Solved

Can OVO arrange an engineers visit to fix a faulty external time-switch? My storage heater timings are out!


 1st Photo (Top): Night Element Re-Setter.

2nd Photo (Middle): Dial - Taken At 1.15pm.

 2nd Photo (Middle): Dial - Taken At 1.15pm.

   3rd Photo (Middle):  Wall Switches For Night & Day Elements

 

4th Photo (Bottom):  My Meter.

 

Hello

Plan: 'Simpler Energy Economy 7'.

I  hope the attachments would show the sort of set-up I have.

 

APPARENT PROBLEM
At the moment my hot water seems to be coming on at 3pm -
which seems strange to me - as I thought it was supposed to be
only set to heat between midnight to 7am.

By next morning my hot water is not at its hottest.


NOTE: My Day Element is switched off.      I don't often use this.

All I ever touch is the night element re-setter (see 1st attachment).
 

QUERIES:  If you cannot help me with the above problem, can you advise
me of anyone who can?    
Or should I just try to find an electrician?
Or a plumber?

And do I have a ‘radio teleswitch’ or not?


MY WATER HEATER
I have an Economy 7 Immersion Heater with a 'day' element
and a 'night' element.     Both of these are wired up to switches
on the wall nearby (see 3rd attachment.).

1st Attachment shows the type of element re-setter I have (thermostat?).

I don't have/can't find any other kind of re-setting equipment on
the tank/boiler itself.

 

4th Attachment shows my Meter.


DIAL ?
I've also attached a photo of a dial that is alongside my electricity meter
(see 2nd attachment.).

QUERY: Would re-setting this dial solve the problem of my night element
seeming to only be heating my water during the day (starting at 3pm)?


 

icon

Best answer by Jess_OVO 17 May 2022, 13:39

View original

20 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hey @Kate Barber !

I’m Blastoise186 and I’m one of the forum volunteers here.

My first impression is that your current meter might be up for recertification as it’s almost 20 years old. You don’t have a Radio Teleswitch though, that timeswitch runs locally so it’s not affected by the RTS Service sunsetting.

However, the dial has gotten massively out of sync somehow and this needs to be fixed to get things working properly. You can’t do that yourself I’m afraid and it’s a bit of a pain to do. Let me call in @Lukepeniket_OVO though as he might know whether it’s possible to do at all if an engineer stops by.

Neither an electrician nor a plumber can fix this though, the time switch is owned by your supplier (corrected from DNO!) and only they can play with it.

Hello Blastoise and many thanks for what looks like a very helpful reply.   

 

Yes, that would be good if you can find out whether an engineer could fix this ‘out of sync dial’.

 

I can imagine that any ‘gadgetry’ that I have could be well outdated!     If this engineer came to fix this, could they also deal with ‘recertification’ (whatever that is?)?.

 

However, when you said ‘meter’, (needing recertification)’ were you meaning the white ‘box’ in the 4th Attachment?    Or the dial thingie shown in the 2nd Attachment?     (Is that also called a ‘meter’?).

 

When I’d first contacted OVO (via a ‘chat’) I was told that all they dealt* with was my meter - which gave me the impression they wouldn’t be interested in any problems I might be having.

(*I think they’d said that they were ‘only accountable for my meter’ - but best not to hold me to this as my memory is lousy!!    But would that make sense to you?).

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Sure thing! Your wish is my command. Luke is an OVO and SSE Smart Meter Engineer himself, but he knows a thing or two about old legacy setups as well. He tends to be quite busy during the day, but no doubt he’ll stop by when he’s got a chance. :)

Recertification is similar to the end of useful service life of other things, it just has a fancy name in the energy industry. The only way that this process can be completed is to replace the meters completely with shiny new ones. This usually means a smart meter upgrade these days, but if you really don’t want to upgrade then you might be able to request a smart meter opt-out by talking to the support team. It’s worth noting that OVO can override such opt-outs in some circumstances and if you wish to have a traditional non-smart meter installed rather than a smart meter, OVO is entitled to charge you for a non-standard install.

But I like to play fair and mention it anyway because there is a very small group of users who would rather not upgrade right now.

Timeswitches and Radio Teleswitches are a weird edge case and have been for years. If your meter has one built-in, then your supplier is definitely responsible for it. Apparently, there’s a few rare edge cases where the DNO owns the timeswitch and/or radio teleswitch but not very often. It even trips me up sometimes! Your case confused me a little because of the plates on the equipment, sorry about that! If our forum guides are right, it’s OVO’s responsibility to sort this one out. And it’s also why I hate these old 1980’s timeswitches!

