Tutorial

SMETS2 Smart Meter installation

SMETS2 Smart Meter installation
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Updated 4/5/2020

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).

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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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Today I've done some more tests on my SMETS2 Gas Meter connection. And I've found a possible reason for the apparent loss of connection to the Communications Hub.

I recalled that on both occasions I've had an OVO Installer here, the Gas Meter correctly paired with the Comms Hub at the point when the IHD was being unpacked and paired. Some minutes later, the IHD was moved to a suitable position inside.

Zigbee is a Mesh-network. All devices seek out other Zigbee units and retain a database of their ID numbers. This means that any Zigbee device can also act as a repeater passing data-packets across the Mesh until they reach the intended destination address.

Since the IHD is a Zigbee device, it occurred to me that the Gas Meter network connection had been made only because the IHD was in the vicinity and relayed the signal for it.

I therefore moved my IHD to a position still within the house, close to the external gas meter but about 1m higher up. Here's what I then saw on the Gas Meter's HAN-Status display:
 

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So we're now back to the situation that was evident on the original meter which was replaced just yesterday morning. The Gas Meter believes it has a valid connection across Zigbee.

Channel 25 runs at runs at 2.475GHz, which is marginally beyond the range of the UK frequencies used by WiFi. (See my earlier post about frequency interference.)

Just to be sure that there wasn't also any interference issue, I logged in to my WiFi router and turned off the 2.4GHz transceiver on the nearest WiFi frequency - Channel 11. This had no effect on the Zigbee signal strength being reported by the Gas Meter.

Since a SMETS2 Gas Meter only sends data to the Communications Hub at intervals up to 30-minutes apart, I waited another two hours before testing the connections again. Unfortunately the data transfers still hadn't occurred.

I wish there was a way I could provoke the Communications Hub to attempt a reconnection with the Gas Meter, but alas it has no buttons. It stubbornly sits there slow-flashing the LED for the Gas Zigbee to tell me that the connection is good, whether it is or not.

So on balance I would suggest that there is a problem within the Toshiba Comms Hubs. Once they believe they have successfully paired with a Smart Gas Meter, there is no error-detection occuring should the link subsequently fail.

Whether this is just my Comms Hub at fault or not, I don't know. But there are certainly others reporting similar problems here on the Forum.

Userlevel 1
Hi @Transparent, Erroneous IHD readings are not just an OVO issue.

Bulb is having a nightmare of a time with Smets2 installations, in large part with non working IHD units. While their main issues appears to be mainly IHD units displaying Gas only and no Electric info at all or just constantly showing "waiting for data" they also have had issues with incorrect pricing data.

They have admitted to about 30% of their 24000 installations having issues and the areas north and south are affected so not just down to one type of comms unit.

The main IHD issue appears to be made worse by their inability to update Chameleon IHD firmware over the air and are reinitialising IHDs individually or in blocks.

They also have the added problem that a good portion of the readings they are receiving cannot be integrated into their billing system for whatever internal reason.
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OK, so I have some updates to the status of my replacement pair of SMETS2 meters, and I'd be interested to know if other customers are seeing the same:

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.


B. Whatever the software upgrade did, as far as I know it's had no effect on my other major fault of the SMETS2 Gas Meter not transmitting across the HAN. The IHD still has the message Waiting for current data.

I'll wait until tomorrow to see if OVO themselves managed to gather any gas usage once they perform the overnight upload from my Comms Hub.


C. My (second) SMETS2 gas meter seems to have used a great deal of battery since it was installed just two weeks ago:


I've had a good look underneath it. There's a lot of electrons there, but none of them admitted to have leaked from the battery. 😉

The gas meter spec from Uniflo indicates a battery life of 10 years. So a reading of 2679 days means it won't last that long, which is disappointing. I hope this isn't indicative of poor contacts inside the unit. I'll keep monitoring it and report here what I find.
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Once your new SMETS2 meters are physically installed, the commissioning process can start.

