SMETS2 Smart Meter installation

  • 15 March 2019
  • 85 replies
  • 11108 views


Show first post

85 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Umm... it's not quite as mad as it first appears, @ElonBusk. Let me clarify:

It isn't common for a new Energy Supplier to change out pre-existing Smart Meters. It is true that they may revert to being dumb, but it is always the case that they would be upgraded to SMETS2 software at a future date. The software upgrades coincide with a move to them being incorporated into DCC's own Smart Meter Network, and thus they become universally transferable to other Suppliers with whom you might have an account in future.

I don't know why OVO elected to change your Smart Meters in Sept 2018. Sometimes this occurs if the old meters were provided under a particular financial scheme, the intricacies of which are beyond my comprehension!

Nevertheless, the SMETS1 meters you now have won't require replacing again. OVO have already informed their customers that the firmware upgrade to SMETS2 protocols will be undertaken by remote download, without an engineer attending on site.

Theoretically there may be a few SMETS1 meters which also require the Communications Hub to be changed. In Southern and Central Territories these will be those in areas where there was unreliable connection via the O2 GSM network. There is now the option to have a Telefonica Comms Hub with two or more WAN connectivity pathways, which should enable a more robust connection.

I'm unsure what will happen to existing SMETS1 meters in the Northern Territory, assigned to Arqiva. The new Smart Meter Network there will operate using 400MHz radio waves, and yet the existing meters have GSM transceivers working at 900MHz.
When I switched to OVO in 2017, I was told that my old "smart" meters - installed by SSE in 2016 - were of an older type, not compatible with other providers. So I was left with "dumb" meters for more than a year. Then OVO offered to install what I believed were second generation "smart" meters - which would be compatible with other energy providers.

I now realise this is not the case. The meters OVO installed in Sept 2018 are first gen and not compatible with other providers. However, they are capable of being updated to SMETS2 - supposedly starting mid-2019 and completing sometime in 2020.

This leads me to conclude that OVO replaced the old SSE meters because they were early first gen models, not capable of being updated to SMETS2.

Later this year, when I switch from OVO to a new supplier, I will be left with "dumb" meters again - until such time as the upgrade is rolled out. Oh joy.

My experience, in summary:
Jan 2016 - Traditional "dumb" gas and electric meters replaced by SSE with "smart" meters.
Jun 2017 - I switch to OVO and the "smart" meters are rendered "dumb".
Sep 2018 - OVO replace the SSE meters with upgradeable SMETS1 meters but the gas meter has, in effect, been a "dumb" meter since the day it was installed.
Jun 2019 - When I switch to a new provider, I will be left with two "dumb" meters again.
2019/20 - SMETS1 meters will be upgraded to SMETS2 and I should have working "smart" meters
  1. Dumb to smart
  2. Smart to dumb
  3. Dumb to smart - but one is effectively dumb
  4. Smart to dumb
  5. Dumb to smart
Okay, the situation may not be as mad as I thought. More like a shambles. I am left feeling it is me who is dumb - dumb for ever believing that "smart" meters might be a good idea. Reading this article, I am not alone...

This Is Money - Smart Meter Gone Dumb
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
I appreciate hearing from you (and others) how this dumb meter fiasco appears @ElonBusk.

Overall, I think the strategy towards Demand Side Response has been inadequately advertised by the central players, DECC and Ofgem. Most consumers still view Smart Metering as a method to deliver energy consumption readings to Suppliers without "a man coming around to read the meter", as used to occur.

It's actually so much more than that. Once the technology is in place, the management of the UK energy networks will be much better geared towards consumer demand, and has the potential to halve the current losses in the electricity distribution-grid.

That means we'll need fewer power-sources on standby, and greater use of renewable sources without requiring so much gas-powered generation to balance it. There will also be a significant reduction in payments being made to industry and generators (especially Wind-energy farms) to cease operations when Triads and over-generation occur. Those savings are crucial to peg back prices and permit the UK to be less dependent on foreign energy sources.

Residential consumers will be able to benefit from lower-cost time-frames when they can set electrical apparatus to run automatically... and, most importantly, to do so without this automation being threatened by internet-related cyber threats.

