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Smart meter engineer put warning tape around the service fuse carrier - why?

  • 12 September 2020
  • 14 replies
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My smart meter isn’t working properly - the engineer told me to ring in 24 hours later, because the signal was low. I tried ringing, no-one was in at the weekend - so I went on chat and was told it could take up to three days for the meter. So either the engineer was wrong or the chat people were trying to fob me off - not sure which, but I’ll get to the bottom of it on Monday.

In the mean time, there’s something else I can’t wrap my head around - the engineer also put tape around part of the meter - something about there not being a hole, or being a hole - and said someone else would come out to sort it. Anyone know why he might have done this? I’ve attached a picture.

 

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Best answer by Transparent 12 September 2020, 12:06

Hi @ChrisMc - this is a great question to post here on the Forum.

Yes, we do know what this about. The tape has been placed around the Service Fuse carrier. This belongs to your regional Distribution Network Operator (DNO). If I knew where you were in the UK, I could tell you who this is. (Please fill out your Profile page; thanks).

We have another Topic all about this subject area, and I expect that a Moderator will move this discussion across there next week so that others can find it in future.

If the Installation Engineer has identified a hole in the fuse carrier, then he will have assigned this Code A3, which is within the highest-level category. He is required to have notified your DNO before leaving site.

Your DNO will be contacting you to arrange that you have a new/replacement Fuse Carrier fitted within the next few days.

You can continue to use electrical devices within the home in the meantime, and your Smart Meter low-signal issue remains unaffected by this.

Please ask here if you’d like to know anything more.

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Hi @ChrisMc - this is a great question to post here on the Forum.

Yes, we do know what this about. The tape has been placed around the Service Fuse carrier. This belongs to your regional Distribution Network Operator (DNO). If I knew where you were in the UK, I could tell you who this is. (Please fill out your Profile page; thanks).

We have another Topic all about this subject area, and I expect that a Moderator will move this discussion across there next week so that others can find it in future.

If the Installation Engineer has identified a hole in the fuse carrier, then he will have assigned this Code A3, which is within the highest-level category. He is required to have notified your DNO before leaving site.

Your DNO will be contacting you to arrange that you have a new/replacement Fuse Carrier fitted within the next few days.

You can continue to use electrical devices within the home in the meantime, and your Smart Meter low-signal issue remains unaffected by this.

Please ask here if you’d like to know anything more.

Thanks - that makes more sense. I live in Horwich - which is Electricity North West, according to the website I tried. They’re closed at the weekend, so I’ll check with them on Monday to make sure something was logged.

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It’s so so good to see a question like this being answered so fully and comprehensibly by an expert fellow customer. What a reply @Transparent 

 

@ChrisMc let us know if you’re contacted by your DNO this week. 

 

In the meantime, you can diagnose smart meter low signal issues yourself. If you have a SMETS1 ‘Secure’ smart meter, see this topic. If you have a SMETS2 smart meter by Aclara or Honeywell, see this topic

Thanks - I contacted the DNO who had no record of the problem - they adviced I call them again on Weds to see if the issue had been logged but delayed.


As for the Smart Meter, I’ve been in contact with OVO - they’ve sent me a (slightly out of date) list of Smart Meter questions, which I’ve filled in and sent back.

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Somewhat unusual response from a DNO when informed by a member of the public of a fault in the most serious category! :thinking:

Well I’m glad you’ve heard from OVO. Do you know if the “low signal” is on the Wide Area Network (WAN) connection looking back towards OVO, or the Home Area Network (HAN) which connects your two meters and your In Home Device (IHD)?

Was the engineer’s visit to install a Smart Meter or to attend to fix something else?

Somewhat unusual response from a DNO when informed by a member of the public of a fault in the most serious category! :thinking:

Well I’m glad you’ve heard from OVO. Do you know if the “low signal” is on the Wide Area Network (WAN) connection looking back towards OVO, or the Home Area Network (HAN) which connects your two meters and your In Home Device (IHD)?

Was the engineer’s visit to install a Smart Meter or to attend to fix something else?