The Engineer will use a proprietary App to connect the electricity meter to DCC, the government-owned Data Communications Company. Theoretically this should simply involve taking a photo of the bar codes on the meter. However, the two installations I've seen thus far both involved entering the meter numbers into the App manually.


There are different serial numbers for the electricity Smart Meter and its communications system. And there is plenty of room for error, such as confusing an 8 with a B. The App is clearly not yet fit for purpose and needs additional features to be added.

Once the Engineer receives confirmation that the electricity meter and DCC are communicating correctly, the new SMETS2 Gas Meter is paired with it. This uses a wireless signal running at 2.4GHz called Zigbee.

The electricity meter is the master unit. It is the only item with a connection to the outside world, shown as a red wireless signal in the above diagram.

Finally, the In Home Device is unpacked and paired with the electricity meter. The Installer will run through the basic features, which are described more fully in a small instruction book.

OVO are currently installing an IHD called a Chameleon. It also uses the Zigbee wireless protocols. This local Zigbee system can in future be extended to control other smart devices such as washing machines or storage radiators. It's called the HAN (Home Area Network).

Initially, the IHD may not show any data at all.


You can be assured it is communicating with the electricity meter, however, because there is a white signal-strength meter at top-left of the display.

After three days, my IHD suddenly started displaying real data


... but the figures bore little resemblance to the actual energy used.

This is all quite normal. There is a lot of work which continues in the background once the on-site installation is complete.

Not only will DCC be testing and tuning the encrypted communication links, but OVO will be installing your actual tariff data. This is held in the master electricity meter and is only required for you to view readings on the IHD. The actual usage figures are calculated separately by OVO as part of their billing process.

It can take several weeks before the entire process is completed. Only then will your IHD reflect the same information visible on your My OVO page online.

If there are any discrepancies in billed usage in the meantime, these will get automatically corrected because the actual meter readings are cumulative.
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Communications Hub - Toshiba

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

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

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


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

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

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

There are five green LED lights.

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

There is another mode of operation of these five LEDS when an external aerial is connected. This allows an engineer to check the signal strength across the local Mesh network. End-users won't normally see this mode.
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I do not think it is possible to fit a Smets2 Communications Hub to a Smets1 meter.
Smets1 designs were all manufacturer lead solutions to supplying mobile Communications and a Han network, and therefore all individual.

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

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

Two very common examples

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

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

I think that any need to change a Communications Hub to a Smets2 version, whether to comply with northern area 420MHz or adding a Smets2 gas meter will result in a Smets2 Electricity meter also being fitted.
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For the sake of completeness, let me point out on this Topic that one of the Moderators, @Nancy_OVO, stated here on another Topic last week that OVO are aware of bugs in the IHD's recently supplied with SMETS2 meters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The IHD's are bought in by OVO from a 3rd-party manufacturer, so the bugs are probably affecting customers of other Energy Suppliers too.
Hi Transparent,

Thank you very much for your comprehensive explanation it has helped me much more to understand the situation regarding the problem I am experiencing with the smart meter.

Johnwin1
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Thanks @AdrianG

I've just posted more on the IHD Costs problem as an answer on another Topic. I was about to signpost you to read it there. However, as this is the Topic where most customers will arrive after having a SMETS2 installation, I'm going to break the usual convention and repeat the news here:

**Edited** The issue here is with the Aclara meter firmware that is part of the comms unit on your SMET2 meter. We are currently testing this and aiming to roll out a fix soon. See below.

I've had no feedback from OVO about the nature of this software bug since it was first highlighted around the end of March. I don't know if it affects all customers who have had a SMETS2 meter installation, or just a proportion. Therefore I don't know if OVO are already aware that you require a software upgrade, or if you need to get yourself put on a list.

**Edited** No need to get in touch with us about this, we are aware of the issue and in the process of fixing this, see below. OVO are committed to providing more updates on this, so keep an eye on this thread for more information as and when we have it.

**Edited** There will be no need to replace the IHD.
If it is indeed true that the bug resides in the IHD itself, then it's going to be difficult to fix it. There is no SMETS command to update the IHD remotely. So I assume we will all receive replacement units by post (which will require initialising to work with our own Communications Hubs).