The SMETS2 meters currently being installed are just the first part of a robust nationwide energy supply network.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
.
Communications Hub - Toshiba

The Communications Hub is a box of electronics which sits on top of the Electricity SMETS2 Meter (ESME). It is secured in place with an M4 bolt at the front, which has an anti-tamper seal.

The Intimate Communications Hub Interface (ICHI) connects internally between the meter itself and the Comms Hub. It is a 20-pin connector which transfers data and provides 12v DC power for the Hub.

This Forum Post describes the various Toshiba Comms Hubs which are paired with an ESME manufactured by Aclara. This combination is installed in the Southern and Central Territories of the GB Smart Meter Network, owned by DCC.


The Toshiba Comms Hub contains at least two radio-frequency transmission systems and maybe more:-

A. The Home Area Network (HAN) connects to the SMETS2 gas meter and the IHD. It operates at 2.4GHz using a protocol called Zigbee.

B. The Wide Area Network connects to the cellular masts and thence to the Data Communications Company (DCC). This utilises the O2 network 3G signals at 900MHz. There can also be a MESH network at 869MHz, which may or may not use an external aerial.

There are five green LED lights.

In normal operating conditions they flash at a low-frequency rate of 1:50


SW = software status
WAN = Wide Area Network
MESH = status of Mesh network connection (if present)
HAN = status of Home Area Network
GAS = status of gas (proxy) function

Under fault conditions, or during power-up or testing, these lights will remain on (Solid) or flash at a High- (1:5) or Medium- (1:20) frequency


In general, a High-frequency flash is indicative of an error.

A Medium-frequency flash indicates that attempts are being made to (re-)connect to the relevant network.

The Toshiba Communications Hub contains an internal battery. This allows it to remain live for 3 minutes in the event of a power cut.

If power has been lost for a period greater than 3 minutes, the Communications Hub will perform a Restart Sequence which can take several minutes. The green LEDs will flash in sequences which show the network connections being re-established.

There is another mode of operation of these five LEDS when an external aerial is connected. This allows an engineer to check the signal strength across the local Mesh network. End-users won't normally see this mode.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
.
Communications Hub Device Variations - South & Central Territories

The SMETS2 meters being installed in Central and Southern Territories of GB have a number of options for the Communications Hub.

The main Variants are:
• SKU1 Cellular
• SKU2 Cellular + Mesh
• SKU3 SIMCH
• Cellular DB
• Cellular + Mesh DB
• SIMCH DB

Any of these may have additional external aerials fitted in order to increase the transmission distance or for object avoidance.

Before I describe each of these types, let me point out that the suffix DB means "Dual Band". This refers to the frequencies used for the Home Area Network which operates within your house. The HAN usually operates at 2.4GHz using a relatively slow data protocol called Zigbee.

If your walls are particularly thick or distances are greater than normal, a Dual Band Zigbee transceiver will use both 2.4GHz and 868MHz. This has greater penetration distance.

At the time of writing (April '19) There is no equivalent Dual Band Comms Hub available for installation in the Northern Territory. So users in Scottish castles are most likely going to not have an operational IHD!

Now lets describe the three main Variants, whether or not they have the DB suffix.

SKU1 Cellular is the Communications Hub most commonly fitted. About 88% of domestic housing will be provided with this variant. It connects directly to the O2 mobile phone network using 3G technology and modified protocols.


There are two manufacturers supplying the SKU1 Comms Hubs. The one on the left is made by Telefonica, whilst on the right is one from Taiwanese company, Wistron NeWeb Corporation.

Rural areas where there is lower coverage by the O2 cellular network may be provided with the SKU2 variant:



This Comms Hub contains transceiver electronics for both the O2 3G network at 900MHz and a Mesh network running at 869MHz (IEEE 802.15.4g). There is a socket for connection of an external Wide Area Network (WAN) aerial.

Radio-Frequency Coverage maps are used to decide which Communications Hub should be installed. Where communications are particularly difficult, a SKU3 SIMCH can be specified. This is a Special Installation Mesh Communications Hub which operates on the same frequencies, but has higher power and a wider range of aerials available.