 

The engineer’s visit was to install a Smart Meter.

He also spotted that one of the rings on the cooker wasn’t working and, upon me pointing out it was propped up on tiles, certified the oven not safe (which suggests to me that he *would* have contacted the DNO). But that’s a different story, which should be sorted with a kitchen refit.

As for the meter, there’s no sign of the the signal bars icon on any of the three things. WAN seems okay, flickering every five seconds.. but the HAN is on solid green, never blinking. It’s a SMETS2 meter, but the guide doesn’t seem to mention what a solid on HAN light means.

 

 

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That helps a lot @ChrisMc.

The SMETS2 meters in the Northern territory are different to those in the south, where I live. Your part of the National Smart Meter Network has telecommunications provided by Arqiva. They use the 400MHz signal acquired when it was released from the old ITV analogue transmissions.

Would you be able to take a photo of

a: the electricity meter with the Communications Hub bolted on top

b: the gas meter

That will help us to provide more accurate analysis of what issues your site is manifesting.

What sort of house is it?

  • a new-build with lots of foil insulation blocking radio signals?
  • a block of flats?
  • an ancient castle with 6-foot stone walls?

All these things matter when we’re trying to evaluate why you might have a poor quality signal somewhere!

What fuel does the cooker/oven use?

I don’t think an unsafe oven would get reported to your DNO but it is a valid reason for not completing installation of a Smart Meter. The Government/Ofgem are (quite rightly) using the introduction of these meters to ensure that old/unsafe installations of electricity and gas can be condemned and brought up to current basic standards.

Here in Devon we have 3-phase electricity boards fixed into old stone walls in farm sheds using wooden backboards that were fitted in the 1940s! It’s really important that these get the attention they need. :scream:

This Forum is an excellent place to get advice on how to solve issues with old equipment connected to electricity and gas. Feel free to ask whatever you want.

That helps a lot @ChrisMc.

The SMETS2 meters in the Northern territory are different to those in the south, where I live. Your part of the National Smart Meter Network has telecommunications provided by Arqiva. They use the 400MHz signal acquired when it was released from the old ITV analogue transmissions.

Would you be able to take a photo of

a: the electricity meter with the Communications Hub bolted on top

b: the gas meter

That will help us to provide more accurate analysis of what issues your site is manifesting.

What sort of house is it?

 

The engineer did finish, he just left a piece of paper saying not to use the oven -  I’d been wary, anyway, I think the kitchen is a bodge job. Apparently the way to install a built in oven is to, er build it into a cabinet. Instead, because this thing had no feet, it’d been propped up on all these stacks of tiles. It’s stable but I don’t plan on using it.

I’ve taken some photos and send them to OVO, so I’ve got them handy, they’re at the bottom of this post.

What sort of house is it?

An end terrace house, built in the 1960s. The electric meter is under the stairs and it *is* on a wooden backboard, the gas meter is about three meters to the right, in the kitchen. I’ve been asked about the signal and I can get a 2 bar 4G mobile signal next to it, and I get a good signal from both Three and 02 networks in the house.

What fuel does the cooker/oven use?

Gas, with electric for the ignition.

 

Electric meter
Gas meter

 

 

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As for the meter, there’s no sign of the the signal bars icon on any of the three things. WAN seems okay, flickering every five seconds.. but the HAN is on solid green, never blinking. It’s a SMETS2 meter, but the guide doesn’t seem to mention what a solid on HAN light means.

 

Thanks for this info @ChrisMc - I’ve updated that SMETS guide to give more detail on HAN: good and bad:

 

 Is there a HAN connection?

The best way to check HAN is on each of the components that connect to the HAN. 

 


If any of these symbols are missing from the respective components then it indicates they are not connected to the HAN. 

In addition, on the comms hub, the HAN or GAS light may be flashing every second or not at all if there is an issue with the HAN. A medium flashing HAN light on the comms hub (5 flashes, pause and repeat) indicates a HAN set up and connected with devices. 

 

Please confirm the latest with HAN, as this might be the issue the engineer mentioned. 

