SMETS2 Smart Meter installation

SMETS2 Smart Meter installation

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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.
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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*.


*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.
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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.
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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!
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Hi @PeterR1947 - this was indeed a first-time installation for me.

I've actually learned a lot more about the process because things haven't gone smoothly. There are two outstanding faults, both of which others are experiencing:
  • erroneous/high costings displayed on the Chameleon IHD
  • gas readings not being received by OVO, although the meter and the Communications hub both report that they are connected ok.
I've reported the faults a couple of times by email, and also received standard email notifications that they are estimating my gas due to lack of readings.

In the last 24 hours I've received two incoming phone calls from an OVO Customer Support base in Newcastle, including that wonderful lilting accent! I understand that this is a new/expanded CS operation formed as a result of the new customers that have migrated from Economy Energy.

The CS Assistant didn't know what the Forum was, and was the more perplexed when I told her I was a Ninja, which she assumed must be some sort of OVO employee! 😃

However, she diligently checked through the symptoms and passed the case back up the line to the SMETS2 Team based at Bristol. This morning's call, shortly after 8am, was to inform me to expect a site visit to change the gas meter.

I will be interested to learn if this "fault" really is due to something within the meter itself. After all, the Gas Zigbee LED indicator on the Comms Hub isn't in any of the possible error states.

It could, of course, be a failure in the process of commissioning the gas meter. It may indeed be transmitting data to DCC, but if the serial number or other details aren't 100% correct, then it won't have been identified as belonging to this site and/or not registered as data to which OVO is entitled.

We need to remember that it is perfectly legitimate for a customer to choose two different suppliers for gas and electricity, and yet DCC receive the usage data from the same Communications Hub, bolted to the top of the electricity meter.

I'm not surprised there are such teething problems with the initial batch of SMETS2 meters. It's really important for DCC's internal processes to "play safe" and only permit an Energy Supplier access to a meter if all the protocols check out.
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Here's an update on what's wrong with SMETS2 gas meters not operating in Smart Mode.

I've heard from OVO's Smart Meter Team in Bristol, who are going to send an engineer in the week beginning 10th June.

I pointed out (again) that the LED indicators on my Communications Hub show that it has an operational link to the gas meter across the HAN.

Moreover, my gas meter also reports that the Zigbee link to the Comms Hub is OK:

The OVO SMETS Team member stated that there was still something which didn't complete correctly during the commissioning process, and that's why it requires an on-site visit to re-initialise the pairing of the gas meter.

That's fine. I understand.

But I must still observe that the Communications Hub and the SMETS2 gas meter are giving a false positive. The inbuilt firmware shouldn't be reporting that the link is operational, when in fact it isn't working!

I put that down to a lack of adequate field testing by
  • Telefonica, who manufacture the Comms Hub
  • DCC who undertake the commissioning sequence
  • Ofgem, who set the standards and approve the system
OK... so it's not a particularly serious fault, and there's certainly no safety issue involved. But there was an extra 9 months delay in the roll-out of SMETS2 meters nationally because the technology wasn't deemed to be ready.

Now we find that many of the first batch of SMETS2 installations will require a second engineer's visit. I hope OVO don't have to bear the cost.
I believe it’s estimated that the standard 2.4GHz ZigBee, (used for connecting the In House Display and Gas Meter), only works in about 70% of premises and that there is a 868MHz ZigBee alternative, which appears to require an engineer’s visit to configure.

Incidentally the communications hub is made by Toshiba.

Hope this helps!
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Thanks again @Mr Smets for picking me up of having mentioned the wrong company. Yes, indeed, it's Toshiba who make the Communications Hub for the southern and central territories... which are managed by Telefonica (O2).

I'd be very surprised if the issue with a lack of data from the gas meter is related to Zigbee running at 2.4GHz. It was OVO who contacted me to further explain the commissioning process which continues under the auspices of DCC over several hours. Inevitably the installation engineer has left site by then.

I also have several other devices running at 2.4MHz without problems. It would only be problematic if walls were unusually thick or there was a large distance between the gas meter and the Comms Hub on top of the electricity meter.
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Hi @johnwin1

Welcome to the Forum.

Yes, we are aware of the issues and they are being discussed on several Topis here. You are best starting by reading the thread I wrote here in March when my own SMETS2 meters were installed.