SKU3 Variants may be installed by Engineers from DCC rather than OVO employees. Their commissioning sequence is complex and is most likely to depend on relaying the signals through other MESH Communications Hubs in the same area.

DCC estimates show that less than 0.25% of installations are likely to be an SKU3 SIMCH, which has got to worth double-points for any SMETS2 Spotter!

Aerials:

The external Aerial fitted to my own Comms Hub is a T2 Cellular type manufactured by Panorama Antennas. You can see it fitted to the meter-box door in the first posting of this Topic.

Seven aerials have been approved thus far, amongst which are the following


T2 aerials are for medium range extension, and T3 for significant range extension.

Smaller T1 aerials are used for object avoidance, where there is a structure which absorbs radio waves between your Comms Hub and the local GSM mast.
Userlevel 1
Im following the discussion about smets1 to smets2, I have a smets1 but don't use the in house unit as it gives me no useful info but the smets2 in house gives more.
My smets1 works perfectly along with the online ovo website, i check it most days although the percent projection is rubbish but the rest is good.
2 questions then.
1) Im in the NE61 area and i see that my area isn't fitting smets2 but talk about upgrades at some point.
2) if i get an upgrade, how will i know and if so then will i get a new in house unit or wont that work with the smets1 upgrade.

I am in a position where my gas is supplied by N power who cant fit a smart meter as im told it wont talk to the OVO one and Electric is supplied by OVO on a smart meter. I want to be in a position at some point to have dual fuel with a single provider.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
You ask some very pertinent questions @g4jnw

As you read below, please remember that I'm a fellow customer, like you. I don't work in the energy sector, and I can't speak on behalf of any companies who do.

The first bit of good news is that received news last week from an industry source (not OVO) that some Energy Suppliers are now fitting SMETS2 meters in the Northern Territory. I don't know whether OVO is one of them, nor whether there are any geographical constraints.

Next... you don't need a new IHD if your existing Electric SMETS1 meter has a firmware upgrade to SMETS2. The Home Area Network (HAN) is unaffected and the two units remain "paired".

I'm not entirely happy with the stance being taken by N-power. It's lacking the vision of where things are heading because they're only considering their existing SMETS1 strategy.

Any SMETS2 meter which gets installed will get joined to the National Smart Meter Grid "owned" by DCC. As such it automatically achieves transferability between Suppliers. There are no SMETS2 meters which have Communications Hubs capable of running on N-Power's existing SMETS1 network.

The issue is actually with your existing electric meter. I'm unsure how a new gas SMETS2 meter could be paired with a SMETS1 electric meter. This would effectively attach the gas meter back onto the proprietary meter network used by OVO, Utilita and others, thus breaking the regulatory framework which underpins SMETS2 !

It would seem to me that you first need your SMETS1 electric meter upgraded to SMETS2. And that's where we need a response from OVO's Meter Engineering Dept.

Whilst the software upgrade to SMETS2 can readily be performed online, it still leaves your meter using its existing Communications Hub which connects to the 3G mobile phone transmitter masts at 900MHz.

But in the Northern Territory, the National Smart Meter Network is to operate at 400MHz via new masts which Arquiva have installed. This suggests to me that all existing SMETS1 meters in the Northern Territory require a site visit at some point in order to exchange the Comms Hub for a new one manufactured by EDMI.

Moreover that site visit to install new hardware must coincide with the firmware upgrade to SMETS2 software because otherwise the Communications Hub couldn't be commissioned.

Let's flag a couple of the Moderators, like @Tim_OVO and @Nancy_OVO, to bounce this message to their Meter Engineering Dept for some answers!
I do not think it is possible to fit a Smets2 Communications Hub to a Smets1 meter.
Smets1 designs were all manufacturer lead solutions to supplying mobile Communications and a Han network, and therefore all individual.

Smets2 meters were all designed to a common standard and any smets2 Electricity meter should be attachable to any Smet2 Communications Hub

The physical dimensions, connections and mountings on Smets2 meters and their communications hubs are not compatible with any existing Smets1 meter.

