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Will Ovo install a third meter on a 100amp supply cable when there are already two meters?


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We have undertaken a loft renovation in a terraced maisonette property in London (W12)converting our 1st floor 3 bed flat into two flats- a 3 bed split level flat and a 1 bed 1st floor flat. There is a 100amp supply cable coming into the property that also serves the ground floor neighbour. Surprisingly the supply cable also supplies the 1st floor neighbours next door.

So we’ve had three flats previously on this one 100amp supply cable and now with our split to two flats, we have 4 flats.

We’ve had British Gas out to the property a number of times to install a new meter for the 1 bed flat(the original meter serves the 3 bed flat) and each time the engineer onsite has a different story. The end result is that they will not install another meter with 4 flats on the same supply cable.

UKPN have visited and advised that while British Gas may not do this(BG want an upgrade to three phase before they will install another meter), some other providers will. Is Ovo a supplier that would install the second meter we require for the new 1 bedroom flat?

 

 

 

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Best answer by Transparent 3 June 2021, 13:41

Thanks for asking a very detailed question and emailing the photos of your current setup, @granty90. I’ll post the photos below so we can get an idea of what we’re working with:

 

 

In terms of whether we’d be able to fit the extra meter, unfortunately we don’t currently install new meters or supplies. There’s more info on this relevant topic -

 

 

It’s always worth asking these technical questions here though as we have many community experts on hand.

 

@Transparent, Am I right in thinking that this could require a 3-phase upgrade to install that extra meter?

 

 

Thanks for tagging me @Jess_OVO 

There isn’t quite enough information for me to say whether it would be necessary to change this building to a three-phase supply. That would be dictated by UKPN (the regional DNO) based on the size/capacity of their incoming feed cable and the load characteristics of the sub-station transformer. I don’t have access to their maps to check those parameters.

Even so, the above photos show a feed termination box labelled AEI in which there are three ceramic fuse carriers (and a neutral connection). That suggests the building was originally fed with 3-phase.

I am in any case puzzled that a BG meter engineer has visited the site and has not picked up the status of the Service Fuse, which is the responsibility of the DNO.

Can I refer you to the Tutorial on who is responsible for what?

This links to the MOCOPA guidance document on Service Termination and Issue Reporting, which describes faults and deviations from the standards for Service Fuses. MOCOPA = Meter Operators Code of Practice Agreement.

The broken Fuse Holder is a Fault Issue even if not currently serving the property. If 3-phase enters that Service Block, then the lower-end of the damaged fuse-carrier is still connected to a live wire. The MOCOPA Guidance suggests to me that the issue is class A03 (Defective/weakened fuse carrier) or A04 (Physical damage to DB equipment requiring immediate action) and requires immediate attention.

A Meter Engineer working for an Energy Supplier should apply the MOCOPA rules and call out UKPN immediately. These rules also state that they must not leave site until those DNO staff arrive.

 

Had the British Gas engineer worked to these rules, the issue of the cable capacity to the building would’ve been resolved anyway. The inspection by UKPN would reveal whether the other two phases were active, available and capable of taking part of the load from two of the flats.

This is not just a trivial question of whether an Energy Supplier is or isn’t prepared to add another meter for the 4th flat!

 

Are you happy to take it from there @granty90 and call out UKPN for a Class A Service Fuse fault?

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23 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hey there @granty90 !

Ooh yes, a case of splitting the supply up. We love solving these puzzles! As far as I’m aware, the most likely reason is because someone thinks this can’t happen directly off the same cable, and it might be down to trying to put too many supplies on the same Single-Phase Supply which would overload something. We do have similar threads from a while ago which might help you out here. Let me grab one real quick.

OVO doesn’t currently have the ability to create new supplies for this purpose, but there is a hack in that you can ask SSE to create the supply and then switch to OVO once it’s been installed. OVO can’t create new supplies yet, but they can take over existing ones and I think OVO can install a meter as well, provided the MPAN exists for the supply and there’s wires in place leading to the right main fuse. I’ll see if @Tim_OVO and @Jess_OVO can double check that for me to make sure.

