter may be faulty gave the contact details of a third party that they had commissioned to do their meter installs. I emailed and asked for some more info. How long would the install take? Did I really need to be at home, as the meter is outside? Were they going to fit a smart meter? I didn’t get a response.

A few weeks later my energy supplier wrote to me again to say that my meter may be faulty and I would need a new one, and they wouldn’t charge me for any under payments, but that they had a subcontracted company etc etc, you get the idea.

So I wrote to my supplier (actually emailed) and said that I was looking forward to my new smart meter, but could they provide some more details. I got the automated response, they would get back to me. Some more time passed and someone left a message on the answerphone asking me to call because they thought my meter might be faulty …aaargh! Well really if I wanted to do this on the phone I would have called to begin with, but if they keep writing the same thing to me and then not bothering to respond, what do they expect me to do about it. Eventually of course I did give them a call and explained that I had already responded by writing to their subcontract company and by emailing them. The gentleman I spoke to was very nice and explained that I shouldn’t worry about not getting a response from the third party, actually most people didn’t ever hear back from them. Actually they often don’t turn up for appointments either, actually they have been pretty rubbish altogether (I am paraphrasing here). He arranged for someone to come to provide a new, non-smart, meter.

I planned to wait in for my allotted time, between 8am and 12 noon, but didn’t have much hope of anyone showing up as the call handler had led me to expect a level of uncertainty. In reality a lovely young man arrived, not from the subcontractors, but from my energy company. I had a very interesting conversation with him about smart meters and why I couldn’t have one with my PV. He spent a little while sorting out bits in the meter cupboard, then waited for my dishwasher to finish before switching off the electricity supply and then changed the meters. The whole thing probably took less than 20 minutes.

Sadly now rather than a meter running backwards I have one which just reads ‘rEd’ when I am exporting to the grid. Actually it took me quite a while to get the photo above. I had to run around the house turning on gadgets before I could use up all my export. That kettle made all the difference. 

By the way, the white bit on the cable is my Owl energy monitor.


Also see: Early energy supplier ‘smart’ meters incompatible with solar PV?


Photo: Gabby Mallett 

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3 comments - read them below or add one


dch_controlComment left on: 1 November 2016 at 2:17 pm


As I said, it certainly is possible to have a smart meter alongside a PV installation but I agree it won't perform the export metering function for you.  Although on the face of it, the smart meter may not indicate the direction of current flow, I would be surprised if it isn't able to detect the direction of flow in the same was as modern electronic "dumb" versions, which have an indicator to show when power is going back onto the grid, as shown in your photo.

Unfortunately, my smart meter is fitted in a barn some distance from the house and too far away to have a visual monitor, so from my point of view I might as well not have one.  In fact, I really didn't want one, but my electricity supply company insisted.  The controls (keypad and displays) are so complicated I have been unable to work out how to actually read the thing.  Even the engineer who installed it was unable to tell me, and had to rely on it being read remotely.  Soon afterwards, my electricity supply company telephoned and asked me to read it for them, but were unable to talk me through how to do so.  Perhaps they are just too smart for their own good!

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NEF Gabby

NEF GabbyComment left on: 31 October 2016 at 8:47 am

Thanks for the comment. I must say I agree with you on the concept of meters running backwards, a very sensible way to manage electricity use and generation for everyone.

I am interested to hear more about your smart meter. I was told catagorically that smart meters were not sufficiently advanced to be monitoring my use and export at the same time.  Basically they cannot record direction of current, just amount.  Of course it could be that my energy company was just fitting the older style smart meters (which they bought a lot of and haven't installed yet), and that the newer ones are that bit smarter.  How does yours work?

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dch_controlComment left on: 30 October 2016 at 11:35 am

Gabby Mallett's post raises two interesting issues.  First of all, it seems surprising to be told that a smart meter can't be used alongside a solar installation.  This seems wrong for two reasons: (a) surely a smart meter should be smarter than a dumb one and (b) I actually do have a smart meter on the electricity supply alongside my solar installation.

The second point concerns the meter running backwards.  Many installations of wind and solar generators installed in the early years were connected to supplies metered by electro-mechanical meters that would be driven backwards when exporting to the grid.  The electricity supply companies soon made a point of replacing such meters and pointed out that to allow a meter to run backwards is regarded as theft of electricity.  This seems a moot point, as it could be argued we were actually giving them some electricity rather than stealing it.  Of course, the allegation stems from the fact that we have received a Feed-In-Tariff payment for the electricity we have supplied to the grid and by running the meter backwards we would effectively be being paid twice.

Now it seems to me that it would have saved everybody (consumers, suppliers and government) an awful lot of money and trouble if we had all simply been allowed to keep our good old-fashioned electro-mechanical meters, and that FIT's had never been invented.  Then every unit of electricity exported to the grid would be credited to the consumer (by running the meter backwards) and available for  subsequent use; in effect he has stored his excess power for future use.  Furthermore, it would also make sure that any power generated during off-peak hours (obviously this doesn't apply to solar, but it does to wind) is credited at the correct (reduced) rate, unlike the present "deemed" export values that are sim[ly estimated from the total generated energy.

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