The device with the dial in the second photo is the timeswitch for your supply, but it’s not part of the meter itself. That’d be the white box in the last photo. :)

Hello and thanks again Blastoise!


Should  I contact Luke myself to see if he could come and look at my equipment?

Though I live in West Berkshire, a bit west of Newbury, and it looks like he’s from west Wales.


Or should I contact Ovo (via their email address) for a more local engineer?


SMART METERS
Incidently I’ve never been very keen on the idea of Smart Meters - I seemed to keep reading that they went wrong a lot.    

And I’d always be worrying that they were giving out an incorrect reading.    

And then I’d have to worry about calling someone out to fix this, and wondering if they would then charge a big call-out fee……


TUTORIAL/DNOs
I read the below Tutorial, which was very interesting:
https://forum.ovoenergy.com/my-account-140/getting-to-know-your-electricity-gas-meter-and-equipment-who-s-responsible-for-what-a-guide-on-who-to-contact-to-help-maintain-each-part-of-your-setup-8628

As I live in Southern England it seems my DNO could be 'Southern Electric Power Distribution'.     

I used to be with SSE before OVO took over.

I'm assuming that 'tails' means 'cables'.

 

 

Userlevel 7

Sorry for the confusion there, @Kate Barber.

 

Whilst Luke is happy to offer advice here, he probably won’t be able to make a trip to check your set-up. 

 

I have however checked this one with the team, who have confirmed that as your supplier we are responsible for an external time-switch like yours. We’d recommend getting in touch with the Support Team to get a smart meter replacement arranged. By installing a five port dual-register smart meter, we’d be able to remove the faulty time-switch, with the meter taking over the function of turning on your storage heater circuit.

 

Have you given the team a call yet?

Hello Jess

 

Thanks for advising me to contact the Support Team.

 

But - do I really need to have a Smart Meter…..?

 

As I said in the post above I’ve never been very keen on the idea of Smart Meters - I seemed to keep reading that they got glitches and went wrong a lot.    

What if I found they were giving out an incorrect reading?   Or no reading?

Then would I have the worry of calling someone out to fix this, and wondering if they would then charge a big call-out fee……?

 

 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

That’s where this forum comes in handy again. We know of ways to help you test for possible meter faults safely and without cost. Creep Tests and Burns Tests being two of the easiest accuracy tests available. We’re able to guide you through those if you think something’s up.

Official meter accuracy tests do cost money though the fee is refunded in full if the meter is found to be inaccurate, but you sacrifice the test fee if the meter is found to be working properly. It’s one of the reasons we recommend doing a Creep Test and Burns Test with help from someone here on the forum first, as you’ll never have to pay for the advice given here. :)

What I can say however, is that smart meters are a LOT more accurate than traditional meters and are constantly checked via self-calibration and self-testing features to make sure they stay in sync and remain working properly. The first sign of any problems triggers a bunch of self-diagnostics and the meter will try to correct the issue automatically if it can, otherwise an alert gets sent back to the supplier with the details for further investigation.

A lot of the glitches relate to older SMETS1 meters and these have all been ironed out. The SMETS2 Aclara and Flonidan meters that OVO installs have been proven to be pretty reliable so far and don’t go wrong easily.

As for faults and repairs, you will not be charged anything if the call-out relates to a confirmed fault and we’re usually able to help you figure out whether you might be charged before you call the support team - and you’d also be given a heads up by OVO of any potential charges upfront before you agree to anything.

If you upgrade to a smart meter, there’ll be no fee for the work required to do so. However, replacing your current meter with a non-smart meter might be treated as a Non-Standard Install for which OVO may charge you a fee - and it’s not cheap if memory serves!

Userlevel 7

As @Blastoise186 has assured already smart meters very rarely clock your usage incorrectly, @Kate Barber. Further to this the installation and maintenance of a smart meter is offered for free by any energy supplier.

 

For more information about the benefits of smart meters, check out the guides below.
 

 

Our Support Team can help get that meter replacement arranged and discuss any lingering smart meter concerns you might have.

Hello again!

 

What if - for now - I simply asked for an OVO Engineer to come and check/amend my Timer (with its out-of-sync dial)?   

