Tutorial

SMETS2 Smart Meter installation

SMETS2 Smart Meter installation

Show first post

131 replies

Userlevel 2
Badge
Part 4 of our SMETS2 installation experience.

When I first checked our new electricity and gas meters this is what I found:

We had a bog standard Toshiba SKU 1 cellular (entirely appropriate given our location) on top of the Aclara unit as our electricity meter.

For the gas smart meter we have exactly the same unit as @Transparent.

Electricity meter

The 4 network lights on the SKU1 were flashing at the faster rate indicating that the unit was either attempting connection or doing some kind of upload/download. Mesh light isn’t active for our system as we have good mobile data.



later on the flash rate slowed to the normal 1:50. As I said in the previous post, the IHD for electricity came on line almost straight away with accurate usage in Watts. The cost figures were slightly wrong as the default loaded into the meter is slightly more expensive than our rate. 48 hours later these still haven’t updated on either the meter or the IHD.

However our app has replaced the old meter ID with the new one and has automatically taken the first reading.






basically, apart from the update of the daily and unit rate information, the electricity smart meter is working!

but......

As you can see from the last picture, if only the same were true of the gas meter.

more on that in part 5!
Userlevel 3
Badge

think of the installation engineer we had as a well trained and competent Kwik Fit fitter.


I tried but just had visions of him telling you that lots of things needed replacing.
Userlevel 2
Badge
Part 3 of our SMETS2 installation experience.

we are lucky in that we have a meter clamp that provides the solar panel app with usage data.

This is a clever widget that goes around live cable in your electricity meter and works on induced current. See the picture below and note this is our old meter before replacement.



This means we have an independent source of information to assess how accurate and responsive the IHD information is. You should assume that because the information is coming from the meter the usage in Watts should be exactly correct .....and you’d be right!

As you can see in the picture below our usage between midnight and 1700 is measured by both sources as 1.65kWh (delay in taking photos)



Userlevel 2
Badge
Part 2 of our SMETS2 installation.

on the day of the installation I went and provided a meter reading via the app and also took photos of the meters so I have an easy reference of the previous installation, meter numbers (shown on the meter casing) and the meter readings themselves. Can’t see I would need that with Ovo but with our previous energy supplier E.On there is no way I would trust in either their app or their admin.

Our installation engineer called just after the start of the period we had booked for and said he was 15 mins out. He arrived on time, in an Ovo vehicle and Ovo uniform and identified himself. Everything you would expect. He warned us that the power would interrupted, asked to see the boiler, meters and consumer unit. He asked us to turn any appliances that might be sensitive to power interrupt off and asked us to turn the boiler off as well.

Then he cracked on. This is worth noting if you interested in seeing what they do and monitoring the installation as it was done in less than 30 mins. Literally blink and you’ll miss it.

Between us and the installer we fired everything back up, he showed us the meter installation. He had done all his checks and taken all his photos and then he talked us through the IHD.

Just so he gets the credit, he said that working for Ovo was great and that they are a fantastic employer 😉.

The installer was polite and professional throughout, explained what he was going to do and what he had done at each stage. Basically a great ambassador for the company.

i would observe that, as @Transparent has said, they arrive with the job detailed and will only do that job, so more complex scenarios requiring on the job initiative where other variants of the SMETS2 are required are not going to happen. You will get what they planned.

also his knowledge of the wider technology, the behind the scenes network steps and comms standards was not to the same level you get on this thread from @Transparent.

think of the installation engineer we had as a well trained and competent Kwik Fit fitter. He knew how to do his job quickly and safely and well but isn’t going to run an investigation on that tricky engine management problem that is intermittently causing weird behaviour.

as soon as he was gone I got some photos of the two meter panels and used the menu functions as described to get a screenshot of the data and status immediately after installation.

More on that in part 3.....

(spoiler alert.... looks like we may share our gas meter connectivity problem with @Transparent )
Userlevel 2
Badge
We has our SMETS2 gas and electricity meters fitted on Friday.

Making the decision to get the upgrade and preparing for it was the original reason I joined this Ovo forum and what led me to @Transparent‘s excellent thread.

Having just re-read all 5 pages (!!) I think we have something to add to the knowledge base to help others thinking about making the switch and even to help @Transparent with the issues he is (still?) experiencing with his smart gas meter.