What I can definitely say is that if the initial meter for the new supplies is a traditional non-smart meter when the supply is created, any supplier including OVO would be happy to swap it out for a smart meter later on request at no extra charge.

If you’re able to though, could you show us some photos of all the meters, circuit breakers, main fuses and that main cable please? These kinds of questions can be complicated, so being able to see how it’s all currently wired up often makes it much easier for us to give the right advice.

We’re definitely more than happy to offer advice on this free of charge, so please feel free to ask as many questions as you can think of. We’ll try to answer them as best we can!

Userlevel 1

Thanks for the quick reply. Have attached photos of the meters etc. Hope that helps.

 

Userlevel 7
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No worries @granty90 ! We’re always glad to help.

It looks like the photos might not have uploaded correctly. Could you try again for me?

Don’t worry if you’re having trouble. If you can’t get the photos up for some reason, feel free to shoot an email to forum@ovoenergy.com with the photos attached and mention that you’d like to have the photos uploaded to this topic. One of the moderators will be happy to help with that. :)

Userlevel 7

Thanks for asking a very detailed question and emailing the photos of your current setup, @granty90. I’ll post the photos below so we can get an idea of what we’re working with:

 

 

In terms of whether we’d be able to fit the extra meter, unfortunately we don’t currently install new meters or supplies. There’s more info on this relevant topic -

 

 

It’s always worth asking these technical questions here though as we have many community experts on hand.

 

@Transparent, Am I right in thinking that this could require a 3-phase upgrade to install that extra meter?

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Oh wow, that’s more complicated than I had in mind!

It also looks like at least one of those meters was manufactured and/or installed back in 1989 and might be approaching End of Service Life due to the Certification running out soon - assuming it hasn’t already expired. It might be worth considering having some of those meters upgraded but you’ll want to work with any tenants to do that. Whoever pays the bill generally has the power to decide if and when to upgrade, but as a landlord it is a good idea to work with your tenants to make sure it all goes smoothly - especially if they request landlord approval to have a Meter Exchange (MEX) done. If you’re currently holding the control over the supply for any flats under a Deemed Contract however, you can authorise a MEX without needing a tenant to get involved.

Most landlords are OK with this anyway, but it’s worth mentioning just in case.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Thanks for asking a very detailed question and emailing the photos of your current setup, @granty90. I’ll post the photos below so we can get an idea of what we’re working with:

 

 

In terms of whether we’d be able to fit the extra meter, unfortunately we don’t currently install new meters or supplies. There’s more info on this relevant topic -

 

 

It’s always worth asking these technical questions here though as we have many community experts on hand.

 

@Transparent, Am I right in thinking that this could require a 3-phase upgrade to install that extra meter?

 

 

Thanks for tagging me @Jess_OVO 

There isn’t quite enough information for me to say whether it would be necessary to change this building to a three-phase supply. That would be dictated by UKPN (the regional DNO) based on the size/capacity of their incoming feed cable and the load characteristics of the sub-station transformer. I don’t have access to their maps to check those parameters.

Even so, the above photos show a feed termination box labelled AEI in which there are three ceramic fuse carriers (and a neutral connection). That suggests the building was originally fed with 3-phase.

I am in any case puzzled that a BG meter engineer has visited the site and has not picked up the status of the Service Fuse, which is the responsibility of the DNO.

Can I refer you to the Tutorial on who is responsible for what?

This links to the MOCOPA guidance document on Service Termination and Issue Reporting, which describes faults and deviations from the standards for Service Fuses. MOCOPA = Meter Operators Code of Practice Agreement.

The broken Fuse Holder is a Fault Issue even if not currently serving the property. If 3-phase enters that Service Block, then the lower-end of the damaged fuse-carrier is still connected to a live wire. The MOCOPA Guidance suggests to me that the issue is class A03 (Defective/weakened fuse carrier) or A04 (Physical damage to DB equipment requiring immediate action) and requires immediate attention.

