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SMETS2 Smart Meter installation

SMETS2 Smart Meter installation

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It seems strange you haven’t heard back about this yet, @KeithC. We’ll need to see whether this is something we can resolve remotely or if an engineer visit is required.

 

We’d be more than happy to look into this, send us a message on Facebook or Twitter you’ll need to confirm your name, DoB and account number. 

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It’s most likely that your situation, @KeithC,  doesn’t fit within the “boxes on OVO’s check-list”!

I suggest you simply email them, including your name & address, account number and details as you’ve just posted above. That means you retain a date/time-stamped copy of when you formally notified them of the problem.

I expect they’ll handle it as if it’s within the Complaints Procedure, and respond to you within 5 working days.

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Hi @Blanik - Your comments and observations are welcome here whether you’re an OVO customer or not.

Whilst the Data Communications Company (DCC) was still being formed, it was left to the numerous Energy Suppliers to find their own way to build data networks capable of running SMETS1 meters. That they did so in such a way as to make systems incompatible with each other was a clear demonstration of why we need Ofgem as a central regulator for the energy sector!

As you’re with Octopus, I’d be interested to know whether you have availed yourself of their Agile Tariff, which offers genuine variable-pricing TOU (Time Of Use) billing.

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These comments are illuminating and useful, @Blanik . Thanks for taking the trouble to give us these insights.

I think if DCC had “gone live” any earlier it wouldn’t have been as robust as was necessary. In particular the IT personnel needed sufficient time for GCHQ to advise on the encryption systems and verify that the UK Domestic Energy services couldn’t be infiltrated by any 3rd party with hostile intent.

Barring the odd outage, I’d say that DCC has been a success… especially if you compare with many other Government-run projects which have IT systems at their heart!

 

Your observations on the Agile Tariff are essentially correct. The two aims of this tariff are:

a; make it viable for customers to incorporate some forms of energy storage which can be drawn on during peak-usage times

b; make better use of locally available generation

I don’t know whereabouts you are in the country, so I can’t see what proportion of renewable energy resources are available within your local Distribution Grid. But if you’d care to fill out your Forum Profile, I might be able to give a more detailed response.

In the not too distant future, all Energy Suppliers will need to offer some TOU Tariffs. So I’m sure the Moderators and other OVO staff will appreciate hearing your views on what Octopus currently provide.

We live in interesting times...

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Bills and Statements

When Smart Meters get installed at a property for the first time, your account goes onto billing suspension until everything is validated behind the scenes.

Direct Debits will continue to be taken, and you won't be able to request that OVO refund any of the amount by which you are in credit until the next full Statement has been issued.

This process is only partly within OVO's control. They don't "own" either the new Smart Meters, nor the original ones which were replaced.

The UK's central meter databases are ECOES (electricity) and Xoserve (gas). It is they who receive the data regarding the meters which have been discontinued. They serve Notifications on OVO which include the final meter readings. Each Notification includes a delay period, during which an objection must be raised if the Meter Reference Number, house address or readings don't tally.

It isn't possible for OVO to issue any Bill or Statement during this process.
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SMETS2 Electricity: Taking a manual reading

There are occasions when it might be necessary to provide a manual reading of a SMETS2 electricity meter.

The Aclara meter has just two buttons marked A and B. Everything you're ever likely to need can be done by pressing button A. By default the LCD screen displays the cumulative usage in kWh. Press A once and the screen back-light comes on to make it easier to read.


That's the reading you would submit to OVO if they requested it. The meter will continue to count the total usage even if the communications links went down.

Press A a second time and it shows your current Tariff in pence per kWh:


Since my SMETS2 meters were only installed three weeks ago, the picture above doesn't actually show the correct figure for my contract. However, the dummy figure enables the Engineer to demonstrate the workings of the IHD, which is an essential part of the installation process.

Press button A again and the daily standing charge is displayed



This too is a dummy/default figure. It can take around 5 weeks before OVO programs the meter with the actual tariff rates.

Continuing to press button A shows
  • the energy exported to the Grid if you have micro-generation
  • other Time-of-Use tariffs, such as Economy-7
It is unlikely you will ever need to press button B. It shows the current date & time, provides technical information and has a sub-menu for engineering use only, which is protected with a 4-digit PIN.
Userlevel 1
I would like to say thanks for this thread.
It provides a very detailed explanation and timeline on how an installation should proceed. There is very little information like this out there.
A little surprised at the commissioning time but good to know if the north ever gets its act together.
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I think you're heading in the right direction, @Somerpark. I believe that the difficulties in rolling out further SMETS2 meters in Arqiva's Northern Territory is most likely down to problems with the new Communications Module not reliably connecting with their radio network.