However, I’m going to split this over a few posts, as I wrote the whole thing up last night in one long post - complete with photos - and (irony of ironies) the battery on my phone died just before I hit send and I lost the lot.

so, in between Sunday admin tasks, I will walk through our installation experience and the first 48 hours.

for background, we had fully dumb meters on a house that was built in 2008, we live in a small rural village but do have good mobile signal on most networks. Our house has solar panels but we don’t have a battery (yet). Whilst researching batteries (which I will post about on another thread soon) I have discovered that, despite being a family with normal to above average levels of tech, we are light users: 5-7kWh a day without solar.

More to follow........
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

Hi there
You are very much not alone, I have to agree with you the smart meter roll out up until smets2 is a bit of a fumble in the dark, it's took a while... Too long but now on the right tracks.
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
The National Smart Meter Network in Central and Southern Territories runs on a modified GSM system.

It is an unfair analysis to directly compare it to the SMS systems we use on mobile phones.

Note also the Parliamentary Written Answer given on 3rd July 2018 by Claire Perry MP, who was a Minister in BEIS at the time:

The Data and Communications Company (DCC) has contracted with Telefonica to reach at least 99.25% of properties, and Telefonica’s initial batch of communications hubs for the first 15% of the service will use dual 2G/3G chips providing flexibility and future proofing.

The DCC’s system has both commercial and technical protections to ensure future proofing, and energy suppliers have a responsibility (and interest) to ensure they can continue to use their smart meter for its asset lifetime, which they have taken into consideration as part of their asset procurement.
No mention of 2G for the O2 signal.

I know the comms hub can use either 2G or 3G. I'd have assumed they'd sit on 2G. I think 3G will be turned off before 2G in the UK.

Can you see any info related to this on the meter/IHD ?
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
It will help if you fill out your Forum Profile please @T Newton. The Smart Meters which are installed in the "Northern Territory" are different to those in the Central & South regions. So little issues like knowing where you are geographically can help us to answer any further questions about your forthcoming installation.
Many thanks for prompt and helpful reply
Terry
Userlevel 5
This topic has everything you need to know about smart meter instillation, @T Newton. We don't need to know about your solar panels as the meters are designed to work with them! 🙂
Hello. I am due to have smart meters installed in September. I have recently had solar panels installed. Will your smart meter team need to be informed of this?
Thanks
Userlevel 2
Badge
Ok so that’s info I was looking for! Thanks @Transparent. As you say ALCS seems like a reasonable policy waiting for the market system to deliver the component parts.

I'm going to focus some research time on battery technology and see if we can make an informed gamble to get the right hardware ahead of the tariff and tech arriving.

I will report back to the forum if I find anything good and also let everyone know how our SMETS2 installation goes in August.

we dumped 16kWh onto the grid today from just 7 panels (and we are post FITs). For many reasons we don’t want to keep doing that!
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
OK @So much for subtlety let's dive into Auxiliary Load Control Switches:

There's already another Topic here where I shared my views with a couple of OVO staff about products being developed by Kaluza which apparently were not intended to operate via ALCS.

I'm uploading here a newer (but still not complete) version of the diagram from that other Topic, which shows a number of domestic (single-phase) devices which could be controlled via signals sent to them from a SMETS2 meter using the ALCS facility.


All SMETS2 Communications Hubs must be capable of providing at least five channels of ALCS functionality.

This enables a command to be sent securely across DCC's National Smart Meter Network which will acted on when the correct parameters are met. Thus you could configure storage radiators to take in energy when the cost of electricity is at its cheapest rate. This may no longer coincide with the Economy-7 night-time concept; eg if there's lots of cheap solar energy available in your local area.

There are three methods by which the command can be transmitted from your Communication Hub to the required devices, but the most common one is likely to use the same Zigbee wireless network which already communicates with your IHD. This is called HCALCS, which is Home area network (HAN) Controlled ALCS.

Here's the relevant diagram from a BEIS (Government) leaflet called "Smart Meters and Demand Side Response":


To date I know of no devices which can be purchased that will operate by this method.

Until there is widespread installation of SMETS2 meters and matching TOU Tariffs, manufacturers are unlikely to offer Smart Devices which require the ALCS facility.
Userlevel 2
Badge
I don’t think there is any practical upper limit to geekiness - Elon Musk being living proof.

Once again, good answers @Transparent , I didn’t expect absolutes - as you say there is too much Wild West about all the options, policy and initiatives for certainty right now.

...but once again you’ve provided additional factors and information for consideration that we didn’t know before or hadn’t connected.