There are two outstanding problems with my installation, both of which you will see reflected in comments from others. You may have both issues at your home too.

A. The Chameleon IHD units supplied by OVO are giving erroneous (high) figures for the cost of energy used. The actual usage figures in kWh will be correct once the commissioning process has completed. This takes about a month.

B. Sometimes one of the two meters on a site loses the ability to transfer data to the Communications Hub, which sits on top of the SMETS2 Electricity Meter.

I have an engineer's visit booked in on Monday 10th to investigate this second issue. I will keep the Forum updated on what we find out.

Please do not panic in the meantime. Your actual energy bills are calculated from figures sent to OVO directly from the Communications Hub. They are unaffected by the software bug on the IHD.

I suggest you email hello@ovoenergy.com and inform Customer Services that you have the IHD problem. It isn't yet clear what %age of those installed are showing the erroneous costings. So you need to get your name added to the list of those who will require a new IHD once the software issue is remedied.

I will be meeting the Customer Services Manager later this month, and you can be sure that this issue will come up in conversation!

I'm just going to tag a couple of Moderators here:
@Eva_OVO or @Ed_OVO can you please move this Topic started by johnwin1 and attach it to my SMETS2 Installation Topic? Thanks.
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It's Monday 10th June, and this morning I had a visit from a different OVO Installation Engineer to solve the outstanding problem of my SMETS2 gas meter readings not being picked up. In case you haven't read my earlier posts here, the original gas meter was reporting that it was connected to the HAN (Home Area Network), and the Communications Hub lights reported that all was well too. (They lied!)

Just before The Installer arrived I noticed that the "Gas" LED on my Communications Hub was now extinguished. This had apparently been done remotely by OVO in preparation for today's visit.

The "Job Spec" was that I should be fitted with a new SMETS2 Gas Meter... and, for reasons I don't understand, a new SMETS2 Electricity Meter. The existing Communications Hub was to be retained and fitted back on top of the new ESME (Electricity Smart Meter Equipment).

So let's first see the new Gas Meter being fitted:

Nothing unusual here. The red clips are to connect a safety earth so that no potential difference can build up whilst the meter isn't in place. The manometer (u-tube) is checking that there's no leaks. And the arrangement of ferns is typical of that found in rural Devon, grown so that the fronds casually overhang the closed lid of the semi-concealed box. 😉

I also got a good picture of the replacement ESME before its Communications Hub was re-installed:

The two electrical connectors together form the Intimate Communications Hub Interface (ICHI). The 20-pin connector on the right delivers +12v DC and the Smart readings from the electric meter. The AC connector is not for providing power, but instead to permit Power Line Communications instead of wireless signals across the HAN.

I'm unsure if that means mains-powered appliances, like Smart Washing machines, would pick up their control signals (ALCS) from this rather than through the air using Zigbee. When I find out, I'll post again here.

So... did this visit today solve the original problem and allow the gas meter to communicate?

erm... embarrassingly not!

It was OK whilst the engineer was here. He was having difficulty getting the new Gas Meter to find the Communications Hub, but it suddenly paired itself whilst he was kneeling beside it. Do we assume that the training course now includes fervent prayer!

After he was gone, my IHD suddenly decided that it was no longer going to display anything about gas usage so I went and had a look at the meter display.

I tracked my way through the menu using the three red buttons until I found HAN Status and saw this:

Although this looks discouraging in comparison with the first meter which had just been swapped out, I'm pretty sure this is what I should've been seeing if it had been telling the truth!

I moved right by pressing Button B, and then selected the option to Force a reconnection. Here's as far as it got:

Bizarrely, the Communications Hub has still been slow-flashing the Gas-HAN LED for the past few hours as if everything's ok. That shouldn't be so. If it can't receive data when it polls the gas meter (every half-hour) then the Spec says it should enter the Medium-flash mode, which means "searching".

I checked one other menu item on the gas meter to have a look at the Status pages. This one was interesting:

The date has been correctly picked up from the Communications Hub when they briefly paired. And I'm quite happy to see that the inbuilt (Lithium Ion) battery has a further 5475 days before the meter needs replacing again. 🙂

But the Uptime figure of 63 days is the give-away. My original gas meter had been installed 91 days ago. This new meter appears to have been used elsewhere for a couple of months before finding its way to me.