A Meter Engineer working for an Energy Supplier should apply the MOCOPA rules and call out UKPN immediately. These rules also state that they must not leave site until those DNO staff arrive.

 

Had the British Gas engineer worked to these rules, the issue of the cable capacity to the building would’ve been resolved anyway. The inspection by UKPN would reveal whether the other two phases were active, available and capable of taking part of the load from two of the flats.

This is not just a trivial question of whether an Energy Supplier is or isn’t prepared to add another meter for the 4th flat!

 

Are you happy to take it from there @granty90 and call out UKPN for a Class A Service Fuse fault?

Userlevel 1

Thanks very much for your feedback.

The downstair neighbour who is served by the mains cable spoke to UKPN who said that the “looping team” were to visit as the “looped” system is something that they have to rectify, moving us to our own supplies, and this is free. A subsequent conversation with UKPN has contradicted this and they now wish to send an engineer, again, to assess whether the connection is “looped” or “shared”.

I’ll have the engineer look at the broken fuse holder and assess whether there was originally 3 phase. Is there anything else I should ask them to check?

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Heya @granty90 ,

Personally, I’d probably ask UKPN to inspect and check basically everything that they’re able to and give as much as possible the once over. Given the state of what we’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if more issues came up as a result.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

So here’s the diagram you need @granty90 

 

1: Anything up to and including the Service Fuse is the responsibility of the Distribution Network Operator (DNO).

2: The meter and its tails are the responsibility of your Energy Supplier. Each meter has an MPAN number and can be allocated a separate account.

3: It doesn’t matter whether the incomer from the Feed to the Service Fuse is single-phase or three-phase.

4: It doesn’t matter whether the meter(s) pick up 1-phase or 3-phases from the Service Fuse.

5: A service is shared whether there are separate meters connecting to each Consumer Unit, or just one (as in your case). The point is that the divide occurs after the Service Fuse.

6: It is policy amongst DNOs that looped supplies should be replaced. How they do this and the cost is up to them.

7: If a DNO finds that the loading on their Service Fuse is too great then they can insist that their Fuse and Meter connections to it are changed. This is a safety issue and is done by an assessment of Maximum Demand (MD).

8: A DNO can issue you with a Notice requiring you to ask your Energy Supplier to add or alter meters and their tails. For safety reasons this can be time-limited, such as “within one week”.

Userlevel 7
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I think there are two questions to ask your DNO (UKPN):

1: What is the basic minimum to make this installation safe and compliant with the regulations?

2: What would you like to see done here so that the installation shows “best practice”?

You need to ask both questions at the same time because the first one will otherwise sound like you want to avoid doing as much as you can get away with!

This approach will bring the field-engineer ‘on your side’. It will put him/her in the place where their knowledge and expertise is being called on… which will create the right atmosphere for a solution which everyone is happy with.

 

I take the same angle when talking with Building Control Officers. They are usually not permitted to give advice, but there are ways around this!  I ask them, “what sort of solutions would you like to see me implement which would satisfy the Approved Documents (of the Building Act)?”

 

I also think you ought to ask for the email address of the engineer… although they may prefer to give you the address of the Area Manager for that team. That will enable you to discuss the recommendations with BG and ourselves here on the Forum and then run that solution past them before you commit to spend any money.

Equally, feel free to give them a note with the URL of this Topic on it.

We can help by suggesting the order in which tasks should be implemented and recommend alternatives which might provide you with greater flexibility in the future.

Userlevel 1

Hi All.

UKPN have re-attended and have replaced the fuse holder. They have clarified that the supply is shared, not looped. They have washed their hands of the issue with the supply to the upstairs next door neighbour(No. 32A) stating that the unusual nature of this extra supply is not their responsibility as it is past their fuse. 

