SMETS2 Smart Meter installation

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Having a new Smart Meter installed is something which most customers only experience once. This topic shows what the process involves and highlights particular issues with the newer SMETS2 meters which OVO started installing widely in March 2019.

You must be present for a Smart Meter installation. The Engineer needs access to the house, even if both gas and electricity meters are in external enclosures. There is an initial survey of the state of gas appliances and your electric consumer unit. Photographs are taken and any gas boiler is turned off.

The electricity meter is usually changed first. The Installer is permitted to snip the seal on the main fuse and can reseal it without needing to call your Distributed Network Operator (DNO).

Here my SMETS2 meter is indicated with a red arrow. This one is made by a US Company called Aclara. It has two buttons marked A & B rather than the keypad of the earlier SMETS1 meters, which were manufactured by Secure.

Above the meter itself there is a communications module (blue arrow) which allows data transfer via the mobile phone network. There are several versions. As I'm in a rural area of Devon with relatively poor signals, this Toshiba unit is a Mesh Network device. It connects to an external aerial via the wire marked with a green arrow.

The aerial is the tall rectangular box which is literally stuck onto the outside of the door.

Your gas meter may be in a wall mounted enclosure, or buried in a "semi-concealed" box as is mine.

The Installer first removes the old meter including the round regulator (orange arrow), and then screws a steel mounting frame in place, shown here with a green arrow.

The meter may seem a relatively large device, but it's actually two items. The actual SMETS2 Smart Meter is indicated with the red arrow, and slots into the larger outer body.

My new gas meter is manufactured by Uniflo. Because there is no electricity available, it contains an inbuilt Lithium battery which should last around 10 years. A Gas Smart Meter spends most of its time in sleep-mode to conserve power, waking up every few seconds to send a signal to the SMETS2 electricity meter.

OVO have designed and fabricated right-angled steel pipes marked here with purple arrows. These minimise the height required and allow the enclosure lid to properly close.

During the commissioning process, the installer connects a manometer to the test point identified with the blue arrow. The gas pressure pushes the fluid up one side of the u-shaped tube. If it remains steady over a two-minute timed period, then there are no leaks.

The Installation Engineer will now take another set of photographs which get inserted into relevant places in the electronic "form" on his mobile phone. There is a minimum set of 23 pictures which must accompany any installation.

As the exact installation process may evolve over time, please note that these SMETS2 meters were installed on 11th March 2019.

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About 15 days ago my Communications Hub indicators changed to have no flashes at all from the WAN or MESH indicators. With no link to the outside world, it wasn't possible for OVO in Bristol to continue downloading code updates whilst we tried to resolve problems.

Following discussions with @BenS_OVO I was hopeful that all we'd need was for the Communications Hub to be re-booted. (A reboot of a Toshiba Comms Hub is done by removing its power for 3 minutes) But alas, it transpired that it required much more than that to re-establish communications with DCC.

So... I've now had another visit from an OVO Engineer, and a complete change of all four SMETS2 devices on Weds 18th Sept.

It took about 5 hours before the Gas Meter eventually started sending readings which could be displayed on the new Chameleon. I now know that this is quite normal, albeit disconcerting for customers because they can't be shown the full functionality of their IHD.

It will take another month before I get to see usage graphs and Smart readings appear on the My OVO page.

And if that is successful, it will be a laborious task for someone in OVO's Billing Dept to work out what I really owe for the last six months since the first SMETS2 installation on 11th March.

To be continued.... 😐
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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!

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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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Keep us updated, @So much for subtlety!
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Part 6 - a happy ending.

And then, on the 5th day there was connection!! (Maybe - standby for a post credits scene)

The first and only reading showing is 30 Aug as 0000 which was the installation date.

at this stage I don’t know if this has been done manually or actually means the meter has connected.

as I Pointed out in post 5, if there is a problem with the gas meter connecting and Ovo didn’t intervene to update the meter MPAN and set the reading the zero, I wouldn’t even be able to provide manual gas readings.

i will know by tomorrow whether this manually entered by tomorrow. If it’s connected the first reading will auto update at midnight.
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Ok so here’s part 5.....

which is where is gets interesting (and where hopefully @Transparent tells me how he managed to fix this / get it fixed.)

@Darran_OVO @Nancy_OVO @Eva_OVO please have a look at this as say whether or not this is what we should expect or just unlucky that both @Transparent and I have experienced the same issue.

its now 4 days since the installation and 2.5 working days if you include Friday afternoon.

the electricity meter continues to both talk to the IHD and accurately communicate daily readings back to Ovo that show in the app.

But the gas meter in the Ovo app has not updated its MPAN number and the last reading is still the one I did just prior to installation.

when I check the displays and work through the menus I see the following:

So the temperature was correct! And the date and time!

there were lots of error messages in the event log:

Plus alert codes: 0x8161, ...145, ...183, ....161, ...154 repeated broadly equally over the 33 error messages shown in the event log as of Sunday night.

It seems to be accurately measuring gas and it thinks it’s connected tO something but connected to what? remember @Transparent‘s point about connected to electricity meter as it needs to be or connected to the IHD which is connected to the electricity meter.

When I get home later this week I plan to conduct a little test and turn off the IHD and then check the gas meter to see if it still thinks it’s connected.

Com version is showing 3.10.7, firmware version 04:09:15, firmware rev 19093, boot firmware version 01:10:17

final screenshot:

So, it’s working as a Meter, it’s connected to something and it’s managed to get its date and time. But there are a whole load of error messages and to me it looks like a copy and paste of circumstances that led to @Transparent having a replacement meter.

Bottom line it’s not talking to Ovo yet and so it’s not smart in the most basic sense and CRITICALLY even providing a manual reading is going to be tricky as the MPAN is now wrong and providing a meeting reading of 2 or 3 when the last one was 6000ish will probably result in a divide by zero moment.

so the question for @Transparent and the wider team is, did the meter replacement fix his issue? Was it necessary to replace the meter to fix it (or did something else occur in parallel / afterwards that would have fixed it replacement or not)? If it hasn’t fixed it what should we and others like us do to get it fixed? If no one knows how to fix it what should we do to gather data and evidence and who should we contact/ be sending it to?

how do I provide meter readings for gas when the smart meter isn’t and the new meter details are registered and the readings won’t match??
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Thanks for all that @So much for subtlety.

You wrote:
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.

This is the very last part of the commissioning process, and could take up to 5 weeks. I still don't understand why.

Possibly it only gets done when OVO's internal Billing Team actually switch your invoicing across to the data-stream incoming from DCC.

Can @Amy_OVO please wander across the other side of the room and ask one of the techies what the answer is please?!
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Thank you so much for sharing @So much for subtlety, this first hand run down will be invaluable for other customers!

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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.

not my best metaphor, but I was typing while herding children so that’s my excuse matrix.

He definitely didn’t try and do that!

A particularly professional Kwik fit fitter with a strong morale compass?
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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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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.
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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)

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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 )
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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........
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.
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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 ?
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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
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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?
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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!
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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.
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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?
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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.