Two very common examples

Landis & Gyr E470 (Smets1 model) has no physical connection at all and used the han network in the same wireless way gas meters do and uses a separate detached Communications Hub.

Secure Liberty 100 has a Communications Hub mounted on top like Smets2 meters but the dimensions are different and uses two securing screws on its face as opposed to one on a Smets2 meter.

I think that any need to change a Communications Hub to a Smets2 version, whether to comply with northern area 420MHz or adding a Smets2 gas meter will result in a Smets2 Electricity meter also being fitted.
Will my SMETS2 non OVO smart meter connect to OVO?
Userlevel 5
Badge
Hey @Middy - I've moved your post over here where you can find more information about SMETS2 meters 🙂
@Transparent Thank you for the very detailed writeup.

Just wondering if your Electric/Gas usage is showing up in your Ovo account yet?

I had both Gas and Electric SMETS2 meter installed on the 28th Feb this year and my online account still shows no usage for both... When I click on Meter Readings it says "No need to give us meter reads as you have a smart meter" for both Electric and Gas.

Does anyone have SMETS2 usage showing up?

Thanks

Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Hi @tom2019 - Your online usage stats are ahead of mine. When I log in to My OVO I can still see the histograms for the months prior to having my SMETS2 meters installed. And on the page for Meter Readings, it has no acknowledgement of me now having Smart Meters. I still have the boxes into which I am asked to put manual readings.

Your installation was 12 days prior to mine, so I'm not concerned at the delays. Moreover, since OVO have continued to take Direct Debits, but can't yet calculate what I've used, I'm building up a healthy credit in my account. That's extra interest payments I'm earning too!
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
For the sake of completeness, let me point out on this Topic that one of the Moderators, @Nancy_OVO, stated here on another Topic last week that OVO are aware of bugs in the IHD's recently supplied with SMETS2 meters.

The symptoms are overly-large usage calculations and erroneous costings.

As I wrote in reply to a question elsewhere yesterday (23apr19):

"At this stage I still don't have gas-usage showing on my own IHD, but that's no surprise because my Tariff information hasn't yet been uploaded into the meter anyway. So I have no idea whether the inaccurate costings being displayed on the IHD are solely due to lack of tariff data, or whether I'm seeing symptoms of the "bugs" which Nancy refers to."

Again, I'm not particularly concerned, but that's probably because I have a fair idea of how the technology works. It is undoubtedly going to be worrying for other customers who believe they are suddenly running up huge bills.

I have no idea how the bugs can be fixed if they're actually within the code running in an IHD. Although the specifications for Smart Meters requires them to be capable of upgrade across the National Smart Meter Network, the same is not true for IHD's.

If OVO have to send out physical replacements, then the new ones will also have to be "paired" with the Smart Electricity Meter. So that isn't straight-forward either!

The IHD's are bought in by OVO from a 3rd-party manufacturer, so the bugs are probably affecting customers of other Energy Suppliers too.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
For those here who are interested in @Middy's question (above) about switching to OVO when you already have SMETS2 Meters from another Energy Supplier, I responded to that here on another Topic.

If anyone with SMETS2's has practical experience of switching Suppliers, please do post here.

The theory says it works. However I'm sure we'd all like to hear the details, such as
  • were you still asked to provide a manual reading on the appointed day?
  • was the switch process any quicker? (usually about 5 weeks)
  • how quickly did you get the important Final Bill from the old Supplier?
Thanks.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Last week I received an email from OVO with a link to a Guide for those of us who have SMETS2 Meters and the matching IHD. I assume others also received this.

I'm unsure why the Guide is a downloadable PDF when it could surely be better as an interactive web-page!

If you think the Guide needs corrections or clarifications, please post here. That way OVO staff will be able to review the feedback and incorporate changes into later versions.

Personally I thought this comment on page-8 lacked essential detail:


As I wrote here earlier, the LEDs also flash at different speeds to alert you of fault conditions! Isn't this precisely the information needed in the Guide?
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
@Transparent Interesting, I will feed that back and see what the team have to say 🙂

Darran
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
I think it's not just the IHDs have trouble getting data from my new SMETS2 meters. OVO's Billing Dept also seem to be in difficulty.