Am I to assume that the next door neighbour upstairs(No. 32a) needs to contact their energy supplier to see if the supply can be moved from our supply cable to that of their own neighbour downstairs(No. 32) who is the sole property on this cable. Would the energy supplier be able to do this? My over simplified assumption is that the energy company can connect their meter to No 32’s supply, leaving our flat (No. 30A) and our downstairs neighbour (No. 30) on our own supply, meaning that we will have no issue with capacity. 

 

Thanks,

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Well, there’s some good news at least. And it’s not just the fact that the fuse holder has been fixed.

In theory, four flats running off two Three-Phase Supplies with a Single-Phase per flat should be fine. They can all have Single-Phase Meters too, which will keep each setup a lot less complicated. I recommend that the customer of each supply (such as each tenant) contacts their energy supplier to get the ball rolling in addition to working with you on this one.

As long as you’re happy (as the landlord) to give consent for reasonable remedial works and your tenants are happy to go ahead, that will definitely help.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Let’s not run ahead of ourselves here…

What has UKPN replaced the fuseholder with @granty90 ?

Have they left you with three phases, as @Blastoise186 assumes?

Or was there only ever a single-phase cable into the property?

If you don’t know, post a photo of the new Service Fuse and I’ll check it with an engineer.

Userlevel 1

Hi Transparent. Please see image of the replaced ceramic fuse. The engineer has not confirmed whether there was three phase there previously though we have asked him and are waiting to hear back. 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

OK @granty90  Many thanks for the photo.

So it appears that UKPN have simply replaced the ceramic fuseholder.

But, how the heck are you able to take this photo after the engineer has left site? That Service Fuse box is meant to be sealed !!

If you can get to the wires at the lower/entry side of these fuses, then the installation failed with Code A07

 

And I’m amazed that you didn’t get an immediate answer as to whether 3-phase is present/live.

There looks to be three wires leaving the top of these three fuses. The left one is red and possibly 16mm². The other two have white wires connected, the middle one of which appears too small.

Whyever hasn’t the engineer confirmed whether these are live, where they feed to, and whether they are safe/adequate?!

 

I had expected the engineer to replace the entire Service Fuse box.

It’s difficult to tell from the photos, but it looks to me as if this might be made from hard phenolic resin. These were used between 1967 and 1992. There are some which have been found to become conductive, resulting in a voltage on the outside of the plastic casing. It can result in heat build-up and/or electric shock.

Such a fault is designate Code A19.

 

I may not be qualified in these installations, but I’m not confident that this Service Fuse is safe and properly fitted.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Not only that, but why the exposed copper to the left of the fuses too? That looks pretty dodgy to me!

Trust me, I am definitely even less qualified than Transparent when it comes to these matters. But even I can tell something’s not right here.

EDIT: On top of that, it doesn’t even seem as if the cover was ever sealed in the first place either. Uh oh...

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

That exposed brass connection block to the left is (or should be!) the Neutral connection.

It may have originally been a fused Neutral, but that practice has been deprecated.

A site with a fuse in the neutral line would’ve been allocated Code B11, so not nearly as serious as the A-codes I’ve mentioned above.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

That’s a bit of good news then I guess.

But presumably, if the DNO is going to have to come out to fix those A-Code issues anyway, would they deal with the B-Code at the same time?

Userlevel 7
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I’m not confident that they are going to be attending to any A-codes. They may just be checking the distribution network maps off-site to see if the other two phases are shown as being connected.

I’m forwarding these photos to a 3rd party to ask for advice.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Cool. I have a feeling that if the DNO in question was Western Power Distribution, they’d have already been all over this issue faster than the fire service and would have probably condemned it by now.

I already have a feeling I know who that 3rd party might be… :wink:

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

I’ve now checked this Service Fuse status, @granty90 

You should call 105 and report the Cut-out Unit as a safety issue.

It’s not just that it’s a particularly old box which is unsealed. There’s also the matter of what those two ‘white’ wires from the other two fuses are doing.