I've looked at a number of similar online Forums hosted by OVO's rival Energy Suppliers. I am unable to find any reports of similar issues from those who have had SMETS2 meter installations in the past 3 months, despite those customers confirming that they too have Chameleon IHDs. I conclude that this bug is unique to OVO.
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@AdrianG and @Transparent have had some information from the SMET2 team about this, so have updated Transparents comments above to make sure they are correct so as not to mislead anyone that might search for this topic. I've marked where I have edited.

The issue here is with the comms unit, the Aclara meter firmware, on top of the SMET2, not the IHD, which explains why no-one else outside of OVO is reporting issues with it. We are running some very specific testing with this as we speak and looking to implement a fix within the next 2-3 months. All SMET2 customers will receive an email shortly to explain what's going on and what we are doing about it.

So no need to email @AdrianG we are already aware of the issues, and are in the process of fixing it.

Hopefully positive news, SMET2 is new to everyone and we want to continue to improve the tech, hence spending a lot of time testing.

Thanks

Darran
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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!
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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
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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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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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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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One issue which might occur when you have a Smart Meter installed is poor WiFi performance. Sometimes it can fail altogether.

WiFi can operate in two frequency bands. The earlier standard, still most commonly used, is called IEEE 802.11b and runs at 2.4GHz. The same frequency is used for other wireless domestic products such as door-bells and some remote controls. However, the software protocols for all these devices is different, which is why there is little perceptible interference when two or more are operating simultaneously.

The Zigbee network which connects your Smart Meters and your IHD is another 2.4GHz standard, properly referred to as IEEE 802.15.4.

Unlike doorbells and remote control units, both WiFi and Zigbee are continuously live. Whether they clash or not depends on the channel number which each one uses.

In the UK, WiFi is assigned 11 overlapping channels. In order to avoid degradation of the signal, we normally employ one of channels 1, 6 or 11 because these have no overlap. You can select this manually by logging into your router.


Zigbee has 16 channels, which carry much less data and can therefore be non-overlapping.

In the USA there is a convention that any new Zigbee device will be configured to use either channel 15 or 20. These have frequencies which neatly sit in-between the commonly-used WiFi channels.

In the UK there is no such convention, and it's possible that a Zigbee device could use any of the allocated channels. So if your router happens to be sited close to your new SMETS Meter, there is the opportunity for interference to occur.

All is not lost however. Firstly, you could login to your WiFi router and change the channel it uses.

Failing that, Zigbee itself has an inbuilt Channel Agility. Once it recognises that its frequency has a sufficient level of interference that data is being lost or corrupted, then it will switch to an alternative channel.

This process isn't immediate. Both of your SMETS Meters and the IHD will all be using the Channel Agility protocol to find a common channel which suffers least interference. It might take an hour or so before everything gets sorted. In the meantime, don't switch off your WiFi router because this will halt the automatic Agility process. When the router is next re-powered, the interference will start all over again!

Note that there is nothing which OVO's Installation Engineer can do about such problems beyond noting on the job-sheet that WiFi was lost when the Smart Meters were powered up. Zigbee self-allocates channels (eventually) and the Installation App doesn't have a facility for manual channel selection.

Nor are Installers trained or permitted to start logging into your router and manually changing its channel. And you should have it password protected anyway!
So - when will my Mk1 meter be swapped with an industry compatible MkII meter?
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SMETS2 Gas: Taking a manual reading

My SMETS2 gas meter is in a semi-concealed box. It's still possible to read the display because the steel mounting frame holds the meter at the rear of the enclosure and as high as it can, whilst still allowing the lid to close.

The meter has three red buttons, marked A, B, and C. To conserve battery, the LCD screen is normally blank. Pressing either A or B displays the amount of gas used in cubic metres.



If you are required to provide OVO with a manual reading, you would submit the five large figures before the decimal point (00125 in the above example).

The bars at top-right show the strength of the wireless connection to the (master) SMETS2 electricity meter.

Pressing button A again will display the amount of credit balance in £s if the meter is configured to operate for a Pay-As-You-Go customer.