I've just received an email telling me I have a new Statement, so I had a look online.

There is no billing for gas at all, despite the SMETS2 Gas meter having been here 6 weeks now.

There are readings from my Smart Electricity Meter, but for some strange reason they are marked as an "estimate". The Meter Readings page for electricity looks like this:


The words "You gave" are incorrect. These are in fact the real (Smart) readings from the electricity meter being uploaded to OVO via DCC.

So in my case the My OVO page and my Statements are a messy amalgamation of Smart Meter data and the original manual readings (which I am still being requested to provide).

By now I'm sure the ability for me to be entering manual readings should've been removed from the site.

Once again, I'm not particularly concerned. I have a background in computers, and I appreciate the complexity of OVO getting their Billing Software to accept the incoming data being streamed from DCC. The data formats and protocols are different to those previously used for customers with SMETS1 meters.

I also have more than 6 months to run under my present contract, so I don't really mind how accurate the Statements are at the moment. I'd feel under more pressure if I was needing to evaluate an imminent change to a new contract.
Userlevel 1

So in my case the My OVO page and my Statements are a messy amalgamation of Smart Meter
data and the original manual readings (which I am still being requested to provide).


I also saw a bit of a stop/start thing cracking off with the automated readings for a while and ended up giving manual readings to make sure. Gas and Electric finally flowing right now though, 28 days after installation (Midlands, so mobile based WAN.)

Curiously, the tariff rate in our Chameleon IHD3-PPMID was right from the first few days of an early successful automated meter reading though (which was within the first few days installation), which doesn't fit with what you're telling people is likely elsewhere in the forum. I assumed it must be wrong due to the barmy calculations, but when I did the maths I realised the issue was just that these units couldn't do those maths*.

Julie
X

*Which is, I strongly suspect,
going to be soooo embarrassing for people involved in the production and approval of these - on the face of it (acknowledging there may be so many relevant parts to this I'm not a party to) it seems like a typical computing issue, complicated bits get thorough reviewed, the "easy to write" code doesn't get a second look, but the impact is significant with the bug in the later!) I'm really curious how this mistake was coded. People have been doing this kind of basic maths without floating point libraries etc since before CPU ICs existed. This is a very well trodden path. I know I'm not going to, but I'd love to see the source code.
Hello Transparent,

Thank you for the time you have given for the explanations on this thread regarding SMETS2.

I see you have a Toshiba SUK2 Mesh Network Unit installed and I understand that only a few of these hubs have been installed to date.

Please can you explain (i) how the SUK2 works, (ii) its range and (iii) your estimate as to how many of the SUK2/3 are going to be installed.

Many thanks
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Hi @Mr Smets. With a Forum name like that, you'd better be prepared to field tech-support questions nationwide!

Allow me to deal with your question in reverse order. The stats I'm quoting are from DCC, based on the geographical mapping they have used to decide which aerial types will be required in Southern & Central territories.

SKU2s & SKU3s will account for around 12% of total installations, with the following breakdown by aerial type:

SKU2 with T1 (low gain) aerial = 6% of all installations (approximately 57-60% of SKU2s)

SKU2 with T2 (high gain) aerial = 4% of all installations (approximately 37-40% of SKU2s)

SKU2 with T3 aerial = less than 0.5% of all installations (approximately 3-5% of SKU2s)

SKU3, SIMCH, with M1 (low gain) aerial = less than 0.25% of all installations

SKU3, SIMCH, with M2 (high gain) aerial = less than 0.25% of all installations

Note that these categories are not exclusive. SKU3 Communications Hubs may have two aerials fitted: one T-type and one M-type.

As you will have read above, I have a T2 aerial. This is because my house is sited right on the crest of a hill, just outside a town that has good 3G connectivity. Beyond my house are a number of valleys with poor GSM reception. The farms and hamlets in those rural valleys will be able to use my Mesh network connection as a relay to the 3G network in the town.

