Solar panels and export meters.

Updated on 03/11/20: OVO no longer off new members the Feed in Tariff option. More info here. Instead our members with solar panels can get the Smart Export Guarantee. See this topic guide for more info. 


Can anybody tell me why I just can't pay the difference between the energy I put onto the Grid and the energy I take from the grid
I have an export meter recording what goes onto the Grid and a smart meter recording what I take from the grid,
Since the installation of the panels last summer I have gained nothing from my investment!

10 replies

It is a confusing situation, depending on when you got your solar panels the generation tariff is at around 4.11p/kwh and the export tariff at around 4.91 p/kwh, whilst electricity from the grid is at around 14 p/kwh upwards. So I can see what you mean about paying for your imported energy minus the export tariff.

Since I had my panels installed in February, I have used 51kwh of the 216kwh my system has generated but exported over 165kwh of that! I don't think OVO or the regulator would allow, or have a system in place to allow customers to pay less because of what they exported, I think it may be because a number of people may not have smart meters or export meters that will tell them how much they have exported, as it's not a requirement for any solar system under 30kW, having an export meter is kind of a luxury add on in most domestic cases.

My best bet is to just use the panels when you get the best opportunity, like timing appliances, using smart plugs that you can switch on from your phone whilst you're out and about to charge laptops/iPads and so on, and just taking full advantage of the peak hours of sunlight. And possibly, when prices drop, look at adding a battery to your solar system which uses excess energy to charge that so you can use electricity at night, rather than exporting any excess that you make. You will most definitely gain back money during the life of the system, with average payback plus profit being at about 9-10 years.
The simple truth is that the world needs to find an alternative for its power needs now. World population is still increasing at a steady rate, industries continue to grow – and both of those continue to make use of more and more electricity. How much more pressure can be put on the grid before it pops?
Do you think that solar power is a new invention? You’re not alone: You share that view with what’s very likely a large part of the population. But saying solar power is completely new to mankind isn’t entirely correct. To be more specific, considering the research that we have from ancient tribes, we know that ancient people worshipped the sun – and employed the sun and the planets to tell position, date and time. Ancient use of solar is well-known.
Since moving to a smart meter, I am unsure if my solar panel generation is communicating with it. By this I mean it would appear from my breakdowns on my bill that the electricity I am using in the daylight/generation hours I am being charged for instead of this being deducted. When I had an old meter (dial) the dial stopped spinning when I was generating. My solar panel meter flashes when I'm generating so that I know I am but it doesn't appear to be reflecting on my smart meter.
I guess I'm asking how i can heck how much electricity I'm generating and how can I check that I'm not being charged for it instead?
Userlevel 5
Hi @BexB,

Welcome to the forum.

Do you have two meters, an export/generation meter and an import meter? Or do you just have the new smart meter?
Userlevel 6
Hey @BexB - I've moved your comment onto this topic where users have been chatting about solar generation. Let us know if you need any more info!
Hi @BexB,

Welcome to the forum.

Do you have two meters, an export/generation meter and an import meter? Or do you just have the new smart meter?
I have a smart meter and a meter I've always had since the panels were installed that I basically once a year send the reading to britsh gas for my FIT payment
Userlevel 5
@BexB - do the comments on this thread help, or do you still need some more assistance?

I don't have Solar, but can try and help....

I think the FIT payment you get from BG is an amount for every unit of electricity you generate. The OVO smart meter should measure the amount of electricity you take from the Grid.
So when you are generating more than you are using, that will be zero, but when you are using more than you are generating that value will start increasing.

Can you see the half hourly breakdowns in the MyOVO website, so see if there are some periods when you are not taking anything from the grid?

One of our regular forum users @Transparent is a bit of a pro at these things, so maybe he can help out more.
Userlevel 7
Badge +4
Thanks for the push @Mw2870.

I do have solar... but it's not Grid-connected! So I have no personal experience of how FIT payments are administrated.

However, as a member of a local Transition Town group, I am aware that those members with grid-connected solar are studiously avoiding having Smart Meters because they get a better financial deal based on the "government estimate" than they do if the real export quantity were known!

I'm also in one of the Community Groups working with the OpenLV Smart Sub-station technology.

We are just starting to receive live data from "our" monitored substation and we can clearly see when an attached 3-phase solar array on a primary school is generating.

Since we also have a direct data-feed from that solar-array, we must now decide how to integrate that generation into the sub-station graphs. Would other consumers on that sub-station understand if the current graphs for that Feed went negative?

Or should we subtract the solar generation (since it's known to us) and present it as a separate positive line on the graph?

These issues will affect how Ofgem, DNO's (like Western Power) and Energy Suppliers (like OVO) will offer half-hour variable tariff structures in the future. Simply sending uncontrolled solar power back onto the Grid isn't sustainable. The imbalances at Distribution-level (32kV and below) are causing energy losses to double... now averaging almost 10%.

With the right financial incentives, us consumers can change the way we buy & sell energy, making better use of our valuable resources.

The current crude and unmonitored system of FIT payments is causing a lot of problems. Shortly it will be technically that these can be alleviated by reselling the solar-generation locally, within the same sub-station Feed and Phase. Thus a house with solar-panels on Feed-B, Grey-Phase could be sending energy to a neighbour with an EV or VCharge-connected storage radiators on the same Feed/Phase.

There is some exciting technology on the way!