Can you explain some more about ALCS function in SMETS2?

also our inverter installation was specifically fitted for battery at later date - prior to starting this learning journey we planned for a Tesla battery. Why would it become redundant / be replaced by the Sonnen battery? I’m guessing this something to do with single phase only output?
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
I hope my geekiness isn't too technical @So much for subtlety !

There are just too many variables in the first question you pose. I can't give the clarity you really need.

Let's just consider the new solar panels on your roof. If OVO decide to curtail R&D on their own (Indra) Storage Battery, and instead supply those from the Sonnen range, then you could opt for their Hybrid varient.

This would mean ditching the nice solar-inverter you just paid over £1k for, and instead connecting the PV Panels directly into the Hybrid Battery. The Storage Battery can thus take charge from either your panels (DC) or the grid (240v AC), and still export back to the grid.

The downside of the Sonnen range is that the output is limited to 3kW (11.8A), which is probably enough to run most of your internal domestic demand, but far too small to have much effect on balancing the grid.

Equally, if you went down this route, then I can't see why you would choose to obtain this device via OVO. Unless & until they can handle stored charge using the ALCS facility within SMETS2 meters, you would achieve nothing better with the Kaluza-platform App than you would with Sonnen's own App.


B. You get no choice in the SMETS2 / Communications Hub variants you will have installed. And it shouldn't matter anyway. The whole point is that SMETS devices can be upgraded via the WAN.

The rules which apply to the Installers are quite strict. Whatever you may have read here on the Forum, the engineer must complete the job that has been specified - nothing more and nothing less.
Userlevel 2
Badge
Hi @Transparent ,

great posts, love the deep tech geekery. I’ve read the lot so hopefully not making you repeat yourself and staying on thread topic.

We only switched to Ovo a couple of months back.

We have just had solar panels fitted last week (initial joy and green smugness wiped out by your post about how I’m contributing to global warming by killing the substation efficiency, as we couldn’t afford a battery just yet 😔)

We are due to have our old school dumb meters upgraded to SMETS2 at the end of August.

my questions for you are:

  1. whether our panels (only 2.73kwp), and the 70% of which we throw back to the grid on an average day, will further complicate our installation/subsequent operation?
  2. Is their anything we or ovo can do to better prep for this - for example selection of a particular hardware variant of SMETS2 or pre-plan firmware download?
  3. any top tips of stuff to mention to the installation engineer to ensure the general problems you have encountered and or the specific problems our micro generation might add, can be avoided?
whats going to be really interesting is that the panel installation comes with consumption tracker that - from some basic but pretty reliable calibration testing (kettle, microwave on different power settings, oven) seems super accurate on a minute to minute basis. This should allow us to do comparison with the IHD.

Our end game is V2G with a battery so I can contribute to fixing that substation efficiency for you😉.

Cheers

Smfs
Userlevel 2
Badge
No worries @jewelie. You just keep making the comments. On this Forum, we're not going to be worried if they turn out to be irrelevant! 😘



Yes, I was trying to take into account the battery drain for downloading fresh firmware into the gas meter


... which is why I stated that I don't believe this is technically possible at the moment.

In any case, it doesn't actually happen like this.

Within the Comms Hub

there is a "Gas Mirror". This is a virtual device which mimics the presence of the real SMETS2 gas meter


. Any firmware intended to be sent to the gas meter is first stored in the Mirror. There is then a second phase where the code is transferred to the real gas meter


in such a way as to minimise battery use.

If all goes to plan, OVO

then receive an acknowledgement to notify them that the transfer has completed.


Thank you. Very interesting and informative! It sounds like the Comms Hubs are responsible for a lot more than I initially assumed (which is a good thing, I guess, if they're so easily updated.)
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
No worries @jewelie. You just keep making the comments. On this Forum, we're not going to be worried if they turn out to be irrelevant! 😘

Yes, I was trying to take into account the battery drain for downloading fresh firmware into the gas meter... which is why I stated that I don't believe this is technically possible at the moment.

In any case, it doesn't actually happen like this.

Within the Comms Hub there is a "Gas Mirror". This is a virtual device which mimics the presence of the real SMETS2 gas meter. Any firmware intended to be sent to the gas meter is first stored in the Mirror. There is then a second phase where the code is transferred to the real gas meter in such a way as to minimise battery use.

If all goes to plan, OVO then receive an acknowledgement to notify them that the transfer has completed.
Userlevel 2
Badge
...

I know that OVO
have downloaded firmware changes to my Comms Hub

at least twice during the last month, but I doubt that these have contributed to battery usage.