 

As for the WAN, I’m tempted to wait to hear from @Transparent (who’s getting better then me at diagnosing and offering smart comm issue remedies every day that passes) but interesting to hear about the WAN on the comms hub. If this isn’t indicating a WAN issue, please check usage on the smart meter, and we might need to wait for your online account to be updated with your new smart meter details (this can take up to 6 weeks from install) to see if your usage is being sent and added remotely....  

 

Watch out for transparent’s reply, and please update us on the call with the DNO tomorrow. I’d be tempted to call them today myself. If they deny any contact from us, reach out to our Support team who can look at the engineer notes or call the engineer and confirm the DNO actions required. 

 

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Let’s return to the Solid Green HAN indicator on the Comms Hub. Here’s a screenshot of the relevant page in  the Communications Hub specifications for the Northern Territory:

The GBCS which is referred to is the Great Britain Companion Specification which I haven’t yet read. But there’s precious little a customer can do about it anyway. These are actions to be taken by an Installation Engineer.

I’m unsure why you wrote The engineer did finish, he just left a piece of paper saying not to use the oven

The Home Area Network isn’t commissioned and this requires actions to be taken on-site. Devices cannot be joined into the HAN purely by issuing remote commands.

I’m unsure why you wrote The engineer did finish, he just left a piece of paper saying not to use the oven

The Home Area Network isn’t commissioned and this requires actions to be taken on-site. Devices cannot be joined into the HAN purely by issuing remote commands.

He didn’t mention anything about anything else needing to be done onsite. He gave the impression it would take a while to get the signal and if no joy in 24 hours, to ring in. I’m now wondering if he was just BSing to get to his next job.

 

 

Watch out for transparent’s reply, and please update us on the call with the DNO tomorrow. I’d be tempted to call them today myself. If they deny any contact from us, reach out to our Support team who can look at the engineer notes or call the engineer and confirm the DNO actions required. 

 

 

 

I did. At the time, the OVO engineer told me someone would be coming out to sort the tape issue. I rang the DNO who said it had been put through as a priority “C” which means it wouldn’t be attended to at all.

However, the DNO advised that, instead, I ring the other main DNO like and tell them I was concerned because I didn’t know what was up (which was true) and they’d send someone.

Someone from the DNO came out - and they could find nothing wrong. They took off a bit of the tape, but couldn’t easily take it all off as it’s not meant to come off easily (presumably to stop dodgy sellers). He had some vague notes from the OVO engineer but nothing that indicated the fault.

So, I’m left with a Smart Meter that doesn’t work because, according to Transparent’s info, the guy didn’t finish the job and electric board that’s still got messy, unsightly tape on it.

I’m far from impressed with OVO.

EDIT: Sod it. I’m calling OVO again.

Well, I called OVO and they said they’d pass it along to another team and I’d get an update within… five working days. They said it sounds like it needs another engineer back - I was able to, at least, get them to promise to take the tape off or to confirm exactly why it’s dangerous.

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Thanks for this update, @ChrisMc - understandably frustrating to have one engineer diagnostic conflict with another. It’s not been the first time we’ve had OVO engineers and DNO engineers not see eye to eye. Maybe we only hear about the bad examples……

 

You’ve stated in an earlier message that the elec meter is showing signs of a WAN connection. This is good news. It will let OVO see what’s what with the meter, the HAN, devices connected, usage, firmware etc. So I’m hopeful a reply from us next week will contain more helpful info and maybe a fix. Keep us updated please. 

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Good work @ChrisMc.

Even if the categorisation of a supposed “fault” with your Service Fuse transpires to be incorrect, the feedback is useful. This forms part of the training for Installation Engineers and it’s one of those subjects where experience really matters. Newer Installers may make mistakes, but they will always err on the side of caution!

Here on the Forum we’d still be interested to know what C-category fault was identified by OVO’s installer. So please post it here when you find out.

I’m now happy with the response you received from your regional Distribution Network Operator. They’ve done a safety-check and passed your site as being compliant. Excellent!

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