The range isn't advertised anywhere I can find. The frequency mapping techniques don't have fixed distances but instead show the signal strength in dB like a series of contours. These are affected by terrain, the presence of trees and other local constraints.

In fact Telefonica can reach over 98% of homes using the enhancements they have made to the basic 3G network, as used by O2. However, some of these houses (including mine) require the Mesh network for the benefit of others rather than themselves.

I'll return to answer how the Mesh network operates in a subsequent post.
Thank you Transparent for this excellent information!

I was excited by the prospect that your meter may have been using the RF Mesh network, now I understand that the SUK2/3 variant may simply be used for its ability to connect to external GSM aerials.

It will be very interesting to see if your meter’s RF Mesh feature is activated to communicate with other meters in your neighbourhood, (your meter would then become a gateway to the DCC). I understand that, to date, only a few hundred meters are using RF Mesh to communicate with the DCC, (it would be great to hear from someone whose meter is on the RF Mesh).

I am now trying to establish the range of the RF module, which I believe will be measured in meters rather than kilometres, (although the same technology, (provided by the same company), is being deployed in Sweden with a range of up to two kilometres).

Thanks for your help.
Further …

Does the DCC have an estimate for the percentage of meters that will use the Mesh?
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
These are tricky questions to answer @Mr Smets

There is a document from 2017 with forecasts of how many of each Mesh aerial type were likely to be required for Arqiva's territories. The predictions were then that 10.5% of SMETS2 installations would use the NAN (neighbourhood area network), which uses Mesh technology.

The actual figure will vary according to the chronological order in which meters get installed on sites. This is outside of Arqiva's and DCC's control because it's us customers who agree the meter bookings.

If Arqiva themselves could dictate the roll-out strategy, then around 2% of homes would need to be on a NAN. Telefonica's analysis suggests that they can reach the other 98% using the enhancements they've made to the existing 3G network. After all, the data rate required for Smart Meter communication is miniscule in comparison with voice-calls on mobile phones.

All SKU2 and SKU3 meters still have the communications transceivers for the GSM Wide Area Network (WAN). So if Telefonica find that they can't reach some remote rural valleys, they also have the option to erect a new 3G mast. This prevents them being hamstrung simply because electricity customers on the surrounding hills haven't elected to have SMETS2 meters yet!

There is no way for me to ascertain whether my electricity meter is actually being used to relay data from other homes near me who don't have direct connection to the 3G cell masts. There's no little flashing light to tell me when data is being transmitted for my own meter, let alone others in the vicinity!
Many thanks Transparent!

For a matter of interest is the Mesh light flashing on your SUK2?

I don’t believe the Northern region, (Arqiva), uses Mesh. (see https://www.smartdcc.co.uk/products-services/design-and-assurance/communications-hubs/).

With regard to range, I have discovered the SUK2/3 RF module has the same range as the Swedish RF module, (around 2 kilometres depending upon topology).

One further query you may be able to help me with, do you know how may electricity meters there are in the Central & Southern regions?
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Ah, apologies @Mr Smets ... you are quite correct. I got my Arqiva and Telefonica in a twist in that last posting! You are quite correct, there is no NAN (Mesh network)in the Northern territory.

My Communications Hub Mesh-light is flashing at the 1:50 ratio, the same as the other four LED's. But this would remain the case even if it wasn't actually transmitting SMETS data. The basic 1:50 flash only indicates that the function is of operational status.

I think the range of the transceivers in the Telefonica Comms Hubs is dictated more by the type and positioning of the aerial rather than the raw power. In my area of rural Devon, 2Km wouldn't be adequate. Our population density is very low... and 90% of them are sheep or cattle!

Installation numbers:
As of 10th May there are 905,891 SMETS2 meters on DCC's secure network (SMWAN). Apart from the original 3000 which were installed in the Northern (Arqiva) territory, we must assume that almost all of these will be in Southern/Central regions.

There are about 12 million homes with SMETS1 meters installed. have no idea if anyone thought to register how many of these are in each of the three British territories. The territories weren't assigned when Smart Meters were first being installed.

Reply