The symbol above button C indicates a menu; press it once to display this



Buttons A & B move up and down the available menu options, whilst pressing C selects that highlighted option. I moved down the menu using B, and then chose Device Info with C:


For those readers who are technically-minded, this display shows me the Firmware version of the SMETS2 software and the version of the base operating system on which it runs.

For those reading this description at a later date, please note that this Uniflo meter was installed in March 2019.

Returning to the main menu with Button C, I can use A to move back up and view the current meter status:


Unlike my electricity meter, there was no dummy/default reading held in the gas meter at installation time. Since the tariff details are all zeros I can't see any gas usage on my IHD at the moment.

Downloading my actual tariff data into the SMETS2 meters is almost the final step in the weeks-long commissioning process.

If you want to know a bit more about this SMETS2 gas meter, there is a PDF of the UK version which can be downloaded from the Danish manufacturer's website.
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I can smell gas!!

It is not unusual to smell gas close to where a Smart Meter has just been installed. The Engineer will have allowed a certain amount to escape when air was purged from the new meter.

You are more likely to smell gas if the meter is in a semi-concealed enclosure below ground level. Some gas components (Methane) are lighter than air and will have drifted away. Others (Butane and Propane) are heavier than air and will stay at the bottom of the meter box.

The smell isn't a natural constituent of mains domestic gas. The odour is a chemical added to natural gas and is chosen to quickly alert your brain that something is wrong.

When I took the pictures above, it was almost 3 weeks after my new SMETS2 meters had been fitted. So I was somewhat surprised to still smell gas when I opened the lid to view the meter display screen.

If this was due to a minor leak, I reasoned that it was most likely to be on the input side of the meter. The Installer had used a manometer on the output side as one of the final checks. So any leak on my side of the meter would have been revealed by the pressure dropping and the liquid-level falling in the u-tube.

As I do my own plumbing, I already had a bottle of gas-leak detector spray available.

 

 

3cb6b51b-e840-43fc-9026-3ea5a64095f1.jpg

 


I squirted it liberally around all joints and watched for bubbles to appear. There were none.

Having convinced myself that there was not a leak, I left the enclosure lid open for an hour to let the wind blow fresh air around. Then I closed it again.

Four hours later, I returned and opened the lid once more. As expected, the smell of gas was significantly reduced.

So what would I have done if there really had been a leak?

Firstly, I'd have sent a text message to the OVO Installer, Mike, who had helpfully left me his mobile number. Secondly, in case he wasn't working that day, I'd have sent an email to OVO Customer Services.

And if I felt it was anything more than the lingering aftermath of having just had the new meter installed, then I could also have telephoned the National Gas emergency number: 0800 111 999

There's a help-page on gas-leaks on OVO's main website which is worth reading before you ever have to deal with a potential leak!

The one thing you must never do is to grab a spanner and attempt to tighten any joints around your gas meter. No one is permitted to work on gas pipes unless they are Gas-Safe registered.

And finally, if you want to buy yourself a bottle of special Gas Leak Detector fluid, then you can get it at B&Q, Amazon, ebay and most plumbing suppliers for around £6. Do not use other bubble-solutions, like washing-up liquid, because residues can cause corrosion... which is never a good idea!

 

 

This is such a useful thread!!
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I appreciate hearing from you (and others) how this dumb meter fiasco appears @ElonBusk.

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

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

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

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

The SMETS2 meters currently being installed are just the first part of a robust nationwide energy supply network.
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Communications Hub Device Variations - South & Central Territories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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

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



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

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

Aerials:

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

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


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

Smaller T1 aerials are used for object avoidance, where there is a structure which absorbs radio waves between your Comms Hub and the local GSM mast.
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You ask some very pertinent questions @g4jnw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's flag a couple of the Moderators, like @Tim_OVO and @Nancy_OVO, to bounce this message to their Meter Engineering Dept for some answers!
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Last week I received an email from OVO with a link to a Guide for those of us who have SMETS2 Meters and the matching IHD. I assume others also received this.

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

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

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


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

Darran

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