There was a Report from the National Audit Office in Nov'18 (6 months ago) in which they state:

Energy suppliers can currently only install SMETS2 meters in at most 70% of all households due to limitations in the technology currently available to them. [....] Installation of SMETS2 meters in the North of England and Scotland is also lagging behind the rest of Great Britain due to problems integrating smart meters with communications infrastructure.

Whilst this narrows down where the main difficulty lies, it doesn't place the blame anywhere. After all, there may be several companies who are supplying the Communications Hubs which get bolted on top of the SMETS2 electricity meters.

Since there are only 700 masts to cover a territory which stretches from the northern islands of Scotland right down to a line which runs from Manchester to Scarborough, I think there is very little correlation with the position of existing GSM mobile phone masts. So I'm afraid the signal strength on your mobile phone isn't going to provide us with much indication of the 400MHz network coverage.
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... and I've just been trawling through a large number of documents released by DCC about the differing types of SMETS2 meters which are permitted on their shiny new network.

I've found out that the Meters themselves are bought in from certified manufacturers. However, Communications Hubs are available to Energy Suppliers only from DCC so that the network IDs are unique. The ones for Arqiva's northern territory are solely from the manufacturer EDMI, and here's a picture:


So at least you can now see what you can't yet have installed!
Yes a very useful thread . I have been wondering for some time when my first generation Ovo smart meter would be replaced/upgraded. I am at TQ3 2SX, ie South Devon. When is it likely my meter will be upgraded remotely or replaced with a SMETS2 meter?
Userlevel 1
I found this on the DCC website

https://www.smartdcc.co.uk/media/2210/csp_north_phase-1_drive_test_summary.pdf

This test appears, on my reading of it, to only have tested the transmission in one direction from mast to receiver and not from the receiver ( comms module) to the mast. The only test done at that end was to compare the attenuation of the signal from inside a building with that of an external signal equidistant to the measuring equipment.

The test area in Altrincham appears to be about 1 mile by 1 mile, which is about the effective range of a 1 watt output Walkie Talkie, with its external antenna, in an built up area, maybe.

The EDMI 420 comms module has a 1 watt output power but no external antenna and no provision for fitting one. This is a surprise considering the number of antenna options that are available for the mobile network comms modules

The lack of information on testing the upload path seems careless. Perhaps it was done but the problems with connectivity in the north suggest otherwise, and that the output power of the comms module may need to be increased.
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Thanks for the info @Somerpark

One of the problems I have when reading reports posted by the likes of Ofgem and DCC is that there may be later updates which I haven't (yet) found. Although the test you refer to was valid at that time, it may be superseded by further studies. Frustratingly, there is no Revision History system which refers back to earlier documents.

It's rather like constructing a Family Tree where we can see Birth Certificates and Census Records, but there are no Marriage Certificates.

So I don't want to jump to any assumptions that there wasn't a later series of tests on the upload links at 400MHz.

My next observation is that EDMI are a highly reputable company with vast experience in designing Smart Metering across all sorts of wireless networks. Their products have a worldwide installation base. They are exactly the sort of company to whom you would expect DCC to award a contract.

The Electricity Smart Meter specification requires it to be capable of delivering 12v at 500mA to the Communications Hub. Optionally there can be an AC (240v) connector if they wish to have their own power supply within the Comms Hub. Since EDMI manufacture both the Smart Meter and the Comms Hub for Arqiva's Territory, this is completely within their control.

So if the EDMI 420 Hub is using only 1W of the available 6w for radio transmission, then there is probably a good reason for this. I doubt that the rest of the electronics in the Comms Hub requires more than 3W including the Zigbee HAN.

If I was looking for a possible constraint, I think I'd start by investigating EMI (electromagnetic interference) and legislation about transmitter power in close proximity to humans or other equipment.
Let me get this straight...

In 2016, previous generation electric and gas "smart" meters were installed at my address. In 2017, I changed provider to OVO. The existing "smart" meters were not compatible with OVO so became "dumb" meters.

In Sept 2018, OVO replaced the old "smart" (now "dumb") meters with new "smarter" meters - these each have a keypad and LCD panel. It turns out the gas meter has been non-communicado since day one so, in effect, has been operating as a "dumb" meter.

Now OVO are rolling out a newer generation of meters - let's call them "smarterer" meters. So, at some point in the not-too-distant future, these "smarterer" meters will be installed at my address? I am in the London area, by the way.

Not counting the old original meters, this will be 3 different sets of meters in less than 5 years. Multiplied across the country, how much is this madness costing?
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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 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.
Will my SMETS2 non OVO smart meter connect to OVO?
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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

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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!
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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.
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
Further …

Does the DCC have an estimate for the percentage of meters that will use the Mesh?
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?
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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.

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