I've learned quite a bit more about SMETS2 today... and the Installer, Tom, was excellent about explaining things as he went along.

I now have a hunch as to what's going wrong with the Zigbee link to/fro the gas meter. But I'll sleep on it and post another update here tomorrow!
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Thanks for that news update @Somerpark.

To some extent I'm relieved at what you've written. It means I can probably cross off my list two possible causes of faults within SMETS2 installations!

However, if what you say is correct, then it appears that Bulb have concluded that the fault lies with the Chameleon IHDs. On the other hand OVO's SMETS2 Team informed @Darran_OVO just yesterday that the apparently identical fault they're investigating lies within the Communications Hub. See what he wrote above here.

I'm also becoming aware in some other functionality which appears to be absent from the Communications Hubs which are currently being installed. However, since there is currently no hardware available which requires that functionality, it hasn't yet been noticed by members of the public.

Please continue to post here any further snippets of similar faults being reported by customers of other energy suppliers.

I've got my hands full trying to work through the specifications and contracts for SMETS2 equipment, and checking how such issues are only emerging at this stage.

I have just noted on the other related thread that my IHD is still showing incorrect monetary readings, so I don't think that I have received any form of software update (unlike yourself).

I shall continue to monitor, and if nothing changes bring back to OVO's attention.
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Hi @AdrianG - This issue should be resolved by a software update that we'll be rolling out in the next couple of months 🙂
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OK... so that's just answered my question @AdrianG !

I've been feeding some detailed information about SMETS2 meters back to OVO. So it's quite possible that one of their techies ran a test on my meter, knowing that if it failed, then I wouldn't be concerned!

Note that I didn't state that my IHD costings were now accurate - just that they appear to be more believable than I was reporting earlier!

Moreover I still have the "failed gas meter communications" issue. So I'd understand if OVO wasn't prepared to issue a widespread release of code that is still deficient in some way.
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Hi @AdrianG - This issue should be resolved by a software update that we'll be rolling out in the next couple of months :)

Any idea what happens if we're no longer with OVO* before the fix is rolled out?

* I'm hoping that OVO still works out best, or nearly the best value, so we can justify staying. I do love it when utilities have online forums like this with empowered customer support reps actively helping.
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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 ?
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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. 🙂
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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.
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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.
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?
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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........
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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!


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

more on that in part 5!
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Part 7 - The final post credits scene and a happy ending.

ok, so installation day +6 and the final pieces dropped into place with our SMETS2 installation.

As I said in part 6, On Tuesday (installation +4) we noticed on the Ovo app, that the reading history for gas had been wiped and the only entry was for 30 Aug (day of installation) with a reading of 00000. What I hadn’t noticed at first was the that meter MPAN was wrong for this reading and still showed our old
dumb meters MPAN.

today (Thursday - installation day +6) we noticed on the Ovo app that a) the meter MPAN had updated and b) the first auto reading had been taken! Very exciting.

when we got home the IHD is now providing data for both electricity and gas.

So, part 7 is the end (barring some future failure) and that is our SMETS 2 installation story!

Things I would observe with hindsight. Most people probably aren’t going to go out and start digging through the menus on meters. My suggestion is that most people are going to look at their IHD and the Ovo app.

I think more more information could be provided on timescales that things will happen and how this will manifest in the Ovo app in particular. Something as simple as please let us know via this website or through a dedicated upgrade tab in the app if you haven’t seen this change by x days post installation. This would get the customers flagging problem installations to Ovo so they can focus the customer service.

so I would tweak the book and written material/ emails that accompanies the switch to provide customers guidance on the indicators that it’s all progressing ok, update and tighten the installation engineers script to back this up and implement some changes to the app, that are enabled when a customer has been upgraded, to help them a) not fret unnecessarily about time passing or things changing/not changing and b) help Ovo spot issues and intervene before it generates negative customer perception.

All the stuff above is icing on the cake in our case as I suspect many people don’t care about stats, tech and data as much as we do and also it only took 6 days to sort itself out!
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YAY🎉 A happy ending is what we like to see!

Thanks so much for sharing your journey, @So much for subtlety!

I think you have raised some really good feedback, that are pretty simple to put into action, I'll ensure they are passed on!