As the occupier of the premises you need to be absolutely confident that there are no live but unconnected cables left anywhere! Make sure that you get told clearly where these wires go, and ask the DNO engineer to label them.

If it turns out that they are disused, then they should be removed from the connections at the top-end of their respective service-fuses before the cut-out is sealed.

 

An engineer working for any Energy Supplier is permitted to break the seal on a cut-out in order to install a meter. He/she does not then need to recall the DNO to check or re-seal the box again, because they can do this. It’s all part of the MOCOPA training and guidance.

Please let us know what happens.

Userlevel 1

This is the latest update from UKPN, with their responses in red:

 

1. Can you ask the engineer to confirm if a 3-phase is present/live within the set up at 30a Collingbourne. There looks to be three wires leaving the top of these three fuses. The left one is red and possibly 16mm². The other two have white wires connected, the middle one of which appears too small. – Both Nos. 30 & 32 are fed via 1phase services. The Service Head (C/O) situated in No. 30 is looped to provide 3 Fuseways which feed, 30, 30a & 32a


2. Can the engineer please confirm whether these are live, where they feed to, and whether they are safe/adequate?! These are live and the fuse & cable rating is sufficient for the demand, at the time of request. If the demand is due to increase then they need to apply via Connections Gateway for an upgrade.

3. We expected the engineer to have replaced the entire Service Fuse box because it appears as if this might be made from hard phenolic resin. These were used between 1967 and 1992. There are some which have been found to become conductive, resulting in a voltage on the outside of the plastic casing. It can result in heat build-up and/or electric shock. We're not confident that this Service Fuse is safe and properly fitted. Such a fault is designated Code A19. There has been no such notification within UK Power Networks to suggest that this has occurred.

 

4. Apparently you as the DNO can issue a Notice requiring the owner to ask their Energy Supplier to add or alter meters and their tails. For safety reasons this can be time-limited, such as “within one week”. Can UKPN issue a notice to 32a requesting that the supplier move the supply off our (30a) mains cable. This may not be possible due to the configuration of the wiring. This would need an assessment via the customer electrician. They would then need the permission from the owner of No. 32 as their C/O may need to be altered.

 

5.  What is the basic minimum to make this installation safe and compliant with the regulations? What would the engineer like to see done here so that the installation shows “best practice”? The C/O has been inspected and deemed to be in a safe and serviceable condition. We do not inspect or certify customer’s installations. Some wiring, which may be in situ, may now be out of scope for current regulations, but as long as inspected by an approved electrician can remain.

 

They have also advised that if we wish the supplies to be separated from the incoming supply, we will need to contact UKPN’s Connections Gateway team as this would need an increase in demand before any action is undertaken. Any works undertaken by their Connections Gateway team is chargeable.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Wow… I hadn’t expected you to be quite so forthcoming in providing UKPN with the fault designation @granty90 !

Nevertheless we have now learned that this Cut-out has been configured to offer three separate service-fuses off a single-phase supply cable.

Let’s just put those 30A/32A fuse-ratings in perspective:

Last month I needed to calculate Maximum Demand for my house. This is a technical assessment which adds up all the electrical devices, socket outlets and lights to arrive at an MD which truly reflects the possible peak current. This can’t be calculated from a Smart Meter because that shows half-hourly averages.

My 3-storey house with 280m² floor-area, two workshops, 5 power rings and two electric ovens has an MD of just 19.6 Amps. :slight_smile:

A 30A fuse for a flat supply should be perfectly adequate unless:

  • you have electric heating
  • you wish to charge an Electric Vehicle

You are now in a position to have an electrician assess the MD for your proposed flat segmentation and decide which service fuse arrangement is best divided between them.

That doesn’t answer everything you’ve raised so please feel free to ask for further advice.

 

Assessing Maximum Demand is addressed more fully at the start of the topic about Energy demand, supply and flexibility.

 

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