If this was possible, would you still want to charge for this?

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I’m afraid it’s not always that simple. Your timeswitch is 25 years old and I’m not sure most engineers are trained on how to properly adjust them anymore.

I’d have to ask @Tim_OVO about that one...

Oh damn.    I don’t suppose there are newer models of timeswitch, are there?

 

Do Smart Meters incorporate timeswitches?   

I think my actual current meter (the small white ‘box’ with a screen for taking a reading) would be more like 8 or 10 years old?

 

If a new Smart Meter then malfunctioned, can I immediately ask for it to be made ‘dumb’?     And then would I revert to taking readings, like with my past meter?

What if a malfunction happened after office hours or over a weekend/Bank Holiday - does OVO have a 24/7/365-day help/emergency phoneline?

 

Excuse all these questions, but I live alone, and can find new things quite alarming, so I’m quite apprehensive about having to get a Smart Meter.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

No worries. It’s what we're here for.

Your current timeswitch isn’t the oldest one I’ve seen and I think the oldest one I’ve discovered was from maybe 1980-ish? There are newer models, but you cannot source and fit one yourself. Only OVO can fit one as OVO is your active supplier, and doing so now would be at OVO’s discretion. I can’t guaranteed they’d agree to it.

Smart meters don’t include the same kind of time switch that you’re used to, but at very least they're all capable of switching between Day and Night rates at the appropriate times. Certain models can also turn things like storage heaters or water heaters on and off at the right times as well. OVO will fit one of those models as long as you tell them that you’ve got that immersion heater rigged up to only run at night and are being currently controlled by your existing meter.

Your current electric meter was certified in February 2005 and probably manufactured not long after that, making it 17 years old. I use the first three characters of the Meter Serial Number - D05 in your case - and the certification mark - Z32 M05 in your case - to identify and calculate the age of your meter and from there, estimate the remaining service life as long as I’m reasonably confident I can do so. I can’t quite remember how long the Ampy 5196D was certified for, but I’d estimate it’s got maybe three years of service life left at most.

Smart meters rarely malfunction, but the ability to submit manual readings is always available as a backup, just in case. I’m afraid the smart functionality cannot be disabled though for security and integrity reasons.

If a malfunction occurs that causes a power cut out of hours, your first port of call should always be to call 105. For everything else, this forum is open 24/7/365 and a forum volunteer like myself will at least be able to give general advice and try to help figure out the issue. We can’t access your account, make changes or book an engineer visit from here, but it’s definitely better than having no help at all!

Userlevel 7

Great to see our community superstar, @Blastoise186, giving some really great support here, @Kate Barber.

 

Just to confirm, as we’d be unable to repair or replace an external time-switch, in order to get this faulty time-switch sorted, a meter replacement would be required. A smart meter would still allow you to take your meter readings manually, but you shouldn’t need to submit these monthly as the meter will update these to your account automatically. We often find this really helps make sure your bills are accurate and will also allow you to keep a closer eye on your usage if you’d like. Smart meters are rigorously tested and very rarely malfunction to affect your supply. In the extremely small chance this happens we’d of course arrange an emergency same-day appointment to make sure you’re reconnected. Your local DNO can also arrange an emergency appointment if this happens out-of usual working hours.

 

We understand that changes to your set-up may be worrying but would encourage you to give the Support Team a call to discuss things further. 

Sorry to go on being so nit-picky, but - does the below quote imply that, if the Smart Meter chose to malfunction at any point, I would then have no electricity?

Quoted from Blastoise:

If a malfunction occurs that causes a power cut out of hours, your first port of call should always be to call 105.      

 

Thanks Blastoise for reminding me of the emergency no 105.

 

I’m often worrying about power-cuts happening, because it’d probably happen when I was using my computer.    Or, it would happen after dark.

And, as my flat is all-electric I wouldn’t even be able to boil a kettle!

 

As far as I can remember I’ve never had problems with my current meter, nor with any meter before that, nor - as far as I know - with the timeswitch either  (I’ve lived in my flat since 1982).
 

EMERGENCY SAME-DAY APPOINTMENTS / DNO

Jess, you mentioned ‘emergency same-day appointments’ - would my local DNO - (who I’m assuming would be 'Southern Electric Power Distribution') - be accessable 365-days (even over Christmas)?

 

And would ringing the number 105 take me to 'Southern Electric Power Distribution'?