Hi Transparent

Sorry to risk patronising you, but did you take into account the sort of power required writing the firmware to storage? I would have thought that's exactly the kind of thing that would eat batteries for dinner. Apologies if I'm talking out of my bum, my knowledge in this area is very very old!

Julie
X
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
An update for others on what @jewelie and I were discussing about the battery-life in the Uniflo SMETS2 Gas Meters:

Here's screenshot of what my meter showed yesterday:


So I'm seeing a very marginal increase in battery life being reported in the past 4 weeks since my reading of 2679 days on 24th June.

From my understanding of battery chemistry and contact resistances, I would put that down to little more than sampling errors. It's still some way short of the 3650+ days which equates to the expected lifetime of 10-years.

I know that OVO have downloaded firmware changes to my Comms Hub at least twice during the last month, but I doubt that these have contributed to battery usage.

As far as I understand it, my Gas Meter communications to the Comms Hub have "stuck" at some point in the commissioning process, shortly after the Installer left site on 10th June, so I don't think the Comms Hub can pass through upgrades to the Gas Meter anyway.

I'm not too concerned about this situation. It seems likely that I'll need a further site visit to install yet another SMETS2 Gas Meter (my 3rd!) and that will come with a new battery of course.

What has been interesting to learn is that industry-techies outside OVO are avidly reading this Topic! Someone emailed me last week and commented that he'd been concerned to read of a report about low battery readings on gas meters, yet he was unaware that I was the "Transparent" who'd been reporting it here!
Userlevel 2
Badge

A. When I first looked at my IHD

this morning, it was showing what appeared to be a reasonable set of costings for electricity usage. It has continued like this for most of the day, with one small interruption when it claimed it had no data to display.

Here's what it was showing a few minutes ago:


Since were informed last week that OVO
had identified "the fault" as being within the Communications Hub

, the obvious conclusion is that they have released an over-the-air software upgrade.


Out of curiosity, I've turned our IHD back on to see if anything has changed here.

Looks like the costs are about right now here too, so I can only conclude that I must've received an update too. 🙂
Userlevel 2
Badge

The upgrades to which I think @jewelie is referring above, are those which are required to fix bugs within the SMETS2 meters

and/or their Communications Hubs


You assumed correctly, by the way.

BTW On a tangent I seem to recall that you checked your gas meter's remaining estimated battery life and it was looking to be running very short? That got me interested and I checked ours, installed in April, and it's saying it's got 15 years worth of days to go yet. Phew.
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
May I just check we're discussing the same issue here please?

If users with existing SMETS1 meters were to switch Suppliers, they may indeed meet the scenario which @Amy_OVO refers to in her post above. These SMETS1 sites are all to be upgraded to operate on the National Smart Meter Network in a 3-stage process. Stage-2 will occur in Sept'19 and will take these meters to a status called "Middle Operating Capability".

However, until now, this Topic has concerned sites who have SMETS2 meters installed. These already have interoperability. No software upgrade is meant to be required if you switch Suppliers.


The upgrades to which I think @jewelie is referring above, are those which are required to fix bugs within the SMETS2 meters and/or their Communications Hubs.

I received an upgrade to my Communications Hub on Monday 24th June, which I've reported on here above. This fixed erroneous pricing being displayed on my IHD.

Equally, Member @tony1tf had an upgrade to his SMETS2 electricity meter last week, and he's reported this elsewhere on the Forum.

Neither of these was a universal upgrade. They weren't even sent to all OVO customers.

My assumption is that OVO's technical staff were able to analyse the copious technical feedback from Tony & I, and devise fixes for two particular bugs. Quite reasonably, they used our SMETS2 meters to test that these fixes worked.

What we don't yet know is how these fixes might be propagated to all other SMETS2 users, not only in OVO, but across the UK.

So @jewelie's question is valid.

If the bug fixes are being created within OVO, and a customer changes to a new Supplier before OVO downloads new code into their SMETS2 meter, how will the new Supplier apply any bug-fixes?

Or... more broadly... why is it permissable for individual Suppliers to be working on code within elements of the SMETS2 system?

Doesn't this undermine the underlying strategy for having SMETS2 universality at the heart of the National Smart Meter Network ?
Userlevel 6
Badge
The software update is across industry, @jewelie.

If you switch before it occurs, you can opt to change your meter to your new suppliers smart meter if they can not communicate with ours or wait a little while for the update and then all meters will be uniform across industry.

You can find more details here.

Cheers!

Reply