 

Well - if I do end up with a Smart Meter, at least I’d - hopefully - know what to do if it landed me in the dark, out-of-hours, on Christmas day!).

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

It’s more likely to happen if you’re on Pay As You Go because the relay in the electric meter and valve in the gas meter flip on and off if you run out of credit and later top-up again, but that’d be the same with just about any meter to be honest. Plus, they’re rated for thousands of movements beyond what would be expected anyway.

In Credit Mode, neither the valve nor relay would ever really move at all because there’d be no reason to. Malfunctions can happen to any meter and time switch, but usually the worst that can happen is that your Economy 7 times get out of sync or the meter fails to count properly. The chances of getting disconnected due to any meter fault is tiny compared to all the other possible ways of going off-supply and let me reassure you of this. None of that stuff is unique to smart meters. If it’s going to happen to a smart meter, it can also happen to a traditional one.

There are multiple safeguards though, if a smart meter in credit mode malfunctions, the valve/relay will remain where it is and your supply will not be cut off.

And yes, 105 will get you to your local DNO 24/7/365. One number for all of them and it’s handled automatically in the background.

Um - just one more thing (I hope!).

Malfunctions can happen to any meter and time switch, but usually the worst that can happen is that your Economy 7 times get out of sync or the meter fails to count properly.

 

ALERTING SYSTEM?

How can I tell if my E7 times are getting out of sync or the Smart Meter is failing to count properly?   

I’m not naturally very good at following things up - I prefer to have it and forget it!

Is there any sort of alerting system that can draw my attention to things not being as they should be?    (Eg, on that other thingie that one has indoors, that has a screen (a  ‘home something’?).

 

It took me 2 or 3 weeks or so before I’d twigged that my hot water was getting hot at an odd time, when it should’nt have.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

That shouldn’t be a problem anyway. Unlike your current setup, smart meters can sync their time from the Comms Hub that sits above the electric meter and that Comms Hub gets it’s time from a remote time server that ultimately links back - via multiple other hops - to atomic clocks at the National Physical Laboratory in Anthorn. It’s almost impossible for those to get the time wrong, and therefore smart meters can keep time very, very accurately.

Both the meters and your In-Home Display will also show you exactly which of the two rates is active at any given time and I can definitely give you the user manual for the meters that OVO installs if that helps. Specifically, Page 20 is the one you’re after at https://www.smartme.co.uk/documents/Aclara-SMETS2-Single-Phase-Electric.pdf . It’s not quite an alerting system, but it’s pretty close.

The meter will also keep records as well, which will help to fix billing issues if the times end up being wrong. OVO could simply retrieve all the data and do a bunch of number crunching to fix everything. You can’t do that with a traditional meter!

If you have any reason to suspect any meter isn’t clocking usage properly, please stop by the forum again. We will help you to do a Creep Test or Burns Test which will indicate if the meter accuracy has deteriorated or not. From those results, we can decide whether to recommend a formal Meter Accuracy Test.

Many thanks Blastoise, Jess, and others who have responded to my concerns.   

Well, the latest news is that I’ve now made an appointment to have a Smart Meter fitted, and this will be on 27 June.  

It’s good to know I’ve got this forum to return to if I have any problems!

Hello again……

Well, so much for my 27 June appointment!    Stupid engineer never turned up - and, as far as I can make out, didn’t bother letting me know this either.

It seems crazy that Ovo apparently cannot contact the engineers whilst they are out on the road.     And even crazier that Ovo don’t have ‘in house’ engineers, but instead use what I think they called ‘second companies’(?) - in other words, outside contract I suppose.

When I rang Ovo to complain that no engineer had turned up, they did admit that they sometimes had had problems with using these companies.

I’m supposedly being given a £30 compensatation.    But it seems a wierd way to run things!

I was given the next available appointment for 18 August.   

 

Userlevel 7

Such a shame to hear about that missed appointment, @Kate Barber. You’re correct in saying that you’ll be getting £30 compensation if you weren’t given at least 24 hours notice of the cancelled/missed appointment. 

 

OVO do have in house engineers under the name of Field Force. We’re growing the size of this fleet of skilled engineers to be able to fit smart meters, heat pumps and more. This takes some time to build up and in the meantime, we will use third party contractors for smart meter installations, meter reading visits etc. We nonetheless commit to excellent standards and things like compensation if things are missed. It can happen and I’m sorry you were affected. Glad to hear this is booked in again!

Reply